Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘balance’

In Search of What’s up

Have you ever been so tired that even your fingernails hurt? That’s how I felt the last few nights after a long days of manual labor. Hard physical work is good for the body but my body keeps screaming, “You’re too old for this.”

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

 

Once cooler weather arrived, I was out the door trying to get the projects done that were on the list from the HOA. These are required to be done for this home that was not well cared for the past 10 years. I let a lot slip by when assessing this place for purchase. Now I really pay. In addition, I have a list of my own of things that I want done outside. My mind is totally occupied with these lists and the work being done.

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

 

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

I pressure washed the driveway side of the fence.  Tech Support did most of the rest of the fences. Now all four sides are done and ready to stain. I’m ready to do it too. I’m not sure if my body agrees. Hopefully the weather continues to cooperates and keeps the intense heat at bay.

 

Each morning I have been planting flowers and ground cover called stepables. You can walk on them just like grass and don’t have to mow. I am tired of mowing weeds so they had to go. Ground cover went down a little at a time. I used a lot of cardboard then weed block cloth. We aren’t allowed to have weeds here. I think you can be evicted for them. They give you a warning first.

 

I had 5 yards of bark dust delivered. I measured the yard and asked how much it would take to cover it. I really thought they were wrong and almost ordered 10 yards. Tech Support talked me out of it. Thank goodness!

The amount is hard to explain. It's a LOT!

The amount is hard to explain. It’s a LOT!

 

It took 3 hours of me working alone to shovel it out of the driveway into a 4 wheeled cart so it could go out back. Then Tech Support arrived home and worked with me another 2 and a half. As we were getting to the last of the pile, a neighbor boy showed up who had helped move my boulders when I moved in. He wanted to help. He was bored, like most teenagers when school is out. He has some developmental difficulties but is a good young man and a hard worker. I offered him $10 dollars and he had the rest shoveled and in the back yard in less than 30 minutes. Best $10 I ever spent.

From the driveway to the other side of the house

From the driveway to the other side of the house

What’s left is spreading the bark mulch, placing landscape logs between it and the river rock that I placed around the perimeter of the house to keep mud off, staining the fences, painting the house, and pressure washing the front porch so it can be resealed. All before autumn rains.

Going this way too

Going this way too

In addition to all the planting on the terraces, I found a need to spray paint my plastic chairs that I keep up there to rest a minute. My next door neighbor on the porch side kept asking if I would give them back to her as she needed them now. She started asking other neighbors if they would get her chairs for her. Each time she asks, I explain they are mine and I brought them with me. That satisfies her for a few moments but with Alzheimer’s, it’s an endless loop. I spoke to her son and he had locked her chairs up because she kept bringing them into the house. I finally convinced him to put one on her porch for her. Making mine a different color was the easiest solution. Alzheimer’s is something I would not wish on anyone.

My chair on the hill

My chair on the hill

My Chair on the hill after

My Chair on the hill after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love summer because we can be outside. I enjoy all the work and find much of it meditative. It just doesn’t leave much of me for anything else. I’ll pop back by when I can but you can bet I’m probably up to my elbows in stain, paint or dirt.  Maybe next summer will be a little less work and leave more time for the writing I haven’t been able to concentrate on.

I didn't paint it but it's too true.

I didn’t paint it but it’s too true.

 

That’s what’s up in my world, what’s up in yours?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

In Search of the Handbasket

The week has been quite busy for me doing not very creative things. Just more of the same old stuff like cooking, laundry, holding boards, and packing. The buyers are having some difficulty but we aren’t giving up yet. Either way, the work still needed to be done. My feet are giving up though. They announced their retirement at 5:30 yesterday and said enough. If I had a nickel for every time we have gone up and down those stairs, I could take us out to dinner. I never want to see stairs again.

The tiny shrubs I planted 2 years ago are big but gangly.

The tiny shrubs I planted 2 years ago are big but gangly.

