chronic illness, confession, depression, fibro, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Happy Friday!

Since last week’s post was SO long, (but so full of information I find value in…) I will keep this week’s list pretty to the point.

Here in our little corner of the world, (which isn’t as much a corner as a saying) we have been gifted sparkling mounds of beautiful snow. They’ve caused me to slow down a little. This is partly a chronic illness thing, and partly a savor the moment sort of thing. At any rate, there has been some gift wrapping, some baking, some new recipes and lots of intentional moments, which is essentially the point really…

I am sure you will notice a sort of theme in this week’s list… (also a theme, in my life, this week: spilling. Coke Zero on my couch, Kahiki stix on my couch, coffee all over the floor/side table and coke zero on my laptop.)

1.) Hand Warmers… I had no idea such a miraculous little thing existed until a girlfriend of mine brought some when we were going to be evening shopping downtown.

2.) The Magic Door on Amazon Alexa. I have already shared this with quite a few people. I absolutely love it!

3.) These Jane and Bleeker slipper socks. I am obsessed. I may have ended up buying several for gifts because I love them so much!

4.) Pretty much, if I’m not doing something uber productive or important, I am going to be hanging out under this… Fibro is a nightmare on a good day. On the days when the cold and moisture are extreme- well, there currently is not an adjective for such things. It’s the little things, like this, which really make a difference.

5.) This lotion! If lotion were to be a soul mate, this lotion would be mine. Not only does it smell divine, but my skin adores it, and it adores my skin! What more could I ask for?

Whether your home has snow, or not… Whether you are able to find stolen moments of peace, or are quietly aching for them- I hope that you are at least able to savor a moment, here or there, and be swept up in more of the beauty and simplicity of the season, than the stress and greed. Take a little time for some self-care!

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chronic illness, confession, creative, depression, family, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, marriage, parenting, parties

I know it is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year…

 

Holiday baking is this really incredible, magical ideal I have always had. My grandmother was the sort of woman, of her generation, who loved others through the food she made. She canned, preserved, baked and stewed almost 24/7, in one way or another. She believed, to her core, in hard work and I realize looking back that she lived the life of an authentic feminist, just at a time when this was more a way of life and less a mouth driven, man-bashing subculture. That woman truly needed a man for nothing, but had chosen to love one until his death. She was incredible, my grandmother… And the holidays were no exception. Her cookies, (often times colored and pressed, in that vintage way that is all about nostalgia now) her candies, cakes and pies were seamlessly there and ready, dependable and delicious, just like we’d grown up knowing they would be.

My own mother wasn’t much of a baker, or a cook really, but she certainly believed she was. Even now, in her state of dementia, when she begins talking about the days before her illness, she was the cook to beat all cooks. My childhood consisted of lots of microwave dinners, (unevenly heated and disgusting, mind you) bologna sandwiches and then when my step father was around (5-10 days a month) we had real meals. Sometimes my mom cooked them, (if that were the case, a box or can of something was typically ALWAYS involved) and sometimes he grilled them. Cakes involved mixes, eventually cookies involved mixes. She was all about that short-cut cooking which was introduced to America around the same time she was. It makes sense. It wasn’t that she was lazy… The woman painstakingly made chocolates to die for, and they were loved by many, many people, across the nation.

I remember when I learned how to cook, (a sordid and woeful journey, poor Chw…) I was very excited to share with her, my skills. That is how most young girls are. No matter what ill hurts lie between a daughter and her mother, that desire to get her approval is strong. My first big success was lasagna. An elderly woman, who was very dear to my husband, was also the brilliant cook to create his all-time favorite dish and as a wedding gift she was teaching me, from her wheelchair, how to make it. My mother was full of complaints and disgust over my perfected deep dish of love, and I was devastated. This became a theme, really… Mom, look at my new couch! It’s hideous, I’d never own something like that. Mom, I finally perfected a lemon cheesecake. I had thought it would taste way better than this, it’s almost inedible. And on, and on, and on.

And now I sit, at the start of another Christmas season. I have my dutiful little list all written out… What I will bake, and for whom. When. And slowly the dread of doing so, and the self-doubt of why begins to trickle in. Over the past few years I have the same pattern, and though I plan and list otherwise, it will play out the same. The past few years have been the first where I have not had a holiday season filled, to the brim, with friends and family upon which to force my confections. This is far more bitter than sweet for me. This season it is mostly just the two of us, and Chw’s perspective is that of- there is no need to stress yourself out and go to the trouble when it’s just me and I probably won’t eat much of it anyway.

And I am sad.

I always say that I don’t love baking, but I remember loving it. I remember sugar cookies, ornately decorated, every season of my motherhood, until we moved back to Michigan. I remember reveling in my cheesecake masterpieces, creating cakes centered around loved one’s likes- for their birthdays, I remember delving into flaky pastries and pies and tarts and loving it all.

And then nothing.

