These things are hard right now.

25 02 2012

1. Homeschooling. As the kids get older, I feel more and more inadequate. I don’t have the time or energy or ability to teach them the way I probably should. And I lean farther from unschooling the older they get since I want (need?) them to be able to jump into schooling at some point should it become necessary for our family or should it become desirable at the high school level. Yes, I’m thinking about high school. My daughter turns ten in just about two months, and there’s only one more year of elementary school and lord knows middle school will fly by. At least daily I feel overwhelmed and inadequate staying with homeschooling, but there are so many reasons it still feels right for our family that I really don’t want to give up just yet.

2. Financial concerns. Honestly, this is a point in my life where I am not worried about how I’m going to get through the month. And I feel very blessed by that. But it comes with its own concerns which have me fretting. I recently had to answer a question which asked if I was more laid-back or intense. Haha. I am fucking intense about everything. I am fucking intense about relaxing. So I’m extremely fucking intense about things that make laid-back people intense. Like money.

3. Routines. I like them. They feel good to me. And yet, I can’t seem to be able to follow them. I feel very discombobulated and vague, floating through my days without much direction. I try to create routines, but I honestly just forget.

4. I don’t feel cute lately. A few months ago I felt cute every day. Now I feel frumpy and/or boring every day. I’ve reverted back to just jeans and t-shirts because none of my skirts are doing it for me right now. WTF? And I can’t tell if this is a result of feeling yucky inside, or if I feel yucky inside because I feel un-cute outside.

5. I cannot quit beating myself up lately. I don’t know where this came from because I’d been doing pretty good about loving myself, but holy hell I just take a mental beating all day these days. I try to fight against it, but honestly it’s exhausting to do so, and I almost feel myself sinking, wanting to just give in so I can have some goddamn peace and quiet already. But all of these items above are just fuel for my mean voice and my strength just isn’t very strong right now.

6. I’m just feeling low lately. I don’t want to use the D-word because it feels melodramatic and I feel like I’ve used it too much. Like I should get new problems instead of revisiting the same ones over and over again. And also because I feel pretty happy on a surface level. But my feelings themselves are numbed. I wonder if this and maybe some of Item 5 are fallout from 2011. Like now that emotional things are settling down, I’m feeling the effects. God I hope so. I hope this is situational and will ebb away with time and love.

7. I’m battling two different government organizations over problems that are NOT MY FAULT but which are costing me respectively $700 and my kids’ ability to continue with the same dentist they’ve had their entire lives. So far I’ve learned that even though the government allows you to appeal things, it’s really more of an “appeal” if you get my drift. They write you a letter that shows very clearly they didn’t even bother looking at your appeal and tell you that you are denied. I really wish Douglas Adams hadn’t been so right about the Vogons. It’s really not even funny anymore.

Hopefully now that I’ve dumped, I can work through this and move on. And forgive this lack of an ending to this post. Pretend some really spectacular ending happened. Like pictures! Of my weird family!

family portrait

elliott is into making weird poses lately

my new favorite picture of my weird kids

no earthly idea what is going on here


18 01 2012

Yesterday I got peed on by a dog. So I decided to finally upload all the Happy Things I’ve been leaving on my phone for the last month or so, and post them here. I hope you don’t get peed on by a dog today or any day.

Happy Thing: A Gift for a Friend

Happy Thing: Winter Trees

Happy Thing: Perry Como

Happy Thing: A Sweet Sleeping Boy

Happy Thing: TV Dinner with Adventure Time

Happy Thing: Rainbow Yarn

Happy Thing: Gluten-Free Pancakes at The Broken Yolk

Happy Thing: Trees Covered in White Blossoms

Worst. Year. Ever.

10 12 2011

What is the best and/or worst thing about your life right now?Dana

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. <—-Excuse me while I lose what remains of my sanity all over your computer. This year has been, well, a fucking motherfucker. And I'm so glad this prompt is encouraging me to do this because for awhile now I've seriously considered writing a list of all that's happened this year so that I can go back whenever I doubt myself and see that I wasn't being melodramatic at all. This happened.

