Finding Your Peace

I’ve noticed a trend.

It’s nothing earth-shattering or headline-prompting like you’re probably thinking. The trend at the moment is simply that I, despite all good intentions to the contrary, have managed to miss hitting Kristi’s Finish the Sentence Friday link-up deadline for three weeks running. The reasons are varied, but the end result is the same.

There’s an upside to that scenario, though. As I look at my unfinished drafts, I realize the last few topics are connected. We’ve written (well, some people have…not me) about how to relax, about self care, and about what to do when we’re upset. The underlying theme seems to be how to deal with whatever ails us. And now this weekend, Kristi asks us to consider what brings us peace.

 

I am not very good at relaxing. Anyone who knows me will see how true that is. Even when I appear to be relaxing – reading a book, playing a game, watching a movie, even sleeping – I find it difficult to truly relax. I remember someone telling me when I was twelve years old that it’s easy to relax; just turn off your mind and think of nothing.

I don’t know how to do that. I’ve tried for more than 30 years and the concept still eludes me.

It’s not for want of desire. It’s just that ADHD will do that to a girl. One of my particular symptoms is that my mind is “on” constantly. It’s a blessing and a curse, really. It’s what allows me to remember every detail for every person in this house and work on a piece of writing in the back of my mind at the same time I pick up Zilla at school or make dinner. But it’s also the thing that keeps me awake at night doing all the thinking…

And when I’m awake at night is usually the time when my worries and fears come to the surface. It’s at night when that witching hour occurs, the time when everyone else is asleep and the only thing to distract you is late night horror flicks or sitcom reruns. It’s at night when everything else is quiet that those worries and fears break through the surface and whisper in my ear.

Like anyone, I have many things that upset or worry me; I have many things that frighten me. And I’m willing to be that you have at least some of those same concerns – our children, our spouses, our parents, how dirty the house is, paying the bills, paying for college, keeping the cat or dog from crapping on the rug, the headlines, the hatred, the world…

It’s pretty hard not to spiral into a constant state of frenzied unending stress.

But that’s no way to live. It wreaks havoc on our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It colors the way we see others and the way we interact with one another. You want to know what I think is really wrong with the world right now? Everybody is stressed out and pissed off and we don’t know what to do with ourselves so we take it out on everything and everyone around us. It’s so much easier to scream about why we’re angry than to shout about why we’re glad, isn’t it?

When I’m upset about something, my Husband always tells me, “Hon, you gotta find some Zen about this.”

He’s usually right.

As a society, we have become so conditioned to living in a state of stress. We are told daily by all manner of input what to worry about, what to fear, and whom to blame for our lot in life. We have been taught to focus on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right. And if you ask me, we have become far too separated from the things that enable us to find peace – things like rest and prayer and meditation. We have become far too likely to rely on things like God and Nature for solace. And I don’t wonder how or when we lost that – just look through history and literature over the ages; the answers are clear.

What I wonder is why we allowed it to happen. How is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to stray so far from the essential act of simply being human? Why is it acceptable to so many of us to hold only our beliefs as true and to condemn and criticize anyone else who thinks differently? We are so focused on proving our differences that we have lost sight of our similarities.

So back to my Husband and the Zen thing. Perhaps what we all need is to find some Zen, to stop screaming about everything that’s wrong and how angry we are about it and just focus on finding some peace – about the world, about the news, about our partners and kids, and about the pile of laundry in the corner.

No, it might not solve anything right now. Yes, some may see it as inaction or passivity. So what. And for each one of us, that small act of finding some peace will look different. Maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s a cup of tea, or maybe it’s engaging in meditation or prayer, maybe it’s writing or listening to music, maybe it’s a bowl of noodles. It doesn’t matter. Go hit Google and you’ll find any number of ways to “find your Zen.” Pick one you like. But do it.

Start with you and start with now. Stop hollering about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and start finding ways to be in your world and to help and heal it. Maybe things will start to look a little less impossible and a little more clear. Remember that you can bang two rocks together until one breaks, or you can let water rush over them until they wear smooth. Your choice.

