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Victories! February 5, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, lists, randomness.
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I almost titled this post “Small Victories” but any step forward is progress. Those baby steps deserve as much recognition as the humongous giant steps. I am happy to report the following victories:

  • I took breakfast and lunch to work and drank the free coffee (instead of visiting the Starbucks conveniently located just one floor below me) all of January. The only money I spent on food at work was 84 cents to buy some cheese to put on my chili one day. 
  • I cut back to Basic Cable, saving at least $40 a month.
  • I’m learning to cook in smaller quantities. It it quite the challenge to transition from cooking for six to ten people at every meal to just one, even if that transition takes a few years.
  • My middle son started a new job (technically that’s not my victory, but it’s a huge one for him and I am sharing in the celebrating.)
  • I have exercised in the morning, before getting on with my day, for two days in a row. I, uh, kinda slacked off this past weekend but I’m back on track and rarin’ to go.
  • I unsubscribed from some of that annoying junk e-mail, clearing some of the clutter from my in-box.

What victories are you celebrating? Big or small, each victory deserves recognition and celebration.

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Do you hear what I hear? January 25, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Centering, Listen, randomness, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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I was having one of Those days today: Car issues — the cold this week hastened the demise of my car battery and since it’s going to the shop for that, I may as well ask them to fix that slow leak in my tire. I only need to add air to the tire every three weeks or so, but that’s about three weeks too often. Computer issues — couldn’t stay connected to work and had to reboot three times. I’m losing badly in one of my Words With Friends games (somehow that doesn’t seem to balance that I’m winning another game by a huge margin). Too much to do for work and too much distracting me at home. Would I make it to the library in time to pick up my reserved books or would they send them back before I got there? Do I need to pick them up today or by tomorrow? Is snow expected tomorrow when I need to drive to Chicago? Will the shop fit me in and get the battery switched out today or will I have to wait until tomorrow? Just how much is it all going to cost me anyway? It wasn’t a bad day so much as just an unsettled one. I just couldn’t get my mind to slow down enough so I could focus on any one thing.

I’ve learned a little bit lately about slowing down, centering, being mindful, meditating…. Call it what you wish, I call it sanity. I’ve been trying lately to live in the moment. Yeah, I know that sounds like some New Agey, Hippie, Wacko talk, at least if you come from my Fundamentalist background. Meditation was seen as a bad thing, something those other religions practiced. People who meditated were somehow giving up control of their minds and opening themselves up to demons. Sometimes it’s hard to shake the things we’re taught when we’re young. Not that I ever really believed that about meditating, but those early tapes can be darned difficult to erase or record over. I’m no expert, goodness, I’m barely a beginner. I’m a pre-school meditator or maybe, if I stretch it a bit, a K-4. I know just enough to pull myself back from the edge of crazy once in awhile and to add a slice of peace into a hectic day. I want to learn more and I will, but this is where I am right now.

When my mind was jumping from one topic to another and I couldn’t focus enough to decide what to address first, I remembered to listen. It can help calm my mind if I take a deep breath, close my eyes (or not) and simply listen…

The hum of the computer… yes I hear that… that’s louder than it probably should be… I know we switched out the fan a few months ago and that helped but it still seems too loud… I wonder if I should have someone look at that… or I suppose it would be have someone listen to it… oh yeah… I’m supposed to be listening…. oh sigh… good, that’s another deep breath…..

The drip, drip, drip of the yogurt as it’s draining… man I’m glad I started making yogurt again and doubly glad I discovered Greek yogurt. It’s silly that I waited so long to try it, thinking it was just some trendy fad that I wasn’t going to buy into. Not me! I’ll take my yogurt thin, thank you very much… it’s kinda comforting listening to it drip… I wonder what I can do with the whey that drains off… maybe put some in my soup tomorrow?… I really hope I don’t burn the soup like I did last time… did I remember to take some sausage out of the freezer?… Hey! Brain! You stopped listening and started wandering again! You knock that stuff off!

