Unknown Futures

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating lately about the paths and journeys we take into unknown futures.  Here are today’s ruminations.  (first draft, very rough)


How do you live best? Being true to yourself is being present in the moment.

We’re all on a pilgrimage. Often overwhelmed by circumstances. Look back to where you came from. Look forward to the horizon. Look up. What is your relationship to the horizon? To the future? Who will benefit from the place where you are? Who needs to receive your song?

The transitions of our lives are like living with storms, weather, rain. We need to shape our lives to meet the demands of the weather. In the presence of something new, we don’t yet know how to be in conversation with the new circumstance. We have to get over ourselves. We have to get out of our own way.

Do the brave thing. Take the path to your future. Begin by not denying any part of yourself. Bring the frightened parts of you along the path. Look at the parts of your life you don’t want to look at. Finding these parts comes out of silence. Listening to our deepest interior voices. Are there wells you don’t want to drink from? Grief? Regrets? Mortality? It’s tempting to give ourselves easy, unsubstantial answers. Speaking to ourselves in trite clichés. Spend time in silence, listening for the wisdom to speak. Then speak out of silence. Tell the story. Make your story.

Don’t run from vulnerability. It’s going to become the foundation for where you’re going. Helplessness comes with great loss. We don’t appreciate what we have, until it—or they—are gone. Helplessness and loss are like medicine leaving a bad taste in your mouth. We turn away from these experiences, not realizing we need to go deeper in. The full depth of the experience of loss brings knowledge, wisdom, and a reshaping of our lives we would’ve never experienced without the loss. Don’t wait until their deathbed to reach out to loved ones with your true self. Do it now. Be present fully in the moment. Be your authentic self.

Be the person your future self will always remember with thanksgiving.

~Debi

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200+ Summertime Boredom Busters

 

I was talking with one of my neighbors yesterday. It was her kids’ last day of school and they were starting to look foward to finding summer activities. She told me their first step is to make a huge poster with lists of potential activities they can check off as they do them. She told me the idea for the poster had come to her after reading my list of summertime boredom busters. They tailored the list to their family’s interests, put it into a format that made sense to them, and have done it for several years now with great success.

The following is the list she used for her original inspiration that was originally brainstormed a number of years ago by me and a group of young moms I knew at the time. Perhaps you can find some ideas here, too.