Allow for the possibility of the power of the human spirit.

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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

This week’s sentence is “I find peace from…” or close enough.

Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up where writers and bloggers come together to share themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group

A Brief Expression of Fluish Thankfulness

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming thought: I need to write.

I often feel that way, so this isn’t something new or surprising. What was remarkable this time was that I haven’t sat to write or do anything else for about the last five days since our home got hit with the dreaded flu.

Yup, flu.

As far as I remember, the last time we had actual flu in this house and not simply colds with flu-like symptoms was when Zilla was an infant. That was the year of the horrible Swine Flu epidemic here. Anyone remember that? I do. She was so sick I honestly thought she wouldn’t make it through the night. I was never as scared as I was that night and have not been since. So let’s start with that – I’m grateful that Zilla made it through that awful night (and that whole experience) about eight years ago safely to be the light and joy of our lives that she is today.

Speaking of flu, I suppose I’m thankful that all three of us went down together. I know, weird. But in my mind, all of us sick at the same time means we potentially get it over and done with once rather than trying to avoid (unsuccessfully because come on, it’s flu) passing it from one to another in a never-ending cycle.

I’m even more thankful that we’re on the backside of it. The Hub was the first to be back in action and returned to work today. He has the immune system of steel and seems to be nearly back to full capacity. Zilla is next and seems to be just a bit behind her Dad. One more day of rest at home should do it. I, unfortunately, am trailing behind. Of course my RA complicates things so I’m not surprised, but I am getting a bit frustrated with the length of this. Still, I’m thankful we are all on the mend.

I am thankful for how much the Hub has been able to for all of us these last few days. Being the most upright and functional allowed him to keep all three of us well cared for. I am thankful for how completely pleasant and cooperative Zilla has been through the whole thing. She is a good and patient and compassionate soul and that has shone clearly these last few days. Being down and out when you’re a high-energy kid like she is can’t be easy. Honestly, we’ve all done a pretty good job of taking care of one another and, all things considered, done it with minimal stress or discord.

I am also so thankful to Lizzi for her brilliant idea of the TToT in the first place and for all the time and love she has put into it. I am thankful that she is willing and able to pass the torch to someone else to carry for a while. I’m thankful to Josie for willingly taking up the torch so we can all continue to connect and focus on the good in our lives. Participating in the Ten Things of Thankful hop has been life-changing for me so I’m glad to see it continue.

And now I see that I have about one minute to get this linked so I’m out. Time to get back to bed and kick this stupid flu.

 

 

 

The Bakery

The smell was exactly the same as it was forty years ago – the doughy comfort of freshly-baked bread and crescent rolls mingled with the sugary sweetness of coffee cake, shoo-fly pie, and the best cream or jelly-filled doughnuts ever made.

Instantly transported through time, I was seven years old standing with my cousin, noses pressed up against the glass of the display case where they showed a birthday cake with a menagerie of decoration options. The circus train at the edge of the cake passed by ballerinas and baseball players, a zoo’s worth of animals frozen in motion, laughing clown heads, tiny pink and blue baby bassinets, and a comparatively large bust of a graduate stuck smack in the middle of it all as if overseeing the celebration.

The display cake was long gone, but the rest was unchanged; the same tiles still shone on the walls and under our feet, the same glass cases offered the same baked goods of my childhood, and the same smells wrapped around me in a blanket of memory.

My daughter breathed deeply, taking in the smells and, I suspect, a taste of the history as we made our selections and I remembered aloud late Sunday suppers of baked goods and coffee or milk spent with family around my Grandparents’ table.

I was certain I saw my Grandfather standing there beside us just as alive as he was when he brought my cousin and me here…

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Each week, the lovely and talented Ivy Walker hosts a link-up challenging writers to spin a tale in six sentences – no more, no less. 

This week’s cue is BREAD.

