Tuesday, March 24, 2015

revelations from a relaxed housewife

I've been struck with a serious case of spring fever.  I spent a chunk of change over the weekend on a new, amazingly lightweight vacuum (#Dyson move over, you've met your match in the #Shark). This vacuum, while being small, is amazingly strong when it comes to suction, so much so that I find myself being pulled along by it, rather than having to push it, and struggling to run along and keep up.  In 20 minutes the first day I (rather embarrassingly) found it was able to suck up two of the little dust canisters of dirt out of my rug. And that was just down the middle of the house. God knows what is hiding in the corners and under furniture.  I call the new vacuum (drum roll) Jaws.  (Now you weren't really surprised by that were you?)

I also bought a new mop, mop bucket and other odds and ends, including some flower and herb seeds, and some dahlia bulbs.  Of course, we all know that spring cleaning and flower planting go hand in hand, in an odd way, like ketchup and mustard.  I chose to clean my bathroom first (Steve has his own bathroom too, cleaned by Wretch currently.  When she moves out, I don't know what I'll do, because that is no longer my territory and Steve's lack of cleanliness (as in cleaning up after himself) has caused some really strange things to grow in that shower in the past.  I spent hours cleaning my bathroom yesterday.  Hours.  That included scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees.  When my knees got tired, I discovered that the downward dog comes in real handy for scrubbing floors.  I always knew that yoga would have some hidden benefits, and it paid off handsomely yesterday, saving me from crawling around on my hands and knees for what seemed hours.

Now my bathroom is ready for the twins on Wednesday.  Which means that Duncan will immediately hose the back of the toilet seat and lid, as well as the floor, when he goes to pee.  (Sigh.)  At least I will have a couple days to enjoy my bathroom before it begins to stink like a male urinal.

While I was spring cleaning, I was also cleaning out emails, and files, and stuff.  Cybercleaning I guess you would say, and ran across the following paragraphs sitting in my blog draft box.  I wrote them on February 6, 2014, almost a year ago, and decided I'd throw it in with this post.  It has nothing to do with what I just wrote, but that is kind of the way I roll.  Eclectic right now to my fingertips.


2/6/2014
Kids say the funniest things.  From the time they first attempt to say words and make sentences and butcher them in weird combinations, until they are old enough to have a good command of language but are still naive to the nuances and subtleties, kids make adults laugh.  Personally, that's why I think they were put on earth...to make grownups laugh.  It's an unwritten law of nature.

My grands are no exception to the kid rule.  Lately Stevie Wonder and I have sniggered behind our hands many times at things they have said.
jack and gramps

Jack (9yrs old and the wisest of the bunch): Gramps you better be careful and don't get fat.  The girls won't be interested in you if you are too fat.  That's why I don't want to get too fat, the girls won't like me.
Gramps: Well Jack, I'm not interested in other girls.  I have Grammy. 
Jack: Grammy might leave you. 
Gramps: After 43 years I don't think I have to worry about that.  (Thinking this would be the end of it.)
Jack: You don't ever know, Gramps. (Then the zinger.) YOU'RE 43 YEARS OLD?
dunc

Maddie had strep throat this week, so Jen took her to the pediatrician when she took Duncan for his well child checkup.  Maddie's blood pressure was up, probably because of the infection.  Jen said when they got in the exam room, Dunc (whose blood pressure was normal) curled up in a chair, covered his eyes in a dramatic gesture with one hand and laid over the side of the chair.  She knew something was coming.

Dunc: I don't think I am going to make it.  My blood pressure is too low and that means I don't have enough blood.  (He's totally normal by the way.)

john boy
Steve told me that he was displaying a bit of road rage the other day while John was riding with him in the truck.  He said that he had been hollering in the car at people ahead of him to get out of his way.  He was running late getting somewhere and told John:
"If these people would get out of the way, we'd get there faster!"

John, sitting in the back seat taking all of this in, politely asked Steve to roll his window down (he was strapped in a car seat so there was no danger of him falling out).  Steve thought John was hot, so he rolled the window down to give him some fresh air.  He said as soon as he got the window down, John leaned his head out and started shouting
"Get out the way!!!   GET OUT THE WAY!!!"
John loves helping his Gramps.  Guess that extends to road rage too.
We are still laughing.

...laugh, because life is good. ~cath 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

my saturday friday reflection: 5 things i am grateful for

This week, as I read the post written by Janine on her blog reflections from a redhead, I found myself nodding in agreement (again) with the wisdom she shares, and has learned at such a young age.  I looked at the prompts and the following prompt jumped out at me:
life is the dancer, you are the dance. eckhart tolle

Write about 5 things you are grateful for this week.

