Countdown

sky

Darlene from the moving company is in the kitchen packing up my world.  The muscle will be here later.  I’m drinking an extra caffeinated coffee, trying to wake up enough to process thoughts; sleep is no longer my friend.  I’m not doing very well, so forgive any poor sentence structure or wandering, incomprehensible thoughts.

This house selling business has been a nightmare.  We accepted an offer on December 15, and were supposed to close tomorrow.  The buyers’ realtor and lender are husband and wife, and not very forthcoming with information.  Deadlines were slipping by and they didn’t bother to say why or to say anything at all.  Finally, after we had our realtor hound them, they came back and said they needed an extension.  They wanted to close on on the 23rd.  We will be on an airplane, over an ocean somewhere between here and Australia.   The 23rd doesn’t actually exist for us; we will leave the U.S. on the 22nd, and arrive 14 hours later in Sydney, on the 24th.

We did give them an extension, until the 21st, the day before we leave.  At this point it is still questionable whether we’ll actually manage to close before we leave.  It could still happen.  Think positive thoughts.

There were many other horrific episodes in this nightmare, but I’m not going dredge them up again.  At this point I’m looking forward only.

Overcoming Inertia

dec 6 2012_8

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my need to continue living during this limbo period that I’m in. I have to say that in between house showings, I’ve really struggled with moving forward with those personal goals that exist outside of selling the house and moving to Sydney.

Inertia is a problem I’ve struggled with for years and my biggest fear in moving is that I’ll just pack that inertia in my suitcase and take it with me. I know that I’ve been guilty in the past of trying to find geographic solutions to my problems, and that doesn’t work. Wherever you go, there you are, right? I do believe that a big change can shake a person up and reset things to “go”. And that’s what I’m hoping will happen in my life.

And here I sit, not acting, not moving forward on what I know I want. What I want so bad I can taste it.

I did some thinking and journaling to try to determine what my problem was and to brainstorm some possible solutions.  First of all, it’s not like I actually just sit here all day every day. No, quite the contrary. I consistently give myself huge to-do lists that I can never succeed in completing in between being kicked out of the house up to three times a day for house showings, then I feel like a failure for not getting everything done. The thing I want to do most, which is write and to build a successful writing career, just keeps getting pushed to the end of the list, and off the list. See it falling on the floor there? Over there, in the corner.

So my first step was to drastically cut back on what I expected to accomplish each day. While whittling down that to-do list, I moved writing to the very top, but instead of an unrealistic “write 1000 words” I set myself a very minuscule goal of 100 words a day on a short story I’m working on. Very doable. I know that I need to set achievable goals and give myself opportunities to feel success, even if it’s a tiny success. It’s so easy to write 100 words that I raised it to 150. I usually go over, but if I don’t, I don’t feel bad about myself.

The other thing I did was set aside some time to work on my goals and objectives, knowing that I can’t possibly make any forward progress on this path if I don’t know where the path is leading me. Again, I broke the action items into small steps, and set due dates for the accomplishment of those steps.

Setting achievable daily goals, and working on a plan for short and long term goals has helped tremendously. Allowing myself to feel successful makes me want to do more, makes me feel like my long term goals are achievable! One task I set for myself was to write this blogpost and to research what other folks do to battle inertia. In researching and writing about inertia, I’m overcoming it. See how tricky I am? And so gullible; I fall for my tricks every time!

My first stop was over on Gretchen Rubin’s blog. She’s writing a book called Better Than Before, that I can’t wait to get my hands on, all about how we form and break habits. On her blog, she goes through a lot of the points she’s learned on habit forming and breaking. She has worked out a number of Strategies for working with habits.

If you google inertia, you’ll find a lot of references to Newton’s First Law of Motion, stating that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an outside force. This is where the Strategy of Accountability comes in. That’s great, but accountability can be difficult if you don’t have an outside force to act on you. I was intrigued by Rubin’s suggestion that using the Strategy of Thinking an idea can act as the catalyst for change. For me, the idea is that I want to be a published and paid writer. That idea is the force that makes me move.

Rubin also goes on to talk about defining yourself in such categories as Moderator or Abstainer, Obliger or Rebel. Understanding these personality traits can greatly aid you in your habit forming or breaking, and inertia fits into this.

Another important piece she delves into are the Loopholes we invoke to justify eating that donut or not doing what we need to do to achieve our goals. I’m most guilty of the False Choice, Moral Licensing, and Tomorrow Loopholes.

