Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I Learned This Week

My last post was about finding balance in my life, specifically around health issues.  I spent the entire Thanksgiving weekend reading with my fur friends and did not work on a single project--no quilting, no weaving, nothing.  And I discovered that this week went much more smoothly.  I started the week well on Tuesday.  (I should note that my work week is only three days long.)  Wednesday was long and I started to flag in energy.  Thursday was a busy juggling act in the morning and I was definitely fading, but it worked out well because my afternoon students cancelled, so I was done early.

What I have learned is that first, I really believe that I don't do a lot.  After all, I only work a couple hours here and a couple hours there.  But my therapist has helped me see the reality of my life.  First, I am always doing something.  I get home from Student Link and then snatch an hour or two of quilting time before I tutor the students who come to my home.  I don't move anywhere nearly as fast as I used to, but I keep moving, keep doing, never resting until evening.

Then, on the weekends, I have time to myself, which as an introvert, I truly need.  But again, I am doing, sometimes as much as eight hours of quilting in a day.  I don't stop until 5 or 6PM.  And I do that every day.  

I have always filled my waking hours with activities, for a variety of reasons from avoiding facing the fact that I was not being true to myself (much of my life) or because I felt lonely.  I could keep a bunch of demons away by just staying busy and distracted.  And I was accomplishing some really worthwhile things at the same time.  But it was only avoiding dealing with the real issues.

There are way too many folks who have to work seven days a week to put food on the table and that is just so wrong on so many levels.  There are more people who keep busy as I did as a way to run away from themselves.  But the truth is that we all need a balance in life between activities, be they work, chores, projects, whatever, and rest or down time.  Anything else is not healthy.

Each of us has many relationships of various kinds but the one that is the most important is our relationship with ourselves.  Other relationships will come and go, but as long as you are alive, you will always have yourself.  Furthermore, a healthy relationship with yourself is necessary for the health and well-being of all your other relationships.  I am just starting to learn this.  Self-care has to be the number one priority if we are going to live a full and happy life.

So, with this in mind, and having experienced the benefits in having some quality down time last weekend, I've tried to re-sort my life.  Again, my therapist pointed out that my job at Student Link and the extra tutoring I do is a high stress job.  Working with adolescents is always stressful, but working with high risk students is even more so.  And at Student Link we are working without any proper support from the school district, not because anyone is mean or doesn't want to help, but simply because there is no money for the support.  As so often happens, governments mandate all sorts of rules and requirements, but then they don't fund the programs to allow for those requirements to be met, and then they come in and audit with much yelling when the programs are unable to meet their requirements.

The clearest example in my life of this is the Student Link library.  As I've mentioned before, I donate heavily to Student Link to provide the books the students need.  I catalogue them and get them on the shelves and into the students' hands.  But I don't have time to enter them into a very outdated and badly conceived database.  My supervisor and I have discussed this and we have set up priorities which I personally think are valid.  Students will come first.  But I know that next spring or the one after, someone from Olympia will start yelling that our library database isn't properly done.  Well, I think it would take at least one if not two fulltime professionals to sort out the hodgepodge that we have now.  I certainly can't do it.  And I am a volunteer as well, which means the district has no funding to provide for either the books or the proper recording of them.  I have at least provided the books and if the state wants more, well, they'll have to figure out how to make that happen.  Both my supervisor and I are fine with our decision, but this is just one example of the lack of support for our efforts.  This naturally raises stress levels.

I keep saying that I "only" work two hours/day three days/week, but my therapist pointed out that that simply isn't true either.  I care deeply for these students and I hold them in my heart in and out of Student Link. I worry about them, plan for them, think about them. I often end up taking papers home to mark because I spent my two hours helping students.  I offer extra tutoring to both Student Link students and Vashon High students in my home.  I field the occasional e-mail or phone call.  And even if the students don't e-mail or call, I am "at the ready," so to speak.

And I love this job.  I find it rewarding beyond all expectations.  Seeing these students overcoming adversity and fighting for their dreams is incredibly heart-warming.  But it is also draining, and if I compound that by "sneaking in" quilting moments in between students, and so on, I run myself ragged.
I am nearly sixty-seven years old and I have some health issues as well.  So I need to work on better self-care, and I am far from the only person in this world needing this, but I can only work on myself.

I have decided that weekends are for recharging my batteries, not running them down further.  Taking time to snuggle with my pets and just relax with a good book works well for me.  Quilting is physically exhausting.  Weaving and writing are less so.  I started playing the piano last weekend and that was relaxing and not taxing.

There will be time for everything, but in smaller doses and with more attention being paid to me, my body, my mind, my psyche.  I have confronted many of my demons and I don't need to be frantically busy to avoid them.  I don't need to feel that who I am depends on what I do.  And if I take care of me and learn to value my relationship with myself, then everything else will fall into place.

I hope that everyone can find time for themselves, can practice good self-care.  If we all do this, our world will be a much better place for everyone.  Have a lovely day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Too Much or Too Little?

Well, another month has snuck by without any posts.  It seems as if it is all I can do just to get through each day.  By last Wednesday, I was definitely not doing well on all levels, physical, emotional, and psychological, so I decided I would have a holiday break doing as little as possible.  I am never sure how to figure out how much is too much but by last Wednesday there was no doubt that there had been too much.

One of the biggest problems I find in dealing with chronic issues, especially chronic pain, is knowing when I should just kick myself in the backside, figuratively, and get on with things and when I should simply rest.  And my artistic temperament causes natural highs and lows as I work creatively.  Earlier this month, I wrote my second novel.  It just took off with me and it wrote itself in a flurry of days where I was writing 4-6 hours at a time.  I didn't feel tired (well until the end of each day's writing) and I ignored my pain and I was on an adrenaline high, thrilled with how the novel was just pouring out of me.  In twelve days I wrote 57,427 words and had a finished first draft.  Then the next day my first proof copy of my first novel arrived and that was another high which kept me going for a week or so as I worked on finding the few goofs and sending off my corrections.

In and around all this, I kept on with my tutoring and volunteering at Student Link.  But by last Wednesday I was more than ready for time off.  I have spent all of the Thanksgiving holiday break reading.  I read a five novel series by Patricia Wrede, The Lyra Novels, which I really enjoyed and then I started on a Robin Hobbs trilogy The Rain Wilds Chronicles, also wonderful.  I have thought about quilting.  I have thought about planning my book of haiku.  I have thought about revising my second novel.  But I have done none of that.  I have snuggled into my recliner and read with one or two cats in my lap and the dogs at my feet.