It immediately hit my mind.  The reason I have been smiling all week, and feeling so relaxed and unstressed, is gratitude.  Lately I had been thinking a lot, about my life for the past several months, about how I approached problems, about how I had lost my ability to pick through the detritus surrounding a situation and discover the truth in it.  I was bogged down, losing interest in many of my favorite things in life, crying a lot, and my hair was falling out again.  At one point I began to wonder if I was depressed.

Then I rediscovered a favorite book of mine.  I've read it at least 4 times since 2006 or 2007, so I added it over to my audio books list and began to listen to it (I have it in print, digital and audio form).  And what I heard amazed me.  The answer to my question was right in front of my face.  EGO.  I had become entrenched in my own ego, and was thinking and feeling from that standpoint.  I was responding to situations and people from the ego inside, and viewing things in a distorted way.  

As soon as I began to see that, stop over thinking and just be present in the moment, I found a change taking place. I began to relax.  I could feel my shoulders, which are almost always tight and hurting, begin to let go of the tension knotted in them. My hair stopped falling out. My face looked less tired. Most of all, the anger I had begun to feel, and the building resentment inside me, just went away. Just went away. By letting go of the need to feed my ego, and fully experiencing each moment as it happened, I began to experience a shift, and began to find happiness again.

When a friend told me at lunch this week that I looked happy, the realization hit that what we carry inside us shows through us to others. Things I thought I had hidden well, I discovered weren't so hidden after all. And so, the first thing I am grateful for this week was rediscovering the book that changed my life so dramatically several years ago:
My first gratitude: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. The title says it all.  

As I reflect on my life, and this past week, my thoughts go to my family.  The love I feel for them. The gratitude I have for each and every one of them.  And I am not talking just about my kids, grandkids, sisters, mother, husband, etc.  I include in laws, cousins, aunts, uncles and ALL my family. We are all connected by blood, or love, or both. But most of all, we are all connected by our human nature. It is the common tie that we share with all of humanity. I am grateful that for many of us, we have rediscovered connections that had gone dormant due to distance and years, and can maintain contact more frequently now, through social media. Being able to keep in touch has brought me joy, laughter, and reignited good memories.
My second gratitude: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media. It is the tie that helps bind my extended family together.

A friend and I were discussing the fact that some people seem to flounder in life, and others find purpose and achieve goals in life. It is my belief that human beings are happier when they are productive. We do better when we set goals for ourselves, and keep a positive attitude about reaching them. I believe that people with no purpose in life languish, and miss a lot of joy. I've seen it too often. People who wake up every day with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and pass the hours sitting and doing nothing end up with a bleakness of spirit and body that often manifests in physical or mental illness, or both. 
My third gratitude: my job. I am not my job, and my job is not who I am, but it gives me purpose in life, and lets me help others.

I've been reflecting on friendships.  Friends are different from family. You are not bound by blood, you are bound by love, and a commonality of interests or personality that lets you connect.  If you are lucky to have wonderful friends, as I am, you learn from each other. You experience new feelings, ideas, and the friendship helps you grow in new directions. Not all friendships I have had have been positive experiences, but I have learned from them, and it has ultimately helped me understand myself, through their eyes.
My fourth gratitude: friends.  Positive or negative, they teach me more about myself.

My final gratitude may sound a bit strange, but as I tried to put my thoughts into words, I realized I could refine and narrow that thought down to two things. My hands and my eyes. Because of my hands and eyes, and their connection with my brain, I can put what I think or see onto paper with a pen, pencil or brush. I can look through a camera lens and see a story, and share that story. I have seen several stories in the news this week about people with amputations, and how they have overcome the challenge and met goals they set for themselves (refer here back to gratitude #3). It has made me keenly aware of my own blessings and good health, and also more grateful than ever that I am blessed with hands and eyes that can share what I see and think through my art, photography and writing. And so my last gratitude this week:
My fifth gratitude: my hands and eyes, that give me the ability to share my thoughts and feelings through my art.

Stop and reflect on your week. What are you most grateful for?
I want to thank Janine Ripper at reflections from a redhead and Mackenzie Granville at reflections from me for sponsoring this weekly blog prompt. I encourage you to visit their blogs, and read, comment, or join in the weekly reflections.



...laughter and life are good. ~cathy 
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Saturday, March 14, 2015

my saturday friday reflection: things that make me smile

Participating in blog prompts is not always an easy endeavor for me.  I tend to dislike boundaries, and will shoot myself in the foot (figuratively) to avoid being tied to any one thing.  But today is an exception.  When I saw the prompt that said to name 30 things that make me smile, I knew this post was a cinch.

I smile easily.  I've always been a grinner.  So much so that as I left for school on picture day every year, mum would tell me not to smile too big (my gums would show in a geeky kind of way when I did).  I think most years I forgot her advice as soon as I was out the door.

Smiling doesn't always show on the outside though.  I experience a lot of secret smiles, and those feel just as good as the visible smiles.  Only in times of great stress do I not smile as much.  The past few months have been like that for me.  But lately I have met some goals, made some changes in my life, and I find I am smiling more.  So today I will share a list of things that make me smile, in no particular order of importance.

