Thursday, February 24, 2011

Accountability. Also good.

Are you wondering?  Are you curious?  Are you just dying to know if I cleaned my bathrooms?

I am here to proudly tell you yes, yes I did. 

It only took me 10 days of avoiding them.  Don't you feel relieved?  I feel relieved.

As for the other things on my list:
* Check for washing my hair.
* Check for tracking down my Chiro/Physio receipts.  I thought I'd try my filing cabinet first.  Makes sense, right?  Then I thought I would try my folder titled: Chiro/Physio.  No-brainer, right?  Ummm.... I found them in the Tool Receipts folder.  And no, it's not the folder directly behind the Chiro/Phsyio.  Really not sure what I was thinking.
* Check for cooking the roast.  Although...

Okay here's the story.  I thought I'd follow The Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast Recipe.  Looks good right?  The directions look easy right? It started off with me turning on the burner so my pan could warm a bit before I put the oil in.   And then the phone rang.  And the kids kept asking me questions while I was trying to work out a calendar issue with who I was talking to on the phoneAnd I had just thrown a cheese sandwich into my frying pan on another element.  I ended up badly burning the bottom of my pan and my sandwich.  I do not multi-task well in the kitchen.

I regrouped.  I took both pans off the heat, made a new sandwich, decided my roast pan was going to survive and started over.  I added the oil to the pan, while it was warming this time, threw my new cheese sandwich in the frying pan and then helped Ava bring her dollhouse upstairs.  This was followed by 5 minutes of waving a tea towel like a truce flag while standing beneath my clanging fire alarm.  Hey kids, Mama's in the kitchen again!

Though it was a rather rough start, in the end it all turned out.  Minus another tea towel waving episode when I took my smoking hot (literally) muffin tin out of the oven to pour in the Yorkshire Pudding batter.  And now my freshly washed hair smells like smoking hot oil.  You just can't win 'em all!  I wish I had a picture of my roast to show you but I didn't have enough presence of mind to be pouring batter, making gravy, sauteeing zuchinni and pulling out my camera.

So that's that.

The only thing yet to do on yesterday's list is take over that dang thank you card.  It will be the death of me I'm sure! It's been so long now I feel like I need to take it with cookies or something.  One more thing to avoid....  At the rate I'm going I'm going to have to buy them a cruise next Christmas!

Are you an avoid-er?  Do you have lists?  What are you avoiding today?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Revelation. A good way to start the day.

I am an avoider.  You could probably also call it procrastination but it's more than just putting things off for another day.  I avoid in the hopes that it - whatever it is - will go away, disappear, cease to need doing.  I know it doesn't work that way.  I know that not doing something equals it not getting done.  But somehow I always try to convince myself otherwise.  Maybe, just maybe, this will be the time that avoiding works.  It's kind of the same theory I apply to seeing if a bruise still hurts.  Does it hurt?  *press*  Yep!  How about now?  *press*  Yep, still hurts!  I can't help myself.   I keep pressing on the discoloured circle thinking maybe, just maybe, this will be the time I press it and it doesn't hurt.  Because a lot can change in 30 seconds.

Here's what I have been avoiding the last few days:

1. Cleaning my bathrooms.
2. Tracking down my Chiropractor/Physio receipts for our income tax return.
3. Walking a thank you card over to my neighbours for the gifts they gave us at Christmas.  
4.  Cooking the roast that has been defrosting in my fridge for 3 days.
5.  Washing my hair

Here's my rational behind the avoidance:

1. The longer I go without cleaning my bathrooms the longer it will take me to clean them.  Therefore I haven't cleaned them.
2. I have no idea where my Chiro/Physio receipts are so it will take some work finding them. Therefore they can't be found.
3. We made the thank you card at the end of January.  It was embarrassing at the end of January that it took me so long to get make the thank you card.  Now it's the end of February and doubly embarrassing that I haven't walked it over yet.  Therefore I don't want to walk it over.
4. Hugh loves roasts but I never cook them. I have no idea how long to cook a roast for and I don't want to wreck it.  Therefore, I haven't cooked the roast.
5. I did plan to wash my hair yesterday but then I remembered I had Zumba when Hugh got home from work and I didn't want to sweat up freshly washed hair.  Therefore, I still need to wash my hair.


These are really stupid reasons.  I didn't realize how ridiculous until I said it out loud.  Or, well, wrote it. 


