As February approaches and I'm recuperating from my bout with the combination devil illness and super sadness that knocked me on my arse for a chunk of January, I’m prepping myself for a challenge.
Nothing involving physical training or food restriction~ those would be awful and unpleasant, and nobody needs that. And certainly not anything involving filming myself doing something idiotic like eating detergent. (Good grief, what is wrong with the world?)
Instead, I’m gathering my colorful pens and a sheet of Wonder Woman stamps as I get ready for a month of writing letters.
Yes, letters. Like the kind that you mail and are delivered by the postal service, and that nobody writes anymore, except maybe your grandma or your 5 year old niece who doesn’t have a phone yet. The kind that are personal and people are excited to see in their mailbox and unlike texts (or this blog post for that matter) generally use complete sentences and proper grammar.
(Ok, the last part about proper grammar may or may not happen in my letters. But, for some reason, it feels like my writings will be more likely to contain proper English if I write the words with a purple pen than they would if I typed them with my thumbs on a tiny screen. Maybe I'm just old fashioned that way...)
The official challenge is to to try to mail something every day that the post office works this coming month, and it’s actually a thing.
LetterMo started in a public way in 2011 and has taken off to the point where people from all over the world participate. There’s an official group with forums and a Facebook Page and all kinds of connections and support.
I won’t be doing all of that, because all I want to do is write letters. But still, it’s nice that it’s available.
For my version (because why not make your own version that suits you better?) not everything will be mailed, Some of my letters may be hand delivered, and one will be to my future self and will be stuck in the box of Christmas decorations in the attic to be discovered / opened Christmas 2018 (because that’s another thing I like to do, but didn’t get around yet~ so now’s the time...
Anyhoo, at first thought, the idea of adding any challenge of any kind to my life sounded like ridiculousness, but I’m actually liking the idea of this one.
Because it is a conscious way to slow down.
Because it gets my eyeballs off of screens and onto paper.
Because people like getting mail, at least when it isn’t a bill and especially if it has stickers on it, and I like making people smile.
Because it’s a chance to reach out and connect with people that I miss.
I'm not going to be heartbroken if I don't get 24 letters written, because any amount will be more than I would have written otherwise. Besides, it's not like there's a fine or some penalty for not getting it exactly right. I'm going with the philosophy of trying something different from my every day and enjoying the process. Whatever happens will be great.
If you’re interested in a month of writing letters too, go check out LetterMo. Or just get some pens and paper and start writing
Until next time~ Enjoy!
It didn’t seem to matter that I had plans for this weekend. They weren’t big plans, for my SweetHeart had been sick for most of the week, and I was a bit tired myself. But, I did have mini- plans nonetheless~ little things to keep the checkmarks going on the to-do lists of life.
By Friday night though, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what exactly, just that things didn’t feel right.
Not only was I unusually fatigued and suspect that I was catching the hideous cold or flu or whatever my SweetHeart had been down with, but there was also this huge and heavy fog of what felt like sadness that seemed to be enveloping the air I was trying to breathe.
I couldn’t name it and I couldn’t explain it, but I could just tell that something was wrong.
Saturday morning came and I felt all around worse.
Physically, every little bit of activity exhausted me. My head and chest were full of mucus and my asthmatic lungs were not impressed. There were random shooting pains throughout my body and my skin felt like the fabric touching it was leaving bruises.
As awful as all of that was, I could chalk it up to the traveling illness. But emotionally, the sadness had become so heavy, and at points there were tears so close to the surface that I was relieved to go in the shower so no one would see me.
The thing is, I’m not a cryer~ like almost never~ not unless a baby or a dog dies or something~ so I couldn’t understand why I would cry over being sick or if that wasn’t it, what the heck was going on.
I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be altogether mobile for the day, and tried to think of things I could get done from a chair or bed. I’m really good at being super productive in PJs, so I shouldn’t have had any trouble, but even work from bed seemed like too much. Something was telling me that I needed to just stop.
Not just slow down, but altogether stop.
Stopping is not something I do anymore than crying, but since I was in such bad shape, I figured I’d better try.
So, I stopped. I spent the entire day not doing anything productive at all. I didn’t try to create anything or make any plans or check any lists. I sat under a blanket in a chair in the sun for a while and watched my chickens, drinking tea, sniffling and occasionally moaning. I read random passages from books and took a few naps and pondered how very awful I felt.
Around six o’clock in the evening, out of the blue, I realized what day it was.
It was the 22nd anniversary of the day the day my world had actually stopped~ the day my oldest son had died.
Not long after that wave hit me, my SweetHeart got home, came in to check on me and asked how I was doing.
I replied “awful” and, he said “I know” thinking I was referring to the sickness he was just getting over.
But I told him, “No, you don’t know.” because he didn’t. He has never held his baby that he knew wouldn’t grow up, and he has never buried a child.
Because he’s a good listener, he sat while I blabbered random and odd details that sprang to the surface~ about how none of it made sense and about other people’s solemn voices and horrified faces and paintings on the hospital walls~ about days curled up with my dog eating nothing but bites of bagels that friends had sent~ about rain for weeks before the first flower of spring.