As I mentioned earlier, my innate artistic temperament means that I have a melancholic nature and I need to watch for the signs that indicate I am slipping into depression.  In addition, both Hashimoto's Thyroid Disorder and Fibromyalgia have depression as one of their main symptoms, and of course chronic pain also causes depression.

I worry that "doing nothing" could aggravate the situation.  I have always been a do-er and it is hard for me to be idle.  I had it drummed into me from an early age that it wasn't acceptable just to be; one always had to be doing.  For most of my life that has been possible, and indeed I think my various activities have helped in my battle with depression.

But now I'm not so sure where the line is between doing enough to keep the depression away and doing too much to cause the depression to worsen because my other health issues are being neglected.  So this weekend is going to be a test case.  I shall see if I am in better shape when I return to the "real world" on Tuesday as a result of my very restful five days.  I suspect my juggling act between too much and too little will continue for the remainder of my life, but I hope that with time I will be able to judge more easily where the line between the two lies on any given day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

To Medicate or Not To Medicate

It has been too long since I've posted here but I've had to work just to get through each day, so extras, like a philosophical musing on this blog, had been set aside.  But I've had some helpful comments from friends about my current health situation which have given me pause and I decided to write my thoughts.

I suffer from a few chronic illness, specifically chronic sinusitis, Hashimoto's Thyroid Disorder and Fibromyalgia, which are tough to treat and tough to live with.  I have suffered with them for a long time, even though the Fibromyalgia was only diagnosed recently.  But I have lived with chronic pain for as long as I can remember, at least 20-25 years.  I have had constant headaches for much longer than that, since my college days over 45 years ago.

The result has been that I have learned to live with chronic pain.  It is just part of who I am and I have learned to adjust and work around it.  Some days that is much easier than others as the pain levels rise and fall, but I am never pain free.

And I was raised with a father who never allowed for any weaknesses, so I have, for better or worse, simply toughed my way through it all.  I take the occasional Tylenol or Advil, but for the most part I just get on with my life.

Living with constant pain does require a large expenditure of energy just to move.  And when I was younger, I had more energy (didn't we all!), so it wasn't such a big deal.  But now, especially with the thyroid auto-immune disorder, my energy levels are far from what they used to be.  So I am forced to learn to listen to my body, to find out where my limits are, to take care of myself and try not to overdo.  Some days this works better than others, but such is life.

Then earlier this week I managed to injure myself quilting (I know--this isn't supposed to be a hazardous activity), developing costochondritis, a condition where I have ripped the cartilage which joins my ribs to my sternum.  It is very painful and my doctor said it was made more painful because of the fibromyalgia.  It will take time to heal and meanwhile I am trying not to laugh, cough, sneeze, breathe deeply, etc.

Once again, I have people suggesting various medicines which have worked for them or someone they know, etc.  And I appreciate the suggestions because you never know when something new will pop up.  But for the most part, I haven't learn anything new, and what I have found is that my body does not react "typically" to medications in general, and I am apt to suffer unpleasant side effects.  One friend just broke her foot and she is on pain meds and offered (not seriously) to share.  But pain meds don't agree with me.  I didn't take them even with numerous foot surgeries.  I'm glad they work for others, but it isn't my path.

I am also unwilling or very reluctant at best, to try something new, especially something that I would have to take for a significant period of time to find out a) if it works and b) what the right dosage should be.  I guess, having lived in pain for so long, that it is really a matter of the devil I know being better.  And my chronic illnesses don't have any cures, so anything I did do would have to be for the long haul.

I am grateful on most levels that I live alone, so I can schedule things as I see fit and if I am too tired to heat up an Amy's dinner in the oven and prefer having a sandwich for dinner, I can do that.  If I need to head for bed at 7PM, no one cares (although I will be so glad when the elections are over and people stop calling at 8 or 8:30, sometimes waking me for nothing).

So for those who find the medications helpful, I say wonderful!  I am happy they help.  But for me, I am content with the program my naturopath and I have worked out.  I do find homeopathic remedies very helpful.  And my sauna and my hot tub do help a lot with both my chronic sinusitis and my Fibromyalgia.  And when things flare up, it is usually a signal of too much stress in my life and I am working on recognizing that earlier and working to lessen stress.

There is no one answer obviously even for an individual.  One size doesn't fit all and situations change. But for the moment, I shall continue to muddle along as I have been for so many years.  I still manage to do all the things which are most important to me, even though I have to take them at a slower pace.  But that's ok.  I hope you, my readers, have found paths that work for you, for whatever situations you find yourselves in.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New School Year

Today was the first day of school and I have paused to reflect on the summer.  As with most seasons, there have been wonderful moments, such as sharing Vashon's Strawberry Festival with my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, and some not great moments, such as standing outside a locked door at the dermatologist for thirty minutes and then being barely able to walk. The summer has seen me trying to cope with some health issues as well. Finally, just ten days before school started, on Friday evening August 24th, I had to say goodbye to my dear sweet Sasha.  

She was 17 yrs. old and had valiantly battled aggressive oral cancer for 22 months, but finally, there were no more miracles to pull out of the hat, and it was time.  Her last two days were difficult and she definitely let me know that it was time to say goodbye.  It has been rough for all of us left behind.  As Dr. Nell, our wonderful vet, said at her next visit, as she was taking care of 4 of the remaining 5 of my fur friends (thanks to May Sarton for that term), "Who knew Sasha was the glue holding all the rest of us together!"

But Sasha's spirit lives on in all the many hearts that she touched and the morning after her death, when I went out to soak in my hot tub, I found the cutest little tree frog, and it touched my shattered heart.  The frog jumped into my hand and let me hold her and then I carefully put her on a neighboring plant so she would be safe from the opening and closing of the hot tub lid.

But the next morning, she was back under my hot tub lid and she has been there each and every morning since.  This morning I took her photo which I wanted to share as it seems to me that whether she was sent by Sasha's spirit or the universe at large or whatever, that this little frog is reminding me to treasure each and every moment and live life to the fullest, as Sasha did, until the end.

