Good mourning.

I’ve found myself in a place of mourning over the past couple of weeks. The word “mourning” just hit me as I tried to find a good word to describe this unsettled, depressed feeling that has been clinging on to me more often than not recently.

I mourn losses I’ve had. Above is a picture of FeeBee, who passed away in 2017. While I have two awesome dogs now, I still have times of grief. FeeBee was my true dog-soulmate and the connections I have with Adam and Cassie are different. Maybe it’s also that FeeBee was my constant through so much turmoil from age 19 through 34.

As strange as it sounds, I mourn my first marriage. Not because of him; I do not wish I was still in that marriage. There’s just that feeling of not living up to a promise I made. I had a chat with my sister about it recently and she has similar feelings about her first marriage and that was over with two and a half decades ago. It’s not the person we miss but it’s the overall feeling of a serious promise made that was not possible to keep.

I mourn normalcy – a status-quo. In my last blog post, I mentioned we received crappy news related to my mom. The news then was that the immunotherapy had not worked; actually, two tumors are a bit larger and a couple more have appeared. Since then, we have also had the results of a biopsy of a spot found in her cervix, necessitating a hysterectomy in the next week or two.

I mourn peace. I am a person who needs space, solitude, and quiet and I don’t get a lot of that. My teeth are starting to itch. My house is chaotic between the people and animals living in it. When I try to escape to a room to have a moment to myself, there is usually a small hand rapping at the door within a couple of minutes. Then there’s the constant picking up because children are little garbage-monsters who cannot see the debris they leave behind.

I mourn the loss of significant crafting time due to school and adult responsibilities. ((sigh))

In happier news ~ because I do always want to be cognizant of the good going on ~ I am currently in week 9 of 10 in my first term at college. My current average is a 99.33%, so I would say I’m doing pretty excellent! As long as I don’t blow it for my final assignments and exam, I should end it right about there. I wish I felt proud – instead, I wonder if my professors are taking it easy, knowing it’s my first time back in college since 2003. I am looking forward to a week break before I take my next set of classes, which will be English Comp 1 and Intro to Law.

I have been making significant headway recently with my on-going project of decluttering my space and closet. I’m nowhere near done, but I have not given up! I have not just been focusing my closet either. I have been going through crafting supplies that I’ve collected or that have been donated to me over the past year or so and making decisions on whether or not such items will actually be used anytime in the near future. An honest reflection of it is often a “no”, so things are making their way to the recycle bin. If COVID wasn’t such a large concern, I’d just have a yard sale.

Lastly, tomorrow night I am taking the wife out on a date to Mexican Radio ~ which is our favorite local Mexican restaurant. We haven’t been since before the pandemic and we are in need of delicious food and margaritas! Not to mention just sitting and enjoying each other’s company with nowhere else to be, nowhere else to go.

Forging onward!

Despite a week that felt very adversarial and difficult, I feel motivated to move forward. I had to force myself to do things I said I’d do but then didn’t want to do when it came down to it and I was pretty damned proud that I pushed through the “blahs”.

I stuck to my to-do list, for the most part, and that kept things held together in the emotionally chaotic week. I missed out on bike riding and regimented exercising this weekend, instead, focusing on writing kick-ass papers for school, reading, going to the pools with the kids, Jake’s birthday party, and relaxing. Soon we will be headed to my sister’s house for a going away BBQ for my nephew. He’s headed to Kuwait for the next year – he is in the military.

I don’t know – there’s just so much going on. Last week we didn’t get great news for my mother’s cancer (getting worse; immunotherapy did not work), the realization my nephew’s leaving and the hope he’ll come back, ornery clients at work, keeping my grades up, my wife’s work stress and the stress that puts on our family and relationship…

This week was just full of suckage.

But this weekend was nice. I even made time to complete a small task that was not a priority (as lately it feels like only priority tasks are getting done).

My wife brought home two small baby tears plants and I fashioned a recycled coffee tin into a planter. Now they both live here 🙂 I also made the plant hanger from natural cording and patterned wooden beads.

It felt nice to take a break from paying attention to the things that are on fire in life and create something useful, but not really necessary, for our home.

I hope that this week is better than the last.

A few days late – probably a few dollars short, too. I need to stay off of Mercari and out of Walmart.