I found lots of lists of 10 or 8 or 20 things to do to combat inertia. Over on Daring to Live Fully, Marelisa had on her list using visualization to help you move. Visualize what you want and how it makes you feel; let that image pull you out of the state of inertia. This expands on using an idea as the force.

Steven Handel on The Emotion Machine put on his list to “notice the daily victories.” Make sure to acknowledge your successes, even the small steps you take toward you goals.

I was especially intrigued by Forbes contributor Sonia Kapadia’s two point list. She questioned why, when she had the desire and means to do what she intended, could she still not move. Kapadia found that this act of questioning herself, and coming up with the answer that there was no reason for it, was all she needed to get herself in motion again.

Curious, she set out to learn how others handled inertia. She found that people generally fell into one of two camps.  One group used deadlines and accountability as we’ve already looked at. It was the other group I found interesting; they actually broke their inertia by extending it purposefully. They took a break or a vacation even, taking time to clear their heads and refocus. Sometimes they used their rest period to create strategies to move forward on their plan.

I realized that in taking the time to step back and work on my goals and objectives, and also taking the time to research and write about inertia puts me in that second group. And it’s worked! I still may be putting too many things on my to-do list other than writing, but I am writing, and doing something every day that is in line with my long term goals.

What about you? Do you have some techniques for overcoming inertia in your life?

Life Is Precious

I needed to go to the store and buy bananas and Thai seasoning, and I wanted to take a walk.  I debated back and forth with myself, should I take a nice peaceful walk around the neighborhood and then drive to the store?  Or should I walk to the store, both saving time and not adding more emissions to the already nasty Salt Lake City air.  Walking out there in the traffic did not appeal to me, but I decided I’d be safer walking on the sidewalk than driving on the road.

And so I put on my walking shoes, grabbed my shopping bag and headed out.  I can’t walk and text at the same time, so I had to stop along the way to respond to our real estate agent.  As I crossed the street at the busy intersection, I thought of my husband telling me how many times he thought he was going to get hit there, walking home from the train, by people turning right.  So I was extra vigilant.  I coughed and choked from the exhaust in the air, and wished I were in my car.

I turned east and kept walking, lost in thought, dreaming about walking in Sydney, down by the harbor, or in the historic Rocks.  As I went along, a bicyclist passed me on the sidewalk.  Bicyclists don’t really belong on the sidewalk, but if I were on a bike, I wouldn’t want to be in the street either.  I walked some more.  I saw a group of police officers, gathered in a parking lot, having a good time.  I wondered if they’d shot anyone lately; according to the Salt Lake Tribune, police shootings have killed more people in Utah during the last five years than either drug or gang related homicides.

As I reached the next intersection, I saw a commotion.  There were cars stopped; one had been turning right.  Others were honking at the ones not driving fast enough.  I tip toed through the cross walk, hoping not to get hit.  When I reached the other side I turned to look and saw that bicyclist from before sprawled out on the side of the road, surrounded by people on cell phones.  He wasn’t moving.

Some of the police officers I had seen around the corner were approaching, asking people what had happened.  I watched for a minute but didn’t want to be a gawker, so went on to the store.  I kept thinking, maybe I should have taken the car.  I thought again of my husband’s warning of people turning right, so I felt the need to call him and warn him to be careful.  It didn’t occur to me until I got home that if I had left the house a couple minutes earlier, if I hadn’t stopped to text our real estate agent, that could have been me sprawled across the street.  Of course, I wouldn’t have been traveling at quite the clip the bicyclist was, wouldn’t have entered the crosswalk so quickly, could have stopped, or the guy in the car would have been more likely to see me.

I’m just grateful to be here right now.  I’m worried about the bicyclist.  He was gone when I came out of the store.  His bike was still there, and the police officers, and the fire truck blocking the road.  The guy who hit him was gone.