1. I decided to leave my marriage.
2. Despite it being the best option, there were some dark times for me through the winter.
3. And then he moved out and I spent the next month rearranging the house.
4. I was extremely broke during the spring. One month I made $200.
5. And then I was invited to New York to do a spot for the Today Show for SOAM.
6. So I had to figure out how to plan for and schedule and then have a trip to New York on zero dollars (helped in large part due to the fact that flights and hotels were taken care of, of course).
7. And then they said I wasn't going to New York, but that they'd come to my house instead.
8. So I had to figure out how to have my house suitable for NATIONAL TELEVISION (helped in large part to the fact that my house is kind of awesome in general these days).
9. And then they were all, "haha, just kidding. nvrmnd."
10. *sigh*
11. And then it turned out that, while running all over town on Matt Lauer's newest whim, I'm missed the deadline to turn in my paperwork for food stamps and was in danger of losing them. So I spent FOUR DAYS trying to get through on the phone.
12. Only to find I'd hadn't missed the deadline at all. Well, not until I spent FOUR DAYS not being able to get through to them.
13. But it was OK because I ran directly to the office that day and turned it in and all was good.
14. And somewhere in that month someone stole my debit card number so I had to deal with all that in the midst of Matt Lauer/food stamps drama.
15. June was OK, I think.
16. And then my mom died.
17. And all her neighbors hated me.
18. And her house was horrible.
19. And it hurt so, so much.
20. And so we began cleaning out her house and her storage. And it took three months.
21. And in September all my body parts suddenly went numb.
22. But it turned out to be just stress!
23. Duh.

And there have been so, so many other small issues. Like stupid banks, or stupid housing development employees, or surprisingly not stupid DMV employees, but stupid neighbors who used to be DMV employees.

My mom used to have a magnet on her fridge (which I’m sure I’ve already said here, but that’s totally my style: telling the same stories. get used to it) that said, “You are not stopped by the mountain in your path but by the small rock in your shoe.” Word. My hardest days are often the ones where it’s just tons of little shit chipping away at my resolve. And when you add those things into a year like the one I’ve had, I just feel so tired. And you know what? I AM SO GLAD 2011 IS ALMOST OVER.

And now for some recent Happy to balance things out.

Happy Thing: Baking Cookies With the Kids

Happy Thing: Downpour

Happy Thing: Leaves Crunching

Happy Thing: Sending Nerdy Texts

Happy Thing: An Autumn Afternoon

Happy Thing: A New Skinny, Nerdy Yule Tree

Happy Thing: The Countown (to Yule) Begins!

Happy Thing: My New Baby

Recent Happies

29 10 2011

I haven’t been focusing on The Happy much at all. That isn’t to say that I’ve been unhappy, but I certainly haven’t been meditating on it, or taking photos with the intent of making them into prayers of happiness. I don’t know why, really. Maybe a combination of September kicking my ass, a little apathy, a lot of intense busy-ness while we prepared for and executed the estate sale (not to mention all the paper and photo sorting I’m still in the middle of), and a fair amount of guilt over too many iPhone pictures, and it just kind of slipped away. So I am going to try to make this a priority again, assuming I can remember – once I lose a habit it’s hard to re-create it than it is the first time. Feel free to remind me if it happens to occur to you. And now here’s some Happy from the last month (all iPhone all the time). I may not have focused on it at the time, but I’m doing it all now.

Happy Thing: Finding this Monstrosity.
“It’s a horse taking off a human costume.”

Happy Thing: Sunrise From Bed

Happy Thing: A Giant Shiny Light Bulb To Play 7 Days In

Happy Thing: She Fell Asleep on Me While Watching TV

Happy Thing: Sunset

Happy Thing: Kermie Finger Nails and Freshly Knit Hand Warmers

These are the anxieties I’m focusing on this week.