I seem to be sighing quite a bit today… is it my frustration with the day in general? Sighs are deep breaths… maybe my body is telling me something… telling me what? I’m not sure, let me listen…

I’m cold… cold is not a sound, you’re supposed to be paying attention to sound. Well, it’s difficult to feel centered and mindful of the moment and listen when one is cold! Ok then, pay some attention to the cold… where are you cold? hmmm…. body scan…. my heels. My heels are cold. Seriously? Have you never heard of socks?

And so the day progressed. Every time I tried to slow my mind, it went off in another direction. I did learn a couple things… if I put some music on, I don’t hear the hum of the computer fan (Songs of Water, how I love you), and that there is a lot going on around me that I rarely even notice. Probably because it’s fighting for attention with all the noise in my brain.

Waking Up the Phoenix September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in randomness, thoughts.
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I’ve been quiet here for much too long. I knew I hadn’t written much but was surprised to see there have only been about a dozen posts since January 2010. I think it’s time to wake the Phoenix. 

I may not have written much here but I’ve thought about this blog almost every day. I considered never writing here again and starting over with something totally fresh and new. There are advantages to that option. It’s like seeing that new calendar every January with all the hopes and dreams for the year to come, or a new notebook with pages to fill. A fresh new blog for new adventures does have it’s attraction.

I decided to stay put because I didn’t want to lose the little history that is here. I am who I am. Even if no one else ever reads what came before, it’s there as a link to who I was and where I came from. It reminds me that I should never hide who I was but instead learn from the past and grow. (Not that there is anything juicy or earth-shakingly inspiring in the blog history. Or maybe….)

Once I decided to stay, I considered my focus. My kids are too old to start being a mommy blogger. I cook and knit and craft but the volume I create of any of those would never sustain a blog. I’m interested in politics and religion but not enough to focus on either, or to deal with the potentially volatile discussions that would ensue. I want to share the books and movies I read but does the internet really need another review site? Finally, I decided what I really want is all of the above.

I am a complex and ever-changing Phoenix – burned, broken, crushed – ever rising to new heights and new adventures.

One step at a time September 10, 2011

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, lists, Procrastination, randomness, thoughts.
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When I am feeling overwhelmed, I make lists. Books to read. Knitting to accomplish. Clothes to sew. Spring Cleaning projects to complete (and yes, I am well aware that it is now almost Fall), Closets to organize. Errands that simply must be run. Work projects that never end. Birthdays I don’t want to forget (but probably will). Letters to write. And on and on and on. Writing lists helps me stay sane. If it’s on a list somewhere then I can hope that someday, maybe, if I persevere and my luck holds out, everything will get done.

Lately I found I needed a new list just to keep track of the ever-reproducing stack of lists on my desk. Yes, life is busy and ever-changing. Not that this is a necessarily bad thing – busy is better than bored – but too often the busy-ness of the urgent leaves little to no time left for the gazillion and seven other important things I want to do. Like blogging, for instance.

“Get back to blogging” is high on every list of personal goals I’ve made in the past year. I say that writing is important to me, a way to process the events in my life, a way to move some things from the hamster wheel in my brain to a more concrete format, a way to remember things I would otherwise forget. But do I make it a priority? Not very often. I write in fits and starts, as evidenced by the history here. Of course, I do write things, many things, that never make their way to this public peek into my brain, but even that has been much lower volume than I would prefer lately.

Writing is only one of the items on my “Feed My Creativity” list. Potential knitting projects take up an entire page there is even a line item for “learn to crochet”. I’ve been hit by a sewing bug lately (fed by a combination of weight loss and the fact that sometimes it’s cheaper to sew than buy new clothes) and have an ever-growing list of projects calling to me. There are recipes I want to try, crafty ideas for Christmas gifts, and practicing the magic of making yarn out of wool.

I think I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to get things done is to learn to be just a bit selfish. That’s not always a bad word, you know. Sometimes “selfish” means “take care of yourself too” or “remember to feed your soul”. I’ve spent most of my life focusing on taking care of others (and let me unequivocally state I have no regrets about that!) but I think I’m moving into another phase. My kids are growing up. It’s not that they don’t need me – I think and hope they will always need me – but they need me in different and less labor intensive ways. I’m not obliged to a spouse or significant other so my time has become more of my own. My challenge now is to decide how to spend that time.