Persimmon Memories

persimmon pudding and fabric (11 of 11)
I’m going to tell you a twisty turny story that started with this fabric I found when I was out shopping with a friend the other day.  I was immediately smitten with these prints.  Had I known then that the name of the line was called Persimmon, the deal would have been doubly sealed.

persimmon pudding and fabric (1 of 11)
It brought to mind a favorite memory, of a bright autumn afternoon in 1973 or 4.  You know the kind, with the sky a clear blue, the air as crisp as a tart apple, the afternoon sun low and golden.   My grandparents lived in southern Illinois and we were there to visit.  We drove down the rolling gravel road, through the country to a place my uncle knew, where we could pick persimmons.

persimmon pudding and fabric (2 of 11)
I’m sure my father would never have allowed me up the ladder, but some how my mind has placed me there, biting into a perfectly ripe persimmon and tasting the sweet, creamy pulp.  And then another that was not quite ripe, my mouth puckering with the astringent juices.

persimmon pudding and fabric (5 of 11)
Continuing my persimmon reverie, I got to wondering if persimmons grew here in Utah.  I’d never heard anyone mention them, and the only ones I’d seen were the grocery store variety.  Then on Saturday morning at the farmer’s market, standing in line waiting for carrots, the woman next to me had a plastic container with little red things that didn’t quite look like tomatoes.  I asked, “are those persimmons?”  Yes!  She pointed in the direction where they could be found and I took off as fast as I could in that crowd of locally-grown-Thanksgiving-meal shoppers.

persimmon pudding and fabric (6 of 11)
Those persimmons from long ago became pudding, and that was what these were destined for as well.  I used this recipe as a guideline or a suggestion.  I switched out the regular flour for almond flour, honey for sugar, and I was very flexible on the quantities of ingredients.  I used closer to 1 1/2 to 2 cups pulp, a glub or two of honey, 4 eggs, cream instead of milk, baking soda instead of powder, and I think about 2 cups almond flour.

persimmon pudding and fabric (8 of 11)
I did want whipped cream, but would have had to make a bigger mess in order to do that.  As it is, I have to fit any cooking, and the cleaning up of that cooking, into little windows between home showings.  The pudding was yummy, even without whipped cream.

persimmon pudding and fabric (3 of 11)
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Waiting Game

I feel like I’ve wasted a year of my life. That’s how long it’s been since this moving to Australia business began. I spent all year frozen, unable to function in the moment because I didn’t know what my future held. Throughout the summer, I struggled with wondering if I should bother to plant peonies or grapes, not knowing if I’d be around when they blossomed or fruited. As summer dwindled down, I didn’t know whether I should put up tomatoes or freeze berries to get us through the winter.

As hard as I try to be mindful and live in the moment, I just do not handle this limbo well. I’m back in the same place, not knowing how long it will take this house to sell. I’m trying really hard to convince myself that this IS real life and I don’t need to wait until I get to Sydney for life to start again. I feel like the pause button has been pushed and it got stuck.

I had a good talk with myself this morning. I like routine; it makes me feel like things are normal. I can make a routine. This routine involves keeping my house cleaner than I’m used to, and doesn’t allow for mess making. I can handle this. I hope.

this is not my home (3 of 5)
I’ve been cooking meals ahead so I’m not as frantic when house showings interfere with dinner time.  Cooking on my brand new gas range.  That’s something I’ve learned through all this; don’t wait until you’re ready to sell your house to make it the way you want it.  All these years I could have been enjoying this wonderful appliance.  Instead I made do with that awful ceramic top thing that didn’t heat evenly and had a broken element from a very cold morning last winter when I turned the burner on to heat up the tea kettle, and…. CRACK!!!  Yeah, heat and cold glass don’t go well together.

I’m loving cooking on this for the short time (I hope it’s a short time) that I have it.  I’m still not used to all that live fire though.  I can’t tell you how many times my head has come near to igniting.

We also finally got a new light fixture in the kitchen.  Sorry, no pic.  There were two fixtures when we moved in, one just a typical, round, flush-mount light, the other was hideous, decades old, rectangular, fluorescent, industrial type lighting .  That one quit working about three years ago and we’ve just lived with a dimly lit kitchen.  So of course, one of the first things we did before putting the house on the market was to replace the ugly, broken lamp with a beautiful, functional one.  It’s amazing how much I can see in there now!  I can see what I’m cooking on that pretty new gas range!  I told the husband that there is just no telling what may have been in his food all these years.

This Is Not My Beautiful House

this is not my home (1 of 5)

I’m sitting here waiting for the photographer to arrive.  The house listed on Monday evening, this house that already no longer belongs to me.  It’s beautiful.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s a beautiful, untouchable woman with her makeup and hair done just so.

I wrote awhile back about existing within this space but not actually interacting with it.  Now I feel like I can’t even breathe here for fear of messing something up and having to quick clean it before the next people come to see the place.

