Friday is usually a free day for me. Nothing scheduled. No certain place to be or by a certain time. This doesn’t mean that my day isn’t filled with the obligatory duties of laundry, dishes, and errand running, but I have a little less structure to the day.
I began this journey to find myself around last September, when the school year started. I decided to push the comfort zones even more beginning in 2016. While I love being a mom, I did not set aside time over these past 16 years to discover what I like and seek what hobbies or passions interested me.
I decided to try something new and wanted to give it a little name to make it more exciting. After much thought (yes, I spend way too much time analyzing and pondering these things) I decided on “Follow the Wind Friday”. I opted for this name because I don’t know what each Friday will hold (wherever the wind blows). I have been admiring a lot of calligraphy work. I decided that I wanted to make an attempt at some beautiful handwriting. In my search I learned that apparently being left-handed makes this task very hard, but not impossible. I watched some YouTube videos, bought some speedball elegant writer pens (I was a little intimidated by a true pen with a nib) and set to work.
Well I just couldn’t get it. I understand the concept, but can’t get the lines to be thin for the life of me. My local A.C. Moore has a pitiful selection, but I went back and bought a beginner calligraphy set. I didn’t opt for the other choice because it said on the package that it was for the right hand. I decided to try the medium point. It still seemed very thick and I couldn’t get the thin line thing. Plus, the pens spread and bled once they touched paper. Even with the paper included in the packet. I tried the fine point nib. The pen was definitely flimsy and wouldn’t really screw together; the ink wasn’t going into the right area either. I finally got it to work and still no successful handwriting. I wrote some fancy cursive because I really just wanted to scream. My husband came home during my fiasco with the fine point nib. I had also purchased a gel pen and a brush pen for fun because they were pretty blue colors that reminded me of the sea. Guess what?! They didn’t work! The chromatix was dry and the other probably was too because no amount of scribbling would make it work.
My husband commented about everything seeming to be stacked against my calligraphy venture. Not to be dissuaded, I went to the internet for more research. I came across this post for “faux” calligraphy and thought I’d give it a whirl with my gel pen.
Now it didn’t come out perfect, but I’m happy enough that I may not just chuck it all out the window and never try again. My daughter wanted to try the pens and she was impressed by my normal cursive. Impressed enough that she asked me to write out a quote for her. So that was success enough!
Maybe I’ll keep practicing the “faux” version and if I love it enough opt for a better pen. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for more videos and tutorials. And I’ll see “where the wind blows”.
I’ve decided that maybe I’ll be Paleo-ish. Yes, I like this term better. You might remember that when I decided to go wheat-free, my husband decided to jump on my healthy bandwagon, but he prefers the paleo version of life. Well, I cook the meals and while I am mostly trying to accommodate (sorry, but beans and rice and chili are my go-to easy meals in this house, and don’t qualify as paleo). Tonight, I decided to once again try a PaleOMG recipe, savory sweet potato meatloaf. The recipe can be found here. I was a little nervous because it is a recipe that calls for raisins (yes, you read that right, raisins).
At first I thought I might leave them out, then I thought I’d put them in only 1 of the 2 loaves. In the end, I just put it in both loaves (mostly because I was too lazy to separate them out!). I did mess up the recipe (I do that sometimes when I’m not sure on my first go round). I cooked all the bacon and mixed it into the loaf, instead of half cooked and the other half layering the top. Maybe it would have been prettier that way, but I don’t think it affected the overall recipe. I served it with some spinach that I sauteed in the cast iron skillet that was still a little coated in bacon grease ( I am loving using my cast iron pan. It was a wedding gift….so we’ve had it forever and I’ve used it more in the past year than in the 16 prior).
Everybody in the house loved it. I eat mine with mustard, everyone else is a ketchup fan. My daughter even had seconds. Which if you knew how limited her food selections were, you’d know that it was a rave review for this new recipe.
This photo is my most recent Instagram post. We are on our third snow day. That’s 5 days of kids being at home, people!! Sometimes it’s just been my own three, which is daunting enough, but other times we have had a load of others. And yes, sometimes mine have gone off. Although it has never been at the same time.
I am a person who requires some time alone in my head. This need for quiet, for moments of silence, a time for decompression, a time for ideas to float around and take root. My husband understands this about me. My children, I think, know this. But they do not understand it. And as much as they think that I am the queen of “no”, the reality is that most of the time I will put aside what I am doing to tend to their needs (or whims, as the case may be). I have gotten used to my hours of silence while they are at school and this forced confinement is beginning to to feel constricting.
