Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stress Busters- Part 2, 10.29.15

Have you ever had to deal with a stressor that was so ridiculous that you can't even wrap your head around how it even started in the first place? And one that is so affecting that you feel like someone has come up from behind you and hit you in the head with a baseball bat?  (Weird analogy, I know. But sometimes it does feel like I've had the emotional wind knocked completely out of me.) Well, this is my life for the past 6 months. SO crazy! But, you know, having lived almost 50 years of this life, I am now fully aware that things can change in an instant and you can really never let your guard down, completely. And, I've had a lot of opportunities to practice various coping skills to deal with these changes, for example- 32 years of motherhood, 11 years of teaching teenagers, a divorce and the unexpected death of the father of my children have given me a pretty decent range of practice. So, I'm pretty proud that this recent stress is only having intermittent effects on me. Don't get me wrong. It is way up there on the "stress-o-meter", as it has been a roller-coaster ride (bad, then better, then worse, then WAY worse, then a little better, etc., etc.) and it is affecting something that I've spent most of my adult life nurturing. But, if I am nothing else, I am very determined and stubborn! So I will ride this out, too, because I won't let it ruin something I've worked so hard for.

Letting go is not an option in this case, so I have to be willing to be dragged a little. And, that's okay.
Image found via a simple life afloat

So if you can relate at all to going through a roller-coaster-stress-ride, I thought you might be interested in some new stress busters that have been helpful to me (in addition to the ones I mentioned here a few months ago).

Here they are, in no particular order of importance or effectiveness :). 

1.) Brag on yourself, to yourself:   For me, my biggest and proudest accomplishment is raising three kind, loving, respectful people, who now have the opportunity to pass that along to their own children. And that is huge. And to top it off, I get to spend every working day until retirement helping other people's children become more kind, loving and respectful. (Well, at least I can wish for that!) Sometimes, when something is making you feel crappy, you have to pat yourself on the back a little, you know? :)

2.) Do some yoga: Sorry! I know I sound like a broken record on the yoga thing, but you have no idea how good it feels to force yourself to breathe and balance and the same time. It is incredibly calming.

3.) Go to Starbucks: Or any place where you can get a little treat for less than five or six bucks. Yes, I know this is a little thing. But sometimes a little treat (a grande, decaf, Flat White with coconut milk, please!) makes a big difference when you're having a rotten day.

4.) Listen to uplifting podcasts: This is my new addiction. I love podcasts! My favorites are those featuring Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene' Brown or Kelly Rae Roberts. Although their topics are mostly about creativity, just hearing their positive voices makes me feel better. Actually, if I have to find a silver lining in this whole mess, it has to be that it has taught me yet another way to cope- with excessive positivity. Even if you have to fake it, it makes you feel better.

5.) Force yourself to think about happy things:  In my case, spending time with my grandsons and looking forward to my granddaughters. Because how can you be negative when you are with a four year old, a one year old or newborn babies?

6.)  Make a to-do list: Keeping my mind busy is my best medicine. It could be things as mundane as paying bills, cleaning out a closet or giving my dog a bath. But the best lists are the ones that remind me to work on creative projects like stitching or painting (or writing a blog post!). Hours go by and it seems like minutes. Working with my hands always helps my head.

Having works-in-progress like this (my latest fiber piece) is like medicine for me.

7.) Read articles related to what you are dealing with:
When something is bugging me, I read, read, read- trying to find any kind of advice or solution to my dilemma. In this case, the perfect article showed up in my blog feed at the perfect time. To summarize, using a line from the article,

"We are not terrible people, even though we may have said or done some pretty hurtful things. In the end, we all want the same thing: to be happy, to feel loved, and to know that we matter."

This article reminded me that any kind of negative behavior is always driven by fear. And the best way to deal with it, even if you are the one affected, is with forgiveness and compassion. So that's my plan.

8.) And lastly, but I think most importantly, spend time with someone who is ALWAYS on your side and ALWAYS willing to listen. In my case, that person is my husband, M. Meeting him 12 years ago had to be divine intervention of some kind, on some level (if you believe in that!). I'm very lucky.

So there it is. Positivity, forgiveness and compassion are the words of the day, today. I hope it helps someone out there, in some small way. 

Now, I'm hoping this negative situation takes a turn for the positive very soon. Maybe you could send some positive vibes our way? We need it. Thank you in advance!  Juli

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bittersweet October, 10.15.15

Bittersweet October... 