Years ago, I watched a movie, Steel Magnolias I think, in which the main character lived in a big, beautiful house full of shiny, dark woodwork.  She moved through the house serenely polishing all that wood.  Out of the entire story of love and loss, that’s what I took away from it.  Woodwork.  It wasn’t just the woodwork; that was a metaphor for a beautiful home that was all mine.

this is not my home (2 of 5)
In the years following, I dreamed of having my own home with woodwork to polish.  I’ve lived here in this house full of gleaming wood trim, mantel that stretches across the room, and original hardwood floors for five years.  When we first moved in I pulled out the furniture polish and soft cloth, and starting tenderly caressing that woodwork.  Weekly, I would move through the house, dusting every surface, admiring the trim that goes all around the living and dining rooms.

For awhile, a short while, I continued with regular polishing of the mantel – forget the door frames – once a month.  I kept up with the weekly dusting.  Over time, polishing sessions became farther and farther apart, until finally it was a once a year thing.  I’m embarrassed to say that the dusting, too, became rather infrequent.

Now that we are about to move to the other end of the planet, I feel regret for not polishing and dusting more.  I recognize that part of my housekeeping failure is completely attributable to the depression I’ve dealt with off and on during these years.  That and apparently a lack of sufficient lighting, but that’s another story.  Still, I have to ask myself, do I really believe I missed out on an opportunity to dust?  Seriously now.

this is not my home (4 of 5)
The woodwork is once again polished and gleaming.  As I write this, I realize that I was more comfortable in that dusty house with the unpolished mantel than I am in this sanitized, void-of-life, environment.  Like I said, it’s beautiful.  It is not my house.  Gone are my books, my needlework, my crocks of fermenting vegetables.

I thought that once I got the place cleaned and staged that I would have some time to sew or do some art journaling.  NO!  I can’t do anything that might make a mess, and still my every moment is spent removing all signs of life from this place.

In many ways, this is reminding me of losing my Rose.  Just like with Rose, I thought I was prepared to go through the loss.  But in reality the loss came so sudden and unexpectedly, before I was ready, before I thought it was going to happen.

this is not my home (1 of 1)
And yes, I am aware that I am sitting here whining about giving up my house so I can move to Australia and live near the beach.  As much as I want to go live near the ocean and be surrounded by people who say, “g’day” and “mate” I love this house.  This house is not just a bunch of polished wood nailed together.  It is the first beautiful home I’ve lived in, and definitely the first house that was really mine.  These walls are the bones of my friend and I am reluctant to leave this friend behind.

We have another showing tonight.  I keep accidentally calling it a viewing, like a wake or something.  It is a little death.  Oh there I go again.  Ok!  So!  I need to get out to the kitchen and make our dinner in a manner that doesn’t mess up the kitchen, then feed us, clean it up and get out the door.  I think I see a movie in my very near future.

Crochet Witch’s Hat Pattern

*witch's hat crocheted (2 of 3)
BOO! Did I scare you? My blog is a pretty spooky, cobweb covered place lately, in keeping with the season.  We’ve been deep in packing, sorting our stuff into “ship”, “store”, “toss” piles.  The house is full of echoes with the loss of full bookcases and years of accumulated belongings.

I will be so glad to get all of these people out of my house.  We have been overrun with contractors for the last two weeks.  The painters have had the kitchen plastic-covered for two days.  They were supposed to have been finished with that on Wednesday.  They are rather slow.  They paint a little bit and then wander off, and they are not communicating well about their plans or just what the fuck they’re doing.

*witch's hat (3 of 4)
Since I can’t do anything else with them underfoot, I decided to use this opportunity to give you something I’d promised way back.

*witch's hat (1 of 4)
My original intention was to make several of these crochet witch hats and string them together in a garland.  Because, you know.  Garland!

witch's hat crocheted (5 of 7)
and Hallowe’en!!

witch's hat crocheted (6 of 7)
I think you’ll find this pretty easy to throw together.  You could make several for a garland, or for bowl fillers.  Or dress up someone’s barbie dolls;)  I’ll send this one to my granddaughter.

witch's hat crocheted (7 of 7)
I hope my instructions make sense, since I’m a wee bit distracted.  I’m listening to this to help me focus.  My darling daughter told me about it this morning.

*witch's hat crocheted (3 of 3)
How creepy is this doll head?

