Shifting into Focus

“A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Photo by Philip Justin Mamelic on Pexels.com

We all have perceptions of life based on our past experiences. I’ve addressed a few of mine in previous posts. It’s normal behavior – since we don’t have ESP and we cannot foretell the future, we make assumptions about the future based on our past. We often determine boundaries that feel “safe” or that we know without a doubt are within our skills of coping. Its self-protection and self-preservation at it’s finest.

I know who I am. I know that while I am evolving as a person and will continue to do so, when it comes to integrity and personal merit, I have not changed.

Someone responded to a post I made on Facebook. Their comment resulted in a paradigm shift that caused a mutual friend to have a “revelation” of sorts. It’s frustrating because in the time I’ve known them, I have been the same person, but now . . . based on a comment . . . they see me differently. Their focus has sharpened and shifted. The shift has moved from fear to love — the frustration is that the shift had to come about from an outside source.

Obtuse – “lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obtuse

I am unsure of how to respond. It makes me uncomfortable and afraid and my thoughts are spinning. I’m irritated and upset at the change in status quo. The balance has shifted and it is disconcerting to say the least. It has resulted in tears and questioning of my self.

Sometimes I think, blind was better.

You’re Right

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!” ~ Henry Ford

Between WD40, duct tape and YouTube videos, I’m fairly certain there are few car repairs that cannot be made by the average Joe. With a power sliding door that at first wouldn’t open on the minivan, it then proceeded to not latch at the rear, draining the battery and creating extra road noise as well as a possibility of sliding open while driving down the highway.

Having done the research online, I located the most likely part for less than $50. The estimate from the Honda dealership was between $400 – 750 for the repair, depending on what was involved. Even at $400 for the low end, with a part that costs $50, I was all about fixing it myself. So, I ordered the part.

When ordering parts online for your vehicle, it is very important to note exactly from what store’s website you ordered. I cannot stress how very important this will be when picking up your part. Going to Auto Zone to pick up a part you ordered from Advanced Auto is not a good idea (in case you were wondering.)

Looking at all the angles, I had to come up with worst-case scenarios and quick fixes.

  • what if I couldn’t get the bolts and screws off – have WD40 on standby as well as making sure the appropriate sized tools were available
  • What if I couldn’t get the part off or get the new part on – watch the YouTube video again and have some faith
  • What if I got old part off and couldn’t get the new part on – watch the YouTube video again and keep trying
  • What if I got the old part off and STILL couldn’t get the new part on – phone a friend (probably Dave the mower)

My point is that I had all these WHAT IF’s in my mind and none of them were WHAT IF it all goes wonderfully well with no problems and the door works as designed and latches at the rear?

After changing my way of thinking and resetting my perspective, the anxious thoughts of failure disappeared. I watched the video in entirety and then went back to the start. With each step I watched it and went outside to performed it. Inside to watch the next step and outside to perform it. Not only did this break the repair down into manageable bite-size steps, it gave me a break from the heat and a chance to sit down in the cool AC.

The door is repaired and latches well. Instead of opening and coming to a sudden stop with a jerk, the door slides effortlessly across the side of the van with a precise smoothness that has long been missing. There may have been a little dance with a squeal at the conclusion of the repair. (Maybe.)

I was right! We did it!!

Pushing thru

There are a lot of things about me that COULD define me:

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Nurse. Firefighter. Hazmat Technician. Teacher. Instructor. Girlfriend. Wife. Planner. Divorcee. Lover. Cook. Chauffeur. Speaker. Renovator. Builder. Gardener. Typist extraordinaire. Blogger. Runner. Swimmer. Weightlifter. Biker. Piano player. Comedienne. Competitive. Encourager. Prayer warrior. Dreamer. Entrepreneur. Seamstress. SME. Reader. Plant magic user (aka Young Living Oils). Herbalist. Healer. Survivor.

These are just small aspects of my life. Like facets of a diamond, they add dimension and clarity to who I may be, but not one single word above solely defines me as a person.