All that to say that you’ll be hearing from me a bit more often. How often? Who knows? One little baby step at a time and I’ll get back in the swing of things. My hope is that very soon writing and blogging will become a habit again instead of just one more item on my wish list.

100 random things about me March 14, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in randomness, thoughts.
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1. I was born in Santa Rosa, CA.

2. My middle name is Elizabeth.

3. When I was about 4 I went through a very short phase where I wanted to be called Beth because it was the only part of my name I could spell.

4. I lived in the same house my entire childhood.

5. Since moving away from my childhood home I’ve had 9 different addresses.

6. I’m the youngest of 4 children – Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl

7. Being the youngest has its advantages — I can remember getting some privileges at the same time my older sister did. She is 7 years older than me.

8. I have 4 children — Boy, Girl, Boy, Boy

9. The most intense love I’ve ever experienced has been towards my children.

10. Parenting my oldest was a huge experiment that seems to have worked well.

11. I don’t think parenting girls is easier than boys, or parenting boys is easier than girls. Parenting is a challenge and each child is challenging in different ways.

12. Each child is also a joy in different ways.

13. I don’t have a favorite color, number or food.

14. It might be more accurate to say I have many favorite foods — Cardamon Rolls, Lindt Lindor Truffles, Pizza, Mashed Potatoes, Spicy Turkey, dead ripe Peaches, Apple Butter, Fresh Bread.

15. I’ve never smoked anything.

16. I learned to drive a stick shift in San Francisco. Driving a truck. OK, it was a little Toyota truck but still a truck.

17. San Francisco is my favorite city and I miss it very much. Maybe someday I’ll get to visit again.

18. Sometimes I watch TV shows or movies simply because they are set in San Francisco.

19. For the most part I like living in the Midwest but the horizon is boring and it’s too far from the Ocean.

20. I watch more TV than I like to admit.

21. I’ve been knitting so much lately that my hands hurt. I think it’s because I’m using small needles.

22. I’m about half way through knitting my first sock. I’ve attempted socks before but they didn’t turn out well. Too big. Too small. Too wonky. I think this one will work and I’m starting to get excited.

23. I’m an introvert. This is often confused with shyness and I’m not shy.

24. I have really big and wide feet and have a hard time finding shoes that are both good-looking and comfortable.

25. I choose comfortable shoes over good-looking.

26. I never ever wear high heels and rarely wear any heels at all.

27. I’ve never had a pedicure.

28. Or a manicure.

29. Every day I try to knit a little and read a little.

30. Last month I sent and received over 1200 text messages.

31. My favorite season is Spring.

32. I seriously dislike going to the Dentist.

33. I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I would have zigged instead of zagged.

34. I once thought about becoming vegetarian but realized I really like meat too much to give it up.

35. I take the train to work every day and use the time to knit and read.

36. I tried internet dating — it’s not for me. I know people who met their love online and married but most of the men I met were just plain weird.

37. I’m older than my mother was when she died. Every day I remember how short life is and hope I’m not frittering away my time.

38. I have mountains of books waiting to be read and still can’t resist the siren song of a library book sale.

39. I love Thursday night TV on NBC.

40. I have a hard time shaking off some of the negative experiences I’ve lived through.

41. I never finished my college degree and often think about going back to school. The cost is one hurdle to overcome but more than that I’m afraid of failure. What if I’m not up to the work?  How can I balance school and a job? Am I ready for homework?

42. Netflix is my friend.

43. My first car was a Plymouth Duster

44. I stayed married longer than I should have because I believed two lies — “Good Christians don’t get divorced” and “Even a bad father is better than no father”. I wonder how much pain could have been saved if I realized those were lies.

45. I didn’t realize I was capable of hating anyone as much as I once hated my ex.

46. I don’t regret marrying him because without that unique combination of genes, the wonderful young people I know as my children would never have come into existence.