1. ride bikes
2. roller blade
3. basketball
4. play board games
5. make a tent out of blankets
6. squirt with hoses
7. run through the sprinkler
8. jump rope
9. read books
10. blow bubbles
11. make homemade play dough
12. play with play dough
13. press flowers
14. do crafts with pressed flowers
15. write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
16. clean bedroom
17. vacuum living room
18. clean bathroom
19. make a craft
20. draw
21. color
22. paint
23. pull weeds
24. watch a movie
25. write stories
26. use binoculars
27. use magnifying glass
28. use microscope
29. bird watching
30. write a play
31. act out a play
32. invent circus acts
33. perform a circus
34. play card games
35. make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
36. play catch
37. play baseball
38. collect rocks
39. collect leaves
40. collect feathers
41. play Frisbee
42. make Frisbee’s out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
43. dust the house
44. brush the pet
45. write letters
46. read a magazine
47. play dress-up
48. play Cowboys
49. pick vegetables
50. play outside with the pet
51. build a fort in your rooms
52. build a fort in the backyard
53. do a jigsaw puzzle
54. play on the Geo-Safari or other educational game
55. play on the computer
56. listen to a story or book on tape
57. do extra schoolwork to get ahead
58. do brain teasers (ie: crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
59. cook
60. prepare lunch
61. surprise a neighbor with a good deed
62. play store
63. prepare a “restaurant” lunch with menus
64. hold a tea party
65. have a Teddy bear picnic
66. play with toy cars
67. play dolls
68. play house
69. chase butterflies
70. collect caterpillars and bugs
71. plant a garden or a pot
72. collect seeds
73. hunt for four-leaf clovers
74. learn magic tricks
75. put on a magic show
76. plant a container garden
77. sprout seeds or beans
78. make sock puppets
79. put on a puppet show
80. make Christmas presents
81. make homemade wrapping paper
82. make homemade gift cards
83. make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
84. crochet or knit
85. make doll clothes
86. sew buttons in designs on old shirts
87. run relay races
88. make bookmarks
89. take a quiet rest time
90. take a shower or bath
91. bathe a pet
92. feed the birds or squirrels
93. watch the clouds
94. organize a dresser drawer
95. clean under the bed
96. empty dishwasher
97. vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found
98. write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
99. whittle
100. whittle bars of soap
101. practice musical instruments
102. perform a family concert
103. teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
104. fold laundry
105. sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
106. sweep front walkway
107. sweep or spray back patio
108. sweep or spray driveway
109. wash car
110. vacuum car
111. vacuum or dust window blinds
112. clean bathroom mirrors
113. clean sliding glass doors
114. clean inside of car windows
115. wash bicycles
116. clean garage
117. play in the sandbox
118. build a sandcastle
119. work with clay
120. copy your favorite book illustration
121. design your own game
122. build with blocks or Legos
123. create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
124. plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
125. have a marble tournament
126. paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
127. finger paint with pudding
128. make dessert
129. make dinner
130. give your pet a party
131. paint the sidewalk with water
132. start a journal of summer fun
133. start a nature diary
134. have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
135. have a neighborhood bike wash
136. play flashlight tag
137. play Kick the Can
138. check out a science book and try some experiments
139. make up a story
140. arrange photo albums
141. find bugs and start a collection
142. do some stargazing
143. decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
144. catch butterflies and then let them go
145. play hide-and-seek
146. create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
147. listen to the birds sing
148. try to imitate bird calls
149. read a story to a younger child
150. find shapes in the clouds
151. string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
152. glue noodles into a design on paper
153. play hopscotch
154. play jacks
155. make up a song
156. make a teepee out of blankets
157. write in your journal
158. find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
159. play charades
160. make up a story by drawing pictures
161. draw a cartoon strip
162. make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
163. call a friend
164. cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
165. make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
166. do a secret service for a neighbor
167. plan a treasure hunt
168. make a treasure map
169. make up a “Bored List” of things to do
170. plan a special activity for your family
171. search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
172. plan an imaginary trip to the moon
173. plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
174. write a science-fiction story
175. find a new pen pal
176. make up a play using old clothes as costumes
177. make up a game for practicing math facts
178. have a Spelling Bee
179. make up a game for practicing spelling
180. surprise an elderly or homebound neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
181. finger paint with shaving cream
182. collect sticks and mud and build a bird’s nest
183. write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
184. put together a family newsletter
185. write reviews of movies or plays or TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
186. bake a cake
187. bake a batch of cookies
188. decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
189. make a hideout or clubhouse
190. make paper airplanes
191. have paper airplane races
192. learn origami
193. make an obstacle course in your backyard
194. make friendship bracelets for your friends
195. make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
196. paint your face
197. braid hair
198. play tag
199. make a sundial
200. make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
201. make a terrarium
202. start a club
203. take a nap outside on your lawn
204. produce a talent show
205. memorize a poem
206. recite a memorized poem for your family.

Excerpted from The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book by Deborah Taylor-Hough

 

Keeping Your Summertime Organized

(Excerpted from The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book.)


Just because life is a bit more relaxed during the lazy days of summer doesn’t change the fact that we still need to know where things are and keep them handy. Here are some simple tips to keep your summertime activities and supplies running smoothly.

1) Keep like items grouped together in separate crates: BBQ supplies, pool maintenance supplies, etc.

2) Keep a basket of beach towels clean and rolled up in the laundry room near the outside door for easy pool, lake, beach, sprinkler, play.

3) Keep a handled bin in the back of your trunk or van for putting supplies, groceries, etc. and keeping them from rolling all over the car.

4) Have an insulated bag rolled up in the trunk, too, for keeping frozen foods cold on the trip home from the store on hot days.

5) Keep a folded blanket or sturdy tablecloth in the back of the car for impromptu picnics in the park, or to sit on during an outdoor theater or concert event.

6) Store all hand-held gardening and weeding tools in plastic bucket with a handle. Trowel, gloves, knee pad, etc.

7) Hang a shoe-bag organizer over the back of one of the car’s front seats for your kids to store their toys, books, games, maps, water bottle, and other car or travelling related supplies. If the bag’s too long, cut it to length and hem the bottom.

