The end of the 30 Day Challenge-

Some of you may remember that I challenged myself to 30 days of photos… to find the beauty around me.  I used my phone to upload all of these photos to Instagram, (http://instagram.com/acherry67) Here is what I found beautiful;

IMG_20131224_112920 IMG_20131224_154728 IMG_20131225_113348 IMG_20131225_130125 IMG_20131230_122530 IMG_20140103_144323 IMG_20140103_145312 IMG_20140104_082703 IMG_20140105_114026 IMG_20140106_112011 IMG_20140109_095934 IMG_20140109_185450 IMG_20140110_193129 IMG_20140111_141026 IMG_20140113_104426 IMG_20140114_194419 IMG_20140116_203611 IMG_20140117_094031 IMG_20140118_191852 IMG_20140119_080010 IMG_20140119_132538 IMG_20140122_111948 IMG_20140124_161522 IMG_20140124_162406 IMG_20140125_172934 IMG_20140125_185730 IMG_20140127_104357 IMG_20140128_164847 IMG_20140129_103051 IMG_20140129_111618 IMG_20140130_095436

The really great thing about this challenge was that it forced me to really look for the beauty in my life.  And when you find beautiful things around you, your life feels filled with beauty. Even on those days when it felt really ugly, just finding that one beautiful thing made me feel better. The law of attraction at work! So as a new month begins I’ve decided to try a new theme.  Since it’s February, I’m thinking my theme should be LOVE.

Starting tomorrow, I will be taking photos of Love… which I’m hoping will help me bring the love back to my life!

 

Running away to Home

Today I want to run away from home.

I want to pack a bag, get in my car, pack up the dogs and head home to my childhood home.  I want to be greeted with open arms in my childhood home, allowed to sleep late, eat junk food and watch bad reality TV all day.  The problem of course is that none of this could ever happen.

I have a house here.  I have to have a big garage sale, I have to find movers, I have to pack up what’s left after the sale, and I have to move across the country.  I have a divorce to muddle through, assets to divide, healing to accomplish.  I have a future to coordinate, a job to find, a place to live, a transition to manage. I have daily stuff to get done here, dogs to walk, bills to pay, a car to get repaired now.  I have sewing projects, writing projects, photography projects. I have commitments to friends and groups here.  All of these things take time, energy and commitment I can’t seem to muster because I just want to go to my childhood home, crawl under the covers and come out when someone else has fixed it all.

Everyone I know is trying really hard to help- but they can’t.  All of this is stuff only I can do, and I don’t want to.  I just want to wake up in a different place all of this stuff, this stuff required to move forward from all of this to be done.  Every time I take a step toward getting any of this done, I feel as though I’m taking two steps backward.  I know what I’d tell everyone else… “the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”  But it feels as though the elephant is sitting on my chest making it impossible for me to move.

So today- because it’s supposed to be all about me, I’m going to write a list.  Nothing on the list is going to be about doing something for anyone else.  I’m just going to do what I need to do and everyone else can wait.

 

I am here… right HERE!

This week didn’t go according to my plan.  I have heard the saying, tell God your plans and you’ll hear him laugh and laugh.  I feel as though God has been laughing at me all week- actually for the last couple of weeks.  I did something, to protect myself, based on past fears.  I had plans to carry out this thing to protect myself by enlisting the help of others.  Because wires got crossed and communication with those in authority was misleading, this thing didn’t happen.  I still don’t know why it hasn’t happened, and I’ve been struggling all week with why.

I know I’m being vague, and that’s purposeful.  It’s a private issue, but something that has become a more public event.  This was where the problems began.  The first problem was miscommunication about how the event needed to be scheduled.  Once it was scheduled further miscommunication kept it from happening.  After that it was my job to deliver the event to the right place. Despite being told the event could happen in the new location, further miscommunication kept it from  happening.  To make it happen in the new location would have taken great effort on my part, effort I was prepared to make the effort until my engine light came on.  So now, now I wait.

My friend suggested that this is purposeful.  That the Universe/God has other plans and by delaying this event, there must be a reason.  I can’t find the reason.  I’ve been moping about all week, trying to figure out the reason.  I may never know the reason, and I suppose I have to be okay with that.  But not having the event happen, being thwarted at every turn really, made me take a look at it all.  And by all I mean my life- and the fears, anger, self-doubt and isolation I’ve been living with for a long time.