Then this morning, when I arrived at Student Link for my first day of the new school year, I was greeted with people standing outside and the blinds drawn because a hummingbird had strayed into our classroom.  No one could figure out a safe way to get the hummingbird to leave, and so we'd turned out the lights and put a bright red blanket on the bush right outside our door (next to the fuchsia where it loves to feed), but there was no shifting the poor hummingbird.  Finally, we had to get back to work, and so in a darkened room I started helping one of our new students and everyone kept watching the hummingbird.  After nearly an hour the student I was helping noticed that the hummingbird had fallen a short distance to the top of a small bookcase.  The student, with our encouragement, carefully cradled the exhausted hummingbird and took it outside to the flower box with the fuchsias.  We got some sugar water in a saucer to put right next to the hummingbird and it was amazing to see how our efforts were rewarded.  The little hummingbird drank a bit, flew over to the fuchsia and then eventually flew off to new adventures.

It seems to me that the natural world has held many lessons for us as this new school year begins and somehow, I think that we are off to a very good start for this year in our rescuing a hummingbird.  Our students are the non-traditional students, the ones taking their own paths, and generally, like our hummingbird, they fare well on their own course, but sometimes they too need a helping hand.

And personally, thanks to the lessons being taught to me by first Sasha, and then the tree frog, and finally the hummingbird, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I hope your September is off to a wonderful start as well. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Getting the Creative Juices Flowing

I have been stewing and stewing over the short (no more than 250 words) blurb for the back cover of my novel.  I wrote the novel and it is over 60,000 words, so writing 250 words about it should be walk in the park. Right? Wrong!  I have been working on it for much of the past week, on and off, and I have discovered something about the creative process, or at least my creative process.  It can't be rushed.  Ideas need time to percolate through my brain.  I need time to do nothing, or at least appear to do nothing.  I have spent much of the past week reading and puttering around the house, all the while giving occasional thoughts to the problem of the blurb.  I have written tentative drafts, worked on the drafts, disliked them all, and gone back to cleaning a pond or scooping litter boxes or whatever.

And then finally, last night as I was heading off to bed, the words just popped into my head!  I quickly raced back to the computer and wrote a whole new draft, from a very different starting point.  Oh, it was rough, but it was so much better (in my opinion at least) than anything I'd written so far that I went to bed a happy camper.  This morning I have just puttered around, coming back to re-read my draft every half hour or so, tweaking a word or phrase here and there, before doing laundry or having breakfast or tending the dogs.  And I think I have something now that I can live with.  As soon as I find that I have had several re-reads without any changes I will send it off to my publisher and feel very satisfied with myself.

I have done the same thing with quilting where I have just cogitated on various patterns and ideas, fabric and themes, without appearing to "go" anywhere, but suddenly it all falls into place.  I am not sure if this is what Brenda Ueland means by moodling when she says, "So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering,"  but it is what I think she is getting at.  The subconscious keeps working on ideas even when or maybe even especially when, we relax and let our minds wander.

In our society which is very goal oriented, having down time where I am not getting anything particular done and where the day goes by with only apparently aimless puttering to show for it makes me feel as if the time has been wasted.  I need to be doing, or so I tell myself, but the older I get, the more I realize that my body as well as my mind needs down time and while I can work under pressure, I can't create under pressure.  The creative process depends on having the time and the ability to moodle, and that time spent in moodling is actually very productive, as counter-intuitive as that seems.  If you are interested in this concept, there is an e-course in August run by Fiona and Kaspa at Writing Our Way Home which is designed to help us find our creative process and develop the skill of moodling.

Now that my blurb is nearly done, I have quilt patterns to moodle on and then November is not that far away; I had better start moodling about my next novel so I am ready to hit the deck running when National Novel Writing Month returns.  What is your creative process?  How do you recharge your creative juices?  Are you a moodler?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Holiday Thoughts

Today in the United States many are out celebrating the birth of our nation with parades, much flag waving, barbecues, fireworks, etc.  The month of July contains three national holidays, Canada Day, Bastille Day and Independence Day, and marking such occasions is a part of what we as humans do.

But I would ask that we take a moment to reflect on all those who can't or aren't allowed to celebrate.  In the United States we proclaim that all are created free and equal, but the reality has always been much different.  In the beginning free and equal was only for white propertied males.  Over the years the qualifications have changed so that more are included, at least at some level.    But we are still far off the mark.  Women are still treated as second class citizens who earn less then men.  The GLBTQ (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered/Queer) community cannot marry and in fact in many states must stay in the closet to keep a job.  Children go to bed hungry every night, denied the right to food and medical care.  And the list goes on and on.  We still have a very long way to go to meet the ideals set forth in the United States Constitution.

And what about those who feel entitled to more than equal rights?  There are wealthy people (not all, I hasten to add) who feel that they have a right not to pay their fair share of taxes.  There is Corporate America which feels entitled to grab anything it wants, raping, pillaging, and plundering with wanton disregard for anything other than their own profits.  And there is the mainstream media, determined that it knows what the viewing/listening/reading public needs to know and how this knowledge should be spoon fed to the masses.  These are just a few of the instances of the improper distribution of rights.

The United States is far from being alone in the unequal distribution of rights.  We rank 13th in most lists of countries by quality of life factors, so 12 nations are doing a better job and many others are doing a lesser job.  But I would like to see this emphasis on nations and boundaries abolished.  The bottom line is that our entire planet, the source of life for all creatures, is being cannibalized and each of us needs to stop and think about the health of our Mother Earth.  Endangered species certainly do not have equal rights, and they too deserve them as do all species.  We need to put the health of the planet above everything else, above profits, above nationalism, above so called progress.  If we don't, the planet will fight back and it will not be pretty.  We are already feeling the effects of global warming and it will only get worse.  We already have wars and acts of terrorism caused by the unequal distribution of rights and assets.  Selfishness, be it on the individual level or the national level, will destroy us all.

As humankind becomes more "advanced," so to speak, it seems to lose its connection to the earth and the remaining species.  Humans are not more important, more intelligent, more deserving than any other species.  We just think we are and we are the only species capable of carrying out mass destruction on every conceivable level.  It is time that we realized that we don't own this planet.  We have no more right to live here than do the birds in the trees or the fish in the oceans.  We need to work together to save all life.

So wherever you are and whenever you celebrate your nation's glory, please remember those who can't celebrate.  As you wave your flag and cheer the parades, remember those who are missing.  And together let's see if we can't work together to make Mother Earth our first priority so that life is better for all.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

How Do You Handle Anger?