8) In your guest bathroom, keep a small bin or wooden box on the countertop for easy access with a collection of summertime ointments and lotions. Sunscreen (a variety of SPF levels), aloe, hand lotion, bug spray/lotion, antiseptic, anti-itch lotion for bug bites.

9) Store a small accordion file in your car with all essential car-related stuff. Registration, insurance information, maps, emergency contacts, receipts, and directions.

10) Store a “Before We Leave” checklist in luggage. Make a master list of chores, errands, and packing requirements you encounter before each out of town trip you make. You can even laminate the list and then check off complete items with a dry erase marker.

11) Before leaving on your summer road trip, make certain that your jumper cables, tire jack, and emergency kit are all actually in the car.

12) Keep all camping supplies in one place. Store camping cookware in a hamper that stays packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. A Camper’s Word to the Wise: If you’re going tent camping, double-check that your tent poles are actually packed with the rest of the tent before you find yourself attempting to set up camp in the mountains—miles and miles from civilization—without tent poles. Please don’t ask how I know this one.  😉

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Childhood Fears: The basement

you know what sounds good right now my grandfather
asked from the red recliner by the front window

a nice big bowl of ice cream from the deep freeze
what do you think Squirt want to go down to the freezer

Squirt was me and I was having nothing to do
with going down into the haunted basement

there be monsters a sign should read above the door
or beware of the portal to Hell or doorway to death

the first three steep steps had no handrail
so it seemed like stepping off into the abyss

uncarpeted glossy wood slippery to child sized shoes
no traction no handhold a sudden fall an instant death

I don’t want ice cream but my grandparents
insisted I conquer my fear of the basement

staring down into the chasm I could almost see the monsters
starring back at me from dark empty shelves

my grandfather’s power tools could be nightmares come to life
the deep freeze grumbled threateningly from the darkest corner

I could tell where the witch hid which corners the ghosts crouched
I knew what lived underneath the workbench

going to the basement for ice cream meant a battle
with my deepest fears fear of falling of slipping of dying

fear of dark corners and empty shelves of mythical monsters
and cunning beasts all waiting for my small self to wander in

all waiting for grandpa to want ice cream grandpa I said
can you come with me he just chuckled you’ll be all right

the monsters and creatures and witches may not have been real
but the fears and the deep terror in my heart were

one more night I faced the monsters alone and wished someone
would hold my hand and show me gently the way to safety

Changes

Driving home from my dad’s on Father’s Day, I had some ideas come to me as I sat in the car, trapped between dark woods on one side and a quiet river on the other. When I had a chance, I scribbled some notes, and just now typed out my thoughts. So, here’s what came from being stuck in traffic for two hours on Father’s Day. 🙂  (first draft, very rough)


Changes

“In the middle of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.” ~ Dante

What happens when we awaken in Dante’s dark wood and find ourselves lost and confused in the middle of our life? How do we find the light again? The path? The way? Where do we go when we can no longer go home?

Although it feels as if we’re surrounded by darkness with no way to turn, we’re standing at the frontier of who we were and who we will become. The past always inhabits the now. Who we were, what we’ve done, who we’ve been in community with throughout our lives, goes into making the person we are now. But even that is fleeting. Who we are now is a fleeting moment which moves ahead into the future and backward into the past, simultaneously. Much like a rapidly flowing river viewed from the shore. Rivers drink from a deep and distant source, and as we find our way to that deep source in our own lives, we’ll find our life’s river gives generously to the landscape around us.

Ask yourself, what is “now” inviting you to do? Where is the current of the now asking you to go? Be impatient with trite explanations. We want the answers and the questions that bubble up from our river’s deep, undying, undrying source.

Perhaps this season of life is calling you to a time of silence. Of hibernation. A time of hiding. Time alone is a natural process. A bear hibernating through the winter. An injured animal taking time alone to heal. The stillness and quiet of a time of seclusion can bring greater self-knowledge. And self-knowledge can help lead us into – and through – the next frontier of our lives. Savor the aloneness.

Stop your life’s current conversation and listen. Is it superficial? Caught up in daily-ness and busyness? Be still. Quiet yourself. What is the big question of your life? The beautiful question? The essential or serious question? Find your question. What gives your life meaning? What lights your soul’s passion? Your essential question can be different at various times in your life. Don’t resurrect older questions, although your new question may be a variation on a theme.