In my rambling patchwork of details, I realized something~ that my body had probably known before mind could even entertain the possibility of what had happened.
And it seemed like this weekend my body again seemed to know something before my mind remembered. Maybe that’s why I felt like a blanket of doom was smothering me and I had been on the verge of tears that I couldn’t explain.
It’s funny because in every Breastfeeding class that I’ve taught in the past 12 plus years, I’ve told the expectant mama’s that after they have their babies, if their body tries to tell them to slow down, they should listen, because the body will get their attention one way or another.
Somehow, it came as a surprise to me in this case.
Sometimes the body just knows, well before the mind can understand, and the body will make you listen..
At times, I’m still surprised that I didn’t lose my mind from the whole situation with my son. It wasn’t the kind of thing I even knew could happen to people today, but was like some sad tale from a pioneer story set in the 1800’s.
Only it does still happen. And it did.
To my kid.
He would be 22 years old now and his name is Hans.
So, even though I had another blog post planned for today~ some cheery post about traveling with kids~ I’ll share that at another time because right now this feels more important.
So many things have changed in the years since his death and birth. A lot of people in my life now don’t even know he existed because it’s not really the kind of thing that comes up in everyday conversation.
In the days immediately after his death, one of the harshest things was realizing how the world at large just kept on going like nothing had changed, even though my world had stopped.
Eventually, my world started moving again, but there are times, like this last weekend, when whether I like it or not, I just have to stop.
For whatever reason, no matter where my mind wants to go, my body is making me stop.
My acupuncturist once told me that grief is held in the lungs. She hadn’t known that my Grandmother was dying at the time, only that I was seeking help with asthma. I still don’t really know anything about how all that works, but I was definitely grieving then and my lungs were clearly not working very well either.
And as I’m lying here hacking like an 85 year old smoker and puffing an inhaler, both of those things seem to be true today as well.
So, I’m trying to honor where I’m at with this sickness and to take care of my body, my mind and my heart. I’m listening and stopping.
And I’m remembering.
Hot water streaming down my back with a lathered washcloth full of suds in my hands, I stood and inhaled deeply. As I let the water carry away my worries, the scent of ylang ylang filled my lungs.
That particular floral fragrance is said to be both erotic and narcotic~ I don’t know about all that, but the warm shower at the end of a long day certainly did make me feel warmer and melty-er than I’d been feeling before.
My mind began to wander along rabbit trails of philosophical things ~ abundance and scarcity, faith and safety, fear and anxiety and on to the concept of plenty.
It finally slowed down around there with the question of what makes a good life?
In particular, what would a First Class life look like?
That little seed had been planted by Denise DT of Lucky B. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s a sassy Australian who dives deeply into the concept of money mindset. She doesn’t so much talk budgets and investments, but deals with how thoughts about finances affect people and the life they live.
There’s actually quite a lot to it beyond the woo woo of feelings. I’m not opposed to woo woo, but there’s also actual consequences to the fears and self imposed limitations and expectations we have for ourselves.
On Denise’s suggestion, I sat down to evaluate things in my life, not just actual material things, but relationships, time, everything~ and rated them from Economy Class to First Class (with Premium and Business classes in between.)
It’s an interesting exercise, complete with surprises and I recommend trying some version of it for yourself.
The point isn’t necessarily just about the monetary cost of things, but how YOU personally *feel* about them.
It’s going to vary from person to person, but the main point is that it’s nice to not be surrounded by people and stuff that make you feel poor, victim-y, loser-ish or bad about yourself.
Going through my belongings and life, the rankings were all over the place, but it was really, really comforting to see how many areas I’ve moved up on the scale from where I was feeling a few years ago.
And, it’s been especially wonderful to realize that there are actually some areas in my life that feel legitimately First Class.
Like for real.
Coming from a working class background, it’s a strange and giddy thought to realize that I can actually have First Class things. It’s crazy and makes me smile just to think of it.
I mean, who woulda thought????
First and foremost, having First Class relationships feels HUGE, and is definitely the most important thing for me.
As far as “things,” most of the tangible objects in my life that feel First Class are actually rather small in size.
But, when it comes to impact, they are mighty.
And that was the best part of this whole exercise for me~ noticing those tiny things around me that make my life feel quite nice.
Which brings me back to that delightful shower….
Perhaps the bathroom itself could use some cleaning help, and the razor needed replacing, but the soap I was using~ total luxury.
And I only came to know the loveliness of these products through some accidental lack of organization and a bit of encouragement.
The soap is handmade by a friend who makes wonderful soaps in a little cottage that I was lucky enough to stay in while between houses a few years ago.
I’d never been one to buy something like really nice soaps for myself. I’d buy good quality food for my family, sure. A reliable car, yes. Because those things seem like logical priorities.
But handmade soap seemed like some sort of luxury that just hadn’t entered into my mind as something I’d spend money on for myself.
Back when I had stayed in her cottage, there were awesome little sample bars of soap at every sink, which I loved using. Even though I wouldn’t yet buy them for myself then, I had decided to buy some as holiday gifts, happy to support my friends’ business, especially knowing the products were really nice, and the recipients would feel uber special when they used them.