We have no TV channels here at my son’s house and don’t have the time to watch anyway. At the end of the day, the computer takes care of business and I don’t want to look at bad news anyway. You’ve heard many people say over and over in different ways for many generations that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Well, I’m wondering what their handbasket looks like. From where I sit here in front of my laptop, I see substantial evidence of a different world and a different handbasket.

One handbasket coming up.

One handbasket coming up.

I was reading The Contented Crafter latest post on her blog and once again am totally enthralled by her ability to take little bits of this, that and nothing much GIFTED to her by fellow bloggers from all over the world and turn it into an amazing work of art. Even if you are not a blogger, you should pop by and see some of the wonders of her mind. Her stories of Siddy and Orlando (fuzzy family) leave me giggling for hours.

If this is what a world going to hell in a handbasket looks like, sign me up for one of my own. I see things I could not have ever imagined before I started reading blogs. Who knew what wonders lurked out there? Sweet, kind and caring Gardening Nirvana introduced me to the world of Fairy Gardens that are just delightful. I want one of those baskets too. Add that to her introduction to Little Free Libraries and I was all in.

I shared with you already the delights I received from the hysterically funny and creative Boomdeeadda. When you drop by you will see her magical creations from little else other than paper!

The handbasket I’m carrying these days is filled with a collection of blogging friends who fill my day with mirth, entertainment and motivation when my spirits are lagging.

Lavender is huge but refreshes the soul. Grabbing a handful for my basket

Lavender is huge but refreshes the soul. Grabbing a handful for my basket

My friend at To Breathe is to Write writes stories that make me laugh or get my mystery fix satisfied. She can spin a yarn or tell it like it is. When I find someone’s blog I like, I check out the people who leave comments or follow her or him. That leads to a lot of great blogs and enlarges my community. This list could go on and on, so maybe I need a larger handbasket?

It's still not big enough for all the kindness I've seen lately

It’s still not big enough for all the kindness I’ve seen lately

Bells Palsy normally only lasts a few weeks or months for most, just like Shingles. Same virus, different expression. I’m heading into the 5th year with this.  I was under extreme stress when I got it and it expressed itself very much like a stroke. Balance is a continuing issue as well as the visual disturbance it caused. Huh, what did you say? I don’t hear as well either. No one knows why it won’t go away or how to fix it. It really doesn’t matter anymore. I now have a life full of friends in town and online that are constantly motivating me. When I see their creativity and thoughtfulness, there is no time to wallow. I just roll up my sleeves and get busy.

Roses, like good friends are treasures.

Roses, like good friends are treasures.

 

You can’t tell me the world is all bad. It’s like picking flowers to put in your basket from the yard. Which flowers do you want in that basket? I’ve found the flowers with the kindest energy out there. My basket is filled with beautiful blooms.

What are you putting in your handbasket? It’s always your choice.

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the States.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

In Search of Better Balance

Have you noticed my posts getting farther and farther apart? I’ve been feeling quite badly about it but can’t afford to stress even a little. I mentioned a few posts back that I had taken on a bit more these days than previously. As the winter weather let go its icy grip, signs of life showed up in my apartment in a big way.

Note at mailboxes said "Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048." It worked.

Note at mailboxes said “Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048.” It worked.

My daughter helped me pull out several large boxes of craft materials from the far reaches of my garage. I rent a garage to store things so as not to be too cluttered up here. Riiight! One of the boxes was from a new toilet if that gives you any idea of the size. When I moved out of my home 4 years ago, we pretty much tossed stuff in boxes and hoped for the best. I wasn’t in the best of shape then. The other box was almost that large and I have found several boxes of old photos as well. Have you ever started looking at photos and been able to stop? I spent a whole week going through, sorting a bit and tossing a lot of duplicates.