I’ve done a really good job of hiding- from myself, from my family and from friends.  I’ve done a really good job of making it seem okay for everyone else, while I struggled daily with the darkness.  My defense mechanism has been avoidance, and it finally became clear last night.  It all come to a head with a simple meal.

I made this last night-

chili wafflesI

It is cornbread waffles, topped with chili con carne, Fritos, sour cream and cheddar cheese, with a Hefeweizen beer.  Now it may not seem like a big deal, it’s a meal like many other meals I’ve had in my life. It feels strange to suggest that cornbread waffles with chili was a spiritual awakening for me, but it kind of was. The first thing to consider is that is comprised of things I normally don’t like or avoid eating.  On the surface of it all, I don’t care for chili, I avoid making waffles, and I haven’t had a beer in over 14 years.

Why? Well, I’m very particular about chili- I hate beans in my chili, and I don’t like it too spicy, so if I eat it, which isn’t often I always make it myself.  I’ve avoided making waffles because for a while waffles were a tradition in my marriage.  And I don’t like the taste of most beers, and I have very little respect for American beers.  So last night was a fluke of sorts.  I had a dear friend who had made this dish herself a few months back and suddenly cornbread waffles was a goal to achieve.  It sounded good, so I even went out and bought a new waffle maker, with the express purpose of making cornbread waffles at some point.  But like my week, I kept putting it off… fear, doubt, or lack of confidence in it tasting good, however I kept myself from it, I did.

Then yesterday, after putting it off for all of the reasons I could think of, not liking chili, waffles being a forgotten tradition, and beer not tasting good- I ignored my fears and had one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time.  And that is when I discovered the transformative power of facing  your fears!

Nothing wrong with making my own chili- I know how I like it and it’s comforting in it’s own way, I don’t have to avoid eating chili just because I don’t like anyone else’s. Waffles may have been a long forgotten tradition, but now they’re my tradition, my waffles are far better than the waffles of my past.  And I quit drinking beer because someone else couldn’t handle drinking, I can have a good beer if I want to now.  And I like a good Hefeweizen. So aside from being a really delicious meal, I learned a little about myself- that I no longer have to avoid things because of my past experiences.  I can do something for me, about me and that is good for me without having to worry about who it affects.  This is my life and it’s time I started living it for myself!

I think it’s about time I learned and accepted that I’m here… where I’m meant to be, when I’m meant to be.  When it’s time to move on… I can and will.

Put the glass down-

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” Remember to put the glass down.

I think I have a few glasses that need to be put down.

1. my marriage-I did absolutely EVERYTHING I could to make it work… but I was completely alone in that work.

2. my past sexual history-I was raped.  I was abused.  I was given a disease by my ex that will now color everything else I do.

3. my failures- there are a lot of them.  I haven’t had a relationship or a job that worked out for very long.

4. my personality-according to the day I’ve had, I’m an idiot.  Or I’m condescending to the point that I make people so defensive that they can’t listen to me.

5. my needs-those are far outweighed by others.  I should just rearrange my life to accommodate others, because that’s what I have always done.

I’m spinning today.  And I know tomorrow will be better. I’ll get back on track, I won’t feel abandoned, lost or afraid.  I’ll find a way to be strong, to muddle through-to fake it until I make it. But today it feels like I’ve been holding that stupid glass all damn day!

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Keep, Sell, Toss or Donate

home-organization-tips

 I love organized spaces.  I adore those Pinterest posts with pantries that have magazine racks to hold canned foods, glass jars labeled for cereal, pasta and flour.  I drool over the cabinet doors with cork boards for pinning notes and chalkboard paint for writing lists. And don’t get me started on those mudrooms with a little cubby for each member of the family.  If won the lottery, half my house would be from the container store, Pottery Barn office, or Restoration Hardware.  I love organized spaces, and yet my life is cluttered chaos on a good day! 

