2020 and All its Trials

Here’s the craziness that’s happened to me personally in 2020 so far:

– The pandemic happened
– Some of the paid ministry peeps I loved got let go.
– Churching at home
– My beloved dog Sally died
– Overworked with childcare needs up multiple times a week
– A hurricane with my namesake affected people in the US
– Stuck at home being respectful for health and safety of myself and others

I am not okay but I am surviving. This year is the worst case scenario of I need to drop everything for me time. I’m grateful for my health and my household’s wellness, and I’m thankful for my job stability and that they allowed me to work from home for a time. But this year has been a hard one, damnit.

I haven’t even felt like blogging on it. I don’t want to feel like I’m complaining when everyone else in the world is going through unique trials too.

The children’s pastor and her assistant as well as our minister of music were all laid off at church due to drastic debt. I cried as I live streamed our prayer gathering and found out their losses and what it meant to our church family as well as their families. I mourned the fact that our WOMEN in leadership were the ones that lost their positions and pay. Two of those ladies are independent with no secondary income or spouses. One was months away from a comfortable retirement. I was close to them and they made church feel safer and more like home. And then our senior pastor chose to take a 50% budget cut and ultimately, fast track stepping down completely as senior pastor and handing the reigns over to our young co-pastor. It’s bittersweet that he is leaving but he is off to do mission work and train up indigenous pastors and I know God is calling him to greater work.

Sweet Sally…She started showing signs of discomfort and I took her to the vet and he totally overlooked any problems and sent me home with some pain medication for what he assumed was lower cerebral inflammation of the spine. She started eating less and looked depressed. I did my best to give her pets and try to inspire her to walk as I know she loved being outside. It finally reached a point where she was refusing most food and looked to be panting. I thought maybe due to her age it was the beginning signs of heart failure. My vet said she needed blood work to continue her pain medication and I somehow felt a second opinion was needed. I called my brother and asked him to go to the vet hospital with me. We figured we’d grab dinner and go to the appointment and wait and then go home with Sally and call it a day. Due to the pandemic and things barely opening up in July, the wait time was 3-4 hours. We were prepared for it to take a while. What we weren’t prepared for was the triage vet tech seeing signs of blood loss through pale gums and taking her back to a waiting room almost immediately. When my girl came back to us, imaging showed she had a tumor that grew so large it raptured her spleen (Hemangiosarcoma is common for senior dogs of her breed) She was in so much distress that they wouldn’t allow us to take her home. Body fluid and bleeding were filling her chest cavity and we had no idea the severity of her problems. We were given two options: a surgery that would remove her spleen and give her up to a year but if it was chemo we’d have to treat the cancer, or we could put her down. Sally was 13, her breed lives up to 15 years, and many people who went through with surgery reported longevity of 6 months, not even a year. I made one of the hardest on the spot decisions I’ve had to make with my brother. We knew given the details the most loving thing we could do was say goodbye that evening. Since my brother and I are different households and we had to be vigilant about infection and covid issues we cried into our masks, refrained from hugging and being too close to each other, and had to be careful about the surfaces we touched. Our vet was comforting and we got the time we needed to say goodbye in a room all to ourselves. I walked in with full confidence Sally was coming home with me and it hurt so bad to be suddenly without her. She was a good girl to the very end. I will never forget her. Somehow knowing I won’t be a dog owner again for the indefinite future made everything harder too. Sally could never be replaced, but there also isn’t room in this time to welcome another dog into the family. I miss the joy and love and loyalty of a canine companion.

My brother and his wife have worked hard to stay afloat after his accident and concussion especially with 2 children and one income. My SIL has worked so hard to make ends meet financially while my brother has taken on more than he can truly bear at childcare, domestic duties, and dealing with pain 24/7 and migraines. The opportunity arose for them to work on a business plan for my SIL and that included renovation of a property for her work. To save money my brother decided to work with the contractor. This turned into my family helping out too, with childcare, up to 10 hours a day because of lack of resources right now. Some weeks my Mom got the kids as early as 8-10am and then I helped out after work and they didn’t go home until after 8pm. Nearly 10-12 hours of childcare including making and feeding meals. My family is exhausted. People joked of netflix time and being bored and being able to work on themselves and here every waking moment was work, childcare, or trying to stay afloat.