1. Smiling.  No, it isn't as goofy as it sounds.  When I smile at someone, they always smile back.  And that makes me smile more.  All the way inside.  (Smiling is contagious.)
2. My grands.  They turned a middle aged woman into a Grammy.  I smile every time I think of those four goofy, funny kids.
3. Star Trek movies.  I've been watching all the original crew movies tonight and realize that some of the best one liners ever written are in those movies, and they have a knack of inserting them into the most serious scenes.  (Scotty just said "then we are dead" in the Undiscovered Country, and Spock replied "I've been dead before" in that deadpan way that makes me smile every time.  As I just did.)
4. Cartoons.  Especially cartoons with no speech, just sight gags.  My dad loved the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons and so do I.
5. Audio books.  I have discovered the joy of having someone read a book to me in my ear.  A recent favorite that made me smile (and laugh out loud) was Craig Ferguson's Between the Bridge and the River. 
6. Social media.  That's right.  I can read something on Twitter or Facebook and find myself smiling.  Instagram and Pinterest have some great stuff for smiling about too.  A recent post on Facebook that I shared with my sisters was this:
And this leads to....
7. My sisters.  They make me smile.  No matter that we live thousands of miles apart.  I always smile when I think of them.  They are total goofballs, just like I am.
8. My kids.  Different than the grands because they were a lot of work to raise.  Thank goodness they all have my warped sense of humor (with a bit of their dad's too).
9. Stevie Wonder.  I married him because he made me smile.  Great at jokes and storytelling with an authentic southern accent, he stole my heart with a joke, and he still makes me smile.
10. Funerals.  That's right.  Some of the best jokes and stories I have heard have been at funerals.
11. Clouds.  I am a cloud watcher.  Not only do they totally relax me, taking me to another place, but I often find myself smiling.
12. My dogs. Especially Gabe.  He is a natural clown.  Caesar is softhearted and loving.  Gabe is a mauler and licker and loves to poke his nose in everything.
13. Ivy Jones, my grandcat.  At 15, her cranky personality makes Wretch and I laugh every day about some antic or behavior.  Today she was wailing at me when I got home, and when I gave her some of her treats, she sniffed them, then looked around at me with a haughty expression as if to say "you expect me to eat THIS?"  Needless to say, she got the real deal, some turkey meat.

Now I am getting into the smiling/laughing category, which still counts in my eyes.

14. Falling.  I am a chronic faller.  Years ago I plowed up the pavement in our local town with my face.  Hours later, sitting and waiting at the ER (Wretch was with me), I looked up to see her STARING at my face.  I looked down with my eyes only, and could see my top lip poking out beyond the end of my nose.  I looked back up at her, and we both burst out laughing.   
15. Steve's pacemaker.  Yep that's right.  The day he got his pacemaker put in, the kids showed up to be with me.  When we got him back in the room and we realized he was going to be ok, it was time for joking and smiling.
the brats
Steve's attempt at corpse pose.
16. People watching.  I love to watch people, and seeing how they interact often makes me smile.  Especially parents interacting with their kids.  Watching parents try to keep up with active kids gives me a big grin.  And a sigh of relief that I don't have to do that anymore.
17. Touching stories about real people.  Humans can do such evil, horrible things to each other, and it is always gratifying to see something good done by one human for another.  Today this is what moved me to smile, and tears:
18. Watching someone succeed at something for the first time makes me smile. The day Duncan looked up at me, (after his mommy's struggle to find the right medication for ADD) and told me "I'm smart Grammy" made me grin from ear to ear.  I knew he was smart all along, just trapped in his own head.
marmite
19. Meeting a new friend for the first time.  That first smile, and hug, sets a tone of love and acceptance.
20. Marmite.  Thought I'd hate it, but I love it.  Even the name makes me smile.
21. Meeting old friends again after years apart.  I ran into one of my best friends at my high school reunion a while back and we were both full of smiles for each other.  It was as though no time had passed, and we fell into the place we were years ago, totally comfortable and enjoying being with each other.
22. Painting.  I've been drawing and painting since I was a young child.  I often smile as I work on an idea.  It is the joy I feel, coming to my face.
23. Secret smiles.  An inside or private joke that only I understand, or something between me and another person that is shared with a glance and a smile.
24. Rewatching old movies that made me smile the first time I saw them, and smiling at the same moments when I watch them again.  It's like laughing at the same jokes, etc.  Causes smiles.

I'm going to end with #25, because it is the smile that I am wearing as I edit and read what I have written.  I live a blessed life.  A very blessed life.  In the midst of a world that can be so full of hate and anger, cynicism and cruelty, and sadness....I find reason to smile every day.

Think about it...what makes you smile?


...life is good. ~cath find me @jonesbabie on Twitter