The joy of gardening

There are few things I enjoy more than gardening.  It’s the best therapy for a busy mind.  When I’m having a hard time settling my brain to a more normal spin, nothing helps more than going out into the garden or the to the flower pots and tending.   I find that the focus required is enough to quiet my thoughts into a more concise and logical flow.

It’s so important that we all find some way to recharge and seriously reorganize all the jumble that fills our heads every day.  We collect so much information – useful and not so much – it’s no wonder we often feel we are spiraling out of control.  It’s why my kid gives me the “you never listen” look.   “I can’t; I’ve got 50,000 other things floating around in my head.  Let me deadhead the petunias and I’ll be right back with you.

The care and focus required in gardening may seem minimal.  It may even seem trivial or menial or any other kind of ‘al” you can think of.  I don’t feel that way; but if it is, that is quite possibly the magic of it.  To be able to concentrate on something somewhat simplistic is a joy I’d encourage everyone to experience.

I’ve always had flowers.  I love the color and aroma and being able to watch the seasons from spring to fall play out in my yard.   I love acquiring new plants and watching them thrive as they mature and blossom.  I love trimming them knowing that a snip here or there will make my plants healthier and more beautiful.  And yes, I do get compliments on my beautiful gardens to which I credit the prior owner for the initial plantings, but the enjoyment is mostly my own.  It’s the peacefulness of admiring the colors and scents that is why I love them.  It’s thinking about the care of each plant that allows me to slow down and simply breathe.

This year, I added a vegetable garden.  I haven’t had one in several years and this is the first one in my new house.  It’s a small one; I won’t be feeding the neighborhood but if judging by the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it so far, it seems like 40 acres.  Even the dogs know understand “let’s go visit the garden” means a trip to the other side of the garage.  “Stay off the cucumber vine” is still a phrase we’re working on.

Weeding and caring for veggies may not seem fun, but getting some dirt under your (albeit blue) fingernails is rewarding.  It’s calming.  It’s a time where I can focus on the task at hand and not the 50 waiting for me when I step out of the garden.  Finding the tiny cukes or the surprise zucchini (not my zucchini plant) is exciting!  I spied one this morning and have been deciding on a recipe since!

I’ve never walked away from my garden feeling tense or angry although I’ve gone to it near tears and frustrated beyond reason.   I’ve found it a place of peace and healing.  A place where a busy brain can slow and all the weirdness and insanity of the day can be properly filed away.  It’s a sanctuary.  A safe harbor.  A refuge.  It’s my happy place.

See you in the garden!

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Fighting the Good Fight

It is inconceivable to me that politicians can stand before a podium or go on a news show and back the BCA (Better Care Act).   What shocks me more is the lengths that these politicians will go to try and make it happen.   From POTUS’s bullying of legislators to in-fighting and planning strategic votes and delays, those who want to see the end of the Affordable Care Act have really gone above and beyond to stack the deck in their favor.

So that begs the question: who is in favor of repealing Obamacare and replacing it with the Better Care Act?  Actually, not a lot of people.   Not even a clear majority of Republicans who really really want ACA replealed but are not united on its replacement.   GOP Senators go from the new law would not go far enough to it goes too far especially in terms of Medicaid cuts.  In fact, a lot of the members of the Senate have yet to thoroughly review the BCA and (rightfully so) are hesitant to cast a vote before they do.   The last-minute Amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) further complicates the process by adding more verbiage and stipulation.

Governors and state legislators worry that cuts in the federal laws will force them to cut services or raise taxes, a literal no-win situation.   To state level politicians, it’s clear that they are being thrown under the bus by their federal counterparts.  John Q. Legislator will have to face angry and concerned constituents who find themselves without health care or with staggering out of pocket costs.

Doctors are not in favor of the BCA because they understand what it will mean to their patients when insurance premiums, deductibles and other costs become out of the reach of the average budget.  As always happens, children, the poor and the elderly will be the most affected by the proposed changes in the BCA.

And while I’ve little faith in our insurance companies for being all about patient care, two of the biggies are not completely backing the BCA.  America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield contacted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking they remove Cruz’s amendment fearing it would make insurance for the sick simply too expensive.