Click on the link right here to link your own post and read more Six Sentence Stories from some wonderful storytellers.

 

 

Hello. It’s Been A While. (A Ten Things of Thankful Post)

It’s a good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to post here more.

Somehow I got out of the habit of delivering any finished product to this page. It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration; I have a ton of things drafted and scribbled in my notebooks. They somehow just don’t make it to the page. If a messy desk is a sign of genius, I should be producing a whole lot more brilliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s probably more that I got distracted (not that distraction is new for me). It goes without saying that the headlines of late have been pretty overwhelming and that has definitely affected my state of mind. I had to back way off of the Internet and social media. So if I seem absent…I am. On purpose. Let’s call it self-care.

I’ve also been distracted by my physical state lately. There is no question that for the last week I have been in the throes of an active RA flare with a whopper of an eczema flare thrown in for good measure. A result of stress associated with the news? Maybe. Hard to say. At any rate, I’ve been trying to focus on what my mind and body need to be more at peace. It’s only fair to say here how thankful I am that my Hub and Zilla have been more than understanding, even though I’ve been pretty horrid.

So what else has been going on…?

Well, I guess my biggest news is probably that I entered a writing competition. Yup, I did it. I just put up a post about that experience if you want to check that out. If not, then keep moving along…

I actually have been doing a bunch of writing, but so far most of it has been for my eyes only. What will become of these efforts is yet undetermined. But the writing feels good. I have started a ton of things to join my semi-usual link-ups – Six Sentence Stories, Finish the Sentence Friday, and Ten Things of Thankful. But despite those efforts, I haven’t managed to join. I plan to remedy that moving forward.

I’ve also been reading a lot more lately than I have in recent months. More self-care, I suppose. That feels amazing. I read three of Bradbury’s books in a row – Dandelion Wine (a re-read), Farewell Summer (stunning), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (completely creepy in an awesome way). Right now I’m working on finishing The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie – book is even better) and I have about five things queued up to hit next.

Absorbing others’ words has been good for my mind and my soul. I’ve joined a couple of writing challenges for 2017 and choosing books for those has been fun and also helped me continue to take advantage of the offerings at my public library. I’m doing a handful of reads for folks I know who have published their books and I’m thinking maybe I’ll review those here on the blog and introduce you to to their work. Stay tuned.

What else?

Thanks in part to the accountability factor provided by the Graviteers, I’ve managed to hit a weight loss goal (again) so I think it’s safe to say that I am steadily working toward my weight loss and health goals. I’ve been walking more regularly and upping my number of steps each day (insert eye roll). That feels good. Next stop: The Bowflex machine. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but sure enough one has joined the team in our basement next to the treadmill and I’m planning to get on there regularly. Weight-bearing exercise is important for women, especially as middle age creeps closer on the horizon. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Kidzilla is kicking butt and taking names with her school work and all related sub-topics. That little girl works so hard and loves learning so much. I love that she sees hard work has tangible rewards. And speaking of school, the Hub is back in school working on a new degree – one more step in this journey of career change that was forced upon us. He’s also doing a fantastic job and just a few weeks in is already ahead of his projected timeline for this term. I am so proud of both of them. Shameless gushing. <3

I’m happy to report I’ve found my groove again in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like I pulled away from cooking anything decent at home and we resorted to bring-home or go-to options far too often over the last several weeks. Granted, the holidays are a strange time and then we were all so sick during and right after Christmas and into January, so maybe that’s just it. But even with my flares lately I’ve been happily tossing pots and pans around in the kitchen again. We’ve tried some new things and I’ve gotten back in my habit of rolling leftover parts of one meal into the next.

We’ve had pinto bean tacos with cabbage slaw, oven-baked lime butter cod served with the leftover slaw, some awesome Mexican street corn as a side – that was delicious. We tried mujadara – lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions – which is a new favorite here. Red beans and rice are always warming and satisfying, Salisbury meatballs were a hit for my meatball-lover daughter. Up tonight is a basic roast chicken because I’m out of chicken broth and need to make some. So I’m out to get that little bugger in the oven. Besides, I think I’ve rambled on here quite long enough.

