Tuesday, January 6, 2015

$100 Clothing Challenge

A few weeks ago, I wrote out my goals for the new year.  I don't call them resolutions.  I don't like that.  It implies that I am resolute, unmovable.  Goals, those are the things I'm striving for, that are fluid, changeable if need be.

I really, really want to reach my goals though, many of which are financial in nature, but without any sort of PLAN on how to do that, it's unlikely they'll be met.  Which is why I added some challenges to my list.

First up is my $100 clothing challenge for our family of 5.  Not $100 for the month.  $100 for the entire year.  For five of us.  Including shoes.  $100.  My only stipulation, primarily to give myself some leeway (and to prevent mutiny), is that if we sell clothing at our annual yard sale, that money can then be put back into the kitty.

This stipulation helps encourage the girls to take better care of their clothing.  I have three clothes horses that love looking pretty and wearing new things.  But two are teenagers and leave their things on the floor constantly, forget them at practice and school, lose things all the time.  I hope that this helps them better understand that we shouldn't be a throwaway society, that our prosperity as an individual, a family or a society can be linked to how well we take care of, and appreciate, the things we already have.

This is going to be harder than I thought!!  I've already spent $7!!!

We have:
Fleece Mickey and Minnie sweatshirt for mom
Pink Champion Yoga Top for mom (not pictured)
Black Hoodie for mom
Old Navy short sleeve top for mom
Capri Yoga pants for mom
Vera Wang long sleeve top for Kiddo
Hind running pullover for Kiddo
Pink Sports Bra for Kiddo
Robe for Kiddo
Short sleeve sweater for Kiddo

(and another top that I managed to scorch right off the bat which will  now be a craft project)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

satisfaction is not in my nature

so i was working on sophia's hair a few weeks ago, listening to the local radio station, when the dj announced that, after the commercial break, he would share the secret of happiness that scientists have finally figured out.  it wasn't like i was going to change the channel since i was doing hair, so i was blessed with hearing this "secret to happiness".

according to scientists, the secret to happiness is . . .  . doing better than you expected.  the dj, trying to get a laugh, summed up this astounding bit of info.  the secret to happiness is having low expectations!  sophia and i both burst out laughing.

but here's the thing.  that IS the secret to happiness.  if you think you're going to get a 4% return on your investments and you get a 6% return, you're happy!  if you think you're going to get a b on the test but you really get an A, you're happy!  if you think that you're going to be able to afford a 2 bedroom home but you can actually afford a 3 bedroom home, you're happy!

my problem is this, and i'm totally stealing a line from the last thor movie:  loki says "satisfaction is not in my nature"  wow.  so profound and so true.  satisfaction is not in MY nature.  i look at where i am in life and i am not satisfied.  i've travelled to europe three times, africa four times, i lived in uganda for 6 weeks, have been on safari and have had experiences that very few of my local friends have had, but, BUT i'm not satisfied.  i want to go to iceland and see the northern lights.  i want to go to india, and vietnam, and nepal.  i want to see tanzania, and i want to see gorillas in the mist.

i've worked my ass off paying off my mortgage, living debt free and saving for retirement and i know we're farther along in our plans than some, but i'm not satisfied.  i want more, to be better at saving, to be more frugal.

i've read tons of classics and good books, but i'm not satisfied.  i'm smart but i wish i was smarter.  i can walk incredible mileage but i want to be able to run it.  i know some french, but i wish i knew several languages.

i just finished my tattoo and i love it, but i'm ready for another or to add to this one.

we love going to the theater and have a great time, but i'm not satisfied with the local theater anymore, i want to see larger productions in bigger cities.

satisfaction is not in my nature and therefore i can never find true happiness.

nathan and i had a major philosophical discussion this evening.   i cannot change who i am.  for better or worse, i want a life larger that the one i'm living.  no matter how filled, how full, how big the life, it won't be big enough.  i will never be satisfied with mediocrity.

if i were to try to change myself, i wouldn't be true to myself and therefore wouldn't be happy.  but always wanting more won't make me happy either.  conundrum much?