How do you handle anger, both your own and others?  Recently I have been made aware of a couple of places where angry lashings out have several damaged working relationships.  In one case in particular, a manager and an undermanager have each yet again lashed out loudly, publicly, and abusively toward staff members.  Of course this is extremely inappropriate and unprofessional and needless to say the office has an on-going morale problem which has been going on for so many years that many feel things will never change.  Tittle-tattle is encouraged.  Accusations are made and believed with no evidence. It is a very unhealthy environment to work in.  And unfortunately the situation is not that uncommon in our society.

I can sympathize with this situation because I too have been subjected to violent angry outbursts and I too have had false accusations leveled against me, accusations which cost me dearly, and for awhile, I was only angry and hurt.  But as time passed and I did a lot of introspection and owned my part in the problem, I also realized that the person who was spreading lies and stabbing me behind my back was doing it out of her own fears, jealousies and insecurities, whether she was actually aware of that or not.  Once I realized this, I felt pity not anger.  I began sending positive energy her way, wrapping her at least metaphorically, in my love.  I don't know that she will ever like me, but at least the open hostility is gone, and for that I am most grateful.  My shift has done even more to heal me, to help me know myself better, and to help me in other interactions.

I was reminded of my experience when I was thinking about the dreadful dust-up at the office mentioned above.  Yes the situation has been going on for years, and I can understand the anger and resentment around it.  But the cycle needs to be broken.  I don't think they will be getting in any consultants on dealing with anger, but what I have learned from my therapist is that when someone comes at you in anger, they are not rational and they are not listening.  And no matter how many times they say, "You, You, You" they are still really talking about themselves.  Realizing this helps even though it still feels horrible to be yelled at.  But the very best thing you can do is maintain a neutral expression and be silent.  The raging person won't hear a thing you say, and trying to explain or even apologize will only fuel the flames.  Getting defensive just enables their anger further and the problem keeps escalating.  The anger has to run its course, so just stay silent and allow the anger to run out.

When the person is finally done, then you want to say something neutral, a loving heartfelt honest comment, such as "I'm sorry you are having such a rough day," or whatever and then quietly and calmly walk away or return to your task, whatever is appropriate for the situation.  If the person demands a response, then answer as calmly as you possibly can that they have given you a lot to think about and you will get back to them later or tomorrow or whatever after you have had a chance to give their words thoughtful consideration.  Do not answer in the moment as it won't help and has every potential for re-igniting the situation.

And our natural inclination after being yelled at is to avoid that person at all costs, but I think the opposite is more effective.  Again, love is the only answer to anger that has any chance of succeeding, so giving a cheery greeting the next day, or just saying a pleasant hello or offering assistance when it is needed or whatever will go a long way toward healing.  You are by no means condoning their inappropriate behavior or enabling it in any way.  But you are remembering that the person who lashed out is a wounded puppy in one way or another and you are caring about the person, not the behavior.  This will certainly help heal you, and after all that is all you can really control.  But if enough people in this office start what I could call a "love-in" toward these difficult managers, I can't help but believe that it will make a difference to the entire work environment.  And think how surprised and bewildered the managers will be when people respond in love and compassion and don't just return anger for anger.  It will have a strong disarming effect, as I have discovered personally.

All the philosophies and religions past and present that I have looked into have all had something to say on this.  Personally, I like Snoopy's the best:  "A kiss on the nose turns anger aside," but there is Christianity's "turn the other cheek" or Buddha's "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned," and there are countless other examples.

I am grateful that anger is not my primary defense mechanism (I hide or try to become invisible which has its own problems), but for those who do use anger, I am told that taking time to think first as to how your words will be receive can help immensely (the old count to ten approach), because anyone exploding in anger is actually shooting themselves in the foot These people are not bad people, generally, but good people making horrible mistakes and they will have to do damage control down the road.  I have had my moments of lashing out and I know that for me nothing matched the pain of knowing how much my words hurt and the damage they caused and words can't be taken back.  They are very powerful and words of love and compassion are every bit as powerful if not more so than words of anger.

Issues surrounding anger are very difficult and it is hard for any of us not to react badly in whatever way we do that when we are triggered.  For me, it took a major incentive of not wanting to lose those I care most about.  Whether or not those in this office can find a motive powerful enough to help them find the strength and courage to change past behaviors and look at the larger picture is something that only time will tell, but personally, I hope for their sake that the "love-in" starts and takes hold.  Lives will be changed for the better, beginning with those doing the "love-in."

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I have been watching my cats this morning and I noticed a couple things.  First there was Sasha getting ready to get off the kitchen counter.    She is blind, or nearly so, and therefore understandably she moves carefully.  She was leaning over the edge obviously trying to figure out if there was a piece of cat furniture below her.  I could see that she would only have to drop about 4", but she couldn't and she was taking her time before deciding to launch herself off the counter.  It would be easy for someone watching her to think that she was skittish or scared, but in fact I know she is very brave to attempt this, especially in a home such as mine where things move constantly.  She is right to think twice because the furniture which was there yesterday might not be there today.  I try to keep things the same for her in the immediate vicinity of both the washer/dryer and the kitchen counter, but things do have to move from time to time, to do laundry or find fabric, and it doesn't always end up exactly where it was before.

Anyway, such was my observation of my brave Sasha.  Next I watched Thackeray dealing with my new desk which happens to have a glass top.  I have never had a glass top before and so Thackeray also has never seen one.  It has taken him several attempts before he finally trusted it enough to sit on it.  As I type this he is sitting next to me purring loudly but even so he isn't moving around a lot.  Again, I could say what a silly cat he is because he is bewildered by the glass, but instead, I find his investigations and final commitment to try it an evidence of his trust in me and his bravery.

This got me to think about the whole topic of bravery.  My dog Oliver is afraid of much of the world and it takes a lot to gain his trust, but the rewards are immense.  I am terrified by many things as well, as I know others are.  Most of us are probably unaware of the acts of bravery which go on around us every day.  And what seems easy to one of us, is very hard for another.  Thackeray thinks nothing about jumping on and off everything.  It is very easy for him.  But for Sasha, it is a challenge requiring a lot of faith and courage.  I suspect that Sasha would have no trouble with the glass since she can't see anyway.  She wouldn't see things below the surface of the desk and wonder as Thackeray does.