My household, like a lot of current households, has people, including myself, who are high risk and might have complications if we got sick with coronavirus so we have been very careful. I also have to be careful for my family since my Dad and Aunt are in their late 70’s. My boyfriend and I keep to meeting in the backyard spaced apart with masks. I’ve met up with a few friends at the park, again, distanced and respectful. It’s hard to see the church and society lash back at doing the right thing. Somehow I’m crazy to adhere to guidelines and care enough about others and myself to do what is right. My parent’s church is literally pressuring them to go back to gathering inside, which is ridiculous. They downplay death rates and overlook infection rates and minimize people who have passed from it to their complications as if they wouldn’t likely be alive today even with complications.

Life is crazy and I have no answers. I can’t lie and say my faith and family make everything better, but they do help. I feel stuck in a rut. But I’ll get through this. We all will.

2020

If there was ever a year to have a vision, it’s this one. It can be hard for me to narrow my focus into a year as my mind tends to think both immediate and longer term but hardly ever interstitial. I think for me, 2020 will be a year where I am ready for big changes. I am freeing myself and working on all aspects of my life to do whatever comes next. Things are lining up to rightly fall into place but without too much concrete idea of what that all entails.

Personal Goals:
Pursue creative passions outside of work
Lose weight for health reasons
Increase activity for health and strength training
Say no to extra commitments
Work on time for myself
Deepen relationships

Financial Goals:
Put more in savings than previous years
Increase retirement planning and funding
Invest in technology that aids in better living/advancement
Spend less on fast fashion and miscellany
Manage weekly and budget monthly to keep on track

Spiritual Goals:
Read the entire Bible this year (focus on daily reading)
Morning devotional (daily)
Get to know more people at church

Family Goals:
Be more gracious to my aging parents
Spend intentional quality time
Quietly improve/organize my parent’s home for them
Help my aunt feel moved in
Spend more time with my brother
Distance myself from getting absorbed into their timelines

I Didn’t Lose my Voice but I Chose to Speak Less in 2019

It’s been quiet on here. Not many updates last year on my blog. For some reason in 2019, I chose to speak less and voice less on the internet. I think I needed some quiet, and I wanted to hear and see but be less heard on trivial things. Not all of it was mindfulness, but I see how that factored into it.

Who hears you when you’re quiet? Who checks on you when you’re putting yourself out there? Who remembers you when step back? How many opinions and quibbles did I benefit from missing because I didn’t put my foot out there?

I think I also didn’t grow much as a person in 2019, if I’m totally honest. I failed my word of the year pretty hard. I got my groove with health and weight loss and lost it again. My world revolved around upcoming big events but none of them were truly mine although I definitely celebrated them happening. My brother and his family welcomed a baby. My cousin got married. My aunt moved in with us. I did not really move any mountains or do anything momentous myself, though. I burned out badly at the end of the year, and failed to be still when I needed to. I let the chaos around me via family life become my chaos, and didn’t know how to separate it.

So now in 2020, I’m slowly untangling again, slowly becoming intentional again, slowly purposing myself in what I set out to do.

I want to be louder again this year, but I want to keep the more intentional aspect of staying silent where needed, when I feel I need peace, or where I don’t feel I need to say my piece.

Shake-ing it Up

I just spent $150 on protein shake powder and I’m just a little bit scared they won’t taste good or work for me. The other 90% of me is pretty excited. This is not me promoting some new fad, I promise. I’m going to explain why shakes seem to be the answer for me personally in this post. I’m not doing Herbalife, Shakeology, or anything MLM. I won’t be selling or making commission off of this. I am also not going to buy supplements or use the detox tea they offer but that goes against my thoughts on weight loss.

If you remember, my word for the year is “Devoted” and to be pretty freaking honest, I’ve done a shitty job living up to that. My schedule is off track. I’m not where I wanted to be halfway through this year. I’ve enjoyed lots of off plan meals, I’ve lost most of my motivation to cook, and I feel overwhelmed and haven’t been faithful to working out.