yet can we find happiness in the journey?  is my happiness, at the end of my days, tied not to how full my life was but how much i challenged myself to make it fuller?  can that be a satisfying conclusion in and of itself?

sometimes i wish, i wish, i wish i could be satisfied with mediocrity. i wish i could be satisfied living a simple life with a simple uneducated man, going to the same place over and over with no variety, doing the same things.  i wish i could content myself with reading the latest romance book instead of wishing i could get through the complete works of all my favorite authors.  i wish i could settle in and be satisfied going to disneyworld year after year instead of yearning for the red earth of africa, the smell of sea air, or the volcano blackened earth of iceland.

perhaps that's why 40 has hit me as hard as it has.  nobody will ever tell me i have my whole life in front of me, yet i have so much to do, so much to see, so much to live, i can't possibly get it all done.

i'm not depressed or sad or angry.  this comes from a place of introspection and truth.  i am what i am.  i know my limitations.  now to figure out a way to find happiness while also constantly striving to be . . . . more.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School

Today Sophia starts 10th grade.  At public school.  We toyed with this for several months before finally deciding that it wouldn't be good for me, for my healing, for our healing as a family, if she did online school at home.  Behavior is better, falling into the "irritating teenager" category most of the time, but me stepping in to direct her schoolwork, to constantly check to make sure she's doing what she's supposed to do, what she say's she's doing. . . . I'm not ready yet.

Add to that, Freyja will have surgery that puts her into a cast to her hip and a cast to her shoulder. . . ultimately we decided that it would be best to homeschool her, while Sophia goes to public school.

But Sophia is growing, maturing.  She spent the summer working odd jobs around the house to earn enough points to "buy" my time to re-lox her hair.  I told her when she started undoing it that once she undid it, I would  no longer be responsible for her hair, in any way, either time wise, or financially.  I told her that if she persisted in undoing her hair, she would be responsible for buying any styling products, tools or additional products on her own.  And for the better part of the year, she continued to undo, whether to get back at me for some unknown reason, or to prove her power, I don't know.

However, at the beginning of the summer, after her meds started working, she came to me and asked if she could earn points for the purpose of loc-ing.  We settled on 100 points per hour of my time, and it took 500 points when all was said and done.  She weeded, mowed the grass, dusted, swept, read with sisters, graded papers, cleaned bathrooms, toilets and showers, scrubbed floors.  You name it, we probably had her doing it.  Of course my mother things it's horrible that I wouldn't just redo her hair.  Personally, I think it's fantastic.  She learned that my time is valuable, that I keep my word, and she learned that she has to work (sometimes a lot harder than she ever imagined) to undo mistakes of the past.  Life lessons right there.

Unfortunately, because she'd damaged her hair so much during the un-do phase, we had to cut about 6 inches off the length of her remaining locs.  But now she's got a cute bob that she loves and it's all one length.  Win.

We're also in major "buckle down" mode after several purchases dented our emergency fund.  Honestly, it feels good to have a plan and to be sticking with it.  It's easier to eat a healthy diet if I cook everything myself, particularly with fresh veggies and fruits.  We're spending a little more quality time together as a family, playing games, doing puzzles and reading together.  I think we're on target to be BACK on track by the end of the year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Better Living Through Chemisty

I hate taking medications.  I hate living in a society that quick fixes everything with a pill.  I think every option should be tried Before taking a quick fix.  Diet, sleep, schedule.. . especially diet. . . affects how we function. 

That said, sometimes medication IS the way to go.  S has been doing radically better on her new medication.  Example:  Three months ago, if I told her "no" she couldn't fill in the blank with any mundane thing you can think of, she would flip out, scream, pout, rage, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few months.  Because she didn't get her way.  Today, I can tell her no, to any number of questions, and she may get upset, she may yell, but she's over it in a "normal" time span of 10-30 minutes.  Sometimes less.  It's like living with a completely changed person.  Yes, she still annoys me sometimes.  Yes, she still acts inappropriately around her sisters.  Yes, she still breaks the rules.  But now, they're the sort of infractions normal kids make.  They aren't fueled by some uncontrollable rage for weeks and weeks on end. 

