Sunday, June 30, 2013

Totally Random

I am tired this evening. Sometimes it feels as if I have no energy for real blogging any more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happiness, Life, Tough Times, Resilience, Etc.

Diana sent me a link to this rather humorous and a bit cynical article about all those happiness type lists you find on the internet.

I have trouble with happiness myself.

I have described myself as a rather bitter optimistic person. I do feel like I have drawn the short straw a lot in life, and even when that short straw is clearly the result of my own choices, I do feel that I always make the best choices I am capable of in any given moment; therefore, if I am biologically or environmentally programmed to make bad choices, I obviously have drawn the short straw on those fronts too! And yes, you can probably tell from my whining that I tend to have trouble seeing any part of life as involving much real free will.

But I am the eternal optimist! I can fight with a level of determination you would not think possible from a short, fat middle-aged woman whose mind and senses often seem to be ebbing!

When I am not fighting ('cause really I hate fighting), I am going with the flow, working so hard on mindfulness, laughing in the face of problems and living to my fullest in the face of all the rocks and sticks strewn through the current. I am one of the first to notice the beauty amid the chaos. I call others out on their negative thoughts and say, "Hey! Stop and smell the roses! Glory in the sunrise! See the beauty in those things that others scorn!"

I solve problems left and right but still find struggle nearly every single day. I am the one who figures out how and understands why. In the end, I never think it is enough. Of course, it is never really the end.

I like happiness. Who doesn't? I have seen the results of a lot of research about happiness though, and they make sense to me. It seems people are born with an innate level of happiness, and they rarely stray from it. Resilience is tied to happiness also. I consider myself not resilient, but when I did deeper, I suppose I do OK after the initial shock of a huge unexpected change or problem. Smart people are less happy overall than less intelligent people. Yeah, then there is that.

Life often seems pointless to me. Then you can embrace a spiritual system to give your life meaning while at the same time realizing that you will never really know much of anything. As I have aged, I have had a growing longing to do something to make a difference in the world. I feel like I have gifts that I am meant to share on a broader plain. At the same time, the daily grind wears me down, and I am not sure of even what baby steps might lead me in the direction of sharing my gifts with more of the world.

Yet I choose to charge on! Following a philosophy of positivity, passion and play! For those are things I understand. Negativity never seems to lead to growth or joy. Passion ignites me when I am able to find it. Play is the foundation of those moments when life seems worth living and when coupled with curiosity, the route to all new discoveries.

Yeah, rambling post is rambling.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shine Trip

I was going to spend 30 minutes today writing a long blog post about my past week at the We Shine Unschooling Conference, but somehow my time has dwindled down to about seven minutes! I'm still catching up on laundry, housework, quality time with the kids, quality time with Diana, enjoying the early summer in my gorgeous yard, spending time in self care, and catching up on money earning.

Anyways, last week we did attend the fabulous We Shine conference for the fourth time. We started with a little side trip to visit our friends Bill and Rachel who were celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary with a house party. We hadn't seen them or their daughter Becca for a few years, and it was great to have a few hours to catch up.

Then we spent a night in a hotel in Latham. The hotel was full, and they bumped us up to an especially luxurious room, but there was a negative side. The room was noisy, over a bar. They don't usually rent it out. It wasn't too bad because most of the noise was dwindling off by the time we went to sleep, and we concentrated on the good things like extra room for sleeping and play, and the fact that because we were in a rarely used room they were easily able to extend our check out 2 hours to 1:00. Also, when we complained just a little bit at check out, they took some money off our bill which is always a help.

The drive down to Shine was on a road that is unfamiliar to me, and the view of the Catskills was comparable to the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains when you first catch a glimpse, traveling down I-81 in the middle of Virginia. Breathtaking! We stopped in Kingston to pick up enough food for dinner & breakfast and headed to the campground. I was so anxious when we got there. That first brush with a large group of people is really difficult for me, but I took a deep breath and concentrated on unpacking, and the adjustment was quickly over!

The RV was pretty great; we probably won't go back to the two room cabin. There was plenty of space. The bathroom was of course tiny, but it was adequate. The fridge almost inadequate for the needs of 6 people for a week, but we had some serendipitous luck in that area! Some of my pay that I was expecting on Friday did not transfer to our bank account on time. We only had $14 for groceries until Monday so we didn't buy a lot of things before seeing the RV. If we had bought a week's worth of groceries, we would have been hard pressed to store it all!

Monday was grocery shopping, swimming and the luau/birthday party for everyone who had a birthday that year! It was fun watching the limbo contest. Lia was one of the winners, and Esme was only out in the round before that. Ant was the most fun to watch though, him and the other taller guys! I was so impressed by how good they all were at it!

