Vacation Fail and Feeling Stuck…

I let a couple of weeks go by without blogging; it’s okay…it happens. Vacation came and went, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the time of relaxation I’d hoped it would be. It started on a good note; we got $158 for our dishes, which was about what I’d expected, so I’m satisfied with that. It’s also good to have them gone, even though the cabinets are still in dire need of both purging and rearranging. That’ll come at some point.

I think the vacation was doomed to start. I really wanted a big trip like we had last year where we went to different attractions, museums, and tours. I didn’t communicate that well, so we ended up in a cabin in Asheville.
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It was a gorgeous cabin right on the French Broad River, but part of the withdrawal symptoms from going off this Celexa (I’ll do a post specifically on that in the future) is his terrible feeling of malaise and irritability, and having too much downtime lets my mind just sit in that place and the depression snowballs on itself and gets worse. That ended up being exactly what happened.

That’s not to say that there weren’t bright spots, though! We had campfires the first two nights.

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And steak and eggs for breakfast Tuesday (steak cooked over the fire)!

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We went to the Museum of Cherokee History.

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It rained all day Wednesday, and then I woke up Thursday with a cold. I swear, this is the fourth vacation where I’ve gotten sick. We ended up leaving Thursday instead of Friday so I could be sick at home. The last year is the sickest I’ve ever been, honestly.

I’ve been struggling with feeling “stuck” lately. We’ve reached a bit of a crossroads in our lives right now and are trying to figure out where to go from here, and that’s been challenging. I haven’t been praying or reading the Bible like I should; I know that’ll give us clarity and probably show us what to do but, for whatever reason, it’s proven to be easier said than done.

It’ll all make sense in due time, I’m sure.

The De-cluttering Continues: On Emotional Detachment and Making Some Money, too!

One of the funny things about life is that items which are completely practical at one point can become completely impractical over time.  Take, for example, my everyday dishes.  When Joey and I got engaged, we were both still in college, but we knew we’d be heading off to go to grad school/seminary, so there wasn’t much point in registering for lots of fancy things as we knew we weren’t going to be putting down roots for awhile.  I also knew that my grandma had promised me her fine china, so there was no need for me to register for two separate sets of dishes.  I settled on Pfaltzgraff’s Ocean Breeze pattern for our everyday dishes.  They were simple, neutral and inexpensive….so inexpensive that we actually ended up with eighteen place settings once all was said and done (we returned 8 and kept service for 10).

Ocean Breeze

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They’ve served us well over the last twelve years…they moved with us from our tiny studio apartment in Monroe, NC to Waco, TX, and back to NC.  They’ve entertained quite a few people and held countless tasty wins and dismal fails.  But here’s the thing….they just don’t “fit” us anymore.  They’re heavy and clunky and, quite honestly, I’m tired of anything that can/will shatter when dropped.  A couple of years ago, my mother-in-law gifted me (after I may have HEAVILY hinted that I wanted them) with her old everyday dishes (Corelle’s original Crazy Daisy pattern from the 60’s), and the durable, break-resistant vintage dishes fit my tastes and life now.

Corelle Crazy Daisy Dishes

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We’ve been talking for years about getting rid of those Pfaltzgraff dishes…I was going to list them on Craigslist or put them out for sale on Facebook, but we just never got around to it.  No more. Joey emailed Replacements, Ltd this past week and they are buying our pattern (it’s discontinued), so today, he packed up all of our dishes and we’re going to drive up to Greensboro, NC on Monday to see how much they’ll give us for them.

boxed dishesI thought I’d be sadder about parting with them, but I’m not.  Just like so many other aspects of life, things that used to be a “perfect fit” don’t always remain that way, and things that were reasonable and practical sometimes become irrelevant or cumbersome.  The real challenge lies in being able to emotionally detach oneself enough to recognize the things that don’t “fit” anymore and to let them go.  And it’s a challenge I fail more often that not…I’m far more sentimental than I’d like to be, which sometimes leaves me hoarding stuff out of some irrational emotional attachment.  But I also understand that de-cluttering doesn’t happen without a few goodbyes, and the dishes had to go.

Here’s the real kicker, though; even after a full set of dishes to serve ten, the cabinets are still full of crap:

still full cabinetsObviously, we’ve still got some work left to do.  But hey, at least it’s something, right?  Change is just a series of small steps that we take for the better.

Go through one of your cabinets/drawers/whatever this week.  Chuck what’s trash, and sell or donate what you don’t need. Maybe we can all cut back on the things that don’t “fit” in our lives.

February Photo-a-Day: Final Round

Well, our February Photo-a-Day challenge has ended, and by all accounts, it was both fun and challenging.  Here are a few pics from the last week:

Katie rode in the back seat like a kid with her folks while they are in town on vacation:

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Shelley wished time would stand still for a little bit while her son enjoyed the snow:

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Shannon shared something old with us; her favorite tea cups:

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Angi gave us a chuckle with the saying she has in her kitchen:

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I shared this clock for “Something Old.”  We’ve had it up in every house since we got married; Joey’s grandma bought it with her bingo winnings in the nursing home.  It fits us since we live in a nuthouse anyway ;).

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Marlana has created the March Challenge.  Feel free to join us!

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Why You Should Wear a Little Makeup…but not too much.

Makeup, Self Care, Bare Minerals

I went through a year or two in my adult life where I quit wearing make up.  It may have started out during one of those “you’re beautiful without makeup/love your face” movements…I don’t remember exactly, but it morphed into, “I don’t give a rip how my face looks and I’m just too lazy to spend any time on it.”  Don’t mistake me: if you’re not wearing makeup out of some feeling of self-empowerment or feminism, or as some social statement, I’m not telling you to do it anyway or implying that you’re lazy; I think you’ll get the underlying point and can apply it in some other way.