I haven’t counted or numbered, but I’m certain I have at least ten things in here. For these and for so many more…I am thankful.

I’ve missed chatting with all of you here. What’s new and exciting in your life? What have you been doing the last few weeks? How are your self care habits? Talk to me…

 

My World at Night

I’ve never been good at sleeping.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble sleeping for one reason or another. Maybe it’s time to just admit I’m a lifelong insomniac. But whatever the cause, I often find myself awake at night when the rest of my immediate world is asleep.

I’d love to tell you something lovely and romantic like “I’m a writer; of course when I can’t sleep at night I get up and write all the things that swirl in my head.”

But that’s not true.

Well, sometimes it’s true. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I do have things swirling in my head that beg to be written down and won’t give me peace until I acquiesce to their urging. But other nights I can’t sleep because the words don’t come and I worry if they ever will.

Continue reading “My World at Night”

Two Days of Rest – #10Thankful

Sunday evening again. My least favorite time to write a TToT post.

Why, then, does it seem that I’m always doing mine on Sunday evening?

I thought I might skip this week because I have been sick. The yearly mandatory bout with bronchitis. I tried not to let it get away from me. But it did. It always does. I think I just have to concede that I have a chronic bronchitis thing and be done with it.

But let’s commence with the thankfulness because, honestly, I have too big a headache to give this much of my energy. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

So first off, I’m thankful that I’m writing this at all. There, I said it.

Frozen homemade spaghetti sauce with cleaned and prepped fresh broccoli, all courtesy of our wonderful CSA membership. This means my family got a good dinner and I didn’t have to do much work (or cough all over it) to get the job done.

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I’m thankful that I didn’t tell off someone who really irritated me this weekend. Considering my level of crankiness due to being sick, that’s not bad. And I’m so very grateful for my mom’s friendship and guidance in that situation and in all others, always.

I have not made much tangible progress with my NaNoWriMo projects this week once we got past day one. But. I’ve been planning and plotting and doing some reading and research so as soon as I kick this germ out of me once and for all – or at least enough that I can concentrate on writing – I’ll forge ahead and hopefully catch up. And hey, I didn’t go bonkers and decide I’m a failed writer because I got behind the eight ball, like instantly. OK, maybe once. A little. But I moved on.

Here’s a little convoluted hypo-gratitude for you: I’m thankful that I’ve had bronchitis enough times to know exactly what my doctor would tell me to do and that I had all supplies and treatments on hand already. I caved and started the antibiotic this afternoon, but it was clear that we had reached that point. And I’m glad I had some at the ready in the medicine cupboard.

For hot tea and the Hub’s amazing coffee and all other manner of warm drinks to soothe my body and soul, I am grateful. For a pile of good books to plow through curled up in bed or on a chair or on a couch. For enjoying a beautiful autumn day (twice) from just inside the sliding glass doors while plowing through books. For my Hub and Zilla for being perfectly happy to have an at-home weekend while I’m sick and for the fact that we were planning that anyway since last week was crammed full. For the best snuggles ever with my Zilla. For tissues.

I am thankful.

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Ten Things of Thankful
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Hidden Richness – A Soup of the Week Post

I used to hate eggplant.

I think it has something to do with an overcooked eggplant Parmesan somewhere in my youth. But eggplant being much like anything else, once we have a bad experience, we tend to forever loathe and avoid the offending situation – or vegetable, as the case may be.

Since joining our local CSA a couple of years ago, I’ve rediscovered eggplant. When vegetables show up in the farm share each week, I feel morally obligated to like them, or at least find a way to live with them. And so I’ve experimented with ways to enjoy eggplant, most of them successful. I even made an eggplant Parm that wasn’t too bad.

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Last week, my husband brought home two aubergine beauties from the farm (not the ones in the photo – this week’s were much darker) and I immediately planned to make eggplant Parmesan for my mom. Life got in the way and it didn’t happen. If you know anything about eggplants, you know that you need to use those babies within a day or two or you end up with a very unattractive not-so-aubergine mass on your counter or in your fridge.

Since they were still perfectly edible but just this side of too soft for eggplant parm, I searched for another way to make that eggplant disappear. And I had to feed it to my Hub and Kidzilla – both professed non-eggplanters, despite many efforts to convert them.

Sigh.

As luck would have it, I found this recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs over at Sumptuous Spoonfuls. (Via Pinterest, of course, because where else do you go to figure out what to do with soft eggplant?) The post promised the eggplant would disappear into the soup, leaving behind only a delightful buttery finish, not the taste of eggplant.

Sold!

And so I made it. And the Hub and Zilla ate it. Twice. They genuinely liked it. As I was dishing up the leftover soup the following night, I got to thinking about soup and life…because that’s what I do.

Sometimes life hands us the beautiful and everything goes as planned. We get the job we hoped for, complete the project, or lose that ten pounds. And other times we are left with slightly soft eggplant. It’s usable, but perhaps not desirable. Rather than toss those declining eggplants, perhaps we can find a way to repurpose and transform them into something delicious. (Can you tell I watched Chopped last night?)

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The eggplant did indeed disappear into the soup. You could tell it wasn’t straight-up conventional tomato soup, but it was delicious. It turned out sort of buttery and elegant, with a hidden richness that tomatoes alone would not provide.

Maybe life is like that, too – not quite what we expect or plan and not quite perfect, but with an underlying richness that comes from embracing all of the imperfections we encounter along the way.

Serve this soup with a fresh green salad and some rustic crusty bread for a light and satisfying dinner. And the next time life hands you some not-so-perfect eggplant, consider what richness you can create with what you have been given.

Mangiare bene vivere felici!

Eat well and live happy!

 

A Sense of Home – #10Thankful

I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately.

Kristi’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt this week was “when it comes to home…” So, naturally, I spent time thinking about the idea of home. And while I procrastinated pondered, I took a look at the things I had saved for my #10Thankful post last this week. Many were simple and beautiful moments of home that touched me in a particular way. Thinking I was onto something, I wondered if these two themes of home and gratitude couldn’t be married…

 

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There are so many ideas regarding home, so many interpretations. If you look up quotes about home, you find words and ideas as varied as the people who spoke them. Each one of them (and at the same time none of them) offers an answer. One or two of those quotes may resonate with this person or that, but not with a third. The reason, at least in my mind, is that the concept of home is something so very personal that perhaps there cannot be a definitive answer.

In his poem, “Death of the Hired Man,” Robert Frost wrote,

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,

They have to take you in.”

Obviously, there’s a whole lot going on in that poem and we could talk about just that for the rest of the day. But let’s just stick with that little part…that statement about home. It doesn’t say what it seems to say. The line is not “when you go there”; the line is “when you have to go there.” That makes it different, doesn’t it? It seems more about where you go or to whom you turn when you need home…whatever that may be.

So what is home?

 

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For many people, the idea of home is attached to a physical place. But when time moves us forward, as it always does, and that physical building is no longer our home, we find home elsewhere. For some that physical place may be a house – complete with walls and floors and windows and closets. For others, that physical place may be a hotel room, a shelter, or even a cardboard box. Are these any less “home”?

A home may include the people you love and live with every day. But some people live alone. Does it mean they have less of a home? I have lived among family, friends, and roommates and I have also lived alone. In each case the situation was definitely my home. Not all of those circumstances were ideal, not all were meant to be anything more than temporary. At the very least, each one was the home I needed at that time and I never felt as though I didn’t belong.