I guess it's fitting that October ended up being a bittersweet month for us. If you think about it, it's just the nature of October- everything  is dying off- leaves falling, everything turning brown- yet, for some reason most people are energized by it all- the cooler weather, the approaching holiday season. For us, over the years, October has definitely become a month of ups and downs:

October 11th- Sister's Due Date Day- For some reason, I always remember my due dates and try to remember to tell each my kids "Happy Due Date Day!" (I know it's weird!) But, this one was especially significant because Sister was my first baby and I was only 17 years old at the time. You have no idea how much I did not want to be pregnant anymore, as I watched my due date of October 11, 1983 come and go.

October 12th- Miscarriage day. At ten weeks, in 1994. Yes, I still remember it every single year for the last 21 years. (And yes, I know this seems kind of weird, too.)

October 15th- Ruben J's birthday. In my entire life, I haven't known anyone who gets as excited about their birthday, no matter their age. By the time he was in his late 20s, I thought to myself that he really should get over it. You know, he wasn't a little kid anymore. Everybody enjoys their special day once a year, I know.  But Ruben J wanted to take off work and throw himself a party every single year. I'm not kidding. One year, on his 30th birthday, we took a trip to Colorado so he could spend his birthday elk hunting, but he was disappointed because he didn't get to have a party! Oh, my! It really used to bug me. Now, looking back on it, maybe, deep down, he knew he would only get about half as many birthdays as he should, so he'd better make the most of every single one. And now, looking back on it, I wish I would have been more patient about that. Today would be Ruben J's 55th birthday.

Photo courtesy of Tracy Schmidt

October 17th- The day of Ruben J's death, in 2011. He had just turned 51. I remember, on his 50th birthday, sending him a Happy Birthday e-mail saying "Here's to 50 more!". His response, "Yeah, right!". Very unfair that he only got one more.

October 25th- Sister's birthday, in 1983.  Yes, if you are calculating in your head back to the beginning of this post, it is exactly 2 weeks later. Believe me, by then, I was one crabby, pregnant teenager! But, man, was she worth the wait. This girl. Oh, my. Someone was looking out for my seventeen-year-old self when they gave me this girl. She was the most happy, laid-back, easy-going baby. And she grew up to be the most kind-hearted, caring person I know. There is no doubt that I am a better person for having the privilege of being her mom.

Me and my girl.


October 25th is also my parents' wedding anniversary. Sister was actually born on their 25th Anniversary. Pretty good gift we gave them, huh?

Mom and Dad on their 50th Anniversary

And, finally, October 25th 1980 was Ruben J's and my first date. Well, if you call a ride home from a New Melle Community Club dance, a date, that is. In any case, it was just the beginning of one wild, 32 year ride.

Hunter S. Thompson Inspirational Travel:
Ruben J's favorite quote. This print available here

Hoping your October is more sweet than bitter - Juli

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lately, 10.10.15


Making: A second canvas from the Kelly Rae Roberts course I started over the summer, a banner for our newest Baby G, and currently focusing on finishing my latest fiber piece. Pictures posted soon as I progress a little further.

Layer 1 of the latest multi-media painting ( a little larger canvas this time). I'm really loving the color on this one.

Layer 2. This is definitely where it goes through an "ugly" stage.

And then it gets pretty again! Detail of layer 3. Love this section. I'm planning on keeping it visible through the next several layers. The little shot of yellow really stands out.

Drinking: the usuals :) I really need to try something new.

Eating: not the filet mignon from Aldi's! I bought it and M. realized it is full of MSG, disguised by the name 'autolyzed yeast extract'. Close call! That would have cost me a day of work, for sure. Sister recently shared this article with me, though, so at least Aldi's is headed in the right direction.

Watching: the movie, Philomena- SO good!

Reading: this blog, with tons of good ideas, tips and tutorials.

Listening to: Still stuck on the original, "Please Come to Boston". Enjoy this oldie-but-goodie, below :) And this song by Need To Breathe.

Thinking: that I am in yoga heaven right now since I found all of my DVDs that have been missing since our move 18 months ago. I only kept a few standards with my computer when we moved and packed the rest away in a box. I have been looking and looking and finally came across them a couple of days ago. Can you tell I'm a Rodney Yee fan?!

Laughing at: Peanut, showing me his new Lego guy and telling me he, "looks like PawPaw M. with a happy face"! If you know M., you know why this is funny :)

Disliking: I'm keeping "Positive Vibes Only" and choosing to skip this section :)

Love my new print from A Beautiful Mess.