I seem to constantly be at war with myself.  I love an organized room, but when I’m being creative the mess is of tornado proportions! If I can see my sewing room floor, I consider that to be a miracle-having everything in its place is a pipe dream at times.  I have found the more chaotic my emotional life, the messier my house is.  I’m usually pretty good about containing it all to one room, but lately one room has become the whole house.  And given that I’m preparing to move… this is not the ideal.  So, for at least two hours a day for the next several weeks, my goal is to PURGE.

Organizational experts say that a good PURGE should be done seasonally.  When the weather changes, your life changes, or a holiday comes to a close is always a good time to re-evaluate, restock and recycle.  I have personally hit the change trifecta this week.  It’s the end of the holidays, the weather is becoming more spring like, and I’m getting a divorce.  So its time to purge!

They say start in one room or area and work top down, work quickly, and limit distractions.  So for me the first room will be the basement storage area.  I have to put holiday decorations away, as well as sift through mine and his.  I’ll start with the highest shelves and work to the floor.  Everything comes out of the room and goes into four piles; Keep, Toss, Sell/Donate, and of course-HIS.  I’m supposed to ask myself a series of rapid fire questions when it comes to every item; Have I used it in the last year?  Is it of any value? Does it bring me joy?

These seem like simple questions.  If I haven’t used it in a year, chances are good I don’t need it.  If it’s of value I can probably sell it.  If it brings me joy, I should keep it and find a way to display it.  By doing a rapid, Keep, Toss, Sell/Donate through the room I can later go through each pile and do a secondary Keep, Toss, Sell/Donate evaluation.  I may love it, but if it doesn’t work and can’t be fixed-Toss pile it goes.  My biggest obstacle is papers.

I am a writer.  So I often keep notebooks, slips of papers, or even napkins with ideas for stories or dialogue that I intend to use for later.  They are of absolutely no value or use to anyone but me.  So what do I do with all of that? It should be tossed, but to me its like throwing away a newborn child.  That spark of an idea, could someday become a great story.  The same happens with awards, souvenirs, and certificates I don’t display.  If I were a scrapbook-er I’d put them in a lovely scrapbook… but I don’t have time for scrapbooking.  So I think I’ve found a solution or two to my paper problem.  I’m going to gather all of the papers, ticket stubs, museum programs, playbills and etc. and either photograph them or scan them into the computer.  This way I’ll have them but they won’t be cluttering up a room someplace.  I can put them all on a zip drive or a memory stick for safe keeping.  And the items I can’t scan or photograph like old costume designs or theatrical posters I will put into a binder designated by year and project.  I’ll do the same with old magazines…I’ll cut out articles that I want to keep and scan them to the computer or keep them in a binder.  This way I don’t have piles and piles of papers sitting around collecting dust.

I have this belief, that if I get rid of the old, the new will have room in my life.  Holding onto the old clutter is weighing me down.  Letting go is never easy, but being stuck in who I used to be is not where I want to be either. Doing something like this is never just as simple as Keep, Toss, Donate/Sell.  There is a big emotional component to it as well.  I have to do this as a way of reconciling my past.  I did all of this stuff, I bought this or that, and at the time I had a good reason. I kept this thing because it reminds me of where I’ve been, what I’ve done, or who I was. I held onto this item as a symbol of my possible future-but that future is different today than I imagined. I know I’ll end up keeping pieces of my past, the ones that fit into the jigsaw of who I am.  But I hope that by letting go of the past, symbolically and literally, I can move forward to what I am meant to be now.

Wish me luck! And if you don’t hear from me by Wednesday- I’ve been buried alive in stuff… come save me! LOL

Dinner for two- nope, but dinner for two nights!

So last night I made a pot roast.

Most people would say I’m crazy for making a whole pot roast for one person.  And I have to admit it often feels wasteful.  But when I was single and broke, I discovered that being able to stretch a cut of meat into two or three meals was much more economical than cooking food I’d eat for one meal.  So I still buy a whole ham, a whole chicken and in this case a pot roast, and use the leftover meats for the next several meals.  Yes, I plan my meals… yes, I have a list on my fridge… yes, I use the menu to make a grocery list and they’re both stored in my computer.  Yes, it makes me a little OCD, get over it.  I have also discovered that in addition to making the menu and grocery list, the habit of stretching a cut of meat into two or three meals is time saving and more important money saving.  So I made a pot roast-

Amanda’s Pot Roast recipe;

I dry rub it with salt, pepper, garlic and flour

in a pan, I fry the roast on all sides in enough oil to cover the bottom- I set that oil aside to use for making the gravy later

after frying each side I place the roast into an oven safe pot (hence pot roast) with a lid.  I cut up onions and soak it with Balsamic vinegar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. I put it in the oven at 325 degrees, and roast it for about 2 hours, depending on the size of the roast.