I tried to get to my yoga class this morning. I drove around the gym parking lot three times before finally giving up. By that time the class had already started and I didn’t want to wait in the long line of cars, circling along with me, just to walk a treadmill. We all know how much I enjoy the treadmill. I think everyone else has cabin fever and is trying to get out, plus half the spots are missing to snow piles. I came home and tried a couple of times on the pull-up bar. I am so close that (and I don’t want to get too excited or anything) I think that it may not take an entire year to get it accomplished. I may have underestimated myself and need to increase the expectations on that goal.
I decided to take some pictures, hence the one above. I am also making headway on my reading challenge. I chose Walden because my journey includes changing my mindset about possessions.
I am a believer in the cluttered home = cluttered mind, which I learned about while applying Feng Shui to my house over the years. And yet, I have not overcome the clutter. While watching a video by my niece, Azalea, I learned about the KonMari method. I was completely intrigued and after talking to her about what she thought of the process, I checked the book out from the library and set to work. I made it through clothes and books pretty easily. I am now on paper, paper I have been on for weeks, and on paper will I continue to be. I am a list maker, an information gatherer, a visual learner, and a scraps of paper collector. I can’t sit down and go through it all at once. I do have a life outside of declutterer. I am having a hard time making forward movements in these trapped days of winter, but I am making forward movement. I love quotes and randomly came across this quote when I decided to begin a journey of self discovery. It’s written on my whiteboard in the kitchen. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slowly you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying – Tony Robbins.
In the stark, cold winter
The mighty tree stands bare
Stripped away of all its former glory
Now possessing strength that it didn’t know it had
Able to stand in majestic beauty, cloaked in white.
-Amy Lyon Smith
Silence. An emptiness of sound. A quiet hush upon the air. This is what a fresh blanket of snow means to me. I grew up in southern Florida, so snow is new to me, but silence is not. When you think of my hometown, Naples, you think of white, sandy beaches and balmy breezes. And while this is a magnificent feature of the town, which I relished in as a teen, I grew up farther inland. A place where you are surrounded by slash pines, palmetto bushes, cypress trees, and flat land as far as the eye can see. My parents were city kids who fixed up an old school bus into a home, drove it out to some land they had bought in the middle of nowhere and began a life with a three year old (that’s me). But that story is for another time. The silence of the country, with only the sounds of the animals in the woods and the stars being the only light surrounding you, brings a feeling of comfort to my soul.
The Apple Tree.
I knew that silence would be what I would get to experience on Saturday morning, after the winter storm finished its work. I live near a road in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that people use as a cut through, and there are cars that pass by frequently. This day, only the occasional snow plow would be passing by and I wanted to relish the silence. I wanted my footsteps to be the first to walk to apple tree in my front yard. To experience some kind of one with nature as I walked there. This apple tree has been there longer than the two years I have spent in this home. Part of it is dead and will need removed. The other part produces apples, but not ones that we eat.
Those apples fed the doe who entered my yard everyday and ate from it. When she stopped returning, I saw a doe and fawn very near my house, in the direction from which she would always come. I like to think my apple tree nourished her throughout her pregnancy.
The Giant Tree.
I also wanted to walk over to the giant tree that sits alone upon the hill across the street. This tree can be seen from my kitchen, my back porch, and from my front yard. I drive past it on my way home. It is huge, and it calls to me. I wonder how old it is and what changes it has seen. I cannot begin to estimate its age, but I would guess that it would take 3 grown men with a decent wingspan to get their arms around its trunk. It has been here for longer than I have and I imagine it will be still be standing there long after I am gone.
I stand there in the silence under its branches. I have an urge to just sit there and rest my back upon it looking high up into its branches, but there is snow and I have no proper winter clothes. So I stand there and watch the birds flit here and there, singing in the early morning and I am reminded of a quote I recently read – A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, but because it has a song -Maya Angelou. I think about the journey that I have been on… a journey with God, a journey with myself… and I still don’t have an answer, but I have a song. I am growing and I am changing. I have followed where he has led.
Winter storm Jonas has descended upon us here in Virginia. Being the Florida transplants that we are, my daughter decided to turn the old soft top surfboard (which has rotated out of use) into a sled. Friday was a snow day and my kids fully embraced that. I, however, was fully awake at 6:30 A.M. What’s that about?! I don’t even wake up that early on school days. Before I crawl out of my cozy bed, I usually push the “I’m awake” button on my Fitbit app. I noticed that it said I only got in 9,999 steps last night. I’m quite irritated because I was so close at the end of the night that I paced around until it vibrated and jumped into bed (Note to self: walk 5 extra steps after it vibrates or verify it on the app). Not that it completely matters since I’m only in a competition with myself, but I wanted the dang thing to turn green!!