The past few days have been rough, I cannot lie. If you read my last post, you’ll have a clue. Grief is different for everyone, depending on the loss. The grief I experience with my son is completely different than that which I experienced with my dad. Two different people, two different relationships. There are times I barely remember when my father passed — we really had no connection.

Today, I just wanted to stay in bed with the covers over my head and sleep. But I had a plan. I had put my running clothes out last night — chosen carefully. Things I love — the tank top that states, “Actually, I can.” My favorite running shoes. A special pair of running shorts. A comfy purple sports bra. A pair of green toe socks with bloodshot eyes on them that make me laugh and a second pair of green socks to wear over them for extra padding. All things that are comfortable, make me smile or laugh and just give my run a little extra something. Today’s run wasn’t about time or pace. It wasn’t about the music I listened to (which was only partially during the run.) It wasn’t about the distance.

Today’s run was about feeling my body move. Listening to the sound of my inhale and exhale. Hearing the songs of the birds and the critters. Seeing the squirrels, the cardinals, the box turtle and the dogs that were walking their owners. Today was about reveling in the sun and enjoying the shade, identifying the different types of trees, plants, flowers and the spray painted cracks in the trail (placed there for the bike races). It was about running past another female and high-fiving each other because we’re out there pushing thru the heat, sweat, and discomfort to be better. Today’s run was about life and experiencing it in as many forms as possible as a reminder that grief is for a season, but life goes on. It was about laughing as I got inside, stripping my sweaty clothes off and throwing them in the washer just inside the door, then running naked up the stairs and standing in front of the AC with a bottle of water before lying on the Yoga mat and stretching while, once again, I listened to my breathing and felt my heartrate decrease. It was a deep guttural humming with each exhalation as I felt my muscles relax with the stretching.

Life is a beautiful thing. Not everyone gets to live it. Some are alive, but not truly living. Held back by fear or worry. Held back by medical conditions or illnesses. Others are held back by their own perceptions that they “can’t” do something while on the other hand there are those who fight the odds to live as full a life as possible and put the more able-bodied of us to shame.

Yes, grief in vivid technicolor is an annual event, but life is a minute-by-minute event and it’s up to me to live it as completely and fully as possible. So far my ability to survive the worst days and come out alive is 100% and those odds are pretty good.

Now it’s your turn . . . go forth and LIVE OUT LOUD!

P. S. I only dropped 10 seconds from my pace even though that was not the key point. Did you really think I wasn’t going to track it? LOL!! Go back to the beginning and read thru those descriptive words if you missed it. I’m competitive, even against myself. Go rock your day guys!

Grief in Vivid Technicolor

“Real people with real grief simply find a path moving forward and choose to walk it one step at a time.” ~ Jessica Allen

Every year, it’s the same. I keep hoping that it will be different — not as vivid, not as clear, maybe even non-existent. It’s not.

For many years, the depression would kick in about the second week of June and I would feel it growing by degrees as we inched closer to the 4th of July. This year, for the first time, it wasn’t so much a sense of depression creeping over me as it was a feeling of tension and dread starting the first day of July.

July 3rd brings with it the memories. Eyes closed or eyes open, it doesn’t matter. I remember my son’s birthday events with such clarity that it makes my chest ache. I can remember the name of every nurse in the room and where they were standing. I remember the room number (245). I remember comments made by my OB/Gyn during the delivery and my insatiable desire for a cherry Icee right before the epidural. I remember the words used by the NICU nurses as they did my son’s first assessment: no palpable eyes, cleft palate, weak cry, and his APGAR scores of 6 and 8.

The memories rotate thru my head like a carousel, replaying in the order in which they took place. The sting of the MMR vaccination, the sign placed on the door by well-meaning staff requesting no visitors (which I subsequently tore down). The pastoral dedication of our sweet baby boy in the NICU nursery before they took him off life support and placed him in my arms. His first and only bath. The inane chatter of our pastor’s wife as she took pictures of us holding him, saying “Smile!”