My home life is changing a bit, and adding another member to the house means less space in general and one more schedule to work around in the kitchen. Somehow in the last 2 years I’ve lost that joy in making food. I think in the back of my mind, cooking 90% of my meals has always been physically taxing. It takes A LOT of time and money and commitment to shop, prep, cook, and consume a special diet.  When I had my own place, I was wasn’t working around other people’s messes and trying to shove all my groceries where they’d fit. I actually had the space and peace and didn’t have the distractions. Now I come home from work and there’s three pans full of food sitting on the stove cooling/needing to be put away, or I forget I have ingredients because it is shoved where I can fit them or someone uses up what I planned to cook with since a lot of the food I buy technically is up for grabs and communal.

I used to be adamant about not using shakes as food but I get it. Our lives are busy and it’s better to fuel up on a shake with nutritious items added then get a refined, greasy, overpriced drive thru meal. I see them in a new light.

I have always used protein shakes as part of my eating plan. The difference is that it was a whey protein isolate and sometimes that gave me migraines or made my tummy hurt. I also didn’t feel like I needed THAT much protein each shake, so I’d never do 2 shakes with the other powders in one day. My Quest protein powder packed a whopping 24g in one serving and I am not an athlete or body builder that needs that much! The THM one had 20g. This new shake has 15g which I think is perfect. I did the math and with the buy 2 get one free deal, each serving of the protein powder is about 1.62. It’ll roughly cost $2-3 with add-ins like almond milk and fruit/oats/etc. It’s got protein and probiotics and is actually plant based, not whey based, so it’s less animal sourced protein and a smaller carbon footprint which I’m excited about. It’s only 90 calories, which means I can pad it with adding fruits and veggies or oats, etc to get it to 300-400. I can still follow Trim Healthy Mama basics with this, it’ll just be way less meal prep. If I throw a 1/2 banana or oats in, I’ll have an E. If I throw MCT oil, berries, avocado, or nuts in there, I’ll have an S.

So here are the pros and cons:

Pro:
Less decision fatigue
Portable
Easier to track macros/calories
Less groceries to store/cook
Takes less space
Eliminates half the time I used to cook/grocery shop
Clean eating and ingredients
THM friendly
Harder to cheat/go overboard
No sugar in protein power
I can customize add ins
Plant based
Less attachment to food
Less costly than a food service
Less costly than eating out

Cons:
Not as fun as food lol
Still have to add ingredients to shake to get enough calories in
Buying a new flavor for variety is a $68 commitment
Might get tired of “drinking a meal”
Won’t taste as good if just shaking in blender bottle and not blending
If I get lazy and don’t add items to it I’ll have too large of a calorie deficit daily.

I just blocked out my schedule and have it worked out so that most days I use a shake to replace one meal, and 2 days out of the week when I have less control over my meals/are more likely to eat out since they are date nights I’ll have 2 shakes that day to replace 2 meals. I’m hoping that it makes me feel less rushed since it only takes a minute or 2 to throw together and that it works for my crazy life.

My current goals are to finally be faithful to taking vitamins, working on getting my gym schedule back on track, getting into groove of blocking my time daily, and using less mental and physical energy on meal planning. I bought enough protein powder for 3 months, so if I don’t find it working out, I can create a new game plan in September. Wish me luck!

An after Easter Lily

After seeing the big bold resurrection flowers adorn many Easter images and celebrations in late April, I got to meet quite a special Lily on May 2nd. My beautiful niece raced into this world – literally, Mama had a 10-15 minute labor!

Since my SIL is a midwife she didn’t give many details except that baby #2 was expected to arrive some time in May. To our surprise, 2 days into the month I got a call at dinner that asked me to come soon, the baby will probably come tonight. My friend and I rushed to finish dinner and I promptly headed over.

I called and walked into the door and heard…crying. Little sweet shrills of a newborn. That’s when my brother told me the baby was already here. Before the midwife even made it. My SIL settled into the bathtub after her water broke and my brother caught the baby minutes later. Thankfully the midwife was only 10 minutes away and came quickly after that!

Kai was a patient little dude, happily watching an episode of Sesame Street while all the commotion happened around him. My brother told me he really wanted to make a cake for his sister. When I came up to him and said hello he excitedly exclaimed, “Baby come out! Not in Mommy’s tummy!”

