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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pussy Cat Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been?

She's been to Champlain to visit TheQueen

and watch her melt down into the Deep Pit of Frozen Darkness that is Winter 2014. Ugh. 

And though I doubt anybody even still checks in on this silent blog - I am not yet ready to abandon my Voice-Of-The-Inner-Self. I have been having a little extra-blogatal fling on SparkPeople where I have also been grousing about how tough things are and how blue I am. Or rather - I have been faking it till I make it with reasons why ... at least February is better than January. So - in an effort to put up a minimum of 2 posts from TheCastle in February - here is a compilation of those reasons why February 2014 is better than January 2014.

1. It's not as long a month. With only 28 days even if February has its own set of downers - we won't have to live with them for long. 

2. Every evening the sky will be lighter on my drive home. Yay for daylight - which brings more opportunity for sunshine - which means the cold will lessen, my house will be easier to heat, and I won't have to hover by the wood stove quite so attentively.

3. Starting the month without shoulder pain.  My shoulder responded very well to physical therapy. What is better - I know how to keep it from hurting. I'll have better posture as well - so I'll look slimmer. almost 3 reasons in one. 

4. February had a Super bowl party with my Richmond cousins - in a house big enough that my constant chatter didn't interfere with other people's enjoyment of the game 

5. February had a birthday party for my GF and there was cake. And smoked salmon. 

6. February has not had a single day that got colder than 15 degrees F. 

7. Baby Puppy Juno was fixed so we don’t have to worry about accidents. Yay. 

8.  In February I weighed less than in January – not much, but you know don’t you …. less is just so sweet. 

9. I pulled out my pens and my sketchbook and drew some. I’m rusty – but I’m drawing. 

10. We hiked through White Oak Swamp, my enchanted forest – the place that heals me, that inspires me to write and to draw. 

11. There were moments when real happiness clothed my heart – not just the fake-it-till-I-make-it jacket I had to wear the rest of the time. 

12. In February someone stopped me as I was walking to the post office and said “I wondered who that cute teenage girl walking down the street was – and it was you!”      Now friends – I haven’t been confused for a teen for 30 years. It’s not that I actually did look like a teen, but that someone nice enough to think a compliment was even nicer and stopped to share it. 

As the days rolled by this February a subtle change began to take root in the heart of TheQueen, and there came a day when she knew she had rounded the depression corner onto joy street. 

And just how many of you ever read Joy Street, by Frances Parkinson Keyes? It's the sort of novel you'd find at your grandmother's house when you were a girl visiting during the summer.  You'd pull it off the bookshelf and slip on up to the room you were using, the one your daddy slept in with his big brother, to lie on the bed and escape between its covers. 

The library still has my favorites of hers on the shelves ... all except Steamboat Gothic, with its cracked binding ... It is on the "Can't Part With It" shelf in my office. La - I am thinking the library needs to do a Featured Author corner and push her. 

Yes. Of course I'm an ENFP. Why do you ask?

Okay - back to February - which, in spite of all it's difficulties, still has more reasons why it's better than January. 

13. Baby Puppy Juno has stopped scratching on the door - which makes us feel less besieged and assures the safety of the very expensive new front door we will be putting in come springtime 

14. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Day, and the annual valentine poem from Himself ... 

15. The fact that there is a Himself still alive to write me a valentine poem - (Just thought of that one. Never ever ever forget to say "Thank You, God" for that one) 

16.  Finally was able to hire the new employee at work so the workload has lessened on us all. Everyone is happier. 

17.   A couple of days of blue skies and 60 degree weather flashing across Virginia, allowing us to walk about town in shirtsleeves, smiling at people, feeling the promise of daffodils and lilacs and soft fluttery new baby leaves on the trees. Not here yet - but coming. 

18. The dead tree that fell down in the big wind on Friday (tornado warning wind) did not fall on the house. I am convinced that if that wind had blown in  January ... we'd be fixing the roof. 

19.  An hour and a half of sweet time with Mama, watching the old home movies. We haven't put them on CD yet so in order to share them with her I have to haul a small, but heavy VCR playback machine to her nursing home and set it up on her rolling tray. Mama's pretty much bed ridden and her world is a hospital bed and a big window - happily looking out on a little spinney full of birds and squirrels. 