If you want to make an open faced roast beef sandwich, you’ll need gravy-

roast beef sandwich

After the roast is done I transfer the juices into the frying pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  If the flour doesn’t thicken the juices I add a little cornstarch dissolved in water (1TBSP of corn starch to 1 TBSP of water).  If it’s bland I add more balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.

For the sandwich it’s just bread, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and topped with gravy. I have to admit this is one of my favorite beef dishes.  It’s comfort food for me.  My grandmother used to make a Sunday roast that was usually so dry we had to do these sandwiches to be able to eat them… that or lots of ketchup! LOL

For the next night’s dinner, I use the leftover beef to make beef chimichangas-

Beef chimichangas

I cut the beef into very small pieces.  I warm them in a pan with tomatoes, onions, chili powder, red pepper and a little oil.  Once the meat is brown and onions are translucent (I like that word)- I set transfer them to a flour tortilla.

Inside the tortilla you can add salsa or cheese… I don’t add the cheese because I’m lactose intolerant and I’d rather use the sour cream on top- but that’s just me.  Once you have the tortillas filled you fold them like an envelop.  Don’t allow any of the sides to remain open.

In about 2 inches of HOT cooking oil, you place the filled tortillas and let them brown on one side.  Flip them to the other side and let them brown.  Once cooked set them on some paper towels to drain the excess oil- don’t forget to shut the oil off.  Once cooled, you can top with salsa, cheese and sour cream… and enjoy!

I still have some of the roast left over, so I’ll probably have roast beef sandwiches for lunch- just bread and mayo, nothing too fancy.  I can also use it for a fourth meal which will probably be a salad or beef fried rice. I really like being able to stretch a cut of meat into a week’s worth of meals.  It’s not boring and it’s practical at the same time.

So do you all have a recipe that stretches over a few meals? Share it with me and I might try it out!

Music is Good for my Soul

I had forgotten how much I love classical music.

I’m not an expert by any means on which composer wrote what tune, I mean I know the difference between Beethoven and Vivaldi, but after that I’m at a loss.  I just enjoy listening to it.  Having it on in the background while I’m doing something else is so soothing.  And there are days like today when all I feel like doing is sitting by the fire, with a warm cup of coffee, the dogs at my feet, reading a good book or writing for pleasure, while listening to classical music.

I have a lot of shoulds today… I should be looking for a job.  I should be working on the Homefront United Network editing. I should be cleaning the house.  I should be finishing sewing projects.  I should be photographing items for sale on various sites; ebay, Craigslist and Buy,Sell,Trade.  But all I want to do is sit here and order a couple of Nook books with my gift card, read and relax.

I could run through the list of things I did accomplish this morning; paying the bills, taking down the outside Christmas decor, feeding and walking the dogs, etc.  Those activities could be justification enough for ignoring my “should be’s”.  But Mondays are set aside right now for my self-care, because I have the time.  I have no other pending responsibilities that can’t wait.  And frankly I deserve to take a day off, knowing this opportunity won’t last forever.  I can hear the voices of others in my head, from my mother to my soon-to-be-ex calling me lazy, procrastinator and a financial burden.  But why do I care what they think of me?  I look at this time in my life as part of the healing process.  I won’t have the chance to take a Monday just for myself for much longer.  So why not relish in it while I can?

I think today is a perfect day to let the melodic strains of a Strauss waltz wash over me, as I read a novel that transports me to Vienna during the reformation.  Or maybe a little Bach to build the suspense as I read a murder mystery.  Today my body may be comfortably in front of the fire, lounging in my recliner, but my mind will be elsewhere.  I’m blessed to have the time and resources that allow that to happen.

Today music is good for my soul!

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