15 09 2011

Happy Thing: A Happy Tattoo from Bethany

I woke up feeling bitchy and depressed and I knew it wasn’t PMS, because I’d already had my Sad Day this week, and then I figured it out – many anxieties piled together make me overwhelmed which is just damn depressing. So I’m listing them here in the hopes that it will work to free my heart of them and bring back some of The Happy.

~Elliott’s gut. He’s having some, er, slowing of his system and while I’ve been working with it for awhile now, things just aren’t getting better. I’m nervous about that and afraid that it’s going to cause bigger issues if we can’t get it resolved yet. Actually, I’m nervous it may have already caused bigger issues. I don’t know if those fears are grounded or just pure fear, but there it is. Solution: I already have a call in to his doctor. We’ll see what she says when we hear back from her today.

~The Smell. My mom’s house smelled of smoke and, um… I don’t know, old people? She was a smoker, but she wasn’t your average smoker. She lived with the curtains and windows always closed and she did not clean her home often (and by “often” I mean “more than every few years”) or well. That means the smells permeated deeply into things. Some of the things I’ve cleaned have a thick layer of yellow tar all over them. Some of the things don’t seem to release the smell at all, plastics in particular. So we are bringing some of her things here and while the items themselves I find to be quite useful (I need a new dresser and have wanted a trunk for years now) I’m afraid to actually bring them in my home. I can’t tell if I’m bringing the smell into my home and just not smelling it because I’m becoming used to it. And then sometimes I catch a whiff of something and I can’t tell if it’s just my imagination, wind blowing smells in from the things still outside, or some of the things I’ve brought in. Solution: I don’t know. Asking people to come sniff my house? I’m extremely uptight about this, and absolutely terrified that I might bring the smell into my life. I suppose there is a deeper psychological connection there, but I’m also just afraid of smelling bad. I don’t know what, if anything, will really solve this problem and anxieties without solutions are the most difficult to handle.

~Finances. Just the average financial worries of a single, WAH, homeschooling mom. I’m feeling guilty for spending too much at Starbucks this summer (not to mention the sugar). Plus some decisions may or may not have to be made about the future in the coming months. Solution: Focusing on peace and how The Universe and my Oak Tree are always looking out for me. “All things are perfect exactly as they are.” Repeating that helps to let go the worries.

~Overwhelm. I’m so busy with my mom’s stuff, both the legal end and the physical end, and with trying to get back on top of work, and with trying to re-re-build my life, I haven’t even begun to look at what sorts of school stuff the kids need to be doing. Luckily they are taking classes on Mondays now which I think will cover their samples needed to turn in to the charter school we use (as well as allow me time to run errands and get work done). Solution: Focusing on the fact that this year has quite royally sucked for me, and how it’s OKAY to take a break from formal education and focus on unschooling and family togetherness for awhile while I get shit back under control.

I’ve been really bad about keeping up with The Happy lately. I’m just so tired (either physically or emotionally or both) that I’m too exhausted to even think about it. First step is to get my house reorganized again so I can have space to plan and think. Second step is to set myself some routines to follow, making time for healing activities (I had another dream about an un-cared-for cat last night). Then I have to follow those routines. Then, I think I’ll be able to keep up with at least my usual amount of duties and all I’ll need is a personal assistant to do the rest. Also winning the lottery wouldn’t hurt anything.

Here’s some recent Happy.

Happy Thing: Thunderheads

Happy Thing: Lavender Lemonade Popsicle

Happy Thing: A Rainy Afternoon

Happy Thing: The Way He Wrapped His Arm Around Me and Fell Asleep

Happy Things

21 07 2011

Happy Thing: Finding a Giant Union Jack for the Couch in the Closet
Finding a Giant Union Jack for the Couch in the Closet

Happy Thing: A Mall Full of Awesome Nerdiness
A Mall Full of Awesome Nerdiness

Happy Thing: Giant Screwdrivers Make Awesome Swords
Giant Screwdrivers Make Awesome Swords

Happy Thing: First Lost Tooth
First Lost Tooth

Happy Thing: Blueberries in a Fancy New-Old Bowl
Blueberries in a Fancy New-Old Bowl

Happy Thing: Treat Reciept!
Treat Reciept!