My boys were in and out of the neighborhood with friends. My daughter was mostly nearby so I used her as my photography muse. I also was sure to get in my steps and stair around the house. When I’m cold, I have a tendency to just want to sit around. I also wanted to see if I could do some push-ups and was excited by the 4 that I cranked out. My middle child told me that I had good form. This made me smile really big on the inside. He does not hand out compliments on a regular basis. Of course, later I had to show my husband that I could do them and managed 3 more.
We also practiced some yoga poses. It was a lot of fun to have the 2 kids that were home try them with me. I am also getting a little higher on my pull-up journey.
I did a little reading for a reading challenge that I’m doing. I got a little sidetracked as I tend to do and was very amused with myself (but that’s for a later post).
We watched Sharknado (we are behind the times and figured we should catch up seeing how it’s a cult classic). The snow continued well into the night and we woke up to a blanket of white.
Last night I made buffalo chicken casserole. If you are looking for some good recipes you should check out Juli Bauer at Paleomg
She gives the recipe there in a sneak peek at her cookbook. I’ll be honest, even though I’d heard of a spaghetti squash, I had no idea what one was before this meal. The meal ended up with mixed reviews in the house. My daughter didn’t try it (which I planned for ahead of time) because it was too spicy for her taste. One son ate it because it was dinner and the other son liked it. My boys did eat it as more of a dip style using Frito’s corn chips. I tried it with the corn chips and it did change the taste, mostly by reducing the amount of heat in my mouth. My husband loved it, eating to his heart’s content. It was definitely a meal that I would make again.
I had some of the leftovers for lunch today. I melted shredded sharp cheddar cheese on the top. Why? Because I’m total cheese addict! But it was so good!
We are getting prepared for a big snow here in the Blue Ridge mountains. School has already been cancelled for tomorrow so I will be practicing my yogic deep breathing to maintain my sanity!
Most days for breakfast I am an eggs and bacon kind of girl. Then there are the days that I have somewhere to be and need something quick. I have a ninja blender and just throw the following ingredients into one of the single cups and blend away:
Almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
1 banana (I like to eat them with a little green on top, so this is a perfect use for them when they start to turn)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp cacao powder
1 Tbsp almond butter
I don’t actually measure the ice and almond milk, but it’s about 1 cup of the small ice cubes my fridge produces and 1/2-3/4 cup of almond milk, depending on how you like the consistency. I add them in the order listed so that they don’t stick to the bottom. The smoothie has some grainy texture due to the flaxseed and chia seed, but this doesn’t bother me and I think it tastes great!
When I moved out of Florida a little over 2 years ago, I had a hard time adjusting. It was a hard time adjusting on numerous fronts. I moved away from family, my father-in-law had recently passed away, my grandmother was dying, and it was cold. Like “my toes are turning blue, what is wrong with me” cold. There were some actual health issues, but looking back there was also a healthy dose of depression. The library has always been my solace, so I spent lots of time reading. I decided that I wanted to try going gluten-free. I spent 9 months of not eating gluten, mostly with a focus on cutting out wheat. Then, as sometimes happens, I started eating wheat again. I ate wheat for the next 10 months. I saw a jump in my triglycerides and vLDL and then decided getting rid of wheat was something I wanted to do as part of my healthy changes. I have been wheat free since October.
My husband has seen the changes that going wheat free has made in my life. He started researching some diets and decided that going Paleo would be the best for him. This creates a dilemma for me. I make the dinners in the house. I have to decide if I want to be Paleo. I’ve done some reading on it and can agree with the clean eating concept. The place that I struggle is no grains, beans, legumes and dairy. I like these things, all except milk. I don’t do well with milk and hate the taste of it so that one is not a problem. I do, however, love cheese. Some of our go-to meals include beans. I like to eat peanut butter. Am I willing to give these up? I’m not sure.
The fact that my husband wants to focus on his health makes me want to accommodate. I checked out a ton of recipe books from the library. I like that some of them talk about the fact that they eat cheese, or drink wine, or eat chocolate. I never want to be on a “diet”. I don’t like measuring what I eat. I don’t want to put my own body image issues onto my children. They have enough of that in the constant barrage from the media. That is not to say that measuring, etc. doesn’t work for some people. It just isn’t my thing. I’ve tried it and I don’t like it.