I missed my blog posting on Sunday – I was too busy crafting and visiting a friend, chillin’ in her pool drinking wine! #AbsolutelyWinningAtLife

This girl?

Blazer and slacks compliments of sellers on Mercari; shirt courtesy of good ole’ Walmart!

That girl is feeling so on top of things right now it’s ridiculous. I wish that I could always feel this way, instead of the extreme back and forth between ‘together’ and ‘hot mess’.

I am exactly halfway through my first term of my Bachelor’s program at Purdue University Global. I can’t believe it; 5 weeks ago I was crying to my wife, telling her I was going to quit because I had no idea how people did it. Somehow I’m doing it…and doing it well; I’m actually ahead on my reading this week. I’m damned proud and happy I’m furthering my education.

Related to my health/fitness, I ordered some protein powder from LadyBoss because while this girl is on top of her school stuff, she’s not on top of her protein intake and I’m over shitty protein powder. I want the stuff people are saying tastes amazing! On top of this, I am back on my Asana Rebel flexibility and strength training kick, still bike riding – just on the weekends when I can take a longer ride, and am committing to strength training 3x a week. Peloton is great for this because they have all various strength training programs that give a good burn, even if I can spare only 15 minutes per muscle group. The days where I can consistently spend an hour on my workouts are over – I will be relying on these short bursts of challenging work during the week. I did a lower body workout last night that, at first, felt “easy”…but by the end of the 15 minutes my glutes were screaming.

Basically, things are lookin’ and feelin’ good for July. 5 more weeks to go in this term for college and then I get a week BREAK! I find I’m looking forward to choosing my next classes, even. Who is this girl!?

1 Glass of Wine Deep. Let’s Talk.

It’s Sunday – blog day – and I’m sitting here at my dining room table unsure what to write about because while it’s easy to just list out the things I’ve done this week…there is more pressing issues circling around in my mind. I’ll get to it.

It’s been a nice weekend; I finished all of my school work yesterday, making today a 100% goof-off day! I was to go to Cambridge to visit my parents but Theresa had a stomach bug and Emma had a head cold. While I do not have symptoms of either, I gave my mom the option and she said we’d get together another time. (She is still undergoing cancer treatment and will for the rest of her life.) It was a bummer but I respect her decision. So, I went to my sister’s instead to deliver some seedlings and to go for a walk.

I haven’t spent time with just my sister in forever and while I could’ve talked all day, I had tasks to come back home to. Namely, putting new tire tubes on my bike. Last weekend my front tire gave up so I ordered two more, as well as a new tire pump because it died the very same day as the tube did! All week long I was bike-less – it was depressing. Getting lost on my bicycle is one of my favorite things to do.

On to the more serious things on my mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about the protests going on and Black Lives Matter movement, in general. I am going to be honest and vulnerable here – I feel useless. I don’t know what to do or how to make a difference. I don’t know how to show my support or how to be a real ally. I want police officers to be held accountable for their excessive force in the treatment of black people; I want everyone to be held to the same standards. As in, a white person shouldn’t get a slap on the wrist for something that would send a black person to jail. I’ve been pretty silent about my feelings on social media because I question the effectiveness of re-posting information. If one is just sharing content related to the same, is that considered lazy activism? Is it considered lip service? Does it really raise awareness? If you are black, please chime in and help educate me. I am listening; I want to learn. How can I support you in a way that makes a real difference?

My brain is now mush. I am pretty much done with my 2nd week of school.

I just finished week 2’s assignments. Yesterday I dedicated to Interpersonal Communications and between the reviewing of notes, discussion board posts and responses, and my actual assignment…it was about 4 hours of me sitting at my picnic table on my patio. Thankfully I was in the shade because it’s hot as shit out here in the capital region of NY. I am also thankful that I did the reading on Wednesday, immediately prior to my seminar. It made me feel like I had less work to do on the weekend.

Today was all about Ethics. I had one more chapter to read (I read the first one just prior to my seminar on Thursday night), discussion board posts and responses, a quiz, and an assignment. This took me 2.5-3 hours today. My brain is absolute mush; I don’t have it in me to answer responses to my discussion board postings today. I will have to save it for tomorrow when I am fresh.