We got out all the supplies and found out they were out of eggs. Ha! So we headed to the store and he held out 4 fingers and reminded me we needed “three eggs!” I let him pick out a bouquet for Mommy and we grabbed a carton of eggs. He was singing happy birthday baby as we paced the aisles for supplies and all the way home. He helped stir and crack the eggs in, and when the cake cooled, he proceeded to help frost the cake and eat half the container of frosting. 😉

I can’t remember when I got there, maybe 7:30pm? But the birth photographer and midwife didn’t pack up and leave until around midnight. Because of the precipitous birth they had to give her some coaxing to get her active and thriving but Lily is very healthy and a good eater and sleeper.

Now that she’s nearly 2 months old, she’s beginning to react more to people’s words and facial expressions. Her little smiles are so cute – they start on one end and then slowly widen. She loves to scrunch her lips and furrow her eyebrows. I happen to think she looks a lot like her Momma, and her mom thinks she resembles her grandma.

Kai is both helplessly in love with Lily and jealous of the time she gets with Mommy. We’ve all given him extra love and attention to help him understand he’s still very important to us and we love them both.

When Kai was born, I felt much more prepared and conscious of his arrival and presence. I also spent many weekends over there helping since it was freshly after my brother’s accident. With Lily, the first time I held her it all felt a little alien. That’s not to say I wasn’t excited or think less of her. It just felt less real? I don’t even know how to put that into words. But she is absolutely precious and my brain finally connected that she’s here. Haha. I think when Kai was born we paused the world around us a little bit but when Lily came everything was still whirling around us. I guess that is the plight of a second child. I can’t wait to see the two of them interact more with each other as they grow, but I’m perfectly happy soaking in these baby days again and hoping the time she is little doesn’t speed by.  Auntie life is the best.

Konmari Part Two: My Revised Mission Statement for my Current Living Situation

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and performed several steps of the festival while I lived in a condo I rented with one other roommate. She graciously gave me free reign with decorating and… I ended up accumulating much more than I needed. I had a gigantic master bedroom with 2 closets to myself, and common area storage for all extras. Now my living space is more compact, with less storage, and sharing a home with many people. I thought it was time to revise my mission statement and restart my festival for my current situation.

My Konmari Mission Statement:

I want to end the cycle of overspending, over-consuming, creating clutter and wasting time tidying the extra, so I can spent my time and emotional resources on more valuable things in life.

It is important for me in this moment in time to not live beyond the space I am given. I trust God to provide for me when I move again with the extra furniture and appliances I may need. I understand that not buying nor storing these items now and saving money now, I can get the item again when it is needed, not wanted, regardless of price or discounts. I seek to not be tethered by what I own to any particular place. I seek to get to the point of surrendering fully even what I prize if God asks it. My horizon is most open with possibilities when material possessions to do not limit my outlook. He has always provided.

I seek to keep a more orderly living situation so that I can freely practice hospitality and open my home to those I love or want to know better without hesitation. I will be gracious with myself to not deny fellowship and friendship if and when my home doesn’t look its best. I desire order also for accessibility of resources: for quick dressing in the morning, art projects, and planning for the future. I hope to lead by example by keeping my portion tidy, so that those who live with me might seek the same.

My current priorities and investments include nurturing my body with healthful food, consistent exercise, good company, and commitments that will produce creative, academic, personal, or spiritual growth.

I see myself unbound from long weekend mornings of cleaning. I see myself ready to move freely, with a culled amount of items to bring with me into a marriage one day if that is in my future. I see myself wholly devoted to what I choose to do, and not weighed down by the trivial. I see myself getting better and longer sleep, having less decision fatigue, and being less frustrated. I see more peace at home with others. I see the freedom to save money for the future and a more honed-in sense of self and needs. I see the ability to give my best yeses, guilt-free noes, and do things passionately. I see a life enriched with gratitude and purpose– achieving more with having less to worry about by only keeping what sparks joy.