Friday night, I made my first official Paleo meal. I made the recipe for super simple oven chicken fajitas, tortillas, and cauliflower rice. I served my kids on regular flour tortillas since I am slowly shifting them to healthier choices. It was a bigger hit than I expected. Everyone liked it. If you have more than one kid, then you might know that this is a next to impossible occurrence. Next up is trying the buffalo chicken casserole. So while I’m not completely sold on Paleo, I will be continuing to research it and try out new recipes.
My bodyflow class doesn’t exist on Friday mornings. Monday through Thursday I show up at 10:30, spend some time on my mat and then experience the bliss of savasana (ok, most days it’s bliss, other days my mind just won’t shut up or my sinuses are draining and I have to continually come back to focus on my breath).
Today, I opted to try my pull-up and chin up and practice a couple of yoga poses at home. I was playing with my camera trying to learn some settings. I thought I’d go to the bodyflow class at 4:30 or the power yoga at 5:30. As the day progressed, other things came up and I just didn’t think that would work out. I take my son and his friend to the gym every Friday, so I thought I’d just walk the treadmill.
I pick out a treadmill and am disappointed that I didn’t bring my earphones. It’s 4:27. I could still run upstairs and go to bodyflow. I didn’t bring my yoga mat and I have paranoia about putting my bare feet on the mats due to a really bad staph infection I once got in a pilates class. I check my Fitbit. I really just want to get close to my 10,000 steps. I have a little less than 5,000. I’ve already cranked it up to 4.0. Maybe if I run, it’ll get over faster. I crank it up to 5- something. I’m wondering how people love running. I’m bored out of my mind. I do, however, notice that I’m in better shape than I used to be. I can breathe and go a little longer. I slow back down and see that 4.0 is a 15 minute mile. Maybe I can make it to 15 minutes without going crazy. My face is a little damp. I have makeup on. I’m wondering if it’s melting off of my face. My mascara is waterproof so I’m pretty confident I don’t have raccoon eyes. A lady gets on the treadmill next to me. I just want to be finished. Can I make it to 7,000 steps in 15 minutes? I take it back down to 4.0. I’m at 12 ½ minutes. One more run. I crank it up to 6.1. I have a long stride and I want to see if I can handle this. I can and decide to do it for two minutes. The lady beside me cranks it up to a run. Her feet are loud on the treadmill. I wish that I had earphones. She’s substantially shorter than me so I wonder how fast she’s running. I glance over and it’s 5.0. Man, her feet sound so loud. Will I ever be done? I start to crank it down to my 4.0 and she slows down too. I ponder about the fact that maybe she was running because my feet sound loud. I continually slow down and put in 15 ½ min.
I gather my stuff, check to be sure I don’t have makeup running down my face, and set off in search of my son. I find him and tell him that I’m going to do the stairclimber which is nearby. My son tells me they are going to shoot hoops. I put in 1 ½ minutes. It says that I have climbed 6 flights and yet my Fitbit hasn’t changed. I’m not doing this work for no credit. I go walk 3 flights in the stairwell. I have two sets of stairs at home and I’ll finish the rest when I get home. I exit upstairs and see the closed door to the bodyflow room. I lament the fact that I am not in there. I wonder where my son is and see that my husband has made it to the gym. I ask him if he’s seen the boys. He has not. I ask him if “the monster” is there. “The monster” is what my kids have named some guy who can lift a bunch of weight. His most impressive feat being he leg presses 1500 or 1600 pounds. I have heard about him for months, but I am never there at night. My husband points him out and I walk past him as I leave. I’m sure his muscles are very large, but in my mind I’ve imagined him as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He does not look like that to me. I head toward the front and remember that my son said he’d be shooting hoops in the gym. I round him and his friend up and we head out into the cold, rainy evening.
I have the best of intentions when I roll out of bed in the morning. Today, I will be my best creative self. Granted, I am not a morning person so I don’t expect it to happen instantaneously. I like to get my kids sent on their way to school and my husband sent on his way to work. The hour between when I get up and when they head out the door tends to be very chaotic. I usually take about 3-5 minutes to check my Fitbit sleep log (it was my Christmas present, so I’m still slightly infatuated with it), jump on the scale and take some measurements, which I do to keep track of my personal fitness goals. After I show my face outside the bedroom door, I am on duty. On the days that I get up before my husband, I start the coffee. Then somebody may ask me to make their eggs while they shower, or put their toast in while they get dressed. Inevitably, something needs ironed or forgotten papers need signed. When everyone leaves I finish my coffee, make some breakfast, check my emails, read my devotion, and plan my day.