The Congressional Budget Office has not had the Cruz amendment long enough to review.  However they have determined that the original replacement for ACA would result in 22 million Americans losing health care coverage over the next 10 years.   Furthermore, the CBO said the original plan would lead to higher costs for individuals with less covered benefits.  That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

Finally, and most importantly, most Americans are not in favor of this new plan.   It is one more thing they have to worry about…will their families continue to be covered?   What if their child becomes sick?  Their spouse or their parents?  The average American just does not need one more thing to obsess over.  So while the Senators play with our lives like a giant chess set, the majority of us know at least one person who will be adversely affected by this new plan.   Yes, we want fair and responsible management.  We want to see wasteful spending curbed.  We want an end to high insurance costs.  But we don’t want them at expense of our children, our poor and our elderly.   We want sound but compassionate management.   The BCA doesn’t appear to be giving us anything in the compassion department.  And the fallout is what keeps me up at night.

Friends, please be diligent.   Please keep after your legislators.   Read the news.  All the news.  Go out of your comfort zone and listen to the opposition.  But please, don’t be silent on this issue.   It is our duty, our ultimate duty, to be the voice of humanity and care of those who can’t care for themselves.  We have to look out for each other.  And this is the most important place to start.

Love. Peace. And wellness for all.

Shabad, R. (2017, July 17)). Senate health care bill on brink of collapse, vote tally shows.  MSN Website. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/senate-health-care-bill-on-brink-of-collapse-vote-tally-shows/ar-BBEA04Y?li=BBnb7Kz

Watson, K. (2017, July 15). Insurance groups tear into Cruz amendment to health care bill as “unworkable”.  CBS Website.  Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/insurers-tear-into-latest-health-care-bill-as-unworkable/?ftag=MSF0951a18

Shabad, R. (2017, June 26).  CBO:  22 million more would be without health insurance over next decade under Senate bill. CBS Website. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbo-score-senate-gop-health-care-bill/?ftag=MSF0951a18

 

 

The Friday Bitch – Don’t Worry About It

I am a worrier.  Always have been.   Always will be.  It’s my nature.  I take things seriously.   I don’t want to fail.  So I worry.  It’s just the way it goes.

My new worry is that the rest of you are not worrying enough.  I mean come on people, I can’t be worrying for all of us.  You guys need to pick up the slack.  So me being me, I’m going to give you a few things to worry about in list format…’cause I’m cool like that.

Top 5 Things to Worry About

  1. The Japan-EU Trade Deal. The big thing to worry about here is the fact that the US is not part of the deal.   I know a lot of people are saying “so what, let them free trade themselves till they can’t walk straight”, but it’s kinda disturbing that the US is not involved in global trade.  Wait, maybe what’s even more concerning is the fact that global trade is happening without us.  We weren’t invited because we are the sulking child in the corner who doesn’t share.  And we’re now alone and no one is paying attention to us.  It’s hard to make a difference on the world stage when no one cares what we’re doing.
  1. Congress is crazy. I know, politics is frustrating and while it is cause for worry, maybe it’s just been a worry for so long that it’s simply not worth worrying about any more.  But the way our members of congress behave is cause for worry.  They set the tone of what we all feel is semi-rational behavior.  The shit they are pulling these days is really boggling my mind.  From their lack of empathy for the rest of us to the contempt they show for their colleagues and the raw, selfish behavior, it’s making me worry.  I didn’t send these people to Washington for them to ignore me.  And I didn’t send them there to have one more thing to worry about.
  1. Addiction is out of control. We all have faced demons of addiction in one form or another, but today’s Opioid addiction is seriously out of control.   It is as if there is a new social class in our communities:  the addict.  I’m showing my age here but remember the movie “The Breakfast Club” (yeah GOAT, I know).  But you had the prep, the jock, the princess and the outcast.  Add one more:  the addict.   It’s as if, and call me naïve because I’m just seeing this now, being an addict is a lifestyle.  I hate it.  I hate what it has done to people.  I hate that I’ve sat with a mom at 1:00 a.m. while her son lie dead in his room from an overdose.   And I worry for these people.  What will happen to them, their children and our community?  I can’t even fathom.  I can only worry.
  1. There are no last frontiers. The world does not come together any more for a common cause.   We’ve had our moon landing.  We’ve found the Titantic and maybe Amelia Earhart.  But what’s next?  When are we going to cure cancer?   Stop world hunger?   As a global community, we have no more common causes.   We’re not looking for the next big thing unless that thing is only for us.   We’ve become selfish and self-absorbed and unwilling to come together for the good of all.   We need to band together, all of us, and step up.  We’ve slacked and become withdrawn.  We’ve stopped supporting each other.
  1. There is no empathy in the world. This ties into the above, but there is seriously no one out there caring about their fellow man.   Like, where are the people feeding and clothing those who need it?  I know, I know, they are out there.  But why aren’t we talking about them?  Why are we in such a “ME” mindset that we look down upon not only those in need, but those helping them?  When did charity and good deeds fall out of fashion and scorn and hate take its place?   Why is it ok to look upon someone with less than us and ridicule them?   Why is it okay to say that those addicted or on public assistance or without health care are just getting what they deserve?  I don’t want to let nature take its course and weed out the “undesirables”.   I want to give everyone a chance or two.  I want to see a recovering addict stand before an auditorium and tell his or her story.  Or the single mom who got government benefits and now is gainfully employed.  I want to see people succeed, not be left to die.  I want social conscious, empathy and a want to make things better for all.