If we can just remember that what seems simple to one seems equally terrifying to another.  Having respect for others means understanding that our view of the world, our view of day to day events, is unique to us and that others have different views, equally true and valid, and understanding that we don't have a monopoly on truth is vital to living in peace and harmony.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Most Beautiful Thing

Today I'm taking part in the My Most Beautiful Thing Blogsplash to celebrate beautiful things - inspired by Fiona Robyn's new novel, The Most Beautiful Thing. Bloggers from all over the world are taking part and writing or posting pictures of their most beautiful things today. Find out more here and see everyone else's blog posts here.  I have found it difficult if not impossible to come up with one thing.  That is the problem with superlatives.  I could have listed my daughter or my son or my granddaughter or my pets or the lovely place I live, Vashon, WA, a wonderful supportive rural community, or my home or my yard or and the list goes on and on.  But I think what I find to be the most beautiful thing is the fact that I am healing and I've started learning the power of staying present, living in the moment, observing what is going on around me.  I am far from experienced in this, but I am improving so that I was thrilled to find a bumblebee drinking from a petunia yesterday on my way to my shower.  It is wonderful to stop and just listen to the frogs croaking or watch a hummingbird buzz by.  I have learned more about how to stop and focus, not to be worrying about the future or regretting the past, but just being present in a very real sense with each moment (or as many as I can manage) of the day.  It is a very new experience for me, but one that allows me to find lots of beauty at all sorts of levels in the wonderful world.  I can rejoice with my students or be glad for a stranger's help navigating the Metro bus system.  I can go out after dark and marvel at the slugs enjoying my purple walkway.  I can walk my dog Oliver, who is recovering from knee surgery, around the backyard and spot all sorts of new growth, patiently going wherever he wants at his slow speed and not rushing about.   My haiku spring from these moments where I really pay attention to what is going on and then try to capture it in poetry.  I find that writing the haiku helps me really see the moment, feel the moment, and capture the moment.  So I guess My Most Beautiful Thing is this moment in time:
three dogs sleeping
new growth
on the blue cedar

I just want to close by saying that I highly recommend "The Most Beautiful Thing" by Fiona Robyn.  The book is incredibly well written and beautiful with vibrant characters who ring true.  It is one of the best books I have read in a very long time, and I hope you can enjoy it also.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Share Your World Sunday--4/22

I just found a blog that has a "Share Your World Sunday" where each week Cee challenges us with four questions so we can get to know each other better.  This is my first time to participate, but here goes.

1.  How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
That is a very tough question to answer.  My body does seem to be feeling all of its 66 yrs., but my mind and outlook seem a lot younger.  That being said, I have learned a lot, especially in the last few years, and I wouldn't want to have to do that again so I think I'll just stay right where I am.  I know a lot of ages I wouldn't ever want to be again, and I think I'm fine right where I am, and yes, even if no one told me, I would know I am a senior citizen!

2.  What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
Again, this is tough, as I have experienced many kind acts along the way, but the greatest one I can think of currently is my friend Kay's willingness to come twice a day to help me give medicines and fluids to my sweet cat Sasha, which Kay has been doing since September, 2011!  If it weren't for Kay, I doubt that Sasha would still be with me, and she is now making enormous health gains and I treasure our time together, all thanks to Kay!

3.  What was your favorite childhood television program?
Gads, these aren't getting any easier are they.  I remember the Howdy Doody Show as one of my earliest favorites and then there was Leave it to Beaver and Donna Reed, and The Lone Ranger, and Gilligan's Island.  I guess that is enough.

4.  Which cooking utensil (other than the usual pots and pans etc) would you miss the most?
Ok, finally an easy one.  I don't cook so I probably wouldn't miss much.  It isn't a utensil, but I would miss my freezer as I keep a lot of Amy's frozen dinners on hand and I would miss my InstaHot as I make endless cups of tea and ramen that way.  I used to feel like a failure for not being a good cook, but now I just figure that with my limited energies, I'd rather do something else like writing or quilting so I don't worry about it.

You too can have fun with this if you visit Share Your World Sunday!  Have a lovely day and Happy Earth Day!  May we all be more careful of our delicate planet.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What Do You Believe?

I have just finished one book (Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins) and I am nearly done with another (Small Gods by Terry Pratchett), both of which have dealt with beliefs, specifically beliefs in a god or gods.  Both authors propose that gods exist because people believe in them and when people don't believe in them anymore, the gods disappear.  Tom Robbins uses the god Pan as an example and Terry Pratchett has a god named Om who has become a tortoise.

This got me thinking about the power of beliefs, and I have no intention of getting into religion, so no worries there dear readers, but these books have brought home yet again something that I have only discovered relatively recently as I work on my healing with a fantastic therapist, and that is that our beliefs are extremely powerful and in fact the beliefs construct our realities.  I know I have dealt with this topic before, but it is such a very important one and I don't feel as if I have personally fully comprehended it.

I do know that a lot of my own personal healing has been centered around restructuring my beliefs so that my reality is more reflective of who I really am.  I still fall into old patterns when triggered of believing that I lack any artistic talent or that I am the stupid one or that I am not worthy of anything and need to put everyone and everything else first, but for the most part, I have managed to restructure my beliefs so that I know which of these things are quite absurd and actually a part of my father's reality and which might work for me.

There is only one constant in this life and that is change.  I think it is important then from time to time to reassess what we believe so that we can see if it is still working for us, and if not, how we can change our beliefs to reflect the world and the reality we really want.  This is scary work as changing beliefs does destabilize our reality until a new paradigm can shift into place and become a part of us.  And I am no different from most in this, that it took getting to a very dark place to give me the incentive to go through the destabilization process.  We all need beliefs to shape our reality as I don't think that there is an absolute world or an absolute reality.  But we all need a belief system that helps us realize our full potential, which helps us navigate our world in a positive and healthy way.

Over and over again we see evidence of how our beliefs, for good or ill, can determine our lives.  Doctors have proven conclusively that patients with positive attitudes, those who believe they can be well again, have a much higher healing rate.  Beliefs hold the power of making self-fulfilling prophesies.  If I believe I will fail, then fail I will.  At that point I can then say, see I was right.  It becomes a vicious circle.

And whatever our beliefs are about anything, we can find evidence to prove we are right.  If, for instance, we say the world is a scary and nasty place, then we will focus on all the things that happen that support that belief, and ignore or forget the things that don't.  I know several folks who believe that life is shit (pardon my language) and then you die, and guess what, they can find tons of support for that belief.  I know others who believe that life is good and wonderful, and they also can find lots of support for their belief.  And these two opposite points of view can exist in basically the same environment, because the reality is that we attract what we believe in.