Guess it's time to just get things done.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This too shall pass

This is the part where I tell you I actually have nothing to say.  I had grand plans to show you all my new fun bangs and the cowl I knit but I forgot to take a pic on Friday when my hair was freshly washed and I can't do it today as that would require A)having clean hair or B)having semi-clean hair.  Neither of which I have. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The stomach flu gave way to colds and it has been one big cough fest over here.  On Sunday, Hugh took Ava to church and I stayed in my pj's on our lovely downstairs couch sandwiched between two limp boys who took turns coughing endlessly on my face.  Did you know that listening to an endless symphony of coughing can actually make a person insane? 

No?  That's just me? 
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

In times of sickness our house copes by watching TV.  Which means it's been on A LOT over the last week.  At one point on Sunday morning I thought, enough with the TV already! and we shut it off and pulled out stories.  I couldn't even hear myself read over their coughing so then I thought, screw it, and turned the TV back on.  Did you know that He-Man and She-ra are on back-to-back on Sunday Mornings on Teletoon Retro? "For the honour of Grayskull!" You know how sometimes you watch an old movie or TV show that you loved as a kid and you find you still love it, that it still has the same magic you remember?  He-man and She-ra absolutely are not that.  They are terrible!

 * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At the end of last week I decided that any time I said, "But I don't feel like....(cleaning the bathrooms, getting dressed, washing my hair)" it meant I absolutely had to make myself do it.  I figured this would be a really good way to make sure I wasn't living based on my feelings.  How's it going so far you ask?  Well my bathrooms still aren't clean, I have spent twice as much time in jammies than jeans and I haven't washed my hair since Friday.  So....Awesome! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I know I said I didn't want to use books as novocain but I'm going mental from the coughing!  I need to escape from this sick/mad house even if I can't physically leave.  Help a girl out will ya?  Is anybody reading anything great right now? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Learning something new isn't always a good thing

I did a bad thing yesterday.

I did not clean bathrooms. And I certainly did not iron bedding thanks to you my lovely commenters for helping me let go of the guilt.

Instead I made dough.  Lovely, cinnamon-y dough with little chunks of apples.  And then...

I fried it.  

Yes you heard right.  I dropped it by spoonful into hot oil in a pot on my stove and watched them sizzle and spatter and bubble and turn golden brown.  And then, after draining on a plate of paper towels I dusted them with icing sugar.  

And they were good (even if the picture quality isn't).  Oh so good. 

In fact, I've eaten three in the time it's taken me to write these few short sentences.  And they're cold.  And now I'm in trouble.

I love fried dough and various fried fair foods (fried fair foods, say that five times fast!).  Confession: more than once I have paid the gate entry fee just to get a bag of those mini cinnamon donuts and then left the fair.  Though I have this love in my heart I have never in my life fried anything.  I always thought it was too difficult, too time consuming, not worth the effort required.  Um.... turns out it really isn't difficult at all and it's SO worth it. 

I have had my eye on this recipe for fried peach pies since I discovered it last Fall.  I thought it would be amazing.  I thought it would be a revelation.  I also thought it would be way too difficult so I've never made them on the basis that A) I didn't know how to make pastry and B) frying is too difficult.  And then I went ahead and made the mistake of learning how to make pastry for these butter tarts at Christmas.

Um... obstacle number one out of the way.  

And now....  Oh help me.  I know how to fry. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The definition of setback

Staying up all night both Friday and Saturday with puking kids, taking care of a sick husband on Monday, waking up Tuesday with a heaving stomach and then waking up today to see the fallout:  desperate need of groceries, dishes overflowing in the sink, baking soda on our carpet leftover from cleaning up puke that still needs vacuuming, bedding still in the dryer that will probably now need ironing (which, let's be real I won't do but will feel guilty and lazy for not doing), a whole bunch of sheets to wash, all the bathrooms to clean....  And it's snowing.

Can I just crawl back into bed with my book while the kids are in school this morning and let the real mom deal with it?

Friday, February 11, 2011

My slump: mid-mortem

Thank you all so much for your meaningful responses to the questions I threw out into the void last post.  It is so nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling this way sometimes.  Based on your responses and my own processes here's what I've come up with for how to de-slumpify:

1. Exercise.  A friend posted a question on her facebook page not too long ago asking how to get addicted to working out.  I have NEVER been addicted to working out.  I didn't respond.  Whenever I have done things for "exercise" like running or the gym or whatever I've always hated every minute of it.  I like how I feel after but hate every minute I'm doing it.  Until now.  Until Curves + Zumba.  I have been to 6 combo classes and I absolutely love every minute I'm doing it.  I even look forward to each class.  This is absolutely unheard of for me.  I also notice an immediate and positive shift in my attitude, energy and outlook on life after a class. 