Today was pretty much going that way. The kids had left, my husband was almost ready to leave, and I was picking out what photo to put on Instagram. One of my photography goals for the year is to post pictures that I have taken, preferably one a day– this may be a lofty expectation, but if I can have enough that I would like to showcase then that means that I will have put effort into taking pictures. While in the midst of this, Lowe’s delivery called. I was having a refrigerator delivered this afternoon. Ours went kablooey the day after we returned home from our winter vacation to Florida. They were asking if they could come this morning because all of their deliveries were in the afternoon. I haven’t had an inside fridge (we have a smaller one in the garage that has kept us going) since January 3rd. I really wanted to accommodate them, but I also go to the gym for a 10:30 class. It’s 8:20. I tell them to come between 8:45 and 9:00. Then I race to get out of my pajamas. My husband is still getting ready, so I move his truck to the bottom of the driveway so there isn’t a chance he’ll get blocked. I want to use the old door handles from the fridge so I took them off last night. My husband told me this morning that I would probably want the screws also. Now I am in a panic, they can show up any minute and I need the right tool. The right bit is found, but the screwdriver handle thing that it fits into cannot be found (we are in the very beginning stages of the KonMari method, in the future this will not be a problem-fingers crossed). My husband gets the electric drill, puts the bit in, and takes them out for me. Yes!!
The fridge we have is big and the fridge we are getting is big. I have growing kids and they consume a lot of food. The delivery man has to take my door off of the hinges to get it through the front door. I am finishing my Instagram post and am also looking up how to take night photos with my Nikon. I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to pull out the manual and learn how to use it. I actually pulled it out, but the information is limited. I am doing this when the crisis arrives. The refrigerator will not fit in the cabinet space. I have picked an LG and the power cord comes from the top instead of the back. This makes the dimensions that were listed inaccurate. They can cut a notch in the cabinet face to have it fit. That is not going to be an option. I will have to pick out a new refrigerator.
They put my door back on and it is 10:00. If I can get out the door in 20 minutes then I can make it to my yoga class. After this nightmare, I really want to make it. I scarf down a granola bar and a banana, jump in the shower to shave my armpits (yes, I’m funny about this), throw my greasy hair in a bun, get dressed, grab my mat and am out the door. I get to class, find the place I like about halfway back on the right side of the room and settle in for my workout. In my rush, I forgot my Fitbit. It doesn’t give me much credit for the yoga, but I do climb two flights of stairs to get to class. I actually take Les Mills Bodyflow, which is a fusion of tai chi, yoga, and pilates. If you’ve ever taken it, it’s actually mostly yoga and the 10:30 time works best for my day. The yoga and power yoga are earlier in the morning which is when I don’t function or early evening when I’m running kids around. One of my goals is to make it to some of those this year.
Another of my goals this year is to be able to do a chin up or pull up. I’m not picky, either would be awesome. We have a pull-up bar in the basement. After my class today, I go down and make my attempt. I see some empty bottles from our tie dye project and carry them upstairs. I realize part of the way up, that some has spilled on multiple steps of the carpeted stairs. I scrub them and then I scrub them some more. The carpet is already stained from numerous teenage boys trudging up and down, but I don’t want giant turquoise splatters. When I throw the rag into the laundry room, I see the giant load of whites staring at me waiting to be folded. I need to call the high school guidance counselor to find out about the dual enrollment test that the boys need to take. I leave a message and then I eat my lunch. I remember that my daughter asked me to wash her jeans. I head upstairs wondering if they will be in the dirty clothes basket. No, there are clothes across the floor of my son and daughter’s bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom. I need to get firm about where the laundry should be and debate whether I should wash them, but I need to wash my own jeans and hate to run a small load. I go to my other son’s room in the basement (I’m getting in my flights of stairs) to get his clothes. On the way up, I see that two of the stairs still have stains. I rescrub them, start the laundry, stare at the pile of whites staring at me, and then jump in the shower to wash my greasy hair.
Finally, I am able to sit down and write. I was tempted to put off my creative time, to become derailed by my day, but I committed to myself to move forward this year. There were lots of other little time consuming moments during the day. I am living by the Confucius quote “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” There are still dishes to be done, laundry that needs moved to the dryer and the whites that need folded. My kids will be home in about thirty minutes and I will need to run one to the gym and I have a return to do at the library. I will also head back down to pick out a new refrigerator. It took me three trips to pick the last one. I tried to see if I could see the top of my fridge. I’m 5’8” and can see the top on my tiptoes and only if I have on shoes. I usually have to do a little hop and will be doing that tonight as I look at them. So if you see a crazy woman hopping around the refrigerators at Lowe’s, it just might be me.