projects, new and old…

Anyone who knows me, knows I love my projects. Anything I can turn into a “project” inevitably becomes more fun to me. And I have some wonderful ongoing projects that I utterly adore. But…they seem to be among the first things to take a back seat when life gets too busy. And frankly when doesn’t life get too busy. So my projects tend to get neglected for vast periods of time.

In this year of “taking my life back” (god, that still sounds so ridiculously melodramatic), I’m going to make a concerted effort not to let that happen. I love my Happiness Project and my 50×50 and Rich’s and my Million and One. And oh how happy it would make me to complete item after item after item from each of those.

I’m still interested in all of my personal reading challenges, especially Read the World, but for 2016 I’d like to focus on reading what is calling to me in the moment rather than putting any “obligations” on my reading. (Homeschooling adds more than enough obligatory reading to my plate.) So I’ll try to continue to record any reading that works for my reading challenges, but won’t go out of my way to find books that do.

And I have a couple of new projects I’m excited to start. First of all, I’m jumping on the bullet journal bandwagon. Something I never thought I’d do…until I stumbled upon this blog post at Boho Berry. I can’t for the life of me recall what I was googling that day, but I assure you it was not bullet journaling. But wow–I was sucked right into her post and was fascinated by the way she approached it. It was the first time I had even an inkling that it might be something I’d enjoy. But, as I think everyone needs to do, I’m doing it in a way that appeals to me. And part of that means I’m combining it with my fauxbonichi style of journaling. (I’ll probably do a post and share some pictures in a few days.)

I’m also starting a scrapbook/life storytelling project. I absolutely love the idea behind Ali Edward’s December Daily project (despite the fact that I’ve failed to follow through with it umpteen years now). And it dawned on me what a wonderful thing it would be to do that for an entire year. One story of our lives every single day. I know that I won’t be able to make time to scrapbook every day, but I can make the time to jot down a few sentences about what story I want to tell from each day and note any relevant photos I took. And then when I have an hour or two, I can actually document those stories. A whole year of itty bitty stories will likely add up to a wonderful record of what our life looks like overall.

My older projects are tried and true, so I can’t see ditching them. But if my new projects don’t bring me the satisfaction and contentment that I’m hoping for, out the window they go. This year is about making *smarter* choices for a fulfilling life.

I also have a few shorter projects in mind for February, my most favorite month of the year. It would no longer be February without Comics February (and thank you leap year for providing an extra day of comics love this year). I also have a completely decadent birthday project in mind (I’ll share more about that later).

So here’s to happiness-inducing projects and living a more intentional life!

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hello 2016…

I have declared 2016 as “the year I take my life back.” Oh my, don’t I sound ever so melodramatic. Not the intention. No, it simply means that my overriding goal for the year is to remember that this is the only life I get and that’s it’s up to me to make it what I want it to be. No one else can live it for me.

It’s somewhat inevitable when you make the choice to have children that you will give up some amount of freedom. In many ways even more so when you have what I tend to call a “high maintenance” kiddo (by no means a perfect term, but I prefer it to “special needs”). But the responsibilities of parenthood aren’t to blame for me failing to take myself seriously. I know that I have internalized the messages of society of “woman as caretaker” and especially “mother as caretaker” very deeply. Despite having it click over the last decade (thanks to some wonderful friends) how incredibly unfair and unhelpful that is to everyone involved, it is a message that persists in the core of me: Everyone else must come first.

It’s not that I plan to run off into the sunset and leave it all behind. There are no plans for drastic changes. More like baby steps. A few projects to start that are exciting me at the moment. A determination to carve out me-time every day. An attitude change that makes me ask, “Do I really *need* to do this, or do I just feel like I *should* do this?” A willingness to let go of things that are no longer making me happy.

So I’m starting 2016 full of hope. There’s just nothing like a fresh start, is there? And I have to say that waking up to snow falling on this first day of the new year seems like a very happy sign to me. 🙂

Happy New Year, friends! Happy New Year, strangers! Happy New Year, world!

babblings…I’m feeling…

*lucky. So much Charley lovin’ going on in this house. After all the pain and loss this summer, I can’t begin to explain how blessed we feel to have Charley join our family. This dog. Oh my, this dog. He has the sweetest, most gentle essence about him. He is the best medicine I can imagine. And every day starts a bit brighter because of Charley. He awakes so happy and high on life that you just can’t help but feel better about life yourself. He is an absolute love. And I can’t even put into words how much of an understatement that is.

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*insightful. Ha! Yeah, that may be overstating it. But I have had a few things dawn on me recently. I’ve been in perhaps my most all-encompassing painful fibro flare to date. There is a weird balancing act that goes on with me and fibro, between refusing to give into it and yet accepting that I have to respect it. One thing that has dawned on me is that this seems to be the place I need for my mental wranglings. It’s just not something I feel comfortable talking to other people about directly. I’ve noticed that when people ask me how I’m feeling, I tend to sidestep. And another thing I’ve noticed is that I am so often apologizing because of fibro. Because of the things I just can’t seem to get done when in the grips of a bad flare up. Apologizing to people I love and care about for letting them down in myriad ways–from not returning emails and letters to not cooking the supper someone was really excited about.. Thing is, I’m blessed with the kindest, most understanding family and friends on earth–and they always find my apologies unnecessary. And I think it’s time I learn to let go of some of the guilt that comes with this chronic invisible illness.

*incredulous. Gray turned 15 yesterday! I am grateful every day that I get to be a part of this amazing kid’s life. Again with the understatement.