20.  38 minutes on the stationary bike before work Wednesday - though long before reaching the half way point of my workout I realized that this high intensity routine that makes me breathe hard and sweat a lot is an essential part of my life. No. It is an ESSENTIAL part of my life. It's what makes it possible for me to stay on an even keel - to look at life as full of possibilities instead of crowded by threats. The long quiet slow hikes across country are also valuable for me - a hike through White Oak Swamp can ease my soul - but not in the same way this intense, hard, but brief, physical effort does. One is like a good night's sleep - the other is more of a brisk shower. And I absolutely need both. 

And I just had the sudden memory of my crazy father - the world's most difficult and challenging (and wonderful and horrible and magnificent) dad. He really was a terror till he retired, bought 3 horses and rode like Gerald O'Hara across the countryside for the next 20 years. All those years he worked in his desk job he was an unpredictable misery to the whole family. Once he could burn off hundreds of calories a day by pushing his body hard and fast he became so much happier, so much more fun, so much more the man he wanted to be. 

Obviously the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I won't let exercise get pushed to the side for so long again. 

So. There are my 20 reasons why February is better than January. I will actually have a few more for the Other Blog but this is enough to prove to any remaining followers of TheQueen - that she's alright and will be receiving visitors on the 12th at 4. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January does NOT define the whole year

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this - you haven't.”

 - - - Thomas A. Edison

I love this quote. I don't usually hunt down quotes - but I always enjoy a good one when it comes along. Besides, Edison said many pithy things that are worth noting and here was just the message I needed to read. January had pretty much sucked all the joy out of me - the list goes on and on (and on and on and on) Yesterday, on the last day of January, when I drove up to my mail box and opened the car window - the aroma of sludge poured into the car - and followed me all the way home. I  knew the farmer was going to be spreading it soon - but the olfactory notice just about knocked me out. Think grungy bus station bathroom times infinity.

I have been having a hard time getting in the exercise I like this winter. It's been difficult to get to the gym because
1. was out of town,
2. had meetings for work,
3. gym was closed.

My back-up for Not Enough Gym Time is the freedom of walking for miles and miles through my woods and over my fields - and past my neighbors' fields and woods as well. Even though we don't let the farmer put sludge on our farm, we're surrounded by fields that are be-sludged and fragrance knows no boundaries. So now - walking is out till enough rain and warm weather cleanses the air.

My first thought yesterday was "there goes my weekend exercise. Just another opportunity for fat to leap onto me"  But this morning's quote reminds me that I can work out right here in my own home. I have equipment. I can even go into town and use the gym. It will just require a change in my plans. It just means I haven't exhausted all the possibilities.

In fact - here are some of the ones I can think of right off the top of my head:

Saturday afternoon at the gym
Putting on some up-beat music and using my aerobic step
Playing an exercise DVD I've never even watched all the way through and learning something new
Getting in the car and driving someplace new to take a hike

My exercise limits are only in my mind - not in reality. And those other things that have felt like leaden weights pressing on my heart? Every one of them has at least 4 solutions. There is enough money to pay all those doctor bills. There are delicious foods that I can cook that won't pile on the lbs. I will be able to hire the new staffer at work on Monday next so we won't feel stretched so thin.  Cold will moderate eventually and we can use the parts of the house that have been shut off. We will find the contractor we want to hire to put in central heat. In fact - time will bring solutions that I can't even imagine. One month does not define a whole year.

So what do you know - I had intended to make this blog a long list of all the things that beset me in January - I think perhaps to brag a little about how tough I am to have survived them all with only a bit of weight gain and a  bruised joy center. But instead I think it's better to see those troubles as merely prods that pushed me in a different direction. Nobody likes change (unless it's a wet baby) but everyone grows by adapting to it.

That extreme cold and the heart attack made us finally get up off our backsides and begin the process of putting in central heat.
The new county hiring policy made me  have to think a lot more seriously about what I am looking for in a new employee.
Even the sludge has made me reevaluate the resources I already have.

Many years ago (many many) I had to go through an extreme crisis. I had one girlfriend who knew the details of what I was experiencing and one day when I was weeping on her shoulder, wailing "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?"

She gave me the greatest gift and the only comfort I could possibly use. She said "Bess, honey. It's just your turn."

Immediately I was released from the guilt of causation. And not just me. Everyone involved with my personal crisis was absolved. Bad things come along in everyone's life. Cold, skunks and sludge, crummy employees you have to fire, even heart attacks - they're not judgments. They're things. They're not pointing fingers saying "You Are Bad. You Brought This On  Yourself. You Deserve It"  They're just ... things.

Outside things don't define us - it's what we do with those outside things that define us. So. May you always remember who you are - not who you think you look like you are - and you are someone who has choices, possibilities, and options. If no where else - you have them in your heart.