Happy Thing: GF Pizza and Dates for Dinner
GF Pizza and Dates (Not Poo!) for Dinner

Happy Thing: Threadless Clearance
Threadless Clearance

And there’s some pictures on the actual camera, too (not just the phone, I mean) but I haven’t the energy to deal with those yet.

The Sad and the Happy

30 06 2011

1. I’ve been having random anxiety attacks this week. They are not about anything serious, but sometimes they are in the middle of the night, interfering with my sleep (which, in turn, interferes with my ability to handle them like a sane person) and the sheer amount of them is tiring. Like a bunch of preschool bullies ganging up on me. Except anxiety attacks and not small children. So that much less cute. Also that much less creepy if you happen to live in a horror movie.

2. My son has been getting hives again this week. In the middle of the night. He’s had mysterious hives twice before in his life, both incidences occurring during the summer months. The last time was two summers ago, but I always wondered if they’d come back. We never found a cause and it’s frustrating and a little scary and so very sad to watch him feel so miserable.

3. Add those two items together and count me too tired to have to deal with:

4. Lots of “growth” in my life right now. I put growth in quotes, not because it’s untrue, but because it feels more like “shit” at the moment and somehow that made it seem like it deserved sarcasm.

5. Also lots of judgement in my life right now. I don’t know why it’s wearing on me so much right now, but I just can’t tolerate people making judgments about other people right now and it makes me mad and sad and bitchy and it makes me open my big fat mouth and try to nicely tell people to STFU. And I don’t know why it feels so personal right now, perhaps because as I move farther into low-income status I feel more judged myself. It may also be that as I move farther into my work with SOAM and TIAW I see more sides to more stories and I feel hurt for people who might not have the same opportunities as other people, and it pisses me off when people get all snobby about the choices others make. Either way, added to everything else, it’s drained me this week.

6. PMS. Need I say more?

Now that I’ve vented all that, here’s some recent Happy:

Happy Thing: Reading Harry Potter to Margie

Happy Thing: Jacarandas in Bloom

Happy Thing: Quietly Enjoying the Beach While The Kids Play

Happy Thing: FANCY ASS Mochas in a FANCY ASS Chocolate Shop

Mother’s Day Happy (via Instagram)

8 05 2011

mother's day breakfast
Beakfast: pancakes, bacon, fruit, coffee.

wtf did she get to be 16?
Daughter: way too grown-up looking.

Balboa Park: free guided tour.
botannical building

art museum

museum of man

fig tree roots

Free organ concert: in the rain.

rainy day

yellow shoes, witchy socks, umbrellas everywhere
Socks: extra cute.

largest coffee evah
Coffee: extremely large. And fancy.

i heart daleks
Daleks: basing on the Cybermen.

mother's day dinner
Dinner: roast beast, tots, slaw.

Happy Thing: Motherhood
Happy: me.

Begone, Scary Monster Eyes and Six-Foot-Tall Spiders!

7 05 2011

Over the years, for a variety of reasons, our patio and back yard fell into disuse. We had too much stuff, I had to focus my energy on the part we had to live in rather than the outsides, the brown widows literally invaded the city in one summer and our back yard stupidly has no access out except through the house which makes removal of spidery yard waste difficult and anxiety-causing. Whatever reasons or excuses, it was unpleasant. And my goal this year has been to transform my home into a place that is pleasant, free of clutter and peaceful. About a month ago I cleaned up the back yard and today I did the patio. While I never took before pictures to spare myself the embarrassment, I did create some shockingly realistic reenactment photos for you. You’re welcome.