No new cheesecake adventures, and truly I miss it. I do. But if I were to craft a new cheesecake, half of it would go into the garbage, and that hurts my feelings, though it probably shouldn’t. No cookie exchanges, no holiday parties or gatherings. It is easy to see how the holiday season can become so depressing for people. I look back on the good old days, where holidays were full of love and faces and people, my home always full and people enjoying what I’d made as we conversed and laughed over board games and quality moments. I knew then, that these were the life moments I loved, and how great things were. I remember pausing my life for a micro-second, simply to absorb how great it all felt. I remembered to appreciate it, always. What I never expected was it gone completely, all that is left is the reoccurring holiday list…

cookies

cupcakes

marshmallows

cheesecake

It is doubtful that any of it will get done. The thought of doing it exhausts me, (because, why?) but the thought of not doing it stabs me somewhere gutturally. And I think about these women before me, the holiday sugar journeys and how grateful I am for them. Maybe this season and phase of my life are meant to go in other culinary directions. I am strongly (and overwhelmingly) toying with the idea of tamales. I grew up with the eating of them a Christmas eve tradition. This was also in New Mexico, where everyone you know makes them, and they are readily accessible. I, myself have never made them and I am thinking that, maybe it’s time…

I am also toying with a few other adventurous little recipes to try out, since it is just us. I am both excited and tempted to just stick with doing nothing at all.

What about you? What baking/cooking will you plan to do?

beautiful, chronic illness, confession, depression, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, travel

It isn’t quite a scrapbook…

My re-entry back from my PNW trip has been tough. Full disclosure? Depression has smacked me really hard, right between the eyes. Before I left, I wondered if it would. When I was with my people I made the conscious effort to absorb as much of their energy as I could, so that I could create a sort of storage for their amazingness. I also came back to Michigan knowing that Thanksgiving was just around the corner, in which I would be with some of the best of my people. I tried to prepare for the possibility, but I was probably several days into it before I really saw it.

I want to whine, and kick my feet and tell the universe that I simply can not live here anymore. Here in the land of cement colored skies and a community culture that, try as I might, I will just never understand. (Also, leaving home is tough because the things you fall behind on, while you’re gone, don’t magically get done. No. You come home to the house you need to clean, the laundry you need to do, the fridge you need to stock. As dumb as it may sound, it was overwhelming…)

That aside, I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you what my adventure contained…

  • Catching up with twenty-plus friends, and realizing again (and again) that I my friends are really beautiful people and I am really, really very lucky to know them
  • Cuddling two brand new baby boys
  • loving on six awesome, joyful dogs
  • hanging out with my amazing sister
  • meeting the beautiful boy who has made me a great-aunt
  • celebrating the birthdays of my two handsome nephews
  • feeling the silky curls which belong to my beautiful grand-daughter, along with drinking in the smell of her baby scented head
  • going to one movie, with my bff
  • filling up my soul with goodness, at my church (which I miss TERRIBLY)
  • dining on familiarly amazing things (an estimated 900 duck fat/truffle salt fries, handmade eclectic ice cream, authentic street tacos, Korean tacos, a decadent wine tasting spread, and so much more…)
  • a strong debate over the ranking qualities of the Nutty Buddy vs. the Ding Dong
  • surviving what very well could have been a haunted halloween
  • one paper crafting project with the bestie, who is a paper crafter extraordinaire
  • a handful of really fun photo shoots (thank you so much, and you’re welcome!)
  • a sleepover complete with rum, conversation, late night scary-ish stuff including a string of truly bizarre you-tube videos and pizza
  •  a bazillion laughs
  • a few tear-filled talks
  • an unnatural amount of calorie filled coffee made in the land where barista-ing is done right
  • a mini road trip, unlike one I’d ever had before, leading the secret place where all of the unique convenience store snacks are hidden
  • adding another phenomenal Chinese massage to my collection of experiences
  • meeting my now-Washington State Safeway boyfriend

It is truth that the home of my past feels best, smells best and tastes best, though I am old enough to realize that the biggest reason because it is more the special occasion place than the every day. (though, don’t get me wrong, many of those things would be great every day to do things…)

creative, depression, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, list, marriage, self care, travel

Octobers are my favorite…

I love the beautiful simplicity of this photo. It isn’t mine, it isn’t us. There is something so beautiful about clasped hands, held together, skin-tight, love all that will fit in the between. After yesterday’s post, I wanted to take a little time before posted something far less significant. At the same time, however, looking over my list really allowed me the opportunity to be intentional about the 30 days still to loom ahead, within the month…

Home:

  • decorate for Autumn
  • more candlelit evenings
  • donate 31 things to charity
  • make candied apples
  • make my Grandmother’s apple butter

Create:

  • paper crafting projects
  • pull out the knitting needles
  • experiment more with essential oils and ways to help others with them

Relate:

  • spend time with my BFF, for the almost-week she’s visiting
  • apple picking and making memories
  • welcome my husband home and connect with him in all of the ways, before life takes us on legs of our own journeys again
  • speaking of journeys- fly to Seattle to spend time loving on my beautiful little granddaughter
  • dates with my mom
  • actively displaying gratitude and support to the staff in the nursing home
  • reaching out to connect with other women in life affirming ways