Here’s the pattern for you:)

Witch Hat Crochet Pattern

Supplies: a small amount of DK or worsted weight yarn, bits of eyelash or other novelty yarn, size F or G hook.  I used F hook and Tahki Cotton Classic in Black

Top of hat:

Rd 1: Make sl loop (wrap yarn around finger, insert hook, yo pull up loop, yo, pull through), 4sc in loop; pull tail to tighten circle.  Join with sl st

Rd 2: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next sc, 2 sc in next) twice, sc in next, join with sl st

Rd 3: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next sc, 2 sc in next) 2X, sc in next, join with sl st to second chain of beginning ch 2. You should have nine single crochet stitches.

Rds 4 and 5: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 6: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc next 2 sc, 2sc in next) 2X, sc in next 2. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 12 sc stitches

Rd 7: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 8: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc next 2, 2sc in next) 3X, sc in next 2. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 16 sc stitches.

Rds 9 and 10: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 11: ch 2 sc in same sp, (sc next 3, 2 sc in next) 3X, sc in next 3. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 20 sc.

Rds 12 and 13: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Brim:

Rd 1: working in only one loop, the one nearest the hat, of each st – ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next, 2 sc in next) 9X, sc in next. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2; go through both loops this time.

Rd 2: working through both loops – ch2, sc in same st, (sc in next, 2 sc in next) 14X, sc in next. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. Fasten off.

Rd 3: Join eyelash yarn and work sc in each st around. Join with sl st. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

We’re Going to a Land Down Under

Photo courtesy of Adam Campbell

My world has turned upside down.  This is appropriate because, yes it’s happened, we’re moving down under.  I feel like I should be happier about it, and I AM happy about it, but my emotions are all a jumble.  My feelings surrounding the move are all mixed together with my feelings about losing Rose, and losing my home, my current life.

We’re going to start a new life, and that is exciting!  We get to reinvent ourselves in a world where nobody there has expectations of who we are supposed to be.  And still, watching my nest walk out the door, twig by twig, in exchange for a handful of dollars, is wrenching me apart.  I am seriously coming to terms with my attachment to things.  I am appalled by how many things I have!  I keep thinking about how much money I spent on all those books and bowls and coffee cups.  As I exchange them for pennies or give them away I feel alternately resentful and relieved.  With everything that leaves I feel lighter.  Yet even as I vow to never collect that much stuff again, I am regretting that book or those latte bowls from Anthropologie.

I had a stack of the latte bowls and a set of dishes from Pottery Barn.  I really never actually used the dishes anymore.  They were big and bulky, I was tired of the color, and they chipped easy, but I was seriously attached to selling them, to recouping some of my money that I spent.  I posted them on Craigslist and we had a yard sale.  They didn’t sell.  In the end, I gave them to our next door neighbors who never would give us the time of day and who send their dogs over to poop in our yard.  It felt good!  In some weird, twisted way, I felt like I was getting even with them.

Letting go of all of our stuff is serving two purposes.  Part of it is just the reality of seriously downsizing to a tiny apartment, and not wanting or being able to pay to have all this crap shipped across the world.  The other part is that these things take up life energy.  If we take everything with us that is currently keeping us bogged down, we won’t be able to reinvent ourselves.  I see this mostly with all my old art supplies and the junk I’ve collected to do mixed media art.  I look at it and feel regret thinking, “oh, I never got around to making this idea I had.”  If I haul those undone art projects with me, there’s a good chance I’ll be hauling the regret with me, as those things continue to sit in a box undone.  But I’m also hauling an old idea of who I’m supposed to be.  If I’m free of all those expectations I have held of myself, I’m free to find out who I am without them.  I also feel like this myriad of tools and supplies for my various crafty and art interests keep me from focusing on what is most important to me.  It’s busy work to keep me from going after the life I really want.  I am ready to charge after that life with full passion.

All of this worry about things isn’t even the scary part of the move.  I’m worried and mournful about leaving my friends and family.  My children.  My granddaughter.  The really real truth is they live hundreds and thousands of miles away, so phone, facebook, and Skype is how we currently communicate.  We can still do that across an ocean.  And we will come back to visit.

I need to get back to work.  I’m attacking the kitchen today.  My posts in the upcoming weeks are going to be patchy, as we’re frantically trying to sort, pack, clean and get the house sold.  I will check in from time to time and share this life-upturning experience.