I am enjoying the challenge but I’m glad the bulk of the school work is over for this unit. While I am not required to respond to people’s replies to my posts, I like to because not only do I enjoy reading what my classmates have to say, but their viewpoints may challenge mine. It’s cool because we can play devil’s advocate to one another but it’s not in a way that feels confrontational or rude. Everyone seems very respectful of one another and their viewpoints.

The first time I went to college I didn’t care about it. I don’t remember actually trying ~ some kids need a gap year in between high school and college and I could very well have benefited from that. Either way, now that I’m an adult going back to school, you can be damned sure I’m going to get what I pay for.

I’m looking forward to this week – mainly tomorrow. After work my wife, kids and I are going to go kayaking as soon as I get home. There was no kayaking done this weekend; yesterday didn’t turn out as planned and today’s Father’s Day and we are trying to coordinate seeing both of our families. There’s just not enough time with all of that to get the boats out even today.

I’ve been feeling extra, extra tired lately and I’m not really sure why. I don’t necessarily feel stressed – as I mentioned in a prior entry – the first three days of school I was a hot damned mess but have since gotten over it. It could be the heat, it could be the mental gymnastics of school. It could also be that my exercise routine has yet to be settled into my new school routine. Not to mention, my bicycle is currently out of commission. I had to order two new tubes because my front one had a hole in it. I used the Peloton this morning but there’s no substitute for fresh air and a real bicycle when the weather’s cooperating.

Whelp, so much for a schedule!

I previously indicated I would be writing on Sundays and, although I had it on my to-do, the day went by and I didn’t blog! By the time I remembered I was snuggled up in bed.

Last week was my first week of college! It was super stressful; I spent a lot of time Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday feeling like I had pinching bugs inside of my stomach. I cried a few times. I told my wife I would likely end up quitting because how do people further their education while working full time and having a full life?

Then Friday hit me and I realized I was doing okay. I had gotten through my two weekly seminars, met my instructors and my classmates. Yes, the reading will be tough to manage but I legit do have every weekend to get it done. So even if the weekdays end up being crazy on occasion, I have weekend time to do the work.

Part of my anxiety is the fact that I don’t remember how to be a student, especially one taking all classes online. I have discussion boards, virtual books, and dropboxes for assignments. I had bought two pretty notebooks for my courses and realized – shit, I don’t know how to take effective notes. I take notes at work in my own version of shorthand but that doesn’t translate well into my class work.

So, I made some decisions:

1) I am going to take my notes on my computer via a Google sheet so that I can access it anywhere and reorganize the information based on its relevance after I am done with the reading;

2) I rented my books from Amazon so TONIGHT I will have both of my books in hand. Perfect timing to start my second unit! By having the actual books, I am saving myself from staring at a computer screen because I do that all day long. Sure, I will be taking notes on a computer, but I won’t be reading FROM it the entire time. Also it’s easier for me to mark where I left off in a real book and to see charts and figures in the right order. On my phone and computer things were a bit disjointed and if I clicked a link it was challenging for me to make my way back to the original text. While my virtual books are included in my tuition, for under $100 I am saving myself the stress of being tied to an electronic device. Feels like a win.

Yesterday I finished all of my reading and discussion boards and I felt PUMPED about it. I felt like “Okay, I can see how people can do this…” instead of focusing on the reasons why I felt I couldn’t. I had time to craft, pick up, take a nap, and kayak both days this weekend. I’m blessed.

I took quite a few pictures of our adventures on the water this weekend but this one is my very favorite. It’s peaceful. There was no one else out at this time – just me and my wife. It was chilly but I was bundled up and was pretty comfortable. Being out on the water made me feel like I was taking another step back to me. I used to kayak frequently and life changed and I had other things to keep me busy. It’s amazing to get back to it.

The above picture is from the Mohawk River right by the Rexford Bridge. Niskayuna, New York.

The music that’s taking me back to Cringetown.

Music has a way of carrying me back sometimes. Today’s choice is from Paul Oakenfold’s Bunkka album – “Zoo York”. Back when I first heard this song, I had a boyfriend who was pretty snobby and I was desperate to fit in with him and his friends. His friends were (and probably still are) great people though; it was just him that lacked substance.

