Nearly every inch of Amira’s walls is covered in Behr’s P290-5 Squash Blossom. Finally. I bought guaranteed-one-coat paint. Three to four coats deep, I’m disillusioned. But, I’m getting closer.
A part of this project has included clearing out outgrown, outdated, and unused items from the room. This has included decor, clothing, furniture, and a variety of tchotchkes. That has meant that an awkward, big-ass chair that has lived in her room for 3 years is now in mine. Ultimately, it will be leaving this house never to return. But, until then, it lives in my room.
After having groused in my mind about all this, I curled up into that awkward, big-ass chair yesterday afternoon. I needed a break after painting and sat down. And this was my view…
I’m so lucky to live where I do.
Grateful for the view, and the awkward, big-ass chair to view it from.
I don’t remember this at all. It feels familiar like a relatable story, but not necessarily my story. I know it is necessary for our brains to constantly be clipping information away that it deems non-critical. Even so, I feel a little sad that I can’t remember *all * the moments like these. I’m glad I wrote it down. It’s a snapshot of the average every day of life. Even if I don’t remember it, it’s still precious. So, the original post title “It’s good to be reminded.” and is equally appropriate for what I feel rereading this post.
JANUARY 7th, 2007
The two wind storms that we had have taught me more thankfulness. We’ve lost power during both storms. We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had to live without it for more than 24 hours. In the first storm, some people went weeks without.
Night-before-last our power went off just before 1 AM. Amira woke up about 5:30 am the power was still off. We started a fire for warmth and lit the candles for light. Pulling her toys and books in close to us, we spent the morning playing in front of the fireplace. Once Mom & Dad got up, we decided to head out to get some breakfast. As we tried to pull out of our driveway, we discovered 5 tree branches had fallen and blocked our exit. Dad took a saw to the branches, while Mom & I hauled them out of the way. A little pre-breakfast exercise.
We spent the morning at the mall eating tasty spinach and artichoke egg souffle, hanging out with Amira while she climbed, hopped, slid, and generally romped in the kids’ play area. When we discovered there was still no power, we went grocery shopping and had a delicious lunch (I had a tasty hummus and veggie sandwich on Etruscan whole-grain bread – yum!). We came home to the cold house, bundled Amira up in her bed for her nap. She was cozy under a blanket and down comforter. Around 2:15 pm, the power returned. Obviously, losing our power couldn’t be called a hardship.
Even so, being without power makes me really grateful that we have it 99.9% of the time. I don’t know the statistics for how much of the world lives without reliable power or running water – but that this is something that I can take for granted… it’s a wealth and a blessing.
Due to my own neglect, I lost my old blog URL and the blog content that it held. I was able to salvage some of the content using archive.org. As I was writing for my Patreon last night, I had the idea to post some of those nearly lost moments here. My tentative plan is to keep an eye on my archive and post them around the same date/time in the year. So, here we go. I present to you, the night before Gigi’s moving day, a look back to 9 years ago. We were still living in Portland, but our time of caregiving Paul’s grandmother was coming to an end. We called her GG (which later morphed into Gigi).
JANUARY 3RD, 2012
I’m really tired. It’s only 10:20 pm but my vision already has that blurry, out-of-focus thing going on. Tomorrow is Grandma’s move day. I’ve got some low-level nervous energy, despite the deep desire to curl up and sleep, about the remaining ‘day of packing’ to-do list I have. We are going to have a small army of people and cars showing up tomorrow, and so I know everything will be covered. And still… niggles wriggle in my mind.
The walls are completely bare in most rooms and boxes are stacked neatly waiting for the moving crew. For those who have known Grandma’s house, it’s a profoundly strange sight. We shared our last dinner and evening with Grandma in her house. We took a short moment to say thanks for the grace, love, and support given over the last (almost) year and a half to each other. We enjoyed dinner as usual and with happy banter played a few hands of UNO together. There will be more dinners and more rounds of UNO… just not here and like this.
At Amira’s tuck-in – it was my turn to pray. I felt such deep gratitude for the lessons learned and the relationship built and I said so. Amira expressed sadness for GG (Amira’s nickname for her Great-Grandma) having to move and that she was going to miss having her here with us. She talked about moving in next door to GG at the assisted care apartment complex. We had to concede that GG’s soon to be neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate our bumping them out of their home. We had to remind Amira that we have many visits, shared dinners, playing games, and pool parties (there is a pool and families are welcome!) to look forward to.
Communal living changes you… from age 7 all the way to 92. It’s not always easy or fun, but it often is too… and it is most certainly stretching and deeply rewarding. There’s more to be said about this – but this will have to do for tonight.
This particular portion of our adventure is complete. Tomorrow begins a new adventure for her and for us.