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

With all the joining I have done to make friends in my new home, I’ve overloaded myself a bit with classes and projects. I’ll have some photos of the finished work shortly. Little by little, I’m starting to find how much I can do and what needs to be eased off from. Setting limits is something new for me.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

But the kind of balance I’m talking about here has more to do with my Bells Palsy than my creative endeavors. Since acquiring health insurance this year, I have the opportunity to get some medical assistance for the balance. A new acquaintance at the quilting group let me know my HMO had vestibular integration therapy available. The first job was to get a different primary care doctor. The last one was quite dismissive. That done, I requested some therapy to get my eyes working together again which in turn, helps with my standing balance. If I’m in a dark room, I start to tip over and closing my eyes, well let’s just say that’s a dangerous move when standing.

After a trip to a neurologist, (the third one in four years) I was allowed to get physical therapy for my balance. I have exercises to do twice a day. Some are standing holding onto my kitchen counter for support. (I don’t have a chair) The rest are sitting and turning my head and looking up and to the side that is unaffected. I’ve found I must do these when I don’t have to drive anywhere. Oddly, they add to the dizziness but I’m going to do whatever I can to get well.
Even after four years, I am noticing movement in some parts of my face that was flaccid and I can almost make a complete smile. Still a bit odd-looking but hey, I’m happy with any improvement.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Funny how much I took for granted before Bells hit like a hammer. Unfortunately, healing of any nature still requires lots of rest. I’m not a fan. Moving and doing have been how I lived in the world, now I rest a whole darn bunch. Hang in there with me a bit longer. We shall see how effective these exercises are.

Have you ever taken your health for granted and wound up with a major wakeup call? Do you believe your health is connected to your emotions and what’s going on in life or just something that happens?

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
~
Hippocrates

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Little Balance

The last week has been quiet and I’ve been unbalanced. I’m hoping it comes from the change in barometric pressure. When I get this tippy, I hold on for dear life.

Last week was the first time I’ve seen a doctor in three years. I have Medicare now and thought I’d get acquainted. As I walked down the narrow flat-yellow hall to the doctor’s office, I almost went completely over. I’ve never had that reaction before. It’s like the wall was moving. No one seemed concerned. The doctor wasn’t happy with me because I refused the flu and pneumonia shots. I take no medications and other than residual effects of Bells Palsy, I’m quite healthy and work to stay that way. He really didn’t want to address anything to do with the Bells.

So the time down has been spent reading a great deal. I received this little book for my birthday from my ex-daughter-in-law. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it. I don’t think we ever get done growing ourselves into who we want to be. The idea that we are supposed to stay the same while life changes all around seems ludicrous.

I was a sweet easy read. Gave me some food for thought.

I was a sweet easy read. Gave me some food for thought.

The mail last week brought this beautiful sympathy card from the wonderful Alys at Gardening Nirvana after I had to let sweet Gracie go to her final sleep. The colors in the card reminded me of another blogger I love to follow. I wonder who that could be? I had to sit with the kindness and thoughtfulness for several days. I’m not usually on the receiving end of these things. She is a woman of many talents and an extremely large heart. I love blogging just because I get to meet such terrific people. I mentioned to Bethany at Journey to Ithaca that you don’t have to see or talk to people to know their hearts. It comes out in their writing. There are so many like them that keep me going when the going gets tippy.

Loved the colors. Reminds me of someone?

Loved the colors. Reminds me of someone?

Little envelope inside card. All handmade.

Little envelope inside card. All handmade.

She made the whole envelope as well. How talented can a person be?

She made the whole envelope as well. How talented can a person be?

Not all my time has been spent in a book this week. My daughter was over on Saturday to bake chocolate chip cookies for her handyman friend. My kitchen is bigger and brighter so the baking goes so much easier. The cookies are for barter. The friend puts her AC unit in her window in early summer and removes it when the weather has turned cool. Yes, we are there once again. Since he will take no cash for the few minutes it takes and loves (homemade) chocolate chip cookies above all else, we put the oven to good use heating the apartment at the same time.

The other half went to work with her to entice them to hire her on permanent.

The other half went to work with her to entice them to hire her on permanent.