 

Phew, I don’t know about you, but I could use a nap after all that.   And I hope that I nap long enough to miss all the name calling I could potentially receive for putting my thoughts out here.  I know I sound like what a lot of people are saying is clearly a lunatic.   But I’m not.  I am a person with a social conscious who does not want to toss away human beings because they are not the same as me.  And I want you to look at the person, not the addiction, affliction or bank balance and see the person.   Whether it’s someone in your hometown or someone across a border or an ocean, we have to realize that people matter.

 

 

 

 

When the Ship Sails

I recently ended a friendship.   It was partly a mutual ending but I was the one to walk away.   Circumstances warranted the split.  And I left.   And I really haven’t looked back.

Well, I may have looked back a little.

When any kind of “-ship” ends – be it friend, partner, relation or otherwise – you are bound to examine the details and maybe learn how you ended up leaving someone you cared about.  And if you are an over thinker, you do this non-stop for way too many hours of your day.   But regardless of how much time you (over)spend on it, you are always looking for what you did wrong.

And that’s when you have to understand that maybe it wasn’t you.

Not every “-ship” is meant to last.  Not every person is completely compatible with you.   And not every person has the same investment in the “-ship” as you do.  Some people may think they do, but in the end, their interests turn elsewhere and you are left over thinking and wondering and, yes, blaming yourself.

In my mind, I had set some hard limits as to what I would tolerate.   I had verbalized those limits in subtle and not so subtle conversations.  And I knew that eventually those limits would be breached and the friendship would be over.  I knew it and I know my ex-friend knew it as well.  But that did not stop the breach.   And that is not my fault.   Standards were established and expectations were not met.  End of story.

Still I question my decision.  And still I miss my friend.   I want to pick up the phone and text.  I miss what we had.  But I know that I can’t compromise myself and I knew what I wouldn’t tolerate.  And while I will not re-establish that connection, I will read give myself some time to mourn.  And maybe to learn.  And then to move on.

Parting is not always sweet sorrow.  Sometimes, it’s just quietly fading away on a foggy night with only your navigation lights running.  And that’s okay.

Never be afraid to bail when you see the “-ship” is going nowhere!  Stay true to yourself because you are so worth it.

Hanging Tough

After two plus years, I’m finally hanging curtains.   Breathe people, I haven’t been your neighborhood voyeur for 24 months.   I’ve kept my modesty, my dignity and my name out of the papers by keeping the blinds appropriately closed.   And with just one or two minor mishaps, wardrobe malfunctions if you will, I have kept a solid rep with the people next door.   I think.   I hope.   No, I don’t care.

But I’m hanging curtains now.   And I wonder why it’s taken me so long to do it.   And I also wonder why my new curtains have given my tiny house a ‘finished’ look.   And with this big brain of mine I wonder why I’m wondering why and secretly hoping that this doesn’t cause a major mind fuck that leaves me pondering curtains and houses and life in general for days.

No matter.   I’m going to try and sort this thing out here and now.   You’re along for the ride.   Buckle up babies…we’re going in-depth.

The simple act of hanging curtains is not so easy. I’ve been in this house for over two years.   I’ve had these curtains for a month.   I’ve had the curtain rods since last night.   I have a hammer and a step stool (#shortgirlproblems).   And yet, I am only half way done hanging five lousy curtains.   I suppose I could count the one I simply replaced and say I’m 60% done with curtain hanging…but blogs are supposed to be about laying bare of one’s self and to hedge or fudge the numbers just doesn’t seem right.   Hence, I’m only half way done.

And it’s not that I don’t like these curtains.   They are exactly what I wanted.   They fit perfectly. They’re my taste, my color and my style.   And yet here I am, talking about hanging curtains when I should be actually, you know, hanging the damn curtains.

Hanging curtains is hard.   There’s measuring and pounding of nails and all kinds of shit.   I suppose a level should be involved if only I gave a damn whether they hung straight or slightly a-tilt.   So there’s the mechanics of hanging curtains that’s bringing me down.   I’m not good at the hammer and nails.   I don’t have the patience to measure and level and be precise.   I just want to hang a dumb curtain…or five.