Patio – Before:

patio reenactment

At times in the past, the patio’s been so cluttered you could hardly walk in it, let alone enjoy it or want to glance in the direction of it. Much of the extra stuff left with the husband, I tossed some more things I felt we no longer needed, and I chopped down the jungle that had sprung up due to the unusual amount of rain we got this winter. I am pretty sure there were monsters hiding in it, as you can clearly see in the reenactment photograph.

Here’s what it looks like now (which I’m sure is a complete shock to you, what with all my mad photoshop skillz).

Happy Thing: No More Scary Monster Eyes

This is what the shelves look like now. They aren’t pretty (well, there’s a patch I rather fancy, circled for your convenience), but since I don’t have a garage, they are quite necessary. I’m open to ideas for making them less garagey while also not creating extra hiding spaces for those widow jerks (spiders. my neighborhood is not infested with actual widows acting like jerks). The car seat will be tossed as soon as I get my hands on a sledgehammer with which I can destroy it.


Into the back yard.


(And I don’t wanna hear from you about how the orange is hard to read. It was too late to change the color. For some reason that made sense at the time.) Three summers ago the brown widows came to my town. These spiders are not native to San Diego and were first sighted and recorded in 2004 and now their range covers nearly the entire county. Those bitches breed like mad. I’ve seen them with four or five egg sacs. And they don’t stay to remote corners the way the black widows do (perhaps because their sheer numbers cause them to run out of space?) so they’ll be in places you frequent far more often than the native black widows. The summer they arrived in my back yard, the population went off like a damn bomb. We pretty much stopped going in the back yard at all. We had some camping chairs out there that became a large metropolis for them. In addition to random trash like that, the Ex Husband also created a few “compost” heaps. He was fond of them and no amount of logic could sway him from piling more leaves and twigs onto them. While they did, indeed, create some new earth, most of it was just a pile of leaves and sticks, even years later.

This is what the back yard looks like now:

And the other side:

geranium & hose

those bitches grow fast

That pepper tree in the corner there? Was definitely NOT there the last time I looked (*cough*three years ago*cough*). Those bitches grow fast. (They are also non-native and invasive. I’m allowed to call ecosystem-imbalancing plants and wildlife bitches.) (I really, really love parenthesis.)

Technically, the Spider Metropolis (i.e. camping chairs) are still in the yard, so these photos were strategically taken. My landlord promises to move them for me by tossing them over a series of fences rather than bringing them through the house. I expect this to happen in 2016. And once they are gone, despite my inclination to put some sort of chair or table out there or on the patio, I have made a firm decision not to. The yards are lovely now and simple. Adding things back there will only create more places for the widows to live (this time I’m referring to actual widows) (haha, kidding!) and be more for me to maintain. Maybe someday, if I prove to be responsible with what I currently have, then I’ll allow myself a bistro set on the patio and maybe some flowers in the back yard. For now, I’ll enjoy my spaces without anything permanent in them.

And for the future? I’d like to get a shade built for the patio and, if possible, find a way to cover the items on the shelves (not to mention protect them from heat and sun – even shaded it will get warm out there), add more wind chimes (especially in the tree in the back yard) and possibly someday find a simple way to put fairy lights up around both living areas. For now, though, it just feels good to be neatened up.

As for the house, I still get a thrill of happiness when I walk in and see my lovely living room, neat and clutter-free. Every single day.

Before/After, Happy Things, and 7 Days Ketchup. PS. This Got Deep

21 03 2011

I mean catsup (spell check wants me to change that to “Datsun”. Seriously). I mean catch up.

After two weeks of intense Spring Cleaning, some friends came to help me move some stuff around the living room. The furniture was not only too heavy for me, but I also don’t know things like How to Put a Computer Back Together. Besides those important details, I wanted to focus on energy. I wanted to change the house to get a different energy flowing. I wanted friends to help me accomplish that. Despite my deep love and craving for ritual and ceremonies, I also am a strong believer in the ritual of Just Doing. In other words, the simple act of these amazing women coming and helping me was a ceremony, their mere acts of love in moving things around for me did plenty of energy cleansing without ever casting a circle or saying a prayer. That’s not to say circles or prayers aren’t necessary – they are – but they aren’t the only way to do spiritual work.