So home could be whatever sense of belonging we have. That feeling when you are surrounded by who or what is most important to you. Or is home more a state of mind, a sense of being where we belong in life, either physically or emotionally. Maybe home is doing the things that bring us comfort. For me, home is cooking for my family, my daughter learning by my side. It is playing games, reading books, or watching movies together. Home is our everyday routine, the rhythms and patterns that make up our days and nights. Home is that sense of normalcy and “this is what we do.” I am so grateful for the nest my little family shares together and the time we spend in it together. But even when we spend time together out of our physical home, there is a sense of home that goes with us.

 

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I sometimes think home is a season. Certain times of the year make us feel most at home, regardless of where we are. For me, the return of cool weather and the changing of nature’s colors feels like coming home. Maybe it’s because fall signals a return to school and routine and that’s comforting. Or maybe it’s that fall is that harbinger of the homecoming season – the fall and winter holidays where people tend to return to their hometowns, their families, their memories.

Maybe home is any way we grow and learn and change – as a physical home is built, so is the home of “self.” Maybe it’s about working on better balance in life, staying on top of schedules or homework or activities. Maybe it’s getting and keeping the house cleaned or doing some painting or remodeling. Maybe it’s getting more sleep or exercise, working toward a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Whatever process of change brings us to a better version of ourselves could be what makes us feel at home.

Perhaps home is a return to our truest self. Do we feel most comfortable, most “at home” when we finally submit to that? When I consider the person I am today, the life I’m living, the goals I have set before me, I find that none of it is what I would have expected or desired ten or even five years ago. But maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to work. There’s that process of change and growth, of self-realization that takes place and one day not-so-suddenly we wake and realize that this – this – is who I am and who I was always meant to be. For me, it feels like a return to center, a return to what was always there, waiting for me to need to arrive. So if go back to Frost’s line, even if we’re talking about a return to self, it makes sense. When we’re ready to arrive at our true self, when we need to arrive, we have to open the door.

And so home is all of this and more. It is a feeling, a sense of self, something that lives within.


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Ten Things of Thankful
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This has also been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s topic is “When it comes to home…”

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Our host this week, as always, is the lovely and talented Kristi Campbell from Finding Ninee.

#10Thankful – Standing in Motion

I believe I am standing in motion.

I worked on a thousand things all week, produced results, and yet I somehow feel as though I have accomplished little because none of my projects can be moved to the “finished” list.

But maybe finished does not always equal successful (or vice versa) and just being in process is quite a good thing all by itself. To be about the business of living, doing, and becoming is a noble endeavor indeed. It is far too easy to slip into the trap of thinking about what we should have done and I know so many of us do it, at least once in a while. I am really trying to remain focused on what I am doing with my life, not what I or anyone else thinks I should be doing.

The Hub, Zilla, and I are taking advantage of the summer to enjoy different experiences – so much so that I’ve managed to miss the last couple of TToT link-ups (Oops and sorry!) (But #sorrynotsorry, you know?). We’ve been to the library, read to therapy dogs, watched a movie under the stars (almost) right in our own backyard. Our township shows movies in the local parks and we just happen to live adjacent to one of the locations. That was mighty cool. Zilla’s been to summer enrichment classes and swim lessons. I’ve been working on my kids’ book series and purge/clean projects at home. The Hub has projects at work and home in process. Now that Zilla’s a bit older, we’ve been introducing her to the wonder of board games and card games for the older crowd. Last week she learned how to play Life and Monopoly (Lord of the Rings version, thank you very much) and how to play Solitaire the old fashioned way – with real cards.

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That all kind of adds up to a whole lot of thankful right there. But it’s only the beginning…

I’m quite glad that I’m sitting for a few minutes with a hot cup of the best coffee in the world by my side so I can get this post written in the first place. Thanks, Husband, for the best coffee in the world. Always.

Keeping with the Husband theme, he deserves a spot at the top of the list always because he is among the best of men and the best of husbands. He stands by me completely through the better and worse and I am thankful to fall asleep and wake up next to him each day. Well, assuming he makes it up from his technology den before falling asleep, that is. But even then, I can be thankful for the entire bed to myself (and the three Rottens) for a few hours. Silver linings.