This song reminds me of that time. Being an unsophisticated 22/23 year old, feeling like I was seeing adulthood for the first time. It reminds me of drinking too many cosmopolitans (because that’s what one of the girlfriends drank and I wanted to be just like her) shopping, and strained family relationships. Reminds me of sadness and arguments. It reminds me about how I’ve never really fit in anywhere I’ve been and when that relationship ended, how I fell into darkness for years and then pulled myself out. I didn’t treat myself well because I didn’t realize I deserved the best. That took me until my 30’s to figure out.

What can I say, I’m a late bloomer. Better than not blooming at all.

Yet – I am choosing to stream the Paul Oakenfold channel today because I did grow to enjoy the ease of his music over the years. Plus, I like reminders of where I’ve come from because it makes where I am that much sweeter.

Wait – what day is it?

I must be sleeping pretty heavily lately because both days this weekend I’ve woken up thinking I was either late to work or feeling bummed that I had to work the next morning. It’s Sunday which means it’s BLOG DAY. I’m typing this outside on my picnic table, surrounded by cluttery bullshit that shows how much of a mover and a shaker my wife has been with the gardening stuff. Today we are going to get our plants in the ground but, first, she has to change the oil in the new 4-wheeler she got for Emma.

#JustSundayThings

It’s been a beautiful weekend. Yesterday I was out and about on my bike for well over an hour. I like to explore streets and neighborhoods I’ve not been in before and that’s what I did! Then I rode down by Rivers Casino a bit and then came up through the Hudson Mohawk bike path. I made a stop at The Boat House and met Bud and Sally, it’s retiring owners. I stopped in to see if they had any kayaks left and turns out they just had one! Because I’d be an asshole to just bring home one, I opted to get a Yakima roof rack installed on my car so I could get ready for our eventual kayaks. True story – I found out when I got home yesterday that my wife has already purchased kayaks for us for our first wedding anniversary. Talk about soulmates…we are just on the same damned page way too often.

I then had a lot of time to craft. I’m savoring these “empty” weekends before I start my bachelor’s program because that time will be eaten up by a lot of reading, studying, and paper-writing. That’s what I’m assuming. It has been a long time since I’ve been in college (17 years) and I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t remember studying a lot before but I also didn’t care back then.

So during my free time yesterday, I finished up some projects. I made this bee candle holder for my sister’s birthday next month, as she LOVES bees. I was going to sell it, but to be honest, the first intention with this piece WAS for my sister’s birthday. As I was working on it, I just felt that maybe she wouldn’t want another knickknack, but my mom convinced me yesterday to just give it to her. So I am 🙂

Made from a recycled wine bottle with hand-painted fat & happy little bees.

I am so happy with how this came out that I am copying the bee motif on to other projects, which I’ll share in the future.

I also finished up these two candles and, guess what? THEY ARE SCENTED! I found some amazing fragrance oils and am now using them in my candles. The scent of these are orchid and it’s so lovely and uplifting.

Made from recycled bouillon jars.

I also enjoyed one of my own candles late last night, as my wife was making dinner. I scented this candle with “Ocean Breeze” and, I won’t lie, there were some vacationy-vibes happening in my brain. We are headed (hopefully) to Wildwood, NJ, in August, and although we have no idea what August will look like, pandemic wise, we are still hopeful to go and visit the ocean. Bike ride. Just be somewhere different.

This was made out of a recycled jelly jar.

Anyway, that’s enough for me today. I am actually thinking of exchanging my shorts I was going to wear while gardening for pants! It’s a bit chillier today than it has been but I am NOT complaining. This week was ridiculous with the humidity so the fact that this weekend has been breathable is enough for me!

A new schedule is beginning!

I will be starting my bachelor’s program at Purdue University Global on June 10th. Due to that, I am going to have to reconsider my schedule and budget my time better so that I can still do things that I enjoy (this blog, for example!) but not stress myself out to the max trying to do everything without some sort of timeframe barrier. So, starting next week, I will be blogging once per week on Sundays.

The other night I was working on my pre-orientation homework, as my live orientation takes place on Tuesday evening. I have to say, I’m a bit nervous about my education taking place solely online; when I graduated college in 2003, I was going to a school. I had school textbooks and an hour commute each way. Online learning is the way of the future – even if we weren’t under quarantine.