And did I mention that our ritual-less ritual happened to happen on the full moon? Indeed, the SUPERMOON! which was, in fact, incredibly startling even though I’d been waiting weeks for it. Despite the fact that by the time I got to my good camera, the moon was already high enough that the size difference is entirely unnoticeable in this photo, I had to take it anyway, just to mark the occasion.

Happy Thing:  SUPERMOON

Over the last years as I struggled to learn who I am in terms of clutter and mess, I’ve bounced back and forth between trying to Embrace the Mess and trying to Exterminate the Mess. I felt chaotic bouncing back and forth, but it’s taught me what I can and can’t handle. Kid messes? Can totally handle. Messes from art or baking? Yup. Clutter squirreled away in every tiny crevice and corner? I cannot. It saps my sanity and energy. Over these last years I’ve discovered I don’t truly hate cleaning, in fact I find it spiritually cleansing to have clean and organized corners and shelves. The act is cleaning is, in fact, inseparable from the act of spiritual cleaning.  What I do hate is the endless mess that follows me around, taunting me and making it clear I’ll never be done.

In the process of these last weeks, I’ve cleaned dust from nearly every corner. And I don’t mean just a layer of dust. I mean dust cakes. It’s such a metaphor for our marriage. Wipe down the surfaces, ignore the deep shit and pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does. And it grows yuckier by the year.  But now it’s gone and I’m clean. And to be honest I can’t say it will never build up again (by the way, now we are speaking of literal dust. I dropped the metaphor without telling you – sorry about that). I was never taught how to clean and, frankly, it’s something that’s difficult to learn since there aren’t many self-help books that teach what should be obvious to people like: Clean the top of your fridge. Dust off cords once in awhile. Instead I have to figure things out slowly, noticing one thing at a time until I’ve built up a good repertoire of mad cleaning skillz to keep things in order. But I’m at a good beginning place. Things are almost entirely organized now, clutter is practically non-existent, and I’m 13 years ahead of where I was when I first moved out of my mother’s home in terms of knowing how to clean and also in knowing what I want out of a home.

And so here is the before, taken in December, and the after, taken yesterday.

7 Days: Day 6 (Peek Into My Chaos)

7 Days: Day 2 Looking Down on My New Space

I knew it felt cluttered before, but not until I visually compared the two was I able to fully realize how very claustrophobic the house felt before. And, to be clear, this is not the only reason we could no longer live together, but it is relieving – for both of us, I’m sure – to be able to breathe freely in our own very different styles. To be clearer, that second photo is somewhat bare for me. There are a couple pieces of furniture I hope to afford in the future, and something needs to get put up on the walls soon. But the cleanness is just very Happy.

7 Days: Day 3 (Ostara)

And today? Today is Spring. It is the time of new beginnings. Ostara, the Vernal Equinox, is the time when the day and night are perfectly balanced – one of my favorite times of year. I love balance. I thrive in it. It is my sanity, my hold on to Life itself. Today I balanced on giant rocks. Granite which is the very foundation of my home. Which, through countless years of erosion, is gifted to us in small glimpses of the solidness and slow power of Ground. Despite the bitter cold in the air and the morning’s downpour, these rocks radiated with gentle warmth from the sun. They feel of power and strength, the masculinity of Mother Earth exposed. Each time I encounter one I am amazed how spiritually filling it is simply to touch it.

Happy Thing: Sitting on a Sun-Warmed Rock

And so I’ve cleaned out the corners of my home and Spirit, and I’ve balanced myself between outdoors and in. And now let’s enjoy the flowers and the breeze for summer’s on the way, a time of warmth and light and sun and life. Blessings!


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