This morning, I’m remembering the deeper value of blogging and why I have done it. I get Seth Godin’s blog in my email. He’s great at keeping his content pretty short and digestible. Even so, I’m sporadic about reading them. A good chunk of the time, I delete them without having read them. Even so, I haven’t unsubscribed because there is always a gem seemingly written just for me. For example last night, I was cleaning out my email and pulled up all of Seth’s emails. My inbox gets cluttered far too easily and I try to purge out the cruft regularly. I started scanning my way through Seth’s post, one at a time, when I hit Dec 29th’s blog post:
The most important blog post.
It is on the most important blog.
Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.
And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.
Blogging has tangible value for me. I’ve written, more than once, about it in the past. I do love the idea of blogging and having it be of a source of interest and value to any readers who might stumble into my digital space. But, at the end of the day, remembering the value of blogging and why I have done it.. *because it provides value to me* is reason enough to get back into my practice. Although the timing is coincidental, I suppose, you could call it a new year’s resolution.
Recently, a good chunk of my brainstorming and working time has been on our deck. The breeze has been brisk and cool enough. I haven’t had to run back inside for relief from the heat. (I’m told that will change over the next few days… heatwave on deck for Labor Day weekend.) I did have to share my office space today. He’s not a bad office mate per se. He is a little pushy when it comes to getting what he wants (scritches on demand) but otherwise, he’s alright. 😉 I’m beyond lucky to be working in such a comfortable and luxurious space.
My brainstorming sessions have been mulling over how I can use my skills to meet people’s needs. Art does meet a need, but not always in the direct, understandable way that, say, buying groceries does. As I brainstorm, I alternate between feeling stuck and stymied and then excited by the possibilities.
There’s a business/entrepreneur coach that I follow on Instagram named Gary Vaynerchuk. I like his no-nonsense practical thought processes. His wisdom sounds more like common sense than something enlightened and otherwise out of reach. The only catch is implementation, consistency, and patience are required. It shouldn’t be a thing at all… except for the temptation of wanting quicker, more successful results. But, I’m taking his advice to heart. Be willing to experiment, fail, learn, and show up again. Seek what will provide value to those who cross paths with what I’m sharing, saying, and creating… and doing it consistently. It feels risky but I can see its value.
I have an online friend who has been self-employed for the last 15+ years. She’s successful at what she does. In her office, she has a banner. It says: “Comfort is a slow death.” My instinct is to fight with that statement. But, it has a lesson it is trying to convey. The lessons I’m learning in following my calling are simultaneously lessons for day-to-day life. I see that.
Next step, feel the anxiety that is speeding up my heart as I type this. I will do it anyway. I only have this life to live, so there’s no use it waiting around for the anxiety to magically evaporate. Ha! I’ve been around long enough to know that isn’t going to happen. So, Janece, discomfort it is. This insanely blessed life that I’ve been gifted… it’s one I want to live. Here I go.
I’m grateful for the have-to-dos in life sometimes. For example, last weekend, I had to take Amira to the beach for a sculpture class homework. I decided to take on the assignment too – build an abstract sand sculpture. We sat down where, if you dug down a few inches, the sand was still wet. I got to playing. I could have used more water to help keep the sand together but it made for a creative constraint. I decided I wanted to build something that would be photographed from above and got started. I felt, in my delusions of creative grandeur, like Andy Goldsworthy in Rivers & Tides. The surf was advancing and I didn’t know if I would finish before the sea reclaimed her sand.
I’ve never sculpted much of anything before beyond PlayDoh. It was fun. It was a good lesson that taught me the value of setting up new experiences outside my creative rabbit trails. It’s been a few days and I can still feel the creative energy boost.
It was an spirit boost as well. Getting outside and connecting with nature doesn’t fix anything that’s happening in my life. It does give me a resiliency boost.
In about an hour, we have friends coming over for a socially-distant lunch. I’m looking forward to seeing them, it’s been a few months. And, my heart and mind are anxious. I feel like too many things aren’t up to snuff… things are wrong. We’ve been painting color swatches upstairs in preparation for repainting the bedrooms and the bathroom. It looks a mess. It’s chaotic and jarring visually. We are going to have lunch on the deck. Our deck isn’t finished and I feel self-conscious and embarrassed about that. There are things all over the place, nearly anywhere my eye might settle, that aren’t up to my standards. I’m afraid they won’t be up to our friends’ standards either. I don’t want them to look down on me. I don’t want to be wrong. The fear of being judged burns into me like a brand.
To help diffuse the intensity of what I feel, I often describe the sensations to Paul. I did and he asked me what the worst-case scenario is for me. I told him I’m afraid of being judged, shamed, or disliked. He asked why that was a concern and I replied, “Because I want to be liked.” Paul in his clear-sighted wisdom replied: “You don’t want to be liked. You need to be liked.”
I’m not even sure how to go about it. But, right now, I’m committing to practicing not needing people to like me and what I do. If you have any tips… I’m all ears.