So it is time again for me to do a check-in on my beliefs.  I am still working at overcoming a lot of fears and on this glorious sunny weekend, I look outside and think, well, I could go for a walk.  But then the old fears surface.  It is safer to stay inside.  I might meet a mean dog or a nasty person  or I might fall if I go out.  These things have happened to me so the fears are not totally unfounded.  But the fact is that they haven't happened in a long time and not in this neighborhood.  So just maybe it is time to challenge my beliefs that people are scary.  Sure, some are, but most are not and even if someone does say something hurtful, it is probably more reflective of them than me and maybe they are just having a bad day or maybe their belief system is such that they feel they have to go through life defensively, getting in the first hit no matter what.  I don't know.  But I do know that I need to focus on changing my beliefs so that I don't attract the very thing I fear.

Now, as I look out my window on this gorgeous sunny day and watch myriad butterflies darting in and around my garden I realize that overall life is very good and very beautiful.  And whether I enjoy the beauty from inside or out, I can still be uplifted by the lovely space I am in and I am free to decide whether to quilt or to read or just maybe go for a walk.  The choice is mine; I need only believe that.  Have a super day wherever you are!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Examining Routines

Routine is a wonderful stabilizing factor in most of our lives.  But I have recently been reminded that routines need to be re-examined and explored in order to ensure that they are still serving us.  My dog Chauncey has been on a hypoallergenic diet for some time now (and since we all sink or swim together, so have the other two dogs, Poosa and Oliver).  But lately Chauncey has become neurotic about getting to cat food bowls.  Now dogs will always, in my experience, try for cat food, but not like this.  Chauncey is a 13 yr. old cocker and he has learned to climb cat furniture in an amazing way to get himself up onto my dresser to find cat food.  He was doing this last Wednesday when Dr. Nell, our vet was here, and she got to see first hand how neurotic he had become.  It is true that he gets most concerned when others are here and he thinks I'm not watching, but even so, it was painful to listen to him.  So Nell decided that maybe he needed a change in diet, especially since the vegan hypoallergenic diet hasn't really seemed to make a huge difference in his skin allergies.  Maybe, just like me, his are not food allergies but something else.  So yesterday we made the switch to a salmon/sweet potato limited ingredient diet and all three dogs think it is fantastic.  I am still adding the green beans and pumpkin and they like those as well.

Dr. Nell then also raised the issue of the cats' diet as she had just finished an acupuncture/nutrition class and it turns out that cats should really be eating primarily if not exclusively canned cat food which is very low in carbs.  Thankfully, the Wellness grain free flavors I had been supplementing with are on the approved list, so now the cats are switching to primarily canned food.  At this point, since I will be washing more dishes each day, I decided to re-think the number and placement of my cat feeding stations.  The one on the heavily protected washer/dryer would stay as that is now Sasha's world.   But what about the one in my bedroom, the one Chauncey tries so hard to get to?  

I realized then that I had set up a litter box and feeding station in my bedroom during my 3 year remodel, because my bedroom was the one area that was not being invaded, torn down, rebuilt, etc.  I wanted the cats to have a safe spot where they wouldn't be disturbed.  It became Sasha's favorite spot until a couple months ago, so it was definitely staying.  But now was it necessary?  My home is now wonderfully quiet and the remodel is basically over so I realized that it wasn't.  There is no reason why Thackeray and Laoise can't eat in the kitchen at the kitchen bowls, and that would make it easier for me to check on the bowls and clean and refill them as needed.  It would mean that Chauncey would have no chance to get to the food.  And it would mean that I wouldn't have the smell of cat food in my bedroom.

It seems obvious now, but it didn't seem obvious until last night that my life and the situation in my home especially as it relates to the remodel had all changed dramatically and so there was no need now for a set up that had been a life-saver for three years.  Life changes.  Situations change.  But all too often, I, at least, remain in the same routine doing things the same way even when that way no longer makes any sense.

I am also in the process of re-evaluating the litter box situation.  I haven't moved the one in my bedroom, but I suspect in time I will.  But also at Dr. Nell's suggestion, I added a very small (purple) litter box onto the washer/dryer for Sasha.  She hasn't been using a traditional litter box for a long time, having decided during one or another of her bladder/kidney infections that flannel was better.  So she had an open litter box which I lined with flannel and I did a lot of laundry.  But I noticed that she liked that spot as a bed and I thought maybe she might be willing to go back to using a regular litter box and then have the flannel to sleep on.  Well, she was very happy to have a litter box again and I also figured out that now that she is blind, she is not about to try moving off the washer/dryer, so that is probably why she was still using the flannel long after she really wanted to. So Sasha's safe world atop the washer/dryer now has two beds, a litter box, three food bowls and one water bowl and she seems to like it a lot!

These are just the most current examples in my life to demonstrate that something that was once true may not stay true for forever.  Life is always changing.  That is the only "constant" that there is.  So we have to be ready to change with it.  I've had people say that the knew just what I wanted and much of the time it may even be true, but my needs and preferences also change.  All of that is good, but it does mean that we need to exercise constant vigilance, as Moody would say (J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series), or remind ourselves that as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

As in all things, the trick is balance.  Routine is good, and I for one couldn't get through my day without it.  But routine done simply because that's the way I've always done it isn't good.  All aspects of our lives need to be monitored to see if what worked before is still working and if it is fine, but if it isn't, change needs to happen.  So we have new diets for all the pets and changes in the location of cat feeding stations and litter boxes and hopefully the result will be happier pets and hence a happier pet care giver!  Have you looked at your routines lately?  Have a super day!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I got out of the hot tub last night and as I was getting ready for bed I noticed a scar I have had for nearly sixteen years.  The scar is the result of a surgery where I formed a horribly painful rope-like raised keloid which then was "corrected" by a plastic surgeon after which it was much worse than what I started with.  Over the years thankfully, it has very gradually flattened and it is no longer painful and only the one end of the scar is still raised and deep red.  Last night I noticed that this red tip actually has formed a cartoon animal type figure.  It could be a dog or cat or even a baby brontosaurus!  I haven't decided which it most resembles but what struck me as I looked at it was that this scar which I have hated (for good reasons) for so many years is now causing me to smile.

That got me thinking about scars in general.  We all have them.  We have physical scars from all the bumps and scrapes we've endured through the years and we have emotional and psychological scars as well.  I don't think it is possible to get through life without at least some scars.