Smile? Lady are you f*cking crazy. I’m holding my newborn child as he takes his last breaths and you want me to . . . smile?

Every single year, these memories return. You’d think it would get easier or less painful at least. I try to stay busy, I usually work to keep my hands and my mind occupied, but it doesn’t help.

Not all of the memories are painful. Every situation has it’s moments of humor, however dark. My mother had bought a new wig at the time which was very bouffant compared to her normal short, utilitarian haircut. After she left the hospital, I remember turning to my husband and asking, “What the hell was that on her head?” The night of the visitation at the funeral home, it was quite windy and we feared the wig would take flight and I could picture it swirling across the parking lot at which point I would have burst into maniacal laughter. (God spared me that one!)

The funeral home — now that was full of laughs (no disrespect). All the whispering. Why does everyone at the funeral home whisper? Who the hell are they afraid of waking up? The salesman who helped us pick out the casket and kept expounding on the nice “airtight and watertight seal” around the lid to which my husband replied, “Yeah . . .cause we don’t want him crawling out of there, do we?” (We quickly moved on.) When they presented the cost of the funeral to us and I shocked everyone in the room by asking if they had a “dig-your-own special.” I mean . . . c’mon . . . we were YOUNG, and we’d just had a baby (which isn’t cheap) that we didn’t get to bring home (HUGE surprise and not a pleasant one), and now you want a large sum of money that we don’t have so we can bury our child? What kind of response did they expect?

I was described, by the neonatologist even, as being “glib and blasé which (he) would attribute to shock.” Newsflash genius! I’m neither. I have a healthy, irreverent attitude about life that didn’t begin with this crisis. I am also a realist, and while I understand that shit happens, I also believe that your response to it will help determine how well you heal. It is imperative to me to find the silver lining even if it takes some searching – or in this case, excavating.

I want what every parent who has lost a child wants. What every person who has lost someone close to them, wants. I don’t want them to be forgotten. Grief is the elephant in a room that makes people uncomfortable. We skirt around it, we dance around it, we feel it’s presence and we try to ignore it. Grief in vivid technicolor will come ’round again next year.

Orange Chicken

“Chinese food tries to engage the mind, not just the palate. To provoke the intellect.” ~ Nicole Mones

Oh my gosh! Would you look at THAT!! I remembered to take a picture before we ate it all – (insert proud sigh of satisfaction *here*)

If you haven’t figured it out by now, and you’ve read my previous blog posts . . .I LOVE to cook. I like trying new recipes, making old favorites, sharing food with friends and playing in the kitchen. Heck! The kitchen floor and steps is where we re-pot our plants. My oils are stored in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heartbeat of our home.

But I digress.

With Sam being at his dad’s for a few weeks, Jojo and I have more lee-way with meals and happenings because we aren’t hung up on tastes and textures. I like Chinese food, Jo really LIKES Chinese food. She frequently has a hankering for Orange Chicken, so I made some.

It was easy, tasty and I had everything on hand except the noodles – a quick trip to Walmart solved that problem. I made an exception and did the preparation a little differently to see how it all worked out but I will note those changes after the recipe.

Orange Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts, thawed and cut into bite size chunks

1/3 c. flour

1/3 c. cornstarch

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. orange juice

1 T. white vinegar, rice vinegar would be better but white will work

1 T. soy sauce

1/4 c. sugar

1/8 t. Ginger

1/8 t. garlic powder

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

1 1/2 t. cornstarch

zest from one orange

sesame seeds (garnish)

green onions (garnish)