2018 Finances and 2019 Goals

This Sunday my pastor asked people to raise their hands honestly if they desired to be rich. Because of hesitation, he asked twice. First round, I slipped my hand up quickly. Second time I had it raised more surely. He mentioned that if a family of 5 lived above the poverty line in the US , they were most likely in the 1% worldwide. A sobering a view. He assured that riches were not bad, and it’s the lust of the love of money that can make people falter, for creating compromising intentions.

“You are already rich,” He said. “It’s just not in the way the world describes it.”

And I am. I am so grateful for all the blessings I’ve been provided. I’ve never known true hunger, or feared where my next meal would come from. I’ve complained about big bills, but I have them because I’m fortunate to pay them for things I have, like a car, or a job with health insurance so I could get my sinus surgery and experience relief. If I’m truly honest, I would love to be rich. I would love to be a cheerful giver and give above and beyond. I’d say of the five love languages, the ways I like to show I care are words of affirmation and gifts. Because I realize that physical objects don’t show love, but they can help take care of someone’s very real need. Future philanthropist? Sign me up. But before then, God would have to align my desires for sure and I would hope I would never misuse what I’ve been given or let greed overtake me. May it never be.

2018 Spending Pros

+ I gave more: Tithing and to non profits and not-for-profit organizations and causes. I consider that a win, even though it means being more careful in other categories.

+ I spent less on eating out and on entertainment.

2018 Spending Cons

– I spent way more on (preventative) health care

– I spent more overall, and on merchandise.

All in all: I would have spent about the same as 2017 if I hadn’t spent so much on health care, so it really evens out. I’d say 2018 was neutral. I neither did well nor poorly.

2019 Goals

Be faithful with my payment plan for the surgery bill. Pay it off before 2020.

One of the sucky parts of last year was finding out I couldn’t have my sinus surgery in an out-patient facility and having to spend nearly double to do it in a hospital. I want to kick this huge bill (thousands of dollars) by the end of the year even though it’s going to be a challenge.

Buy less with more intention

I’m still swimming in a mountain of clothes and despite konmari’ing my clothes a couple years ago, I still find my attachment to them quite strong. What worked when I had my condo with 2 master bedroom sized closets is not working in this smaller living situation. I plan to set aside a Saturday to go through the process again, reviewing what I want out of my clothes and style and how it affects my overall goals. Last year I started buying less makeup and skincare but giving myself room to spend more per item on quality products. I really saw a benefit in it. I’d like to do so with clothes and shoes. Especially shoes. I have always been thrifty with shoes and used to sacrifice comfort for style, but now that I have some swelling type issues, quality shoes have never been more important. I also want to buy less snacks and pantry type items in bulk. I’d rather spend a little more overall to only purchase when I need it and not have items everywhere or more than I can use before expiration.

Stop subscriptions to things you aren’t loving anymore

I loved my Sephora play subscription until I didn’t. It helped me try things as deluxe samples for $10 rather than wasting double that or more on full size items just to not like it. I stopped walking down the makeup aisles and being tempted when shopping as a byproduct. And, I probably only paid for mascara twice this year. But, after a while, I realized I wasn’t using them all up in time and the $120 annually could be used differently now that I have a better idea of what I like. I might stop my Scentbird subscription too now that I have quite a few new perfumes to try. I can also re-sub if I find it worthwhile later, but I intentionally bought a pricey perfume and was generously gifted one, and they are worth every penny and will be enjoyed often. I am also a consultant for an essential oils brand and have been enrolled in a program where if I guarantee a monthly order of $50 I can get rewards. Well, sometimes because of the auto-renewal I forget to change my cart or sink $50 into stuff I didn’t really intentionally want. So, that is most likely my next goodbye. I thought I was doing so great, then I saw that with these services I was investing a total of $75/mo and while it is a good deal overall, it no longer fits me or what I want to spend my money on.

Think Bigger.