So I guess in a way hanging a curtain is something of a barometer or measure of my ability to live a self-sustaining life.   You may think of it as a stretch but try and remember the last time you hung a curtain.   Now think of whether or not you had any help.   Now in the interest of full disclosure, I admit to having the daughter hold one end of the curtain rod while I hinged the other into the thingy I nailed into the wall.   Crooked.   Without any manner of style or command of a hammer.   But putting her small and totally unenthusiastic assistance aside, however appreciated by a grateful mom, I did it…am continuing to do it…by myself.   And that’s a metaphor of my life.

In the last few years, I’ve taken on so many new challenges and conquered so many new obstacles.   I know there were people who were waiting for me to fail.   Waiting for me to admit defeat and with bags in hand and pride in a dumpster, see me at my lowest.   To date, that hasn’t happened.   Close calls sure, but I’ve fought and learned and have kept afloat. So I guess hanging curtains is a good sign that I’m going to be okay.   It’s my way of thumbing my nose at my critics, few that there are, and maybe even giving them the one finger salute.   Like a “fuck you! I’ve hung curtains!   Take that, you rat bastards!” kind a moment that makes me feel both proud and a little embarrassed at the same time.   Rat bastards, really who says that?!?

So getting past the actual physical part of the hanging of the curtains, which I’ve yet to fully conquer but admittedly am well on my way to doing, what does hanging curtains mean?   What does it symbolize?  In a house, curtains seem to be the finishing touch.   You buy a house and you’re so busy with the big picture of financing and insurance and taxes and then there’s the issue of where is the garage door opener and the seal is broken on this window so where’s the lifetime guarantee papers.   You’re up to your ass in boxes and you can’t find your favorite sweater let alone a spatula to turn the eggs.   You in a spiral of trying to hold your house together while at the same time you’re trying to hold yourself together.   Curtains are the last thing you think about.   You’re just glad you have windows! So maybe once your head stops spinning and you’ve gotten some of your bearings, the little details begin to matter.   Like curtains.   Its life’s way of saying, ‘look at you! You’ve got your shit together for the most part.   Now for the detail work.”   Curtains are the minor details of life.   Not necessarily permanent, but definitely a sign that you’re getting there.   Curtains tell you that you’ve made it this far and the odds are ‘ever in your favor’.

I’m pretty damn proud of these curtains.   When I walk into the room, I’m drawn to them.   They give me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of badass that I’m a walking success story.   I feel good that I did this little home project myself even if I did have some help and even with that help I am still not finished.   And they really make the room look nice.

And maybe I’ll hang one more curtain and call it a day.   Maybe I’ll leave this last one, the one where I nailed the damn hook thing crooked and the angle is just all wrong for a left handed novice of hammering such as myself.   I’ll leave it as a reminder that yes, I’ve come a long way; but I’m nowhere near done yet!

Hang (your curtains) in there kittens!

Digging Below the Surface

Perception is reality.   We’ve all heard that.   You see two smiling faces in a photo, arms looped around each other, and you assume happy times.   Conversely, you see someone with an ACCESS card and you think drug addled bum. Our perception focuses on the shallow visual and so often times mistakes happiness for deep sadness or laziness or weakness for a struggle that we would never be able to fight.  We judge by what we see. And then we’re left looking like asses.

That’s why we need to take a minute to know the backstory.

By taking the time to understand a situation rather than quickly jumping to incorrect conclusions, we could actually become human again.   Today we live for soundbites and conflict.   We associate with parties or beliefs or paradigms that if we dug beneath the rhetoric or the ‘first impression’ we could discover that we had absolutely nothing in common with these affiliations. We would be forced to actually learn the facts, study both sides and form an independent thought. Instead, like a lamb, we allow ourselves to be herded into one corral or the other, hoping to become a sweater and not a stew.

We need to consider humanity.

We need to be more conscious of our country by starting with ourselves. Don’t sell yourself short by just following party lines or cries from a pulpit.   Make it your mission to learn for yourself. Read. Don’t watch.   Study history, not conjecture. Love first.   Hate only as a last resort. Let the lines blur until you see the person across the isle from you as human. No labels, no assumptions. Simply human.

And the beauty of it all is that you have to start small.   No, no, no….don’t you go out saving the world just yet.   Start with your neighbors…no better yet; start with yourself.   Look in the mirror and lose all your labels.   Overweight.   Underachiever. Unaccomplished.   Dependent. See yourself for the miracle you are.   Then look at your family and shred the labels. There’s no black sheep, or cry baby, or smart one. There are just humans with hopes and insecurities who are judging themselves enough for you both.   Take your judgment back. Allow them, and yourself, to be who they are. What a gift you would give; the gift of acceptance.