Personal:

  • (finally) meet with personal trainer
  • stick to a schedule for writing, and progress.
  • continued work with my chiropractor and kinesiology
  • hot baths, yoga and self-care

Read/Watch:

  • American Made. (dying to see this movie, even though I know it was technically as September release.)
  • The Mountain Between Us
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin 
  • Reread Alice in Wonderland
  • Braving the Wilderness 

 

What about you? What are you looking forward to, in these growing and cooling evenings? What things do you look forward to the most? Life is hard and heavy, but we still have the responsibility to love the lives we’re living and try to breathe life and beautiful in the brutal… Some days that may be all we’ve got.

chronic illness, confession, depression, gratitude, journey

The mystery of a Kit Kat…

I ate a Kit Kat yesterday.

I ran to Target to pick up a couple of things and in my search for one of them, I managed to wind my way through the Halloween aisles twice, and avoided the temptation to pick up any small packages of sugar. It was actually harder than I would care to admit, and I honestly don’t know why.

Is it because Chw is away for so long and I’m lonely? Is it because most of my friends live 2000 miles away? Is it because my kids are far away and I miss them too? Again- is it because I am lonely?

Over the weekend I brainstormed ways to get connected and meet people. And then, like the dawning sounds of a Hallelujah chorus, it hit me: Meet up! I have tried to do Meet Up’s locally before and it has been a bust, BUT this time I could make my own and see hot it goes…

Well, it goes like this: $15 a month to begin and maintain a group. So, it went away in the bad idea drawer. (We don’t buy our friends, after all, and this makes friendship acquisitions seem like a subscription box)

A Kit Kat is 89 cents… (just for perspective.)

Late yesterday morning I packed Elenor, and her favorite toys and treats, up and we headed to the nursing home to visit with my mom. She has really been down lately, (this would be my mom, not elenor) and I always loved taking Knightley there. He brought such joy to the residents days. Maybe it is because she is bigger, maybe it is because I was alone, maybe it is because it was 900 degrees outside- but it was not an easy feet. By the time we made it to my mom’s room (I also brought a box of donuts for the nurses, which complicated things a wee bit.) I wanted to curl up on her bed and sleep for a year.

The meeting of the two of them was childlike and precious, and made the struggle to get there worth it.

That will be etched into my mind forever.

One of the four times that I had to trek the 840 steps back to the front, to take Elenor out to do her business, we encountered a lovely little group of residents who were thrilled to see a puppy coming at them down the hall. I scooped her up in my arms because I did not want her to have an accident out of excitement, especially since the home is in the middle of remodel and the carpet is new. While I am holding her and she is excitedly saying hello to each member of the bunch, a gentleman starts patting his lap aggressively and shouting “BABY!” I explain to them she really needs to go out and he proceeds to grab her back leg and begin pulling her to him…

My puppy has officially been abused by a nursing home resident. Since Elenor plans to spend regular time there, maybe it is a milestone. This sweet little Golden girl who loves everyone was a bit apprehensive of wheel chair riders after that…

The Kit Kat followed the visit, the stressful pet store trip, the long (melting) drive home. It followed trying to cool off with a Hallmark movie and nap. It was after this that I remembered I needed to run to Target.

I passed up a cool lime refresher from Starbucks, (quenching, cold and $4 off a gift card I already have) because it seemed indulgent and I wanted to practice self-control.

I fell in love with a fabric covered pumpkin, ($9) where apparently my resolve did not apply. I purchased a small bag that my mom needed, and a travel make up bag for me, because I am traveling across the country and all. (In like a month and a half, and I’ve done it hundreds of times without said bag, and bag was not on sale.) And then, after passing up sugar for the entire trip, I’m standing in line to check out and there is a Kit Kat for 89 cents. (plus, in my defense, I do save an additional 5%.)

Also while I had been in the nursing home, I passed a man in the largest wheel chair I have ever seen. I can honestly say I have never seen a person so heavy. It struck me to my core really. The writer in me began to wonder why? Had he lived a lonely life? A defeated life? A hard, bruised and broken one? I resolved that I do not ever want to live like that, and I said a silent prayer to God, thanking Him that I could walk and move.

I have been very frustrated because, after losing 130 pounds, I have put on 39. It is depressing and no one knows why. I keep hoping lab work will come up with something that makes us go, “Oh! that’s why!” and a solution will arise. (Currently, eating really well, (better than when I lost the weight) and exercising isn’t cutting it.)

It is that frustration which encouraged me not to indulge in the small, wrapped halloween candy. I would have regretted it, even if something sick in me believed sugar would balm the loneliness as of late. It was also, I’ll admit, the memory of that man…

So the Kit Kat? I don’t know. I didn’t forget. It is almost like I remembered with each sickeningly sweet and not at all delicious bite, yet I finished it anyway.

Ladies and Gentlemen, self sabotage at it’s finest, and I don’t even know why. The one thing I am sure of is that with the rate things are going for me, due to the Kit Kat, my gain is likely now up to 45 or 50 lbs.