Since the temperatures have been dropping like a rock and I had the ingredients, I baked up another 9 dozen cookies and stored them out of my reach. Warmed up my toes and I’ll be ready to pass them out for all the holiday events. Yes, I start early. The holidays take a lot of energy so I have to be strategic with it. Sorry to bring the subject up to those that aren’t ready to deal with it. Cold weather does that to me. How are you bringing a little balance into your life? Are you finding the weather is throwing you more curves than you field? Is it summer, fall or winter where you live or changing every day?

“It’s not that I believe everything happens for a reason. It’s just that . . . I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.”Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Reasons to Celebrate

Labor Day falls on September 2 this year. The whole country gets a day off to rest or run; the choice is theirs. It was a labor day of a different kind 65 years ago in a tiny village in Germany. It’s still a tiny village, by the way. My mother labored a long time to give birth to a 13 pound girl (yes, you read that right) at home, with no anesthesia. She remembered nothing of that day and it took me awhile to understand why. Mom was a 2 pound baby, incubated in the oven at home and was never supposed to be able to have children. The four of us sure made a liar out of the doctor who told her that.

Main street. You can see beginning to end.

Main street. You can see beginning to end.

No motel or grocery, just a bar and convenience market. They sure are a friendly bunch though.

No motel or grocery, just a bar and convenience market. They sure are a friendly bunch though.

Why celebrate turning 65? That’s just getting old. Well after my birthday, I get Medicare. I have had no health coverage since my divorce a couple of years ago. Not that I need it, but it’s like car insurance, nice to have just in case. The other reason I celebrate is that I’m still here among the living and loving. My first husband only made it to 42. I’m grateful for each and every minute of pain and pleasure. I plan to celebrate big time…for me.

My daughter is taking me to my favorite German restaurant, Gustav’s, where after months and months of a very strict diet, I’m going to indulge in a good German beer, pretzel and cheese fondue, followed with a dinner I will probably end up taking home and topped off with their famous apple strudel. That’s MY idea of celebrating.

Is your mouth watering?

Is your mouth watering?

I have other reasons to celebrate. I’ve exceeded my weight loss goal by more than enough to indulge one day. It’s not easy by any means but I’m feeling sooo much better everyday as well. I think the Bells Palsy is improving as I’m needing the cane less and less for balance.

Another reason to celebrate is that this is my 100th post. I mainly post once a week unless fatigue overtakes me. Life is pretty simple for me and I want to keep my posts remotely interesting. As healing progresses, so will the variety of my writing. I’m still two months shy of my two-year blogiversary. Every time I get a bit discouraged, someone comes for a visit to my site and leaves an encouraging comment. Thank you all for reading and adding so much to my life. Each of you are treasures.

How and what are you celebrating this fine day of no labor?

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.~ Doug Larson

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself.

In Search of a Different Kind of Life

My sister came by this week for a short visit and was asking some very pointed questions. She was having a great deal of guilt because she thought she had cheated me out of a childhood. Even our mother admitted to friends that I raised the kids. My sister was sad that I could remember few joyful memories of my childhood. They were there; they just don’t stick like the hard times do. My joy came later when I had my children though it was balanced by the difficulty of my other relationships. I think that’s what life is, yin and yang, light and dark.

I assured my sister that my life has had many good moments and it continues to get better and better. I had the impression when I was very young that I came into the world to take care of people. It’s what my astrology and numerology chart say also. I’m the caregiver, nurturer, teacher, etc. I tell friends that I was born 108 years old. If our parents had been more capable, I probably would have found someone or something else to take care of, but as luck would have it, our parents had very little to work with or perhaps the plan all along was for me to be in charge of all of them. Yes, I raised mom too.

Grandpa holding my baby sister a  few months old.

Grandpa holding my baby
sister a few months old.

I read stories every day, of people with less than idyllic childhoods but most of the stories end up with these people growing into the most wonderfully capable, kind, caring people. Ours was not stable or nurtured but it certainly was interesting. Each of us turned out to be kind, caring, productive members of society.