I don’t like stereotyping, so let me say this isn’t always the case, but from observation, it seems like women (myself included) tend to splurge more often on little things and feel guilty with bigger purchases. Guys on the other hand (my boyfriend included) tend to do less smaller frivolous purchases and save up for bigger purchases. They also tend to care less about spending more on something they want to get (like a sandwich at lunch or say, laundry detergent) since they are spending it very specifically, whereas women set price allowances but will get what they don’t need on sale. I think some of this is society.  It in part is a repeated pattern we observe in from parents or the general public. I think being a good steward of what you have is always good practice, but I’ve learned with a little more life under my belt that frugality is a flawed concept for a lot of women. We’re praised for being frugal by society, but in that cloud of thought, also limit ourselves. Because with frugal, you make do with what little you can. Frugality has personally limited my train of thought and I’m trying to replace the quality of frugality with intention. I’m not stuck with this little bit, I just need to make plans and proactively work towards “the bigger.” Instead of limiting myself and my potential, I should be maximizing my potential to attain the bigger and better. Part of thinking bigger is budgeting/saving up for larger things down the road including retirement, and part of it is pursuing opportunities with intention of getting closer to those goals. I think it’s empowering to not limit myself and dream bigger.

Vacation Fund

I’m itching to go on an adventure new somewhere new — particularly on an international trip. As part of the think bigger I’m saving up for something fun. I meant to go to Europe for my 30th birthday but didn’t have the means, especially when I decided to opt for much needed surgery. I’m going to begin not only setting aside but planning some trips for myself. My cousin’s wedding is set for the latter half of the year and I might try to do some vacationing on that coast while I’m out there.

Word of the Year: “Devoted”

I thought hard about choosing a word for the year and the one that kept coming to me was “devoted.”

It’s a word that is often seen on tombstones, and used during awards and commending speeches because it carries this incredible weight to it. It describes one who gives all their emotion/efforts to something.

de·vot·ed
/dəˈvōdəd/
adjective
1. very loving or loyal.
2. given over to the display, study, or discussion of.
I have a hard time sticking to things. I will have amazing bursts of creativity, start working on an idea, and then never see it to completion. I’ll join something and then grow weary. I’ll give 110% to my friends when they call or visit but then sadly be around 70% in touch otherwise.

I could have used the word committed? But sometimes commitment is a ball and chain: something that must be done even if begrudgingly. No, I needed a word that conveyed love in it. I wanted a word that meant all in because that’s where my heart wants to be.

I want to be more devoted in my walk with God, first and foremost. To spend time with Him faithfully in prayer, reading, and study. I’ve heard it all, how He should have the first rights to my time, not what’s left, but if I’m honest, that’s usually what ends up happening.

I want to be more devoted to my family and important relationships. I think this will be the easiest to fulfill but the hardest to not get comfortable in. How do I devote myself when my parents and I have strongly conflicting feelings about something? How do I reach a better “us” with my boyfriend and openly communicate my needs and do the same for him? How do I show my friend miles away I’m thinking of them and invest in them?

Lastly, in my career and everyday life, I want that notion of devoted to help guide me so my yes means yes and my no means no. So I actually love working on myself and applying myself. So I can press on when I grow weary or start to feel indifference. So I can love the changes I am making and chances I am taking.

It’s funny, every year I am very excited to make long lists of resolutions. This year, like writer’s block, none have truly surfaced, and I don’t think it’s not from being less mindful. I truly think, as I have only started to work on “be still and know”, that in my being still, all those little things have faded and a greater objective awaits me with this one word.

Here’s to a strong 2019. Did you pick out a word for the year, or write down some resolutions?

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning…or How My Brother and I are Tackling the Garage

There are so many new fads out there. Some of them stick and really do provide great results. Methods, procedures, lists,  exercise groups, you name it. You’ve already heard me gush about the Konmari Method…now let me introduce to you The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

I’ll admit outright that I haven’t picked up the book and read it, but I’d read reviews and excerpts and think they’re on to something. But since my parents would never be the kind to browse a Barnes and Nobles and pick up a self-help book, especially one with such a title, I will need to…erm…evangelize them a different way. I plan to read the book soon, but it’ll be a library loan not a buy since I’m not needing it for this point in life for myself (not a homeowner).

The family house has a lot of stories in its bones. It has, at some point, housed ever single one of my mom’s siblings and my grandmother. There are rolls of fabric in the rafters from sewing days of old for one of my mom’s sisters. They started life here as refugees with nothing, and without accepting any government aid, just the generosity of a local church furnishing and helping them settle in, they went from an apartment to getting their own slice of the American dream: a nice modest house with a sizable backyard. One by one, however, these siblings married, had kids, and outgrew the living space and pursued a home of their own. That left my eldest Aunt and Grandmother in a home all alone, not really able to afford a mortgage once split 3-4 ways. So with some deep conversations, my parents decided to secure their living situation by moving out of their town and into that house.