This is a GOOD thing.  Now, the problem is this:  N and I have lived SO long, in fear, in distrust, in shame, in crisis, in ANGER, that it's hard, SO hard, to let go of all that negative emotion.  Instead of S's rages, I now have a knee jerk reaction to her minor turmoil.  Because I'm expecting, fearing, a more bizarre, extreme reaction from her, *I* react more strongly than I should.  And I'm having a hard time letting go of my anger.  I have spent 8 years disliking this person I've had to share a home with, that now that she's . . . behaving normally. .. . . . I can't switch it off. 

But we're healing.  Little by little.  We're healing. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thrift Chairs: Before and After

Here is the chair before I started work.  $10 each at a yard sale last year.  The lines were fantastic and fit into our mid-century mod house perfectly.  The fabric however. . . worn, dirty and fraying. 

Here's Chair #1 after I recovered it in about $75 worth of fabric.  I added a $1 thrifted pillow as accent.  This was a total no sew project, completed with a staple gun, carpet tacks, a mallet and a second pair of hands.  Total chair re-do cost far, far less than finding a similar, less sturdy "new" chair AND I got to customize my fabric choice with something I loved!

Next weekend we tackle #2.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ink, Ink, BABY!

Today my tattoo artist and I got started on the actual tattoo.  2.5 hours under the needle and we got most of the outline done.  I head back in three weeks to get the rest of the outline and the color done.  We may have a third session, but hopefully not. 

Not that I'm complaining.  Because every session that I have, I spend the night in Indy, hanging out doing whatever I want with zero interruptions or drama.  No cats, dogs, kids, dinner, husband, chemo or anything else.  If I just want to chill in the hotel room and read, that's what I do.  If I want to go shopping, that's what I do.  If I want to go to a museum, that's what I do.  No planning.  No muss.  No fuss. 

So yeah, if I have a third session, it's all good.

When we laid the template out onto my arm, she had to reduce the size to better fit my existing tattoo that she's reworking.  And THAT means that I've got an extra two inches to add something else in a little bit. 

So far, I've got my sun/moon (reworked) that represents Hubby and I.  I've got Mother Earth in goddess form, holding her pregnant belly which is the planet earth (showing Africa).  I've got an African crane, hibiscus flowers and dogwood flowers. 

I'm thinking about adding a leopard in a tree and an elephant, but that will probably be several months out.  Got to space out my tattoos lest I run out of space.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Good Times

Today was a fine, fun filled day.  Mostly. 

Good stuff:  Got the girls off early, picked mom up and went yard saling.  We had some great laughs, particularly when I started screaming (in my van) at the guy loading up his new dumpster dived garden statue that I'd planned to dumpster dive myself. It took only driving around a city block to lose a fantastic Venus-ish garden statue!  ARG!!!  However, I did managed to dumpster dive a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC marble pedestal (4 feet high) that had been dumped from an old home. 

And I nearly peed my pants when mom read a recipe incorrectly as "Honey Granola Cunt".

And I introduced mom to my new favorite German restaurant. 

And we found a yard sale with some really neat (really expensive that I'm too cheap to buy when I can dumpster dive it for free) architectural salvage.

The only down for the day is door slamming, pouting and disrespect because I refuse to drive Sophia 30 miles to a job and back during the summer. 

All in all, that's a pretty good day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Random Musings

I'm ITCHING for another kitty.  I can barely contain myself.  I've actually been wanting a kitten since Morris got sick, so . . . since October/November, which oddly (or not for those that know me well) coincided with Dad's death.  Every time I feel the urge to pick out a kitten, I sweep.  So far so good.  But I did put in an application to be a foster parent through a local humane society.  They provide all the food, medication and litter, and I get to play with the kitties for 2 months with no further obligation.  WIN-WIN

My yard FINALLY looks like something other than a white trash trailer park lot.  It's still not great, but I've got the tarp off the lawn (which killed most of the weeds) in that section, the wood pile has been moved to the pile behind the fence, and I got my black sheeting off the lawn from last years tomatoes.  I was feeling mighty pleased with myself after 4 hours of hard yard work.  Then I went over to my mom's house and her garden areas look fan-freaking-tastic. 