Loving: My students this week. They have been SO well-behaved. Maybe they sensed that I've had more than my fill of disrespect lately. What a relief to enjoy them so much. And today, I loved seeing a former student at a stop light, 50 miles from where I teach, with half of his body hanging out of the window just to get my attention and wave to me. Little things like this make me love my job over and over and over again.

Also... a little update on my plan to possibly teach some classes/paint nights/workshops, etc. at Blumenhof. I've decided that my heart just isn't in it right now, as I already spend 35-40 hours each week teaching art and barely have time to work on my own art. BUT, the good news is, someone else is going to do it! An experienced "paint and sip" instructor contacted M. recently, and since I had already decided not to do it, I readily gave him my blessing to invite her in. I'll post all of the info on it later, but I've heard good things about her, as she has been holding classes at other local wineries for a while now. I'm hoping it will be a good thing for the winery.

Well, that's my "lately".  Have a great week!  Juli

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inspired by..."With What You Have", 10.3.15

Over the past few months, I've been inspired by a series titled "With What You Have" on the Assortment blog (one of my favorites),which began with this  post.  It's a subject I'm pretty familiar with, as having to be content with what I have seems to be a running theme in my life. When I was a kid, money was always tight in our household, so I would often make do with what I had- turning my closet into my own "room", turning boxes from the grocery store where my dad worked into "stores" or "kitchens" or "cribs" for my dolls and, of course, wearing hand-me-down clothes from my sister. As a younger adult, money wasn't quite as tight, but Ruben J and I didn't really know how to handle it, so in the midst of raising three kids, we often, inevitably,  had to make do with what we had. And now, with M. and I both working in professions that are not quite known for their high incomes, we know how to handle money, we just don't have enough of it to handle! So, here I am, mid-life, still finding myself making do with what I have. And, you know what? It's okay. The trade-off ,at this point, would be M. and I changing our careers and not spending every day doing something we love. For us, that is not an option.

I used to kind of resent making do with what I have, but now, I consider it a creative challenge and I'm pretty proud of finally being satisfied with it. As a result, almost everything in our home has a story. A few of which are shown below: (Please excuse the poor quality Iphone photos- photography is not one of my talents!)

This 1960's Ethan Allen daybed is what we use for our couch/sofa in the living room. The "70's couch" (what the kids called it before we knew it was actually a "60's couch!) used to be in the basement. Everyone would fight over it because it was the most comfortable couch to lounge on. I kept it in the basement because it was a bit of a quirky piece of furniture and had ugly cushions. Now, I embrace the quirkiness and I proudly display it upstairs  (with some linen fabric covering the ugly cushion!). It was a hand-me-down from M.'s dad and step-mom and it's kind of cool to look back at old pictures and see his family members (some of whom are no longer here) sitting on our 70's couch!

This console stereo has been in my family for several decades. I'm not quite sure when my parents purchased it (probably with Eagle stamps!), but I know that it has been around for as long as I can remember. It was always the backdrop for my sister's and my annual Easter picture. And I remember my mom having it on almost all the time and hearing songs like Joy To the World (aka-Jeremiah was a Bullfrog), American pie and Horse With No Name. And of course, my favorite, the Andy Williams Christmas albums. Tons of memories here. But now, in our home, it's main function is serving as a T.V. stand and it's doing a wonderful job :) 

My Grandpa Albers' chair. It's made of luxurious "pleather" (haha) but it is in absolute perfect condition. Again, a quirky piece, but it's part of my Grandpa's story, so I'm embracing it.  I'm not sure how old it is, but I'm guessing over 50 years. They took very good care of things, obviously. (Actually, most of his and my grandma's furniture was covered in plastic, which I always thought was super weird!)

And our table. This table has been in Ruben J's family for several generations.  I believe his uncle acquired it from his grandparents. (When Ruben J and I were dating, we used to spend many Friday nights, sitting around this table with his uncle, talking for hours. Very fond memories for me.) When his uncle passed away, it was given to his mom, when his mom passed away it was given to Ruben J and when Ruben J passed away it was given to Little Man. So I guess I'm really just holding this piece for Little Man, but that's okay. It's kind of crazy to think about how many memories were made around this piece of furniture.
So, there you have it- stories of just a few of my hand-me-downs and how I make do with what I have. Exciting, I know! There are more, believe me, but I wouldn't want to bore you even more than I already have!

I'm off now to work on some art, as I have the rare weekend day with nothing planned and nothing to grade. Have a great weekend!  Juli