But are scars bad?  Well, wounds do need to be treated, no matter what kind of wounds they are.  And sometimes even with treatment a large scar still remains.  But as I do my own healing work and find the scars in my life that need to be healed I have discovered that the scars are also what makes me me!  I have grown and matured in and around the scars.  My scars can be triggered in ways that are uniquely mine.  My scars are a good reminder of my humanity, my individuality, my life's path.

And as I learn to own my scars, to acknowledge when I have over-reacted, for instance, because I got triggered, or whatever, I am able to show myself compassion and understanding.  And the more I do that, the more I am able to extend that compassion to those around me.  We all have our quirks; we all have our beliefs; we all see the world from our own perspective.

But the more we learn about our own perspective and the more we see that it is just that, our perspective based on all that has happened to us and probably most influenced by whatever scarring we have undergone, the more we can relate to others and understand that they are doing the same thing, working from their perspective which, like ours, has been molded by whatever they have undergone.

So now, as I try to figure out just what animal is smiling back at me in the mirror (and it is even right side up and looking at me!), I shall try embracing my scars and not being ashamed of them or hiding them away.  The more we try to hide parts of ourselves, the larger those parts become until they warp everything.  I realize that I need to embrace all of me, scars and all, because each and every part of me contributes to the larger picture of who I am as a person, unique, wonderful, quirky, and difficult.

That's it for now.   It is once again pouring rain, as in torrential downpours, here in the Pacific Northwest, but thankfully my pets and I can stay inside warm and dry and snuggling together.   I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is There One Truth?

This past week has gotten me thinking again about the eternal question of truth and whether or not there even is an absolute truth at all.  I have explored this question, as I imagine many of us have, throughout my life and in a variety of contexts.  One of my earliest searches was centered around spirituality and religion and I tried out a number of them.  Eventually, I have decided that most religions have some beliefs that work for me and many that don't, and I have finally cobbled together my own blend of spirituality with heavy nods to Daoism and Buddhism and other eastern philosophies.  Would I say that I had a claim on the absolute truth in this area?  Most assuredly not!  I know what works for me and what helps me through life, but I'd never presume to say that it would work, much less be the best option, for anyone else.

And even further back in my timeline, in another life when I was a physics major, I learned that good old Newtonian physics is fine for everyday life, but that in fact it has no bearing on reality when things get either very very small or very very large.  Scientists are still looking for a unified theory of physics, but personally I am not sure that there is such a thing, and for me, it is enough that I can count on Newton in my every day activities.

Well, this past week I was hit once again by the fact that truth is hard if not impossible to come by.  First there was the trip to the allergist in Seattle.  The doctor has a good reputation and the clinic is the best in the area, and he did go through everything with me, but his conclusion was that I am only allergic to grass, that all the other allergy tests I had had previously, tests based on an analysis of my blood, were bogus, and that no food allergy would cause sinus congestion or headaches.

This information directly contradicts what my regular doctor had said and I was left confused.  When I contacted my doctor's office I got a message saying that there are just "differences of opinion," which wasn't terribly helpful.  I know that a large part of this is due to the differences between allopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine, but still, where does that leave me?

I decided that once again, this was a testing of my belief systems and it was up to me to play detective and figure out what works for me.  If the allergist is correct, then there is no reason not to eat things like wheat, nuts, and bananas.  So in what I hope is a reasonably sensible manner, I have added wheat back into my diet.  As a vegan, this was the one that caused me the most difficulty, and the one I missed the most, so I now have a wonderful loaf of olive bread and soon also some couscous and Tofurky faux meats, and so far, I have had no change in symptoms and no difficulties and it sure does taste good!  I am realizing that once again, there are no absolutes and that I will have to find my own path through the maze and see what works for me.  

The other major event of my past week was a wonderful (if very brief) visit from my sister Jan.  In the course of conversation we discussed some events in our family past and I realized very clearly that the beliefs of the individuals in our family determined their view of situations, their definitions of the realities of events.  Each person had acted from good and loving motives, but each spin as it were on the situation was totally different, rather like eye witness accounts of an accident.  We each saw what we "knew" to be true based on how we had set up our world.

When I was a lot younger, I was very sure that there had to be a right answer to everything.  Now, after a lot of years of experience, I believe that the key to life is to stay open to possibilities, to realize that there probably isn't a single reality at all on anything, and that sometimes we need to readjust our beliefs, never an easy task, to accomodate new data or new ways of looking at things.

The older I get the harder time I have with change, and I don't think I am alone there.  But at the same time, the older I get and the more I have seen, the more I realize that there are as many ways of looking at the world, as many realities, as there are people in it, that I have no monopoly on what is real or right, and that I need to be open to what others think, believe, and see as real, not only to treat them with respect, but also to stay open to learning something which might apply to me or help me navigate this complicated world of ours.

So I am going to conclude that for me there isn't a single truth or a single reality.  I will just continue to ask the question, is this working for me.  If it is, fine.  If it isn't, then I need to try something else.  I'd be really interested to see what you, my readers, think about the nature of truth and reality!  Have a super day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Do All Colors Go Together?

I was in Island Quilter, the best quilt shop in the world (in my humble opinion), on Friday and a lady was trying to figure out what color yarn to use to assemble her knitted squares into a single piece.  The knitted squares were in a variety of colors (more on this in  a bit), and so, especially since she was wearing a vibrant purple suit, I suggested purple.  Her immediate reaction was that that wouldn't go with her bedroom.

That got me thinking about whether I thought there were colors which don't go together, and I realized that anything I actually consider a color (I do not handle beige, white, brown, black, neutrals, etc well at all) I would put with any other color and in fact do on a regular basis.  For me, a color needs to be bold and definitive, with no questions about what it is.  And my home and life reflect this.  My favorite color spot in my home is where a pink wall and magenta baseboard meet up with a yellow door and baseboard with a green half bath close by on one side and a purple closet on the other, and a blue bedroom beyond.  Well, I'm sure you get the idea.

We all color our worlds differently and that works really well.  I would not like it actually if everyone did as I do as that would become boring.  And the reality is that I have a mild form of color-blindness so that I am unable to distinguish colors which are close or colors which are faint, and hence my need for bold colors.  I recently purchased a hot tub (yep this is relevant to color) and they recommend testing the water for a variety of things such as ph using strips which you swirl in the water and then compare with the handy color chart.  Well, I have now signed up for valet service so my tub will be checked monthly and drained and refilled three times a year for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggies is that all the colors on the chart look about the same to me for all the things I am supposed to measure.  I can tell the difference between the bottom and the top but I cannot see the gradients.  I remember having the same issues in both high school and college chemistry, and my father used to yell at me that this beige didn't even come close to matching that beige (he was big into neutrals).