I'm off to the doctor tomorrow.  I'm worried.  I've been having quite a bit of chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath.  That can be totally stress related.  But given that my grandmother had a heart attack at 40 and my mom has had heart problems for years, I'm not holding out hope.  I've eaten complete and total shit for 6 months, put on 20, yes 20, pounds and have stopped working out almost entirely.  But the chest pain has kicked me into high gear.  I've been eating clean for the past week.  I've gone out walking a few times.  I'm drinking more water.  I'm focusing on getting nutrition from my food instead of an emotional boost.  It helps to think in terms of fueling my body, but damn it.  I fucking LOVE cookies, chips and popcorn!  Moderation.  I'm not good at that.

Sophia.  We've got two days left of school.  I'm simultaneously dreading having her home 24/7 and thanking the universe that I can FINALLY sleep in again.  I am NOT a morning person, and try as I might, I just don't function well getting up at 5:30 every day.  But. . . we're trying out a mood stabilizer and that seems to be working.  Somewhat. There are still many, many aspects to her personality that I just don't like, but for the past week, we haven't seen the extreme mood swings that we had been seeing.  Hopefully the removal of school related stress will help level her out further.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Run For the Roses

Dan Fogelberg.  I'd always associated this song with the Kentucky Derby, one of Dad's yearly getaways.  The story goes that Dad and Stan went to The Derby while they were in law school.  They bet, but didn't win.  And then Dad, king of hair brained ideas, decided that they should collect all of the betting tickets that had been tossed to the ground, in hopes of finding a winning ticket that had been discarded by accident.  They snuck under the fence (ahh. . . to live back in an age without no big brother!!!), collected bags of tickets, and actually found a winner.  From that point forward, Stan and Dad went to the derby each year, although never with that much success.  And as they got older, going to the derby morphed into watching the derby on television, during their own "derby day".  Run for the Roses became one of Dad's favorite songs.  In retrospect, I'm sure it had nothing to do with the derby, and everything to do with the profound lyrics.

"It's the chance of a lifetime and a lifetime of chance."  Those words. . . so profound, have been resonating deeply within my soul, within my heart.  By chance, my family came together.  By chance, I grew up with, went to school with, dated, worked with, adopted with, people that have deeply, significantly, affected me, changed me, molded me into the person I am.  We all experience this Lifetime of Chance, experience things out of our control, meet random strangers that somehow become as vital to our being as the breath in our lungs, the beating of our hearts. 

But there is also that Chance of a Lifetime, those things that we can choose for ourselves, opportunities we take or don't take, so often dictated by fear, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of Pain, fear of causing pain. 

As I sit here, I know that I can't choose who has come into my life.  I can only choose how I let those people affect me.  I can only choose how I react, how I change because of their influence.

It's no secret that I don't like this person that I've become.  I don't like the constant anger I feel towards my husband, my children, my mother.  I don't like, I hate even, this lost identity, this new definition of my being, as mother and wife, instead of simply "woman".  Yes, I am a mother and a wife, but those are only two facets of my being.  I am so much more.  I know that I am, but I have been so buried, so crushed, by the roles of mother and wife, that I'm not sure I can dig The Woman out of the abyss. 

Last night, Nathan and I talked.  Last night, I voiced out loud, for the first time, something that I've been thinking about for some time now.  I think it is time for me to leave.  Not forever.  Not permanently.  But for a few months.  Long enough for me to remember.

The decision, not yet fully decided upon, does not come easily.  I take my responsibility seriously.  I understand that I have a husband, three children, five dogs, and two cats that need me to be present in their lives, that need me to fulfill the role of mother, wife and caretaker that I willing accepted.

The problem lies in the realization that I cannot fulfill my roles as mother, wife and caretaker as I exist right now.  I need to step away.  I need to remember the person that I've always wanted to be before I can actually be that person. 