coconut oil for frying

1 package rice noodles

Directions

Put the coconut oil in a 10-12 inch skillet and heat. While the oil is heating, place the chicken chunks in the beaten eggs and let sit. Combine the 1/3 cups of cornstarch and flour and blend. Dredge the chicken thru the flour mixture and place into the hot oil in the pan. Cook on medium heat until golden brown on both sides. While chicken is cooking, in a small saucepan, combine orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Stir on low-medium heat until sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, combine remaining cornstarch with 1 T. water and stir until it makes a paste. When sugar in the orange glaze is dissolved, stir in cornstarch paste. Turn temperature to low to allow it to thicken. Meanwhile, remove cooked chicken to plate lined with paper towels to drain oil. Place rice noodles in hot pan used to cook chicken and cook on low breaking up noodles with spatula, you may need to add a bit more oil. When noodles have cooked (about 2 minutes) add drained chicken, and orange sauce to pan, stirring on low to blend flavors. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, orange zest and green onion.

Doesn’t sound too difficult . . . right? And it wasn’t. The changes I made are outlined below:

  1. I used coconut flour rather than white all-purpose flour because I had it and I wanted to use it. I actually debated between coconut flour and almond flour, but I went with the coconut flour for absolutely no special reason.
  2. Rather than dredging the chicken through the flour/cornstarch mixture, I combined the dry ingredients in a ziploc bag (a ‘la the old ‘Shake-n-Bake’ method). I zipped the bag and shook it to combine the ingredients, then opened it, plopped the chicken from the egg mixture into the bag, zipped it and shook it like no one was watching. (Because, in reality . . . . no one was watching! I was completely alone in the kitchen,)
  3. I used coconut oil to fry the chicken and the noodles, but you could use vegetable oil or olive oil.
  4. Ginger — I was completely out of ground ginger. (I think I took it to Missouri and forgot it there.) I used ginger oil 2-3 drops instead, and now typing this I just realized I have fresh ginger root in the fridge. *sigh*
  5. I noted in the recipe that I used white vinegar. Rice vinegar would give this a more authentic flavor, but the white vinegar worked fine.
  6. I was too hungry and too tired to garnish anything, hence the lack of sesame seeds or green onions in the photo above.

**A note on using oils in place of spices —

Because oils are concentrate of the product, you would never use the same amount of oil to replace a dried version of a spice. I regularly use oils in my cooking: Ginger, Clove, Lemon, Lime, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and Peppermint.

Young Living has oils designated as safe for dietary consumption marked by the white “Vitality” label. If you would like more information about ordering oils or becoming a Young Living subscriber, you can click here to get to my personal website.

I hope you dance . . .

“You don’t feel bad when you’re dancing. You can’t feel unhappy; it’s impossible. It’s such a natural way to release endorphins.” ~ Caroline Flack

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

When I was growing up, dancing was frowned upon. We could watch the Lawrence Welk show where Bobby and Cissy performed. My sister and I would imitate them, but even that was merely tolerated. Music was okay; singing acceptable. But not dancing. School dances? Out of the question. Prom? Nope.

I still can’t dance. I’d love to do ballroom dancing but I’ve heard you have to know the difference between left and right which rules me out. I’ve seen the advertisements for the country dancing classes called “Show Her Off” but without a partner to practice the steps, it would be pointless. As anti-social as I am, I can’t even begin to think of anyone I’d want to practice with. I’ll remain content to watch.

But when it comes to dancing in the kitchen and singing while I cook . . . I’m all in. I mean ALL IN! As long as no one else is around.

I’ll dance in the rain in my nightgown late at night or on the front porch – because . . . guess what? No one else is around!!! Especially during a full moon, when the light is bright on the grass, it’s a feeling as old as time.

It’s my opinion (for what it’s worth) that dancing and allowing children to dance helps with their proprioception – where their body is in relation to things around them. It helps with balance and confidence. It strengthens the core muscles and contributes to good posture. It helps develop a rhythm and opens them up to the world of music and timing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I hope you dance this week. Just for a moment or two.

Close your eyes. Feel the music. Let the cares of the world fade away.