Thursday evening I was trying to get it all together and realized my Microsoft Office 365 wasn’t downloaded properly. That threw me for a loop after a very busy day and I should’ve called it quits after solving that problem (which honestly didn’t get resolved until today – “user error”), but I forged on for another two hours trying to review items and submit answers to quizzes…all while feeling more and more discouraged by the minute. I will need to be more mindful of my brain telling me its had enough because I was burnt out and I probably didn’t learn as much as I could have if I had started fresh.

I finished up my pre-orientation duties today and it felt much easier. I went into it not frustrated, not exhausted, not feeling like I was in a hurry to be anywhere. The school’s website seemed intuitive instead of confusing. Basically, it was the total opposite experience that I had the other night. It left me feeling like “Okay, I got this!” instead of “What the fuck did I sign myself up for?!”

So, I get to relax the rest of this 3-day weekend and I’m so grateful for that! I am working on boosting up my macramĂ© plant hangers for my Mercari shop, as I’ve sold 6 this week, leaving only 1 left in my online shop. I have made 5 between yesterday and today and will be making a few more. Then it will be the measuring, picture taking, and listing of each one.

Although I love making them, I don’t know how I will make them and do my school work. So I’m going to finish up with all of the cording I have and then see what I can do. I have made a nice little chunk of change by making these and selling unneeded items online and I will miss that little extra income. That little extra income is helping put an invisible fence around our yard for our dogs.

Anyway, I am happy that I waited so long to go back to school. When I went to school the first time, right out of high school, I didn’t give two shits about it. I was tired of 13 years of school already. I’m ready to give it my all this time. So that will be my priority, behind my family and my current job as a paralegal.

On another note, which doesn’t really have anything directly to do with the above, I realized something this morning: Depression and anxiety haven’t reared their ugly heads in a while. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful weather, a better eating and exercise routine, a caffeine-free lifestyle, or a mixture of all of the above. I feel like I am embarking on this new adventure in the best mind-space I could possible be in.

I’m on my way…limping along a bit, but still on my way!

As of this evening, I am registered into my two first classes at college – Ethics and Interpersonal Communication. They fit best into the time frames I need for my live online seminars. I am excited and a tiny, tiny bit nervous because I haven’t been to school since 2003…do the math. Do I even know how to student anymore?

So every day I’ve been chipping away at the getting ready to go back to college thing. Whether it’s applying for financial aide, discussing my current credits and what I need to do in order to get my bachelor’s, to scheduling classes, to applying for scholarships, getting supplies (I LOVE NOTEBOOKS!) – I’ve been taking it one task at a time; spreading it all out so it’s not lumped into one stressful day. I mean, day to day live without school can be hard enough. I am ridiculously busy at work ~ there is not enough time in the day to make it all happen but I continue to try.

At home, I feel like I haven’t been as mentally present. Too many moving parts on my end and on Theresa’s. My wife’s been kicking some serious ASS in getting our garden together this year. She built this amazing strawberry stand out of 2×6 wood and gutters so that the strawberries grow in the gutters and hang over the sides for easy picking. She’s put together, with the help of her brother and dad, a greenhouse. She’s purchased a bed for our spare bedroom, making it ready for guests when the COVID is over (or for our own nap times). We’ve sold things, decluttered, re-organized…when I say “we”, more “her”. So while I’ve been focused on preparing for school and maintaining healthy eating habits (for the most part), an exercise routine, and a busy Mercari shop…she’s been working on things that will better and benefit our family. I have been more focused on, I guess, bettering me. Which I hope, in turn, will better all of us.

Life, man. I was telling a co-worker – a kooky dude named Stefan – that I feel like I’ve lived a number of lifetimes to get to where I am today. He can relate and has had some interesting parts of his life, too, before becoming an attorney. He used to test snowboards, make ice cream, count the money in those armored trucks…maybe that’s why I am beginning to like him. He doesn’t seem like someone who knew what he wanted to do from the moment he could walk – I like people who have done different and weird things to get to where they are today. Although I haven’t strayed too far from the law (a two year stint at a gym), my style of life has changed a lot since leaving high school. I can relate, you know? To people who dabbled in this or that before settling into something adultish. Even thought I think the people who dabble forever are just as interesting. I guess people who are HAPPY with who they are and what they are doing are just super interesting to me.