Twenty-four years later, this memorable house is piled high with stuff. Stuff accumulates so fast. My grandmother has since passed, and my aunt had moved away for work purposes but intends to retire and live once again at the family house. That leaves three seniors in a home saturated with a lot of…junk. My brother and I are tackling the garage and slowly but surely taking it on knowing we can do it now and improve their quality of life, or let it continue and be stuck one day with overwhelming grief and many dumpsters to unload. So we are “gently” doing it now.

I’ve quietly sifted through the coat and towel closet in the living room and left it with breathing room. Replaced heavy fragile dishes with lightweight and extremely durable Correlle. They’ve installed grab bars in the bathroom for a bit later in life, and a built in shower bench with the last renovation. The newest couch has three recliners perfect for cat naps in the afternoon.

This garage though? It’s seen so many ebbs and flows of a semblance of organization and cleaning and then been filled to the brim again to the point it’s a fire hazard and nearly inaccessible as a route of escape in case of a fire. Last year, my brother and I installed a clothes drying rack for delicate clothes to air dry. We removed a large pesky second bookshelf, and used it to arrange the excess appliances. We piled my aunt’s boxes up high where leaks and spills wouldn’t damage her years of papers (she’ll have to tackle that herself). We did quite a bit, but then a fire blazed dangerously close to my brother’s home and their items ended up in the garage and they spent a few months at the family house. Now it’s the end of the year, and we’re geared up to do round two. Quietly, during times when my parents are away. Tossing and donating things we don’t have to be careful with. And checking between the two of us, what is worth keeping for my parents to sort.

Not Gonna Write You a Sad Song

I’ve written two entries since the last published post and couldn’t get myself to post them. They were full of sadness. The last one mentioned the mass shooting and fires near me. I just couldn’t.

While life has had more down than ups as of recent, I’m still incredibly thankful for the bright sides, silver linings, and “how are you doing” check-ins from close friends.

2019 brings a lot of changes, and I am hoping they will be good ones. I’ve been occupying my mind when it’s deep in the pit of despair of good things coming, and things I can plan for.

A relative is moving back home and so one of the big items is making room in a house that hasn’t been her primary residence in 10+ years. While my parents are gone on a vacation, my brother and I plan on tackling the garage for the umpteenth time, and hopefully this time with better success [the last time we did so, there was a gruesome fire and they had to evacuate to that home, and their stuff went in the garage]. My parents haven’t understood the thought of downsizing as seniors, but with my mom’s retirement in a nearish future, and my relative retiring and moving back, it’s time to get the house ready for the years to come. I’m giving myself a year-ish to help them settle and make home changes, and then looking to move out again for both our sanity, but mostly mine. 😉

I have a planner ready, and I bought a new type of notebook system to help me start 2019 right. Have you heard of discbound journals? They’re a little pricey initially, but I like that you can customize and move pages and the pages themselves are thick quality paper. Instead of devoting an entire notebook to one subject, I have the flexibility of moving each page around if I wanted, and dividing it however I see fit. That saves real estate as I lessen the amount of notebooks I own and is more eco-friendly considering I don’t have journals/notebooks with unused pages. I have the fitness inserts to help me track weight loss and am going to spend more time tracking finances and spending as well.

Now that Rosina is no longer here and I haven’t got painting on Mondays I will need to dedicate my own time and space to cultivating creativity. I plan to bring that attitude into the new year. Keep exploring, keep attempting, keep trying.

One of my best friends and I have played with the idea of an international trip in 2019. And my closest cousin to me is getting married. There’s other exciting family news that will keep 2019 full of happy things. I look forward to all of it.

And in this holiday time, as I remember the human birth of Jesus and the promise it brought humanity, I think of all the hope in store for all of us. We have promises to hold on to and good things shining amongst the hard times. Keep hoping. Keep seeking that goodness and light.