And I Smile

“If you’re reading this… Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.” ~ Chad Sugg

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Clothespins? yeah . . . clothespins. they make me smile

My home – makes me smile. Driving past it, pulling into the driveway. Walking into it. Spending time there. It’s my Oasis of Serenity, my peaceful place.

Something as simple as doing laundry and hanging it outside with those clothespins make me smile.

Now matter what shitty things happen to me, or what is said or done, I can come home and leave it on the doorstep. Heck let’s leave it on the street, don’t even let it in the driveway.

Watching my kids grow and mature and question – that really makes me smile. I do and have done what I can to raise them right, but they are free spirits with their own ideas. Hearing them question events, watching them struggle with ideas as they grow into the wonderful people they will be – fills my heart right up to the brim!

Oils – help set the stage for relaxation. A little frankincense with coconut oil rubbed into my skin smells wonderful and keeps it soft. A bit of peppermint, lemon and lavender in the diffuser helps calm and restore a sense of peace before bedtime.

Choosing color schemes and adding my personal touches to the house – takes time but in the end it will be worth it. Every room a pleasure in which to spend time. It must appeal to all the senses. Life is an ongoing sensual experience – if you’re not using them and appreciating them, you’re missing out!

Food – really makes me smile. I like to cook it and eat it! Flavors also make me smile. Combinations of taste that hit the tongue and spark a smile and usually a “Mmmmmmm . . .” or as Dave would say “a food-gasm” are the best. I like to call them flavor explosions.

Water – maybe it’s the sign of Cancer or the fact that we are made up of 78-80% water. Sinking into a warm bath as the water slides over my skin or relaxing as the spray of the shower hits my back. When I’m lucky enough to be at the other home – the massage of the hot tub jets against my muscles. Even placing my hands in warm dishwater is an experience that pulls the corners of my mouth up into a smile.

What sights or sounds, flavors or tastes, make you smile?

Thru the Garden Gate

“Image your mind like a garden and your thoughts are the seeds. You get to choose what seeds you plant in it. You can plant seeds of positivity, love and abundance. Or you can plant seeds of negativity, fear and lack. You can also spend time trying to take care of everyone else’s garden, or you can work on making yours beautiful and attract other beautiful people to your garden. ~~ Jake Woodard

We try to cultivate a feeling of peace and relaxation at home – both homes. This past week has brought frustrations and exasperation at the stupidity and ignorance of people with whom I (and now we) are forced to deal.

It couldn’t be as easy as dropping off one kid for a lengthy visitation and a shorter visitation for the other kiddo. Not even. It turned into a clusterf*ck with whining (never attractive in adults), accusations and then threats. Perhaps the aforementioned behavior is why the other visitation was shorter by that child’s choice. This is not new behavior, it is a perpetual problem that will never change. It’s an attempt to manipulate and control, and when that doesn’t work, it becomes anger spilling over and erasing any semblance of common sense. It’s an adult throwing a temper tantrum worthy of a 2 year old.

The problem is that while the one spouting and sputtering and threatening does so out of anger, he then moves on and moves forward. If he’d take a moment to look back at the effects his actions have caused, he’d see a wide swath of destruction spanning several years.

My life, and the lives of our immediate family is a garden that I am carefully cultivating to radiate peace, harmony, happiness, contentment and wonder. I have worked ardently to weed out contention, drama, upheaval, and fear. This weekend, I was angry over the drama and possible upheaval the unfounded accusations could have. To be honest, I did not like the turn my thoughts were taking, so rather than let them run out of control, I took them back under mine.

I got up the morning after I got home and had slept — I put a combination of my favorite oils in the diffuser. I had a nice warm shower with a good scrubbing of the loofah. I got dressed in an outfit that was cute and a little sexy. I called and made an appointment with a counselor to discuss what had happened.

And just like that . . . SNAP . . . I weeded the garden of my mind and my home and threw out the stinkweed that tried to creep in. It’s up to me to cultivate what characteristics I want in my life and in myself. None others need apply.