Flow is the sweet spot of conversations and blogging. You get into it and everything moves organically, one topic to the next. If you fall out of it, getting it back can be awkward. It’s sort of like needing an ice breaker activity at a party or sitting next to someone and not knowing how to start up a conversation. I ask questions and hope their answers will prime the conversation pump. In blogging, I have to ask myself the questions to get the flow started. A while back, I saw this meme: “I have so much to do I can’t decide whether I should get up early and dive in, or just give up, roll over in bed and let it all go.” Relatable, right? But, of course, I won’t let it all go. I’ll dive in and trust the flow.
Recently, I’ve found flow is either the sweetest spot to be or the most uncomfortable. Flow is the all-is-right-with-the-world feeling or the exact opposite. It’s effortless to float in the flow when it takes us where we want to go. Drowning in rapids is what it feels like when we are tossed about the unchangeable and unexpected.
LIFE JUST WON’T STAY PUT
Amira is in 11th grade. I saw those words next to her name on the school information website and felt a jolt of amazement. Today is her first day of school. Thanks to the pandemic, school is online distance learning only. I say that and I am grateful for the tools available and the effort that has been put into making this the best experience it possibly can be. It’s requiring the administration, parents, teachers, and students to have a willingness to work with things as they come. And as they do, they will, hopefully, develop their unique customized flow into a this-is-school-for-now normal.
My dad has Parkinson’s and PD-induced dementia. Mom is his sole caregiver right now. (We are working to get her help but it has been trickier than it would have been pre-COVID.) She & I talk almost every night after Dad goes to sleep. Mom, before retirement, was a payroll accountant. She was a good accountant because she is good at keeping a structured, detailed checklist, meeting deadlines, and getting everything corrected down to the penny. It’s a must for the job and she excelled at it. It was a perfect job for her because it is just part of who she is. She is reliable, consistent, accurate, and has everything under control. Those skills have made her an amazing caregiver too. She has detailed spreadsheets with Dad’s medications (both a list and the when and hows of giving those meds to him throughout the day). She has all the documentation you could want or need regarding his medical history. She’s thinking ahead, managing for contingencies, and possibilities that she and Dad might have to face. She’s incredible.
CONTROL (OR THE ILLUSION OF IT)
Last night, during our phone conversation, we got onto the topic of control (or the illusion of it) and the need (especially right now) for going with the flow. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that has and will only get more complicated to manage. Mom is incredible and she’s spread too thin and exhausted. Dad’s symptoms have been both expected and also out-of-the-blue. There’s just no way to say “This! This is how this will go.” It’s fluid every day. We talk about the days ahead and we find ourselves once again having to let go of timelines, getting everything perfect, and being in control. Predicting how things will go is impossible. We make our best-educated guess and accept that it is good enough. In both daily life and looking at the future, we are having to do the best we can with what we have today and go with the flow. (I say us, and while true… she is, as his caregiver and wife, taking a master’s level course in this compared to me.)
I was working on a series of paintings (before migraines interrupted my flow) that are about choosing a focus and a meaningful direction when faced with life’s unpredictable flow of circumstances and emotions. It’s a paradox I keep thinking about… going with the flow of things (releasing control) while simultaneously embracing the idea that I have a choice (taking control) in how I respond and live within that flow.
My paintings are my visual thought pieces, in context and execution. They are me asserting my belief and desire that I have free-will and access to healing and transformation if I will allow and pursue it… even when life is utterly out of my control. I don’t have to be happy about it. Agreeing that it is the best thing, or where I “should” be right now at this moment, isn’t necessary. I, however, can take control by determining what kind of person I want to be in this flow and what I will do next.
I blogged for 15-16 years, from 2002ish until 2018. I tapered off and finally let my website go dark in mid-2018. The end of my blog was around the same time that I began to use Instagram heavily. It became blogging lite. It was easily accessible, required less work, and feedback was more instantaneous. I liked that and still do.
I would think about blogging again every now and again, mostly when reading Natalie’s Chickenblog. She’s been blogging for 18 years! Honest, straight up, her blog has changed my life. One of her most recent posts moved me to tears and altered my internal landscape for the rest of the day. I’ve also realized that blogging is a valuable tool in creating mental wellbeing. If I’m willing to do the work, it provides me the space and opportunity for my personal growth. While doing the creative work of writing and sharing, I process a lot of the pieces of my thoughts and life. I am able to sort, sift, organize, feel, commemorate, acknowledge, and give meaning. I am able to use it as a tool for personal catharsis.
And so, here I am.
If you are still blogging, drop your URL in the comments. If you aren’t blogging, but still enjoy reading them, drop your favorite URLs. Thanks!
If you happen on this page – you’ve caught me in progress. I’m launching anew NoOrdinaryMoment.com. It’s time, past time, for me to blog again. It will be for me, but I won’t be upset if others visit, participate, and get something out of all this for themselves too. I’m keeping this simple. I have a tendency to get tripped up by over-analyzing and attempting to be too tricky with my design and features. I’ve learned that it’s a sneaky tool of resistance and procrastination that keeps me from creating and sharing. None of that this round! Welcome to NoOrdinaryMoment.com again.