Ask your own question, not someone else’s. When you find the question that’s hibernating in your heart, allow it to help you find your new voice. Let it welcome you into the new conversation of your life. Give it opportunity to lead you to your new identity.

Along with a new question and a new identity, you may find your entire life reorganized, including the community around you. This may be unnerving and a bit frightening. But do the brave thing.

Put your head down and make your way through the dark woods into the light of the next phase of your life. You’ll come to a place you don’t know, but in the process, you’ll come back to yourself.

~Debi

 

Chores. Ugh, who wants to do chores?


When I feel badly about myself and about life, I tend to let things around me fall apart. Especially housekeeping. My house hasn’t been “company-ready” in several years due to events that kept me feeling badly about myself and about life. I’ve been feeling much better lately, though. Hope, joy, sunshine. I think the clouds finally parted.

This past month, I’ve spent my free time digging my way out of my mess. It wasn’t hoarder-level mess, but it was a mess none-the-less. When I realized I wasn’t even willing to let one of my best friends into my house anymore, I knew I had to get a handle on it.

I tried pulling out my old Chore Lists, but it was just too overwhelming to only be doing a little each day. I needed to do a lot each day to dig myself out. So I spent my free time in April working on my house. Sorting, cleaning, asking if things bring me joy, and I can finally see the light.

On Friday, I pulled out a Chore List to see if I was now at the point where I could work with this particular technique that has worked well for me in the past. I did Friday’s chores. And after all the heavy duty chores I’ve been doing lately, just doing a small list of daily chores felt like nothing. But it made a big difference. It’s amazing how even just a gentle reminder to make your bed can give you a feeling of accomplishment when you actually follow through.

If you just need some help keeping up on the dailyness of housework, you might want to take a look at my Chore Lists (they’re printable and free by click here). I just print out a copy of the current week’s List, hang it on the fridge, and mark things off as I accomplish them. When my kids still lived at home, we would work on the Chore Lists as a family, and everyone could easily see what had been done, and what still needed doing.

It’s so nice to feel like I can have people over again without feeling ashamed of my house (which made me feel ashamed of myself which just contributed to the whole vicious shame cycle). I hope by keeping up on the Chore Lists, I can keep the downhill slide (housewise) from happening again. We’ll see.

I don’t keep up on it much anymore, but my homemaking blog, I’m Not Susie Homemaker, is a Nag Free Zone if you’re looking for some kind, friendly thoughts on digging out of the dailyness of chores and housework.  Like it or not, housework’s gotta be done at some point.  Take it from me, procrastination just makes it worse. Boy, oh boy, do I know that one from personal experience.

Join me? I don’t think I’m the only person who struggles with this.

~Debi

https://notsusiehomemakerblog.wordpress.com/weekly-chore-lists/

Mindfulness (2)


If you missed Part One in the Mindfulness series (that sounds so official, but it’s just me sharing my thoughts and experiences), you can catch up at Mindfulness (1).

Flying home from Florida last Friday, I had the chance to use Mindfulness to overcome one of my most anxiety-producing activities. Flying.

I knew from experience that Mindfulness could be helpful with everyday anxiety, social anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and even some PTSD symptoms, but for some reason it never crossed my mind it might be helpful with my fear of flying.  I’ve lost a number of people to plane accidents over the years.  In one crash, I lost four people who were important in my life.  Oftentimes people would talk about how flying was safer than driving in a car, but it just didn’t register for me because I’ve lost more people in planes than in cars.

After each loss, the anxiety grew exponentially until I reached a point where the crippling fear would begin weeks before I had to fly.  And then when the time came to travel, I’d have a full-on panic attack.  Travel by air became impossible.  I planned all trips around cars, trains, or busses.

Long story short, when talking to a new doctor I’d started seeing, the topic of my flying phobia came up.  He told me he didn’t like seeing me missing out on so much of life when there was a quick and easy treatment that would enable me to fly again and give me back my travels.  Xanax.  (More about that at the end of this post.  I want to get onto the Mindfulness practice that helped me last week.)