2.  Stop Comparing.  I am a chronic comparer and I find I always come up short in the comparison.  The other day when I was bemoaning my current "lack" to Hugh he said, "Heather, you have to stop this.  You are meant to be you and no one else.  God will bless you where you are meant to prosper and maybe your blog is like the artist who sketches out an idea in pencil first before taking up their brush to create a masterpiece."  Isn't that a beautiful image?  New goal: stop looking at how I lack compared to all the nebulous "others" and declare that I will prosper where I'm meant to every time I feel doubt or a sense of failure creep back in.

3. Get dressed.  Living in slumpy clothes always makes me feel slumpy.  And make sure there is some colour and vibrancy somewhere in what I'm wearing.  Colour makes me happy even on grey days.

4.  Stop bolting.  I don't mean physically, I mean emotionally.  In the book I mentioned in a previous post, "Women, Food, and God", the author says, "Eat what you want when you're hungry.  Feel what you feel when you're not."  I've discovered I don't just hide behind food, I use books and movies too.  When I feel the urge to lose myself in a reading binge or find myself wishing I could just watch movies all day or wanting to bake so I can eat what I'm not hungry for I now recognize it for what it is - the desire to bolt, to hide, to avoid.  New goal:  Don't run.  I don't need to avoid anything.  I can intentionally allow myself to feel what I'm feeling because God is bigger than the pain and it does not have the power to annihilate me.

5.  Pay attention to what is happening in my life so I can identify what triggers these slumps.  For me I know this one was caused by sheer exhaustion - the fallout of the most insanely busy, stressful December I've ever had. 

6.  Read books that will stir my soul. 

7.  Make an effort not to isolate myself from my friends.  I find when I'm slumpy I retreat from relationships.  This doesn't exactly help the whole feeling alone thing!

8.  Daily declare creativity, motivation, increase and inspiration over my life.  Let that declaration be the soundtrack of my thoughts that plays throughout my day.

So there it is.  Nothing earth shattering, nothing I haven't heard or said before.  It's so simple really.  It's just not easy.  It means doing the hard work of self-evaluations.  It means getting dressed when I don't feel like it.  It means actively and intentionally carving out some time for me to exercise. These simple, non-earth shattering ways to live life fully are easy to do when I feel like it but the whole point is not to live based on my feelings isn't it?  Especially since negative thoughts and feelings give birth - not to motivation and creativity - but more negativity, apathy, and despair and all the moaning and groaning in the world will only result in a frozen, still-born existence. 

So how do we live fully when we don't feel like it?  We get honest about our avoidance.  We refuse to be ruled by the whims of our emotions.  And we take it one day at a time, one positive choice at a time, one "doing it anyway" at a time.  Eventually all the single, individual good choices we make will add up and equal breakthrough. 

This is my declaration today: I have a life that is only mine to live by the grace of God.  No one can live it for me.  I cannot live it again.  I will make the most of it.  I declare an increase of energy and inspiration.  I declare my faith is rising and greater revelation is on it's way.  I declare life and life abundant and I thank you God for the new things that are getting ready to blossom in my soul.

I don't necessarily feel this.  My slump is not over but I declare it's on it's way out.  And if you're feeling slumpy today too declare it with me.  Though it still feels like the dead of winter in my heart I know spring is coming.  It always does.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This is why I can't quit blogging. I need you.

Well let's just get the obvious out of the way shall we?  I haven't written a blog in over two weeks and here's why:

1.  It was grey and windy and cold and I stayed in my pajama's (as I've been doing for most of January) and threw myself a pity party because I felt like I had nothing to say and why would anyone care if I said it anyway?

2.  I got together with Britni from a life well knit and she got me started knitting a cowl.  I obsessively spent my spare time watching old 90210 episodes and knitting.

3.  My best friend's Grandma died.  Her family came from all over and surrounded her bedside praying, singing, crying and even laughing together.  The stories Michelle has told me from that night sounded so beautiful and lovely they gave me goosebumps even from over the phone.  I can just imagine what it would have been like to be in that room.  So what does this have to do with me not blogging you ask?  I've known their family for a long time and Grandma and Grandpa Richmond are the head of a very tight, very close-knit family rich in faith and love and connection and after having nothing to say for so long I had nothing to write as I was reflecting deeply about heritage and family legacy and couldn't articulate my thoughts. 