47. Sometimes I feel like a failure as a mother.

48. There are 114 subscriptions on my blog reader. Most of the time I just skim through the blogs but when I have the time and mental energy I like to go back and really read them.

49. I don’t like the semi-annual time change.

50. My ‘guilty pleasure’ TV includes Cops and Lockup.

51. I started wearing glasses the year I turned 30 and got bifocals the year I turned 40.

52. It’s almost St Patrick’s day and I still have Christmas decorations in my living room.

53. I am really, Really bad at remembering actors names or the movies they were in. “You know, that guy… he was in that movie where he fell in love with that girl…”

54. I’m even worse with names of songs and who sings them. If I’m lucky I might get the genre or timeframe correct.

55. I first memorized my home phone number using an EXchange word instead of the first two numbers – Liberty-5-5582

56. I’m pretty competitive but try to keep that side hidden. Sometimes I’d rather not play at all then open myself to the possibility that I might lose.

57. I tend to have long, drawn out, vaguely philosophical discussions in my head at all times.

58. I can eat an entire box of Girl Scout Thin Mints in one setting.

59. I like trying new recipes.

60. I find it easier to cook for ten than for two.

61. I prefer an electric toothbrush.

62. I wish I could afford multiple pairs of  Birkenstocks.

63. The first cup of coffee each morning is heaven.

64. Although I’m a bit of a coffee snob, I drink the free stuff at work without complaining. Mostly because I don’t really think of it as coffee — it’s warm, flavored liquid that supplies some caffeine.

65. I don’t like Starbucks and wish there were more independent coffee shops.

66. I am the opposite of sure-footed.

67.  I’m disenchanted with church and Christianity but haven’t abandoned my faith in God.

68.  I first got online in the late 80’s with a 1200 baud dial-up modem and Prodigy.

69. I doubt I’ll ever own my own house again.

70. If you can’t make your point without resorting to yelling, name calling and character assassination, then you haven’t made your point.

71. It’s better to be single than to wish you were.

72. Chocolate is an essential food group.

73. I’m an INFP on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (sometimes I come out as INTP).

74. I hate to be late but I frequently am.

75. Naps are an important part of Sunday afternoons.

76. I rarely remember my dreams. The ones I do remember are vivid and timely and stick with me a long time.

77. I love sourdough bread.

78. I don’t mind washing dishes, but I don’t like putting them away.

79. My cat is slightly neurotic, but doesn’t that describe all cats?

80. I haven’t ridden a bicycle in longer than I can remember. 15 years? 20?

81. I graduated high school in 1976 celebrating the school centennial and the country’s bicentennial.

82. You couldn’t pay me enough to live my teenage years over again.

83. Although our government is not perfect, I believe it is more good than bad.

84. I love grilled cheese sandwiches.

85. Choosing to have chocolate cake for dinner is one of the perks of being a grown-up.

86. People seem to think that I am strong and confident but I know that it is largely an act.

87. I’ve always been surrounded by musicians — first my brother, now my very talented kids. I see myself as musical but not a musician.

88. If I had a spare $300 I’d buy one of these and roast my own coffee. I’ve roasted coffee on the stove and using a air popcorn popper. One of these would be sweet because it has a smoke reduction feature and can be used indoors.

89. I don’t like green bell peppers and will pick them off my pizza.

90. My car radio buttons are set to three different NPR stations.

91. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Love the food but love the time with family more.

92. I don’t have a passport. The only time I’ve spent outside the US  is a day in Victoria, British Columbia when I was 4 and a few hours in Tijuana, Mexico when I was 8.

92. I’ve already started thinking about what I want to make for Christmas presents this year.

93. I’ve visited at least 26 states but all I’ve seen of some of them is the Interstate.

94. The only bones I’ve broken have been toes.

95. I often bring my camera but rarely use it.

96. A deep breath and counting to 10 really can thwart an argument.

97. I love babies and am looking forward to grandchildren someday.

98. I have a lot of questions but I don’t like it when someone tells me the answers. I prefer to talk through my questions and reason out the answers together.

99. I know that not all questions even have answers.

100. Making this list was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be!