Our flight home was almost delayed due to severe thunderstorms, so I spent the pre-flight time looking lists of flights that were being delayed or cancelled.  Fortunately, ours was on schedule.  A couple of minutes into the flight, I felt some turbulence, and I my stomach did it’s thing that signaled a coming panic attack.  Uh, oh.  I’d forgotten to take my Fly Happy meds!

I’ve been practicing Mindfulness so much lately, that my first response was to think, “I need to calm myself down so I can think clearly.”  I closed my eyes, took several long slow breaths.  I focused on my feet pressing firmly on the floor.  I felt my thighs against the seat of the chair.  My arms on the armrests. My head on the back of the seat. I took a few more long slow breaths, and then opened my eyes.  I was calm.  I was peaceful. I was flying on a plane in turbulence. And I wasn’t panicking!  I wasn’t even afraid.

I decided to put off taking my meds until I felt I actually needed them.  A couple of times during the flight I had momentary pictures in my mind of worst-case scenarios.  But I just asked myself, “Is this fearful event in my mind happening now?  No.  Now I’m quietly watching a movie [or eating, or reading].”  Deep breath in and out.  And I’d be fine again.

This may sound like silliness to people who don’t experience fear of flying to the level I do (did?), but for me, it felt almost miraculous.

I was so surprised — and happy — about newfound calmness when flying, I’m still in a bit of shock.  But if I hadn’t been practicing Mindfulness everyday when I didn’t necessarily need it, I wouldn’t have had the habit so instilled in me that it took over automatically in a severely stressful and anxious situation.

There was a reason it took me many years to be willing to try a medication to help me with my fear of flying.  In the somewhat legalistic church world I was living in at the time, it was considered sinful, and showed a lack of faith, if someone used a “crutch” or medication to handle a fear of flying.

Many times in ladies’ Bible studies, women would be in tears as they asked for prayer for their fear of flying and their family’s upcoming vacation.  It was a common theme.  And always they cried and expressed their guilt and shame.  And always the apologies for not having enough faith.

One day, I was that woman asking for those prayers, and an Elder’s wife came up to me quietly afterward and said she believed that God could lead us to doctors who could help us with our weaknesses.  She said that being afraid and being weak weren’t sinful, they were just conditions of being human.  If I hadn’t had that conversation with her, I don’t think I would’ve been open to the idea of the doctor’s medication suggestion.

Just telling someone to calm down isn’t effective if they don’t have the tools.  Mindfulness can be one of those tools to bring calmness in the midst of the storm (or the turbulence).  🙂

When I feel like practicing something I already know how to do, like Mindfulness, I tell myself , “Practice when you don’t need it, and you’ll have it when you do need it.”

Hope you had a great Easter!

~Debi

This is Rufus the Rabbit.  🙂

 

Photos – Florida trip

Just returned home from a short trip to visit my cousin in Central Florida.  Believe it or not, we didn’t go to Disney World or Universal Studios while there.  I wandered through some small town nature trails (St. Cloud) and we went to the beach (Melbourne).  Perfect!  🙂

Instant Ancestor: Orville Clarence Taylor


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Orville Clarence Taylor

I belong to a FB group that shares funny, unusual, or weird things we discover in thrift stores. One game that people in the group like to play is to adopt “instant ancestors.” Basically you find old photos of people you don’t know, but that you’d like to have in your family tree, then you name them and develop a backstory.

Today I adopted my first fake ancestor! It’s a boy! 😉 Isn’t he great? I couldn’t be more proud. I’m going to buy him a little picture frame and he will live on my piano. He is my fake great-great uncle thrice removed.

He reminds me a little of a young Orville Reddenbacher (the popcorn guy), so I’m going to name my new ancestor Orville. A good, solid Midwestern name from the early 20th Century. Orville’s last name, of course, is Taylor.  His middle name, Clarence, was his maternal grandfather’s first name.

Orville grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana. This photo was taken on Orville’s graduation from Wheaton College in Chicago where he received his PhD in Biblical and Theological Studies. Orville headed from Wheaton to New Brunswick that August to pastor his first church.

Before leaving the area to pursue his pastoral calling, Orville married his high school sweetheart, Corinne Magnuson. Their wedding was the social highlight of the summer, and many of Terre Haute’s finest citizens turned out to wish Orville and Corinne the best in all their future endeavors.