4.  My parents came for a visit.  I love it when my parents come, we always have such a good visit.  This one was no exception.  I almost peed my pants laughing while Hugh, my parents and I canoe raced on the Wii.  We also took the kids 5-pin bowling and Tristan came in third behind Hugh and my mom and his technique was HORRIBLE!  He'd hold the ball and shuffle sideways up to the lane and then do a sideways 2-handed toss and he got a strike!  I was terrible, gutter ball after gutter ball just alternating sides.  After watching Tristan get a strike I decided to copy his technique for fun.  Wouldn't you know it.  I got a strike.  I'm not even kidding.

5.  I got caught in a fire at Winners.  Actually it was my Mom and Sebastian and I.  We were in Winners and Mom and I were each trying on a pair of jeans in the family fitting room when we heard this weird noise.  Mom wondered what it was and I answered that it was probably a truck or something doing a warehouse delivery or something like that and we continued commenting on the jeans we tried on - how I thought the knees of the jeans I was trying were baggy and how the bum wasn't great on the pair my mom was trying.  In the midst of these critiques there was suddenly a knock at the door and voice urgently telling us to get to the front of the store because the fire alarm was going off and they weren't sure why.  In our defense can I just say it didn't sound like any fire alarm I've ever heard before?  Neither my mom or I recognized that annoying noise as a fire alarm.  The lady sounded pretty frantic so we quickly gathered up our clothes and our coats and wearing the jeans we were in the middle of trying on walked to the front of the store.  When we got to the front of the store the news came that it was in fact a fire in the backroom and everyone had to vacate the premises immediately.  "But," I yelled over the clanging noise, "We're wearing your clothes!"
"Oh great, you've got your clothes on!"
"No! No!  These are YOUR clothes!  YOURS!  We were trying these on!"
"Okay.... Well I'll just quickly ring them through for you."
"But I don't want them! I don't like them!"
In the end they took my name and phone number and we walked over to London Drugs (first setting off the security alarms leaving Winners) wearing jeans with tags hanging out and stickers on the thigh and basically looking like petty thieves.  Nothing all that new for me really.
This actually has nothing to do with why I couldn't blog but when was the last time you were in the change room of a store that caught on fire?  We ended up changing into our own clothes in the London Drugs bathroom and walking our pilfered items back to Winners.

I think that's all. Mostly why I haven't blogged in a while is I have been so discouraged these past few weeks.  I have felt quite listless and slumpy (if that can be considered a word).  I've been struggling to find purpose in my everyday life and struggling for fresh creativity and inspiration.  I haven't wanted to cook and I'm sick of everything I make.  I've wanted to hide behind books and movies in my spare time.  A few weeks ago one of my friends posted on her facebook status: I will not slump into a snow dazed haze of hibernation. I will awake and create. I will live like today deserves... It deserves not to be overlooked. 

My question is: How?  How do I not slump?  How do I awake and create?  How do I not overlook today?  I started a dialogue with another friend of mine who is a photographer.  She is very inspiring and has consistently pushed herself to stay creative in the often lone venture of photography and creating art.  One of the things she did when she was going to school in Vancouver at Emily Carr and spending all day in a 4x3 foot darkroom was to fill her outside life with colour - the clothes she wore, her home environment, as much as possible she filled her life with colour to compensate for the days spent in the dark.  I have been trying to do this.  On the days I get dressed I have been purposing to leave the white, the grey, the beige and the black on their hangars.  It's been surprisingly helpful - I just need to get dressed more consistently.  Not helpful is I crouched down to help Ava with something the other day and I split the inner thigh of my favourite jeans (hence the Winners jeans episode).

So what's the point of this wandering and random blog?  I need your help my friends.  I have felt alone and isolated in my slumpyness.  I know it's not the truth.  I know I am not truly alone but sometimes it's really easy to believe.  I also know that feelings lie and I don't want to live based on how I feel.  So I'm reaching out.  I want to be renewed.  I want to be fueled by a new passion and verve that does not depend on the weather or my feelings.  Yesterday at church our pastor asked us what we're believing for for this year.  Honestly?  Right now I'm not really believing for anything, halfheartedly hoping maybe, but not believing with faith and conviction.  Our pastor also said that we need to make room for the new - we need to say no to some things, clear out some things emotionally, eliminate some things physically to make room.  So I want to take some time to think about what some of those things might be in my life.  He also said to thank God in advance for the new.  Today that's my tool.  I am choosing to thank God in advance for new hope, new vision, new inspiration.  This is where you come in.  My question is how do you do it?  How do you fight these low times?  What sparks your inspiration or creativity?  What makes you want to live like today deserves?