*weirded out. By the fact that I just can’t seem to make myself read lately. Since Dewey’s Read-a-thon a week and a half ago, the only reading I’ve done has been for homeschooling. Nothing that was just for fun. What I read for read-a-thon was awesome though! Loved all three books I read: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (though I think I’m in the minority of people who actually liked his Lost at Sea better), March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (can’t wait for final book of this trilogy), and Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens (reminded me of how much I adore awesome middle grade fiction; seriously, I was smitten). Just remembering how much enjoyment I got from those books, makes me think that today is the day I need to pick up a new book–like maybe Hark! A Vagrant, before I have to return it to the library.

*numb. Over The Walking Dead. Not numb as in “I don’t care,” but numb as in “I care too much, and I’m not sure how much more I can take.” This season has been nothing short of brutal thus far.

*panicked. But amazingly calm about the panic. Which of course is completely contradictory. There’s no way I’m going to get all the gifts made for Christmas. It’s just not going to happen. *sigh* And still I don’t stop trying. I worked on Chris’ gift much of the last two days, and can’t believe how little progress two days looks like. On a side note, I binged on the entire first season of How to Get Away with Murder during those two days. I do believe Annalise Keating may be the. most. intriguing. character I’ve ever seen on a television show.

 

babblings: moving forward…

Lots of ruminating going on here since I wrote my last post. Of the pensive variety, not of the chewing the cud variety. (Personally, I’m grateful I have only one stomach.) Thinking about how I might begin to live that more deliberate life, a life that is more acting-as-opposed-to-reacting.

Then I got this email from Chris in response to that post. There’s a reason he’s such a phenomenal therapist. Not that I see him as my therapist, obviously. Just that a lot of the things that make him such an amazing, amazing friend surely play into making him an amazing therapist too. Without demeaning my struggle in any way, he was able to remind me of what was already “right” with my life, remind me of the ways I was already leading the life I want. Essentially he reminded me that I don’t need to start from scratch here.

With that in mind, I figured out that there were two types of changes I wanted to make: the real honest-to-goodness changes in behavior, and the more subtle, but nonetheless real and important, changes in perspective and attitude. For example, I so often let myself get frustrated, even resentful, of the overwhelming amount of time I have to spend on homeschooling. It’s not that I want to beat myself up for those feelings, but maybe I could work on redirecting my perspective. Because when I look at it, every moment I spend on homeschooling, I’m living a giving life. And in some very concrete ways, it’s helping me live a more informed life as well.

So over the next month, I’m going to adopt two strategies. I’ll evaluate after the month is over to see if they’re actually helping. Now it may be that I end up mentally turning them into something else for the to-do list, in which case I’ll ditch them and try something new. But I have high hopes.

The first is to just keep myself a tally sheet, with the categories of “a more appreciative life,” “a more informed life,” “a more sustainable life,” “a more creative life,” and “a more giving life.” Every time I realize that I’ve done something the qualifies for one (or more) of those, I’ll add a tick. My hope is that this makes me more mindful of how I spend my time, and helps me view the life I already lead with a brighter perspective. I’d love to find that after a couple months of this, I won’t need to do it anymore because I will have internalized this brighter perspective.

The second is a little more proactive. Each week, I want to add more of each category to my life. I’m going to start small, with half an hour for each category, but would love over time to up that amount. And I’m not talking about things I already do, but about setting aside the time to add, with deliberate mindfulness, more of the things that to me make for a richer life.

We’ll see how it goes.

babblings: lost at sea, yet feeling inspired…

I can’t even count how often I’ve just thought of ditching the whole blog thing. Keeping a blog, that is. (I can’t foresee ever giving up reading blogs.) Thing is, my idea of what I want my blog for–a place just to record my life and work through my thoughts–always gets distorted the second I start thinking that someone else could read it. I somehow can’t get past the paralysis of that thought. Anxiety sucks.

Been sort of feeling lost in a lot of ways lately. Adrift. Not sure how to get my footing. I’m talking about life here, not my blog. Though it does sort of apply there too.

Thing is I do know what I want. I say so right there in the tagline. I sort of wrote that as my mantra a few years back, and it still applies. A more creative life. A more sustainable life. A more appreciative life. A more giving life. A more informed life. Yep–still want all those things. Still know those are the things that matter to me.

But it’s not the life I live in my heart. I feel like the life I live is “an obligated life.” A life of “musts” and “shoulds.” And I know to some extent there is no escaping that. Being human comes with responsibilities. And while I’m sick to tears of even the mention of fibro, there’s no avoiding the fact that it is of late sucking much of the optimism from my life.

Ah, but on the flip side, I’ve been feeling inspired lately. By my dearest friends.

One has been inspiring me to grasp opportunities and live in the moment and be open to the awesomeness of life despite it’s capacity to hurt us. She’s been reminding me of the joys that sharing brings. She’s been reminding me that being alive is a blessing, and that nothing could be more important than the connections we make with others. I love her so. damn. much.

Another friend has been inspiring me to accept what is. To grasp what good and wonderful and beautiful we can from even the most heartbreaking and painful of circumstances. And he’s been reminding me that we’re all full of contradictions, and that that can be confusing…but that sometimes we just have to roll with it. I love him so. damn. much.

And yet another friend has been inspiring me to embrace the magic of quiet pursuits. Ours lives are very different in some ways, but her deliberateness in choosing how she spends her time has been reminding me that I could choose more wisely myself at times. And that I should count myself as a worthwhile recipient of my time. And yep…I sure do love her too.

So have my babblings gotten me anywhere today? I suppose it remains to be seen. But I hope like hell that I can start living those inspirations. And that I can remind myself more often what it is I do want from this life. And that maybe, just maybe, I can drop a few of those shoulds.