Time makes my list this week. Summer allows me to spend unscheduled, unhurried time with my daughter. It doesn’t matter what we decide to do (or not do), but we are enjoying the time together. I think the highlight of my summer so far was the day she said she loved grocery shopping with me because we get to be together. I think her point was that we were doing something necessary, a chore, and still enjoying each other’s company. I love having her along and I will miss that come fall when she is back in school. Of course it does take longer and cost more with her helping…but so worth it. Plus, she’s learning in the process. We read labels, decide what foods are good choices, plan meals based on what is available that week, practice math and money skills, and so much more.

I have also enjoyed some alone time with my Husband seeing concerts and eating a few meals sans kid. This week we’re getting an extra big dose – we escaped for a quick daytime sushi lunch while Zilla was in school, had dinner together while she was at a social thing at her karate school, and tomorrow we have dinner and a concert date. The couples-only time is so important for so many reasons. Of course, the mom guilt creeps in a bit – are we spending too much time without her? Does she feel neglected? I think we’re good, though, because she is always busy in her own right while we’re out and is always in the care of people who love her. She’s beyond excited to spend time with my Sister and my Mom at my sister’s house tomorrow and I love that.

I am amazed at what a strong and beautiful girl our Zilla is becoming. This week she dealt fabulously with some kid issues, earned her red belt in karate, and made her own breakfast. The unthinkable has happened – all the baby is pretty much gone from her and what remains is this lovely and fun person who needs me to help just a little less than she used. to. It’s bittersweet for sure. The only moments I catch a glimpse of her baby self is when she’s asleep, totally relaxed, and those sweet little cheeks take on that soft baby chubbiness for a few hours. I think that may be the real reason moms get up and check on their kids fifty times a night – for just one more moment of that.

We have experienced the beauty and wonder of nature this summer. We’ve spent some time hiking at our mountain (sadly, those photos are down the composting toilet with my phone) and on our last trip saw more and closer raptor sightings than we have on most of our trips. Awesome. We watched a pair of blue jays defend their nest from a redtail hawk who decided to perch on their lamppost and visit for a while. Fascinating. Sadly, Zilla and I saw a fledgling bird in its final moments of life as he died in our driveway. Unfortunately, we were too late to help him and he wouldn’t have survived the trip to the nearest wildlife rehab facility. We talked about life and death and I was glad for the opportunity for lessons the situation provided. We’ve watched sunsets and moonrises, enjoyed gorgeous summer days and watched truly fierce-looking storms roll in.

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I am so glad we have a share in our local CSA farm. We love our farmers and how they run things. We love the fresh, local, organic produce each week. During CSA season (for us it’s usually June through early November), I love planning our meals around what arrives from the farm. It makes me so happy that the Hub and Zilla are willing to try new and different things and that most of the time they like the results. I love how the array on my counter top and in my refrigerator inspires beautiful, healthy meals. Pinterest, of course, is a great resource for ideas.

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Of course, there are always smoothies as well. This was one of the most beautiful looking and delicious that I’ve made yet. I think it was kale or spinach, mixed berries, cucumber, water, and flax seed. Oh, and peach! So good.

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I received a sweet memento in the mail this week from our Listen to Your Mother leaders. It was a nice way to remember such a great experience. I was reminded what a cool thing that was to do. I believe that people and experiences touch our lives at particular times for particular reasons, even if we may not know exactly why right away. I’m certain that being part of Listen to Your Mother was one of those scenarios. There are over 500 videos to enjoy from this year’s shows (by all means check them out – they’re wonderful), but here’s mine. I loved sharing this story so if you’ll indulge me, I’ll share it again here. Be gentle, OK? I was recovering from a horrible upper respiratory thing complete with laryngitis and it was by far the WORST camera angle on me ever.

I am glad for plenty of time to read my always-growing pile of books. Between what I already have on the shelf, what I’ve recently acquired from the bargain table, and the public library, I have no dearth of material. Are we friends on Goodreads? We should be. Find me over there. I’m sure I can put a widgety thing on my front blog page, but I’ll have to figure that out later today.