A friend painted a magnificent portrait of my cat Sasha and I just got it framed.  As I was picking out mat and frame colors, the difficulties I have with distinguishing subtleties surfaced again.  The store owner first picked out a variety of mats which she felt would be good, and I am sure they all would have been, but after eliminating all the (by my definition) non colors, we settled on a lovely purple which looks fantastic with the portrait (Sasha is a black cat).  Then the frame selection, and again, I was offered many choices.  I suggested orange (once we decided that none of the greens would work because they caused detracted from Sasha's gorgeous green eyes), and there were in theory lots to pick from, but most of them simply didn't look orange to me.  They looked like rust or brown or whatever, but not orange.  Finally we found a bright orange that I liked which also worked very well with the painting and so now the portrait of Sasha sits proudly on my bright pink wall and looks fantastic.
Sasha Painted by Cynthia Zheutlin

My colors are bold.  My quilts stand out for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is my use of colors and as far as I am concerned all colors go well together, so I was able to respect (if not understand) the lady in the quilt shop's statement, but I still think given the variety of her squares (which were primarily what I believe is called earth colors, including sage and some kind of yellow, etc,) that the purple would have looked magnificent.  I left before she'd made a decision, realizing that my input would not have been helpful, and I'll ask Paul or Anja later on what color she finally settled on.

Do you have strong color preferences? Does color play a major or minor role in your life?  Just wondering.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Photo Update

Daphne and Sasha
Snow Day

I haven't written in awhile and it is time to play catch up with words and photos.  This month has seen the arrival of winter at last, at least for a week.  We had enough snow to shut down the island for nearly a week, and it was a lovely break.  I spent a lot of time reading with Sasha in my lap and that has been really quality time.  Sasha is weakening but still full of spunk.  I treasure every day with her.  Animals have so much to teach us and I am trying to learn every day.

Sasha Enjoys New Furniture

I still am working on health issues and maybe I always will.  The hot tub seems to be helping with my fibromyalgia pain and it certainly feels good to soak twice a day in nice hot water.  I missed it when the power was off for 24 hours and glad to get back in it once the power was restored.  It was great fun to catch snowflakes on my tongue as I soaked in the hot water.

Laoise, Thackeray, and Sasha
I continue to tutor at Student Link as well as a couple other students at home and I find the work enriching and satisfying.  I am very dismayed at the way education in this country is degrading and it is sad that so many students need assistance because the quality of classroom instruction is failing.  Math students no longer get their homework corrected because the teachers simply have too many students.  Students are all too frequently shoved onwards without learning the skills they will need to succeed, and it is disheartening and discouraging.  But I am making a difference in my world and I know that I am helping the students I tutor to learn what they need to pursue their dreams and that means a great deal to me.
Snow Sliding Off the Metal Roof

 Otherwise, life continues in its predictable routine.  I hope to be able to return to quilting on a more regular basis soon.  I find it rewarding to teach the bridge class as my students are so wonderful and supportive.  I am so lucky to be living where I am in such a wonderful caring community.  I hope you enjoy my photos and you may find even more on my Picassa site.  And I hope the new year is off to a good start for each and every one of you.

Painting of Sasha by Cynthia Zheutlin

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What Goals Do You Have for 2012?

I saw an interesting prompt the other day at Plinky Prompts which got me thinking.  The question was to name the top 3 most important things you want to accomplish this year.  Certainly this time of year is a good one and a traditional one for setting goals and evaluating where you are and where you want to go.  I had to think fairly hard to come up with three, so having done that I guess by definition they are my most important three.

My first goal would be to get my novel published. I worked hard to write my first ever novel and now I need to get down to revising and then looking at publishing options.  I would also like to publish a book of my poetry, but that fits into the same goal I guess of becoming a published author.

My second goal would be to become healthier so that I am not always fighting off a sinus infection or battling chronic pain.  Having been recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well as my other health issues, means that this goal will not be easily accomplished.  However, I am getting a hot tub next week and that is supposed to help with both pain and sinus issues, and I'm trying to monitor my activities so that I don't keep over-extending, and so forth.  I am hoping then that this goal will be achievable.

My third goal is the toughest of all.  I would like to stop living in a state of constant fear or terror.  I have discussed this in some previous posts and I do understand where many of my fears come from, but the living in fear certainly takes a major toll on me in a variety of ways.  What am I afraid of, you might ask.  I think it would be easier to ask what am I not afraid of.  I was apprehensive at least if not downright fearful, about returning to activities after the holiday break.  Would I still be able to do what was expected?  Would people still value what I'm doing? Etc.   The fears were, of course, totally groundless, as are most of my fears.  My stand alone freezer which holds about 1/2 of my frozen food was accidentally left unplugged and the food all spoiled.  Because I shop at our local organic market where these items are purchased by special order from the buyer's club, and because of the timing of the loss, I won't be able to replace those items until the end of  next week.  So that made me fearful that I would run out.  Again, this is silly because first, I have plenty in my freezer drawers in my fridge and even if I didn't I could replace things sooner by going to Thriftway.  Of course that is another thing I'm afraid of, but I went a couple weeks ago and it was fine, as are most things that I fear.  But knowing this in my head doesn't seem to help a lot.  I'm afraid I will fail or not meet other's expectations.  I'm afraid I will make mistakes.  These are longstanding fears from my being raised by a highly critical very perfectionist father.  I need to move beyond these fears since when I am held in their grip, I am my own worst enemy.

And so if I made significant progress on goal three, I wouldn't care so much about the other two, and achieving the first goal will be wonderful, but without either or both of the other two goals, the achievement of goal one won't be so fantastic.  I plan to work hard on achieving progress at least on all the goals.  The first goal is measurable and well within my grasp since I am very happy with self-publishing.  The goal just requires some disciplined creative time and energy, challenging but not insurmountable.  The other two goals are more abstract, lacking easily measurable components, but they are quality of life goals and so in the long run, more important.  If I can feel some better and not panic quite so easily that will be significant.  I suspect those two goals are also related.  If I worry less, have fewer fears, I suspect I will have more energy etc.

Anyway, those are my three goals for 2012.  Do you have things you want to accomplish this year?  Have you set goals?  And do you have a game plan for working toward those goals?  I want to wish all my readers all the very best for 2012 and beyond.  May your lives be filled with light, love, and joy!