When friends ask my sister why her life has been like a carnival ride, she tells them it was because a five year old raised her. We both know that’s only part of the truth. She came into the world with an agenda of her own. Part of that agenda was to challenge the world’s archaic thinking and she is doing a fine job of it. It’s a tougher job than any I’ve ever had. Her enthusiasm in life balances my stoic quietness. Thank goodness. Yin and yang once again.

Ready for the challenge

Ready for the challenge

She was all mine to love and discipline. Me at 9, she was 4

She was all mine to love and discipline. Me at 9, she was 4

I told my sister that we didn’t get the cottage home with a white picket fence and Mr. & Mrs. Cleaver weren’t our parents but we got something else. We had an adventurous life and an extraordinary bond. We were never afraid to say “I can do that”. There is still so much to learn and experience. We are still alive and the adventure is ongoing. There are questions to be asked and answered. Would I have traded any part of my life for a more carefree existence? I don’t think so. Our lives are different than most and continues to evolve in that direction. I am in a unique position to create the life I want to some degree. Other than this stupid illness (Bells Palsy), nothing is holding me back. Life is supposed to be fun but mostly, I want it to be interesting. Different, odd, unique, adventurous, even downright hard is better to me than ordinary. I volunteered for it and I wanted to make sure she had no guilt left when she left here.

Would you prefer simple and ordinary over hard and different?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Signs of Summer

The last week has been a rough one. The little bit of warmth we had for a week vanished bringing in rain, wind and winter temperatures. I actually broke down and turned on the heat again. That was especially necessary after I wound up with a bacterial infection that required antibiotics. I had a good laugh with the pharmacist when she explained that the medication could cause dizziness. Could I get any dizzier?? Uh huh. More on that subject much later. I’m still bouncing off the walls more than usual so getting anything done was tough. I get lazy when I’m not up to par.

Even my homework for writing class was sadly lacking in creativity. The prompt was gossip and I didn’t care for the subject matter. Making up a story was easier than trying to find three real life episodes of participation. I don’t enjoy gossip in any form. Maybe that’s why I spend so much of my time alone.

Can you see the stippling stitch around the design? My first try at it.

Can you see the stippling stitch around the design? My first try at it.

It’s hard to be creative when all your energy is going toward getting well and staying upright and warm. In spite of it all, I did manage to get a little done. My shirt is cut out and ready to sew. Wanting to get ready for the Memorial Day weekend, I planned out an embroidery in my software program and prepared the fabrics. I finally finished the project yesterday afternoon while my daughter was over drawing out her pattern for a shirt she is making. I’ll post photos later when the shirt is finished. Here is the wall hanging I did to encourage summer to make another appearance. I tried something I’ve never done before. I quilted around the design. It’s hard to see but my daughter liked the effect. I’ll try it again and get more practice.

This will hang through Labor Day.

This will hang through Labor Day.

I even ironed my little flags I’ve had for years. I’ll put one in the deck flowers when the rain stops. This one looks cute on the covered entrance to my door. They are for good Feng Shui as you enter.

Red flowers by the front door = good Feng Shui. The flag makes it better.

Red flowers by the front door = good Feng Shui. The flag makes it better.

I managed to get a rose-bush my sister gave me for Mother’s Day into a bigger pot to give it some room to grow. It was in a cute little tin pot but the heat on the roots in the sun didn’t seem like a good idea. I love yellow roses and want this one to survive. It’s had plenty of rain, now it needs a little sunshine. Come on sun!

I'm hoping this survives.

I’m hoping this survives.

I’m not complaining. I have nothing to complain about. Especially not the weather when so many parts of the country are hit with catastrophic weather. For so many, Memorial Day will include actual memorials. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered loss. My dad was a military man for 20 years, so my prayers are with all those that serve, have served and their families too.

a closer look

a closer look

Memorial Day usually signals the coming of summer which is really not for almost another month. We pretend that it’s here with the attempt at barbeques and warm weather clothes. My grill is under the eaves of the building to keep off the rain and I’ll be wearing a flannel shirt. How about you? Are there any signs of summer in your neck of the woods?

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ~ John Steinbeck

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself