Last week, half of the sisters were out of town, so Lisa and I met one on one. These are rare occasions since we both have commitments that keep us very busy and out of trouble. I was thinking about how pleasant our visit was and then I got sidetracked (surprise, surprise).
I realized as I thought back, that during our visit, I was sending myself very negative messages about guess who? ME. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, my son, my sister and her husband, my nieces and their families, and my stepdaughter and her family. Sadly, the worst relationship I have seems to be with myself. Continue reading →
Opening the top left drawer of my dresser in the bedroom, I need a fresh pair of underwear. However, the drawer is filled with so many items besides the needed unders. This is where I store 1/2 ream of printed emails that my husband sent to me in the year before we got married. It holds 18 old mother’s day cards from my three children, 8 bibs from races that I’ve run and 4 metals from three half-marathons and one full marathon that I ran, and 12 multi-colored headbands.
At first glance, it holds everything EXCEPT underwear. Do I not own underwear? Do I even wear underwear?
Have you ever given any thought to the idea that underwear should be considered when making a commitment to yourself about self-care? Well, let me tell you a story… Continue reading →
If you are anything like me, I have a hard time wanting to clean my house. I don’t enjoy cleaning at all. Growing up, my mom did it right. She had it set up that Lisa and I had jobs to do to clean the whole house by the time she came home from work. I dusted and Lisa vacuumed. On Saturdays, you didn’t do anything else until those jobs were done. Continue reading →
These seem to be two very controversial questions lately. Especially after COVID, where we have all been confined to our homes, apartments, (or wherever we might have the fortune or misfortune to find ourselves)…spiritual practice rules are up for debate. Continue reading →
I recently reread the 1937 version of Napoleon Hills’ “Think and Grow Rich”. Mr. Hill opens his first chapter with the phrase “Thoughts are Things”. He goes on to say that when we mix our thoughts with purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches or other material objects, these thoughts have the power to create what we are desirous of. Wow. That’s quite a statement.Continue reading →
I’ve always prided myself on being able to keep up with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to complete tasks. Well, scratch that “always” off the books. It seems that everything I need to do today requires technical knowledge that I struggle with.
Writing our Sidetracked Sisters Blog has always been fun for me. Recently, it seems like the programs we need to understand and use have become more complicated. Every time I make notes about what I need to do and how I need to submit my writing, something has changed. So I try to use my version of “common sense” and I really mess things up. I refuse to give in to failure and yet I dislike feeling like I’m not keeping up.
I enjoy doing voiceovers. So what’s stopping me you ask?? You guessed it. Technology. Every time I think I understand what I need to do, I make things worse. The programs I use are totally different from anything I have used before. Just about the time I think I understand what I’m doing, I don’t. I know I need to spend more time practicing and yet even the practice gets frustrating.
Asking for Help
Then the most humiliating part comes when I seek help from others who have always understood my deficiencies. They tell me that they don’t think things have gotten more complicated or hard to deal with. When this happens, I want to hide under the covers and pout. I even have a “help me” button on my desktop to call in the rescuers. Sometimes that doesn’t even work.
I started a new job recently which I really enjoy. Only one problem exists. You guessed it, a whole new set of programs and technology. I’m slowly learning and I have very nice people in the IT department that are helping it all make sense. I think this process is going to work.
Even watching TV to relax has become a challenge. Our son signed us up for one of the pay-for networks. So now I have to have email addresses and passwords to utilize this gift from our son. I think I’m overthinking things.
Android vs iPhone
What else about technology bothers me you ask? I recently switched from a Samsung phone to an iPhone. I asked myself what could be so difficult about a different phone? First of all, I can’t figure out how to pair my hearing aids with the new phone. My first attempt created the complication of having all of my phone calls come into my hearing aids instead of my phone. While this had some benefits, it did nothing to give me control of the app I had on the phone to control the various features of my hearing aids. I still haven’t figured this one out.
In addition, I also have a different car which allows for phone services wirelessly. I don’t think I have the energy to share with you all of the features of my 2016 vehicle that I have not yet been able to use. That may be a story for another day.
I think my major complaint about technology is that I was sold on it by being told how much time it would save. So far I haven’t experienced these great time savings. When I find myself trying to figure out what my computer has done at 2 am, while my husband has been asleep for hours, I don’t find the time savings very relevant.
Yes, I have heard the acronym “GIGO” (garbage in, garbage out). I say to that, I’d like to place my computer in the garbage instead. OK I know I need to calm down. I’ll quit my rant and see if I can figure out how to go watch something on TV that might help me relax.
For the past 3 months, my sister and I have been walking the dogs every morning. We are becoming known around the neighborhood as the crazy dog ladies (at least that’s what I think we must look like while walking 4-5 dogs).
Good Morning Sunshine!
You’d think that after 3 months of doing this, I would be getting used to it! But each morning I feel like I have to drag my butt out of bed. Luckily, my sister is patient enough with me to continue to drive into town to make me do this. This activity is a much smaller version of what we do while on vacation.
When we go on vacation each summer, she and I will get up at the ass-crack of dawn to walk all the family dogs (5-6 of them). We will go on a 6-mile walk (or “death march” as I lovingly call it). Usually, Lisa is bright-eyed and refreshed when we come back from the walk, but I’m a purple-faced sweaty mess!! We don’t go fast at all, but it gives the dogs a chance to run on the beach and play in the water, thereby making them tired dogs upon returning to our cabin. (Tired dogs are happy dogs – and happy owners!)
“Hey, how much do you charge?”
On our walk during vacation, people frequently look at us like we are crazy because we are walking so many dogs. We’ve even been asked if we are professional dog walkers. People are surprised when we tell them that these are just the family’s dogs. LOL!
I need to keep moving before vacation to get in shape for our death marches. But right now, my knees are aching just with the thought of having to get up and walk tomorrow morning. Some mornings I just want to sleep and say forget it to walking, but I know if I don’t go, I’ll disappoint not only my dogs but my sister as well… and that just doesn’t sit well in my mind.
Then, I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get a prescription for my dad. It wasn’t ready yet, so I had about 10 minutes to shop while I waited.
I grabbed a watermelon and some boxes of Kraft Mac&Cheese that were on sale. I was investigating the spices when someone said my name. It didn’t register that they were talking to me until they said my name again, “Lisa?”
I glanced up to recognize an elder version of a guy I used to drool over when I was 14. Eric was still about 6’5″ and his blond athletic self. He is/was 3 years older than I. (In High School, this seemed soooo important). Now, I noticed that he looked somewhat….faded…but he was still tall, and still blond, and…HE noticed me.
“Hey, how are you?” he began. “I thought that was you…”
“What are you doing here in Smallville?” I asked. “Oh, you live here? What brought you back?”
“I saw you a while back, but you were all bundled up…you seemed in a hurry…I’m divorced…”
We will see each other again at an event this summer that we are both invited to.
But you want to know what I was thinking about when we parted and went our separate ways?
Let me explain. I like to look nice. I recognize that how I dress affects how I feel. When I am “put together” I feel good about myself. What I see in the mirror impacts my self-esteem, my expectations for myself, and my energy.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do look grungy sometimes…
Exercising in the morning is my jam. Pulling my hair back, I put on my Saucony running shoes and sports bra, and head out. I’m focused on moving, breathing, leaning into the work.
I also garden in the morning. Planting and weeding is dirty work. I sit in the grass or on the dirt. As the day warms, I sweat! I am not a pretty sight, but the tomatoes, peppers, zinnias, and marigolds are happy.
Getting showered and dressed for the day are next on my agenda. Then, putting myself together for the day has four important components.
Make-up and hair
It takes me less than 5 minutes to moisturize, add a touch of foundation, and brush blush onto my cheeks. I slap a bit of eyeliner and a neutral shade of eyeshadow on each eyelid. I stroke on a couple of passes of mascara to my lashes before adding a touch of tinted lip gloss to finish my daily look.
As my hair is longer these days, it does take more time than usual. Since I wash my hair daily, it takes about 10 minutes to dry and straighten out the frizzles.
Grubbies Aren’t Allowed
I remember as a kid going to my grandma’s house in the summer. She would often wear culotte shorts with a sleeveless v-neck cotton tank. But it always bothered me that she had grease spots on her boob shelf. They weren’t fresh spots. But the stained clothing wasn’t a problem for her because the thought was “who needs to dress up if you’re not having company over or going someplace”. She was just doing her thing at her house. No one would see her. But I saw her. Her granddaughter saw and felt bad for her. I thought she was poor. But she had many “nice” clothes. But she just didn’t wear them because…they were “for good”.
I actually made a commitment to wearing my “for good” clothes when I was about 5 or 6. A relative went to Hawaii and brought me a green summer sundress. I wore it once. Then it hung in my closet.
I remember looking at the tropical leaves and coconut buttons and thinking what a waste it was that it never got worn again. I’m sure it gathered dust and was eventually donated to Goodwill or St. Vinnies.
It didn’t make sense to my mind. It was supposedly “for good”. You didn’t wear it every day, because you might spoil it and then it wouldn’t be available when you needed it. good”.
So now, I get dressed for life… every day. I don’t mean shorts and a worn-out tank, but a tunic and leggings or a skort and crisp shirt on most summer days. You might call my look casual or informal teacher attire. But the important thing is that I look and feel put together. I’m ready to head out on an errand. Someone could knock at the door and I would feel confident answering.
I love jewelry and scarves. I don’t think you need a lot of either. But a pair of dangly mandala earrings or a fresh scarf can perk an outfit right up. Spruce up any ensemble that has begun to grow tired. Think Marie Kondo in your wardrobe…any item should “spark joy” or get rid of it.
When I’m barefoot or just wearing socks around the house, I feel unfinished. It makes me feel guilty about the state of my home’s cleanliness when I see my black soiled feet at the end of the day. Sometimes it even hurts to go barefoot. Plantar fasciitis is a real problem that can be remedied by wearing GOOD shoes (and maybe rolling an icy bottle with your insole).
Then there are slippers. ARRRRRgh! They make me feel sloppy and sleepy. As I skuff around the house there is no spring to my step. The sh, sh, sh sound is like a lul-a-bye that sucks my energy. Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE snuggly slippers in the evening when I’m wrapping up the day while reading a good book on the couch.
But NOT during the day. Daytime is for casual, comfortable sandals, flats, or slides (spring and summer) or booties, clogs, mules, or other casual shoes (fall and winter). Casual shoes may include comfortable athletic-inspired shoes, but not cross-trainers or running shoes.
I do NOT keep old sneakers for “around the house” or for when I’m working in the garden.
This brings me back to Eric again.
When I was pushing my cart through the Food Pride, it was 9:30 am. I was ready for the day. I had taken a shower that morning. Face and hair were done. I was wearing a sleeveless silk dress with knee-length leggings and…grungy cross-trainers with mismatched ankle socks. (I had gone for a walk with my sister earlier and had forgotten to bring along my sandals to change into after…)
Do I think Eric noticed my ugly, skunky, aged footwear–that my pup had recently chewed a small chunk out of the left heel? No.
But when you see that hunky guy from high school, who barely gave you the time of day, and now HE is initiating conversation 40 years later….don’t you want to look and feel your best?
I do. Not only for Eric but for me too. When I have the bandwidth to live my best life, one of the indicators is how I express myself with my clothing.
It might be the old chick/egg thing all over again…Do I feel extra good that day because I look good? Or do I dress up on a given day and that leads to a day that I feel like my best self?
Whenever I’ve done one of those life evaluation surveys or goal setting or tried to start a new habit, it always feels so good to begin on a Monday or on the first day of the month. I’m not a big fan of January 1 resolutions. But I do like re-evaluations and starting new habits at the beginning of seasons–fall and summer both coincide with the beginning/end of a school year. But this time I’ve gone rogue and set myself up with a public weight loss challenge.
I posted 8 weeks ago that I planned to drop 8 pounds because bulge had crept to my middle and set up housekeeping. Now it was time to lose those 8 pounds. I stated that I would provide an update on June 1st…
Well, in the time between then and now, life has been crazy. You know how CRAZY eats up the emotional bandwidth needed to fuel action. The crazy can be seen by the way the skin under my eyes has “bags”. I googled remedies for this unattractive look and came up with using hemorrhoid cream (Preparation H to be exact) as a spot night cream.
Fail. There was no noticeable difference.
Then one morning I realized that I had yet again forgotten to buy facial cream while out shopping. Did you know that Aveeno body lotion isn’t the best face moisturizer out there? Huh. Who’d have thunk?
But I think I reached a new low when I confess that I used Gold Bond Medicated foot powder on my face after the moisturizer and before putting on a little blush.
It has a bit of a weird odor that you don’t really notice when you are using it appropriately.
I have absolutely no good excuse for this period of craziness other than…life! My life is full and crazy. But here are a few clues that life is also, at the same time, good and happy and sane:
First Things First
My bed is made in the morning. This is huge. The room can be a catastrophe, dusty, underwear on the floor and laundry heaping over the basket…but if the bed is made and pillows fluffed each day, all is good.
A Little Vase of Something
My nightstand is dusted and organized with a small stack of books, reading glasses, and a little vase filled with something. this is the ultimate litmus test. when things in life are really going well, I change out the items in the vase regularly. There are curly sticks in January, Lily of the Valley in April, Lilacs in May, various garden flowers throughout the summer, and pretty leaves in the fall.
All That Ends Well
The sink is shined and dishes are done before bed. There is something about being able to walk into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water and see that the dishes are done, the stove is clean and the sink is shined. It makes me feel in control.
Does Anyone Know Where My Phone Is?
Sometimes I add the category of purse location. When all is going smoothly in life, I have a clear habit of bringing my purse and phone into the house and putting them in my cubby in the mudroom. When I’m off, it’s a crapshoot and I will have to often use our landline to call my cell to aid in locating it.
This brings me to the question…Did I achieve my goal!
No…I dropped exactly 6 pounds.
Yes. I’ve gotten back on track.
I’ve gone through many many cycles of mindless eating in the past. As a teacher, I would get into the habit of eating school lunches (what we called the “Red Tray” diet) and put on weight every fall. Then, in January, feeling frustrated, I would annually switch to packing my own soup, veggies, and fruit. Sometimes I’d bring some string cheese or a baggie of nuts. I didn’t focus on carbs or food types, just simplicity and quantity.
But the big secret was that I also began exercising on a treadmill daily in the morning. I wouldn’t change anything else. The result was never dramatic, but I was always able to wear my favorite spring capris and summer skorts.
That being said, I am back to being MINDFUL about my body and my eating and exercising habits. It took this little challenge to get myself to stop and change back to the habits that make me feel good about my body. These habits also make me feel healthy and happy.
As I mentioned in that post 8 weeks ago, I like the feeling of a strong and flexible body when I am walking and doing yoga.
Carbs make me feel sluggish and blah.
Alcohol doesn’t work for me anymore. My 50+-year-old body gets sleepy instead of relaxed. Then, the next morning I’m fuzzy instead of energized.
I’m good with honoring my body in a way that is sustainable and easy. So I guess I’ll call this a successful fail,
Have you seen any kids lately wearing those Hallmark-style yellow raincoats? Me neither. Spring here in Wisconsin seems to be one wet, cold, windy day after another. Kids still love their umbrellas, but we all seem to be wearing damp jackets and holding our breath…just waiting for summer to arrive.
Have you heard of Wisconsin’s eleven seasons? Winter, Fool’s Spring, Second Winter, Spring of Deception, Third Winter, Mud Season, Actual Spring, Summer, False Fall, Second Summer (one week), and Winter.
Spring is sooooooo long. We feel impatience. There is a restlessness in the air.
So, how do you get your mind in a place of appreciation, mindfulness, and gratitude?
Many people have heard of the Danish word for coziness, contentment, and well-being by appreciating a simple life–hygge. But I’m learning that the concept doesn’t end when the snowflakes stop flying, the cozy blankets are put away, and the hot chocolate is all gone. Yet, I’m still feeling the need to consciously cultivate gratitude in my life… for my life. The Danes actually have seasonal variations for hygge throughout the year.
Forårshygge – Spring-hygge
Sommerhygge – Summer-hygge
Efterårshygge – Autumn-hygge
Vinterhygge – Winter-hygge
Here in Wisconsin, spring is in full bloom. After the wet, dreary, grey days of early spring, every sunny mild day is a sign of approaching summer.
When I taught First Graders, we would regularly struggle to keep the kids in their coats at recess in the spring. Once it was sunny and above freezing, the kiddos would toss their outerwear on the pavement as they played catch&run with the football or swung from the monkey bars.
One of my favorite activities from teaching was exploring seeds and growing things with my class. We studied the germination of lima beans and started sunflowers in recycled milk cartons.
One of the reasons I’m feeling so good about my post-teaching life is that I am still planting seeds and growing stuff.
This growing stuff and appreciating growing things is a huge part of Forårshygge for me. (Side note: Do you have any idea how to actually pronounce this word? As I write this, it’s really bothering me that I don’t.)
I’ve seen a few other posts about what people are doing in the spring to experience and live “Forårshygge”. The common thread that I see is honoring growth and renewal.
Here are other ways I am growing things and renewing my life this spring…
I planted seeds in trays weeks ago and set them by my basement window on heated mats. The tomatoes are a disappointment, it looks like somebody sat on the coleus, but the peppers look strong and healthy. It was a month ago that we moved the flats out into my little greenhouse. I’ll transplant them into the garden as soon as it stops raining outside.
Spring Cleaning Anyone?
Open the windows and clean spider webs out of the corners at the ceiling. When I was teaching, I either didn’t notice the cobwebs when I cleaned up in the evening–or, it was too much effort to get them down from the high corners. Well ladies, now. is. the. time! I also open the windows to let in the spring air, the house feels fresher. This can totally be ramped up if you hang washed bedsheets out to dry. (I actually hang mine on the deck railing since I don’t have a clothesline.)
Is it still alive?
Move and group houseplants from inside to outside. Most of the greenery in my house is more than a decade old. They thrive from May to October outside and then rather hibernate in a north-facing breakfast room during Wisconsin’s frigid months.
A Little Vase of Something
But the most important of all the Forårshygge in my life is located on my nightstand in the bedroom. Beginning at the end of April, I bring a small, fresh blossom or mini bouquet and put it in a tiny vase. Spring begins with yellow forsythia twigs and in quick succession leads to pink tulips, yellow daffodils, miniature lily of the valley, and fragrant lilacs. This little display, along with a lamp, a pile of books, reading glasses and the vase makes me happy.
It is like a neon sign to my brain reminding me to pause, smile, and breathe when I glance at it
Spring is finally here and there are no raincoated kids holding umbrellas in my life. Are these real for anyone? Instead, I have shrimpy seedlings waiting to be planted, soggy jeans drying for hours on my porch railing, and dirt circles on my carpet where a pot sat through winter.
We can only do what we can, moment by moment, to cultivate coziness… contentment, and…well-being.
Years ago when I realized I had inherited the gardening gene from a favorite uncle of mine, I lived in a different house, on a different street, and had different sun exposure.
There was full sun on all sides of my just-built house. It was fun planting flowers such as snapdragons, marigolds, zinnias, geraniums and I achieved a profusion of flowers and consistently brilliant colors. I spent hundreds of dollars every spring purchasing annuals to accomplish this result.
Then, we moved, and guess what? I now live in a house with mature maple and birch trees. This translates into a yard with almost no sun. Can you say…gardening challenge? As noted before I was used to lots of sunlight and could grow almost all sun-loving plants.
So now I am limited to impatients, begonias, hostas, and whatever else thrives in shade…ummmm,(mushrooms anyone?). Unfortunately, I find this rather limiting, not to say, quite boring and rather unrewarding.
I decided that the areas that I created were far too extensive for annuals, and most annuals need…say it again, SUN. So, a perennial shade garden would be the way to go.
To make a long story short, I was gifted a couple of beautiful ferns. Probably two or three and planted them. I enjoyed the fact that once you planted them, you didn’t need to stake, fertilize, or replant yearly. In addition, they added a lushness, a cool, soft, green to my garden.
Bring on the ferns!
Well, now several years later, guess what? I have so many ferns that I don’t know what to do with them. And, once ferns take over, they produce so much more shade that they block other shade-loving perennials from flourishing. Now, this could be pretty if you don’t like a variation in your garden, but since I need variety, this just doesn’t work for me.
Another problem… they are beautiful in the spring, most of the summer, BUT when it gets to the “dog days of summer” they turn brown and look like shit – really ugly, brown, dry, crumply leaves. The result, a really uninviting garden.