Take your stinkweed and go, and don’t let the garden gate hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

What Will People Think

“Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Lara Santos on Pexels.com

When I was growing up, before I did anything that my mother considered risky, I was warned, “What will people think?” Not that she mattered much what people thought about me. She generally worried about what people at church, or my teachers, or the neighbors, or anyone would think about something I might do and how it would reflect on her as a parent . . . not necessarily on me as a person.

I was reading another blog the other day. (Something I do on a regular basis.) The writer mentioned that she was wanting to lay outside topless and sunbathe while reading to soak up some rays after having been cooped up inside for the winter and spring months. She was at home on her own property in the country, with no nearby neighbors, but she hesitated because of the “what if’s.” What if the postman came with a special delivery? Or the Amazon Prime driver stopped by? Her decision was made after she went through the scenarios of the worst possible consequences. The worst being that the postman or Prime driver would see her bare breasts. The following question to herself was whether that was something she could live with comfortably. Being an adult . . . on her own remote property . . .and comfortable with her body . . . recognizing that every one has breasts . . . and not expecting any deliveries . . . she went outside with her book and did enjoy the sun and its heat on her body. Sans top.

It was a short read, but it got me thinking about some of the other things she wrote. Do her actions affect anyone else? Do they hurt anyone else? If not, then live life and don’t worry about it.

As we drove to the Missouri home, I had time to contemplate. In some aspects I have forged my own path, but in many others I have done what was expected of me by others because if I didn’t well . . . what would they think?!?!?!?!

Today my daughter posted the following meme:

And again, I contemplated about the many things I’ve done over the past 32 years so as not to disappoint people. It’s very free-ing to realize that I don’t have to be that person anymore. It’s okay to go against the grain, and do my thing that is me. The things that make me comfortable and confident and fill me with joy and happiness are the things that I should be doing whether anyone understands them or approves.

Stop Spinning

“If there’s not enough of you to go around it’s because your ass is carrying stuff that’s not yours to carry. Delegate, let go, walk away. Make room for the things your soul was built to handle. ~ Brooke Hampton

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Life is too short and there are too many adventures to be had without worrying about what others do, or say, or think.

Social and political issues abound – I can only continue to be the person I am. Arguing and explaining and posting isn’t going to change another person’s mind. It simply adds to the stress.

People have personal issues – I can only continue to be the person I am. Explaining isn’t going to change another person’s mind. I am not going to stop talking about my friends or co-workers or avoid spending time with them to prevent someone else from thinking the worst. I played that game for too long.

I have personal issues – I have doubts and misgivings and odd thoughts that run thru my mind. The key point is that I don’t act on them – I can only continue to be the person I am. I don’t track people to see where they are or how long they’ve been there, I don’t ask questions. If someone wants me to know where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing, they’ll tell me. It’s not my job to investigate and quite frankly, I’m too busy to give a flying fuck what someone else has been doing when they aren’t with me.

(The above paragraph does not apply to my children under the age of 18 — 19 in Alabama.)

Opinions are truly like assholes — every one has one – I have my own. Unless I know it’s open for discussion, 92% of the time I don’t air mine. My opinion is irrelevant for the most part. If you want to know my opinion, it will come up in discussion when we speak because you ask, or you’ll check out my blog or my IG. If you don’t like my opinion, move along, don’t ask or don’t follow my blog.

Some days I need a break – I just need quiet, I don’t want to talk or engage with others. If I don’t answer a call or text – it means nothing. I am done being a slave to my phone (unless it’s my job)(or my kids — my kids get precedence). “Some days” may extend to several days or a week.

I need to stay grounded – I can only continue to be the person I am. My kids need a happy, relaxed mom. I need to be happy and relaxed and it’s on me to maintain that by doing what I need to do to relax, whether it’s time away, self care, limiting social media, limiting outside contact or hiding out in my room.

@barefootfive posts so many sentiments that resonate with me on a deep, visceral level. Click the link to check out her IG account.