Well, a few months later, I realized that I actually managed to forget about one gift package altogether because it was buried behind a pile of craftiness until well after the holidays.
When I found it, and debated what to do, my Partner encouraged me, as he always does and said “Treat Yo-self!”
Mostly because I was too lazy to try to deal with mailing it, and explaining my tardiness, I just kept the bar for myself.
Here’s the weird part...I had kind of a hard time actually being the one to mess up the whole big, perfect, beautiful bar by using it for the first time.
I mean, I know it’s soap and you’re supposed to use it, but it was brand new and so pretty and glittery and all decorative and swirly on the top. I hated to get it wet because I knew it would never look the same again.
But I did because I told myself it’s soap and it would be ridiculous not to use it~ like one of those things you read about old ladies who died never having used their wedding china in 50 years of marriage etc.
I have enough other quirky habits and collections my loved ones will have to deal with~ I wasn’t going to be the weird unused soap lady too, so I just stuck it under the water and lathered up.
And I freaking loved it.
It smelled yummy and lathered better than shaving cream and left my skin feeling smooth and soft. I don’t know what a million bucks feels like, but using that soap sure felt delicious.
Luxury comes in surprising places I guess~
With the soap, and far beyond, it’s made a huge difference to look at all the things in my life that feel prosperous. Every single time I think of one and say “Yay~ I can have nice things!” it's like I'm a little kid having some big revelation that brings me a great deal of delight.
It's a feeling worth sharing and spreading, so I encourage you to think about what makes you feel prosperous in your life?
Hopefully you’re not wearing old, stained up undies that would make you embarrassed to change in a public locker room, even though you could just go to the mall and get some new pretty ones.
And more than that, I hope your relationships and the people around you and places you spend your life aren’t making you feel icky and drained.
We all deserve to be happy.
If you think a nice bar of soap might you happy, check out my friend Nicole. Her handmade, all natural, earth friendly bath products are produced in small batches on her beautiful homestead that includes an olive orchard, flower, vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees, and happy homeschooling kids.
I'd love to hear what makes you all feel prosperous~ so please share in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this, please give Zesty Mom a like and a share on Facebook as well!
Until next time~ Good luck finding first class in your life! Who knows where it might turn up? Mine was in the shower.
Here we are, a week into 2018, and no matter how many advertisements bombard me with “New Year, New You” messages, I have no delusions that a new Pamela is on the way, and no plans of trying to build one either.
Instead, I’m just planning on being nice to the same old me that has been here, showing up for the last 46 years, occasionally late and scattered, but almost always full of big (and possibly crazy) ideas.
I’m telling myself that I’m like a fine wine that gets better with age, but it’s possible that I really just gave all my effs away in my twenties, and I no longer have any to spare.
Either way, I’m pretty happy now with who I am and where I’m at, and I like where I’m going too.
I used to be fearful that contentment would lead to stagnancy, but I no longer think that it necessarily does.
It’s actually a lot more fun to enjoy where you’re at while looking forward to the road ahead, than it is to use dissatisfaction as motivation, that’s for sure.
The other night I was watching my son play high school basketball, and the other team was losing quite badly. They were good sports and trying hard, but they were outmatched, and even though they kept at it, giving it their all, their coach just berated them, no matter what. We watched the kids’ eyes dim and their spirits wilt as they tried to block out the coaches negativity and focus on playing.
I found myself cheering for those kids, even though they were the “other” team. I even had an internal mom moment of wanting to go buy them all cookies or something, and to give that coach a talking to about being so stinking mean, but to avoid mortifying everyone involved, I didn’t.
It was pretty obvious though that the tactics of that angry coach weren’t helping. Unfortunately, he was too caught up in what was wrong to see that he was making it worse.
Sadly, a lot of people talk to themselves the way that coach talks to those kids.
I’ve done it myself and the things is, it never has helped.
It has however led me down roads to stress, anxiety, and rage, all of which are entirely unpleasant states that leave me and everyone in my wake feeling awful, not to mention the scary looks it imprints on my face, complete with angry eyebrows, wrinkled forehead and all.
For the good of myself, and the world around me, I’d rather avoid that if possible.
I’m all over no BS straight talk and working to improve things, but I’m not into having the negative, mean attitude attached to it. I think progress and improvement warrants at least as much, no actually *more* focus than what’s wrong does.
Which is why I’m recognizing all my baby steps and not just tallying my failures.
In doing my 2017 year end review, I was glad to come across many more things that worked well than those that didn’t. There were some mess ups for sure, including a couple of biggish ones and some things that got neglected and forgotten (like this blog...whoopsie) but more so, there were lots and lots of wonderful things that made up an amazing year.
Traveling, teaching, learning, creating and good times with the people I love.
And as I head into 2018, those things that I’m most grateful for are what I’m wanting more of.
And lots more love.
I wish all of those for you too.
So, for 2018, the same old me will be here dreaming and scheming, and growing along the way. I hope you’ll join me!
Happy New Year!
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.