So, this spring I have been trying to keep on top of this problem by digging out ferns by the bag, bucket, and garbage can full. So far, I have dug out around a hundred and fifty ferns and there appears to be no end. Just a note–this needs to be done when the ferns are first coming up otherwise they tend to flop over and look quite stupid for the duration of the summer.
I have a feeling that I am doomed to have this be an unending problem. So gardeners beware… don’t plant ferns unless you want a “fern garden”!
Or, look more on the positive side and trust gardener and blogger Janet Kilburn Phillips at cronesgarden.com when she says…
“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”
In our neighborhood, there is a person who lives at the corner who hangs dog treats on the bushes next to the sidewalk. A small sign tells dog walkers to “Please take one.”
She is putting a little love out into the world.
The other day, I saw a woman in the grocery checkout line who was wearing a dress identical to one that I own. I thought that it looked nice on her. A few minutes later, as I was driving out of the parking lot, I saw the same woman. She was walking to her car with her shopping cart. I rolled down my window and hollered “Hey, I just wanted to tell you how great you look in that dress. I have the same one at home and I love it.” She replied, “Thanks, I got it on sale at Kohls.” I answered back, “Yeah, I even wear it just like you do, with leggings and a jacket”.
Just putting a little love out into the world.
“I love humanity but I hate people.” poet Edna St. Vincent once famously wrote. In the same way, I often really need to make an effort to connect and engage with people. It is so much easier to talk with my family or work on my own shit rather than engage with the people I meet every day.
With that being said, it brings me happiness, even joy when others go out of their way to interact, engage, or reach out to me.
Writing thank-you notes was not taught or encouraged when I was a child (or perhaps I just don’t remember). As a teenager, I hated the little triangular-folded notes that friends passed at school to one another. As a young adult, I knew I wouldn’t keep in touch with friends after I moved.
But I’ve saved and charished EVERY note, letter, and spontaneous correspondence that I’ve ever recieved.I have a collection dating back over 40 years! I store sweet notes from friends in a nightstand drawer. When I was dating my husband-to-be, I printed and saved every email from that first year. I still have every love note from my high school boyfriend. Every letter my ex-husband penned are tied together with a string…in a box…in my closet.
It is time to reconcile this dichotomy in my life. I want to be appreciative, thankful, and supportive. (I should have probably begun this project at the beginning of the Covid shutdown.) But anyway, my sister Michelle suggested that what I was talking about was “happy mail”.
So I conducted a Google search.
I found blogs and You-Tube videos dedicated to sharing appreciation to small business customers. There are also scrapbookers and “junk journalers” who share stuff with each other unexpectedly through the mail. These were BEAUTIFUL and inspiring works of art that people were sharing with each other in an effort to “share the love”.
I found it totally overwhelming!!! Some of these creations must have taken days or weeks to collect and construct.
I don’t consider myself a fluent writer. So I write a sloppy copy before I transfer the words into a notecard. It relieves my writer’s block and prevents me from stressing about making a mistake.
What I am proposing is buying and using store-bought blank notes and writing something thoughtful and direct like this blogger.
I also don’t believe that these notes need to be sent in the mail. They can be surreptitiously stuck under a windshield wiper, taped to a house door, or placed anonymously on a co-worker’s desk.
My mom calls these “Iris letters”. They are the less familiar cousin and the opposite of “onion letters”. (Glinda versus the Wicked Witch of the West.) An Onion letter is what you might send to a business to complain about the mess the plumber left after fixing your toilet or the rude comment the customer service rep made when you returned an item at Wal-Mart. Onion letters help a business correct wrongs. Iris letters acknowledge and appreciate service workers or businesses that go above and beyond.
I should have sent an Iris letter a few years ago to my local Aldi.
After checking out all of my groceries, I realized that I had neither cash nor credit cards in my purse. Upon realizing this, the cashier volunteered to pay my $80+ bill until I returned. She said that she knew I was a regular customer and that I’d be back.
Profusely thanking her, I instead asked her to just put my cart of groceries to the side. I zipped home. Returning a half-hour later, I had cash in hand. Thanking her again, she smiled at my appreciation, and I vowed to myself to write a note to the manager. I intended to appreciate, honor, and celebrate her good deed.
My goal was to share a little love and bring recognition to this kind woman.