The start of a new week seems like as good as time as any to look beyond the superficial and get your hands dirty with humankind. Let’s try to know someone and resist the label.   Let’s try and be our own leaders and not dependent upon those who need the unquestioning masses for their own justifications.   And let knowledge and compassion be your divining rod when looking upon our fellow man.

We need a depth of understanding of the human plight.   And we need it now.

Peace, love and knowledge my friends! Namaste!

The List – The Art of Cohabitation

God, I love a list. It most likely plays into my slight (haha) compulsion disorder – never diagnosed but I can pretty much tell these things – that makes me love them so. Like that awesome golf swing or that beautiful kiss (notice my dear people which made the #1 spot), lists just do it for me. So I’m going to do it for you while I’m doing it for me and try and make it sound like its mutual.

Whatever your current living situation, be it blissfully alone or wonderfully coupled it’s about a 100% chance that you have, at one time, lived with another person. And I’m confident in that prediction because I’m going to include parents and children in the living with someone scenario.   In case you just met me, I don’t like to be wrong.   I find it alien and unpleasant.   So I try to always hedge my bets to continue what can simply be called the genius that is me.

But I digress…

Living with another human being poses some great obstacles that are often the cause of great strife in a household.   And usually – although not always (because I don’t want to be wrong here) – these disruptions to the tranquility co-existence can be avoided if one follows some simple rules.

Alas…the list!

  1. Unless you’re going to fold the entire load, take only what you need out of the dryer.   Let the dryer gods lord over the remaining laundry and protect them from the wrinkle gremlins.  That’s not to say that you have an open ended treatise with the gods…after a while they’ll assume you’re a lazy slob who doesn’t care about wrinkles and move on.   A final note:  don’t make this a habit or you’ll be scrambling for underwear because the washer-woman is on strike.
  2. Dirty clothes go into the dirty clothes basket.  Not beside it.   You get your crime posted on Facebook for doing that.
  3. Don’t bring a glass out at the exact moment your housemate is finishing the last of dishes.  You’re liable to have it inserted into your ass as a remembrance to ‘police your glass’-wear on a regular basis.
  4. Since we’re talking dishes and such, I’d like to also add that if someone has done nothing more than push a few buttons on a microwave in order to feed you; it’s still a lot more than you did and you should therefore be eternally grateful.  You’ll die if you don’t eat so someone popping a bowl of beef-a-roni in the microwave has literally just saved your life.   Give that person a thank you and refer to #3 above.
  5. Sandwiches made by someone else are way better than ones you make for yourself.   I can’t explain it but it’s a proven fact.   So spread the love and make ‘em a ham and cheese.
  6. The great toilet paper over or under debate is a damn waste of time. No one cares.  Not even me.   However, if it really bothers you, always be sure to put a new roll on with the tail the way you want.   Sneaky! (See what I did there, right?)
  7. It’s always a good idea to fold the towels neatly over the towel rack.  It looks nice, sure, but it also keeps your roomie from trying to suffocate you in your sleep because she’s straightened the towels five times that day.
  8. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re on the toilet staring at an empty roll.  You better hope you’ve chosen your words wisely in the moments/hours/years leading up to this unfortunate event.  Otherwise, it could be a long wait.
  9. Blankets don’t refold themselves.  They haven’t evolved to that point and apparently neither have you.  (As an aside, I even refold blankets at friends’ houses.)
  10. It’s not always the dog who farted.   I am not that dumb.   And the dog is not that gassy.    Otherwise, he’d float.
  11. And speaking of dogs or pets in general; they are usually on better terms with your housemate than you are at any given time.  So give Fido some cred; he’s probably more well-liked than you.
  12. And no, I don’t think you can have too many kittens.  And yes, there is a screening process for potential new cat parents.
  13. If you live with a female or, god forbid, many females, it’s is more than imperative to consult the calendar as to monthly schedules.   If you are feeling particularly snarky and want to exercise some of that new-found wit you’re so proud of, make sure she’s not getting ready for her period.   A fate worse than death awaits you’re sarcastic ass if you decided that day 21 is the perfect time to tell her she’s anything less than perfect.

I can go on, but I think I’ve made my point.   It’s a tricky business trying to live with someone and it’s not for everyone.   But with a little time and patience and ample amounts of wine, chocolate and red meat, living together can be quite fun!

Now get out there and cohabitate!