And so, we have some details to work out. I need a job.  I need a place to live.  I need to make sure that things are in order in this house.  I'm not sure when, or even if, all the pieces will fall into place for this to happen.  But. . . . it's the working plan right now.  I'm going to run for my roses.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dad, Grammy and Remembering the Living

At 40 years old, I can count the number of funerals I've attended on two hands.  Of those 10, 4 are funerals that I've gone to strictly because it's part of my in-law duty.  Another 2 were because it was "the thing to do" in the community at the time (police officer and a child).  One I was too young to even know what it meant.  And 3 were for people that I was actually close to. But even those I didn't find meaningful.  I didn't need to see the body in the casket to cope with the loss of my grandfather, my great-grandmother and my cousin.  Actually, I'm quite cynical.  I think funerals are a crock of shit.  And I HATE seeing a graveyard.  All that land that could be forest, habitat, used up to store dead people.  Insane. 

I'm not sure if my dad shared my exact opinion of funerals, but he certainly shared my hatred of burials.  He made it known many, many years ago, when he was still healthy, that he wanted to be cremated.  I'm not sure when the idea of a memorial service took root, but he chose that as well.  I guess when there's no body, it's memorial service or nothing?  I don't know. 

Before the memorial, set two weeks after his death, I focused on getting by.  I didn't grieve.  I didn't want to participate in the memorial.  I couldn't understand, resented even, my mother's complete focus of The Memorial Service.  For me, the memorial was something to Get Through.  It was something I had to endure because that's what good daughters do.  I didn't anticipate having any more emotional impact for me than the actual loss of my parent. 

But, Mom wanted to go all out.  She found several people that Dad worked with, was friends with, that he golfed with, that would be willing to talk.  One, my Dad's good friend Stan, whom he'd known since law school, a former prosecutor, dry, stoic, almost said no.  Actually, he did say no, but changed his mind. 

I'm glad he did.  Stan's well spoken, as most people would expect a prosecutor to be, although if anyone's ever been to a country courthouse, that perception would change dramatically.  And he prepared.  He told me afterwards that he didn't want to make my dad look foolish or goofy by telling silly stories, but he also wanted to honor his friends craziness (although I'm fairly certain he didn't use that word).

He shared a few stories that I'd never heard before.  My dad, running down the highway in suit and dress shoes because he bet Stan, a runner for life, that he could beat his 8 minute mile.  He did.  My dad doing a standing vertical leap onto a desk in the lawyer lounge on a bet.  He made it.  Mostly.  My dad playing tennis with Stan in the middle of the night and losing so badly that he wouldn't fess up to his family that he'd been playing tennis at all.  And this crazy thing happened.  In that five minutes that Stan talked about my dad, he brought him back to me, if only for a short time.  You see, I'd started seeing my father as the grouchy, old, sick man that he'd become.  And I'd forgotten his zest for life, his love of learning, his craziness, his arrogance, his athletic ability.  In those moments, I remember my dad as he'd been 10,20, 30 years ago and for that, I will forever be thankful. 

My mom and I have talked about this a few times.  She had also forgotten the man that he'd once been.  She needed the reminder too.  But the thing is, it extends beyond just my dad.  That memorial service changed the way I interact with my grandmother.  Yes, she's got Alzheimer's and most of the time she's bat shit crazy.  Yes, she's accused my kids of all sorts of things, from stealing her money to hiding her purse from her to knocking her down the stairs.  But I'd forgotten who she used to be.  I'd forgotten that she used to bring Nathan and me groceries when we were broke because of the cancer stuff after we first got married.  I'd forgotten that she helped foster my love of yard sales, that she'd take to the garden to help pick veggies, that she'd make the best fried bologna and mayo sandwiches that I will NEVER eat again, but loved at the time.  Yes, it's about remembering the living while they still live.  Not simply the way they are now, but also what they used to be.

And I'm trying to remember me, the way I used to be, 15 years ago, before kids and cancer and death and responsibility took over.  Did I really drive 36 hours during a three day weekend just for a boy?  Did I really enjoy running?  Did I really drink so much I'd fall over?  Oh wait.  I still do that one sometimes.  Who was that creative, single, crazy girl I used to be?  I want to find her again.