The problem with what happened to me was that I quit caring altogether.  I mean, it’s hard not to; when you gain a bunch of weight and spend 11 hours (including your commute) at a place and doing something that doesn’t exactly thrill you, it’s easy to start feeling like you don’t matter.  And sometimes, that manifests itself in a physical way.  For me, it was to quit everything that had to do with taking care of my skin and face.  I quit washing my face before bed, quit using moisturizer, and quit wearing makeup except on Sundays (because I still cared just enough to not want to look slovenly on local public-access television). I don’t think I even plucked my eyebrows for months (hellooooooo Frida Kahlo).

Here’s the thing, though:  it wasn’t about the makeup.  It was about feeling like I wasn’t worth enough to spend a little time taking care of myself.  Over the course of just a few years, I’d put on 80 pounds, and I found myself in a job/industry far from what I’d studied to do, and my life not looking at all like I’d hoped led me to decide that it wasn’t worth it to “waste” the time to do a few little things to make me feel a little prettier…a little better about myself.

So I started putting on a little makeup.  Not a ton.  Just the below few items (although I do add a little sparkly eyeshadow, mascara, and tinted lip balm on Sundays).

Bare Minerals Makeup

Just Bare Minerals Foundation (in Fairly Light because I’m basically Casper), Bare Minerals “Warmth” as blush and eyeshadow, and a little eyeliner.  It literally takes me three minutes.  I even take it with me and put it on as soon as I get to the office so I don’t waste any time at home that I would otherwise spend drinking coffee before I leave for work.

I’m not telling you to spend hours on yourself…that’s why I included the caveat, “but not too much.”  It can be easy to get too caught up in appearances, or to become so insecure that you feel that spending lots of time trying to perfectly craft your appearance/persona is necessary (this is true with more than just makeup, too…social media jealousy, anyone?).  It’s not.  What’s necessary is to find a sense of worth outside of what you look like or what you do.  For me, it was realizing that I have a husband who loves me, family who loves me, and I serve a God who doesn’t care what I look like, but also doesn’t want me to not take care of myself.  And that, in light of those things, I should take a little time and do a few things to remind myself that I’m worth it.

I encourage you to remember that, and to carve out a little time for yourself and to find a way to treat yourself well.

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Why Cheating Really Isn’t Worth It.

stuffed animals from childhood, nostalgia

Here are two of my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood.  People who know me really well know that I’ve never outgrown my deep affinity for stuffed toys, and my closest inner circle (and now all of you) knows that sometimes, I still make sure they’re sitting upright and don’t get buried under things lest they smother or feel like I don’t care about them anymore.

I read one of those “tug-at-your-heartstrings” stories this week, imagining Calvin and Hobbes as old men, and I haven’t been able to get over how sad it’s made me. People laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that I refuse to see chick flicks, or sappy/sad movies, but the problem is that, for most people, they can watch the movie and have a good cathartic cry and then move on.  For me, I’ll be sad about it for weeks and will internalize it into getting sadder and sadder about something that’s going on in my own life. Naturally, I’m a little pissed at myself for reading the story, but the damage has been done, and now I’m struggling with the aftermath.

Here’s the other thing; when I took control of my health last May, I discovered through process of elimination that gluten affects my mental health in a negative way.  During my first foray with gluten-free eating, my depression/anxiety cleared up drastically within the first week, and I continued to feel fantastic until I started to slack off and allow myself some “cheats.”  I know that some people think that cheating on a food lifestyle here and there is okay, and for the most part, I’d agree.  However, here’s why it just doesn’t work for me:

  1. It’s never just “one” cheat.  If I was able to just have some gluten on the *very* rare occasion, then I’d probably be okay, but my problem is that ONE special occasion then brings out my all-or-nothing mentality (well, you’ve already cheated once today…might as well take the rest of the day/weekend/month off and pick back up again afterward).
  2. The payout is rarely worth it.  Now, I’m not talking about some once-in-a-lifetime trip or something like that.  I’m talking about the “plate-of-spaghetti because it’s Valentine’s Day” or the “big hunk of birthday cake because you’re are a party” type of cheats.  Is it really worth it to feel bad the next day over something that wasn’t really a dynamic experience?
  3. You’re only cheating on yourself.  I thought about this the other day when I was getting ready for bed and really didn’t want to floss my teeth (I know…lazy me).  I was going to let it go for the night, and then it hit me that the only one who’s going to suffer the consequences of that decision is me.  I’m the one who may end up with a cavity, and it would be a result of my decision.  Why is it that we mostly worry about how our decisions will impact others, but never seem to really consider how they will affect us?

My dad is a diabetic with heart problems; he can’t afford to “cheat” on his food lifestyle.  A “cheat” will result in atherosclerosis, kidney problems, diabetic neuropathy, and worse.  And he lives with that reality.  If I have too much gluten, I get anxious and sad and life becomes (even more) overwhelming and daunting.  That’s a reality I have to live with.  It’s not even about weight (although losing weight has been an excellent result of cutting the gluten/most grains); it’s about deciding whether a food is worth compromising my mental health.

The answer to that question, friends, is “usually not.”

I’m not trying to tell you to restrict your diet or engage in unhealthy food behavior; on the contrary: I’m suggesting that you think more deeply about the ramifications (both short and long-term) of your choices (food and otherwise).