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I am glad for the company of cats when I am here all day by myself. These guys are loads of fun. I have to give Cat One a little shoutout here for taking his meds like a man, so to speak. A few months ago, you may remember, he had some intestinal issues and now takes a kitty laxative twice a day. The stuff is a nasty sticky liquid and he hates it. He often spits it out and drools it all over himself and all over everything. I called our vet and they contacted a local compounding pharmacy to do his meds in compound form so it can be flavored – are you ready – like chicken. Yup. So when I tell him it tastes like chicken (which I have been for three months), it’s actually true now. He seems to be accepting it better than before and most of it stays in him rather than on him, so that’s progress.

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I guess taking a couple of weeks off makes for one very full TToT post! That’s it for me today. My coffee cup needs to be refilled. The house has grown a bit dark because the rain and storms have taken over once again. I love the sound of the summer rain. We’re going to spend our rainy (and disgustingly humid) summer afternoon teaching Zilla how to play Dungeons and Dragons.  So if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be.

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? How are you spending your summer?

You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em and make sure to check out the rest of the posts in the link-up!

 

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#10Thankful – Another Year Older

So my blog and I both had birthdays this week.

My blog is four years old. Imagine that. And me? Well, I’m four and then some. Birthdays have a way of prompting retrospection, don’t they. At least for me. I often find myself reflective around birthdays – take time to consider where I’ve been, where I’m going…just think.

So for starters, I’m thankful for another year of life and one that has brought many changes and surprises. It’s been a year of progress (my One Word, as I recall) and that is always a good thing. I spent time on my birthday with the people closest and most dear to me. I received many thoughtful cards and messages and gifts – all of which really touched me in so many ways. And the Hub started the day off by leaving me several little birthday notes in places he knew I’d find them. Too cute.

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I am thankful for CSA produce! I know I put that on here every week lately, but it really is awesome. I love having the fresh produce straight off our local organic farm fields. And it makes meal prep kind of easy, too. The ingredients are supplied; I just have to put my creativity to use and figure out how to use them.

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This week we had another round of the sugar snap pea pasta we had last week. It was delicious. Again.

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The new carpet on the stairs remains (knock wood) unspoiled by Rotten Cat deposits. We are very happy for that. And the dark color keeps the stairs from looking filthy the minute one of the Rottens drops even one black hair on it. I suppose the down side to that is that it’s easier to forget to vacuum…but we’re working on that not being the case.

I am thankful for things like Shark Week and Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament week during which they show Christmas movies on TV in July and fireworks and summer theatre excursions…all the things we enjoy together as a family that help maintain and strengthen the bonds we already share.

We’ve accomplished a few more small projects around the house this week and have plans in place for many more as the summer unfolds. Maybe it’s a throwback to my years as a teacher or just to having time off from school in the summer as a kid, but to me summer is the time to work on projects and improvements. I’m not much of a spring cleaner, but summer gets me going.

I am very glad to be tackling at least one of my writing projects this month. Yup, I signed up for the CampNaNoWriMo thing during July and have committed to getting a few of the books I want for my kids’ book series written, edited, and illustrated before summer is over. My goal is to start shopping for some readers and (hopefully) a publisher come fall.

I’ve also been doing a tremendous amount of reading just for pleasure, something I used to do quite voraciously and over time due to college and work and marriage and work and buying a house and having a kid and grad school and just all the things I fell out of the habit. I have a huge list and pile of things I want to read and I’m so very happy to be working my way through.

I am always thankful for Kidzilla and the Hub. They are my loves, my life, and they make every day beautiful.

And now I am thankful to finish this list and get on to other things. I didn’t do so well at getting around to read other posts last week (sorry!) so I hope to do a better job in that department this time around. It won’t be until after the long holiday weekend, though, for sure. We’ll be off doing…

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? What are your favorite summer activities and habits? You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts in the link-up by clicking that blue button down there.

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