Tuesday was talks and chats and a huge rainstorm. The evening included delicious baked pasta made by me with my family, and a dessert buffet with the community. There were so many delicious cookies! We were able to reconnect with a few people but soon retired to bed. We did a really good job of getting enough sleep this year (Ant and Lia and Josie too!) Lia stayed in a friend's lodge for the week, but we had plenty of time to de-brief on a regular basis and many heartfelt conversations.

Wednesday was more talks and chats and family time, jumping on the jumping pillow, and the Shining Street Faire. Oh, and more time at the pool! Ant played some badminton and basketball, and JoAnn and Ant were both part of an epic Nerf battle. (JoAnn is happy her team won.)

Thursday, the last full day, came all too soon. I really relished in the talk and chat that day. I was feeling very comfortable with the community. We went swimming one last time, and I swam a few laps in the chilly pool. We also played a bit in the splash pool and had one last long hot tub soak. The dance was the highlight of the day. I wasn't completely feeling in a dancing mood though and thought we might only stay a little while. In the end, I chose to stay until the end, and it was definitely worth it. The last hour was the best part!

Friday I packed and packed and packed, went to an impromptu closing circle with a very shiny pizza cutter and a sacrificial baby, then packed and packed and packed some more. We had some really, really great good-bye conversations with people who stopped by our site while we were packing up. I am not sure how to hold onto connections during the year to come, but maybe you don't need to. (This is where I write something really deep comparing our relationships to quantum mechanics but really I don't because my time is short!)

Other noteworthy things I forgot to include: JoAnn connecting with an online friend for the first time in the outerweb, Ant playing Smash Brothers Brawl nearly every night with friends he hadn't seen in two years, lots of soaking in the hot tub for me, aquatic basketball for Ant, Jo, Es and Li all at the same time, meeting new people, Es spending almost a whole day drawing in the snack bar, the girls finally performing the Shy Boy dance and really nailing the synchronicity,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What a Week!

Tired. It is already feeling like an overwhelming week. I am working hard to stay in the moment. I am doing a good job of finishing my goals today, even though I did go out with Joseph for a bit this afternoon. Now past time to finish up & head to bed!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: "Wake" by Amanda Hocking

"Wake" is the first book in a new series from Amanda Hocking. Hocking has a writing style which is very straightforward. I really enjoy it for casual reading. The plot of "Wake" was super interesting and filled with excitement. I was really pulled into the story.

Unfortunately, the book also had some graphic violence. I am pretty sure it wasn't necessary to the story. It might not have bothered me quite as much if there had been some warning, but the book cover and cover description were really pretty tame. The same with the second book in the series. This is your warning if you are bothered by things like that.

With the exception of those highly visual depictions of violence, this book was really good! I don't want to give any of the plot away. Official summaries of this one do a great job of avoiding spoilers, and I don't want to ruin its track record. I am now nearly done with "Lullaby" the follow-up book. I can't wait to find out how it ends!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A String of Work Days

Today was a work day. I expect that every day this week will be a work day. I am hoping to at bare minimum take off a couple of hours Tuesday evening, but I am not committed to it if I feel behind. I would love to take off Friday morning too, but we shall see.

What is a work day? A work day is a day when I get up at 6 a.m. and start working and am not done until after 10:00 p.m. It is not really that pleasant, but one does what is necessary.

Right now, I am very tired. My eyes are dry after a lot of hours online. I am looking forward to reading for a bit and then going to sleep!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time Management

I have been working on a time management project this week. I am pretty unhappy that I can't accomplish more each day. Everyone in my family tells me that I work harder than anyone should, but I never feel that is true. I always feel like if I just pushed harder, I could do enough.

So, I am trying to approach the problem logically. I am tracking my time sort of like I track my food. I have had some revelations. The first is that my income isn't consistent. I work pretty close to eight hours every day, and my income varies from between $55 and $100 for that period. Also, working eight hours with everything else on my plate really stresses me. Ideally I would work six hours five days a week. Unfortunately that isn't an option right now. I am working eight hours five days a week, 4 hours the sixth, and 2 hours the seventh. We are not quite making ends meet. The reality is not matching up with the ideal.

The second is that I spend way to much time preparing food. I don't even like cooking. I don't regularly cook for my whole family. Yet, I spend an average of four hours each day dedicated to preparing and eating foods and beverages. I have some ideas about how to reduce this. They cost money.

Everything else seems OK. I spend about an hour a day on laundry. That isn't bad when there are five of us, and I hang everything to dry and need to assist the washer which works poorly. I spend about an hour a day doing housework, mostly dishes. Lia and JoAnn help a lot with the other things. Ant has been doing a great job with the yard work. I love looking outside now. I keep my personal care time down to 30 minutes, and my walk takes an average of 30 minutes. (Longer with nice weather and super short today when it was raining!)