THANKFUL FRIDAY

I came home from work on Wednesday to a stinky bedroom because Josephine had vomited in her crate. Then she went outside and pooped on herself. The poop may or may not have appeared to be bloody. I went straight into worst case scenario and was certain that Josephine was going to die. Meanwhile, Michael is all "she's fine. she just ate something that doesn't agree with her." Except I was adamant that she had stomach cancer and was going to require thousands of dollars worth of surgery. The veterinarian office didn't think it sounded like an emergency and Michael took her in on Thursday.

She's fine. She just ate something that didn't agree with her. 

I could not be in New York, walking down 5th Avenue, without stopping in at Tiffany's. The mothership store houses six floors with real live people operating the elevators. I tend to head for the fourth floor when I'm visiting because that's where all of the silver jewelry is contained, but Michael wanted to look at the new ridiculous housewares section. So we started on the fifth floor. Once we were on the fourth floor, I headed straight over to the charms and picked up the scooter charm. It is an exact replica of my scooter and I want it. I want it. I'm afraid to get it though because I can't figure out how to wear it. If I get it on a bracelet, I might catch it on something and rip the charm off. If I put it on a chain, it will have to compete with the other pieces I wear around my neck. It could also poke a hole in my sternum if I get squashed. I am explaining all of this to Michael when he interrupts me and says "let's go look at rings."

We looked at rings and we had a really nice sales person who listened to everything we said about what we'd like in a ring. Then I tried on THE ring and Michael asked if we should get it. I looked at him and said "I'm going to let you decide that." Then I left him at the counter and went up to the sixth floor to have my old ring re-shaped and cleaned. Later on, when we were back at the apartment and winding down from the day, Michael told me the story of buying the ring. He had explained to the salesperson and whoever was also standing near by that five years is his assessment mark of a relationship. It used to be that at the end of five years he would either leave or get married. He's only been married once. We are coming up on our five year mark and he's at a crossroads. He doesn't want to leave, but because of student loans, financially we cannot get married. So he offered me this ring as an upgrade to the first ring and then asked if we could renew our contract for another five years. 

I looked at him and thought about it. He drives me crazy at times. We don't like the same kind of music. We don't gravitate to the same kinds of movies. There's a lot that we don't have in common. But when I say "I want chickens!", he builds a chicken coop. When I say "we should get a camper.", he does all of the research and work to get us a camper. When I am freaking out about the dog, he's doing whatever he can to help me stop freaking out. In fact, that tends to be is default job: Stop Cindy from Freaking Out. So, I said to him "I think that I will renew that five year contract." We'll see what happens in another five years. 

I am thankful for Michael. I am thankful that Josephine is not going to die from some horrible intestinal disease. I am thankful for all of the eggs the chickens are laying because it makes me think they know that Spring is just around the corner. I am thankful for you. 

CONTROL

I was in New York when the latest, yet most deadliest, mass shooting happened in Florida. I was loopy on cold medicine, laying on the couch with Megyn Kelly on the TV. You could feel her anger radiating off of her in waves, just like every parent or human being with a heart. I heard her say "Your condolences mean nothing without action." and I nodded my head in agreement. Since that time, I've watched as people post various memes on Facebook that range from comparisons of this mass shooting with every day in Chicago to requiring voter ID to vote. The fallacy in logic boggles my mind. The voter ID thing sends me off on a major tangent because of hypocrisy. There's something that just doesn't sit well with me to hear a republican in the reddest state in the Union complain about voter fraud. Meanwhile, I live in a very blue county and always, always, always have to show ID for a ballot. Go figure.

It is a common misconception that Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the United States. It is true that the state of Illinois has tougher gun laws and at one point Chicago itself had stricter gun laws. But in 2008, the Supreme Court declared the ban on handguns unconstitutional and their gun registry program ended when the state of Illinois passed a law allowing concealed weapons. Chicago is also very very close to two states that have weak gun laws, thus making it even easier to purchase a gun over your lunch break, making it back to your Chicago office without anyone noticing. Actually, if you look at the Centers of Disease report on Firearm Mortality rates, you will notice that the top twenty states with the highest firearm mortality rates are states that have the weakest gun laws. So please stop using Chicago for an example that gun control does not work.

Another common misconception is that when people like me talk about gun control, we are advocating to take away ALL OF THE GUNS FROM ALL OF THE PEOPLE. For some reason the phrase 'gun control' sounds like an all or nothing solution. Again, this is not the case. Drunk drivers kill people. Do we revoke all vehicles and make cars illegal? No. We take licenses away from the drunk driver. This is a form of safety regulation. Are you mad because you can't drive drunk? I hope not. Gun control makes it harder for the bad people, the mentally unhealthy people to purchase the type of weapon that will kill a hundred people with one round of bullets. What would be even better is if that mentally unhealthy person gets flagged at an attempt to purchase a weapon. Then a mental health advisor is immediately dispatched to that person to help them. 

I do not own a gun and I will never own a gun. I'm not a hunter and I am not mentally prepared to take the life of another human being. So there's no reason for me to own a gun, but I do recognize that this country is made up of a whole lot of rural America who still hunt or use a gun to keep predators from their livestock. I get it, but in this amazing country, the land of opportunity, our children should not have to risk their lives for an education. Doing nothing is not an option. 

 

WHERE'S MY CHEESE

There are only two people at work this morning: me and one of my bosses. Everything got coated in a layer of ice yesterday and today there might be snow. Schools are closed due to weather. Many people are out with the flu. I left for New York with a tiny cough that turned into a big cough with a fever. So I spent two days of my trip downing cold/flu medicine and pretending that I didn't really feel that bad. After taking Sarge on a really long walk on Friday, I gave up with the pretense and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. I was feeling a whole lot better by the time Michael showed up late Friday night, even though I sounded terrible. Sure, there were many times over the following two days where I was forced to breath through my mouth and I had to, at times, resort to using napkins for Kleenex. 

Today, I am back to the daily grind and I am a little bit lost. I've had to look up the day's date four times this morning. I've probably asked "what day is this?" twenty times before noon. I have a whole lot of pictures to sort and edit. I have a whole lot of brain thoughts to sort and edit. I have a whole bunch of new pins to attach to my backpack. Here's the abridged version of two days in New York, until I can get all of those other things taken care of.

  • Steps taken over two days: 46,833.
  • Ethnic foods consumed: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Jewish Kosher Deli, American (?)
  • Things we saw: The Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Central Station, Tiffany's, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Chelsea Market, 9/11 Memorial, St. Paul's Chapel, Jacob Mould Fountain, New York City Hall, The Brooklyn Bridge, Stone Street, African Burial Ground National Monument, Trinity Church, New York Stock Exchange, The Charging Bull and little girl statue, Federal Hall, Battery Park, Castle Clinton National Monument, The Statue of Liberty, The Stonewall, Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace National Historic Site, Washington Square Park/Arch, The Strand bookstore, The Flatiron Building, The Empire State Building, Times Square. I'm sure I'm missing something.
  • The number of National Park Stamps acquired: three
  • Pairs of pants purchased: one
  • Pairs of arch inserts purchased: one

I think we did a good job of cramming in as much as possible over the two days of our visit. And once I'm back to a state of mind where I can remember what day it is, I'll tell you more about it. 

IN THE KEY OF D

Saturday morning, I got up and headed out for my usual Saturday morning routine. Michael and I have agreed that on the weekends we have the Cabbage with us that I should do the grocery shopping on my own. It's just easier and I get it all done before the two of them make any kind of peep of getting out of bed. On this particularly cold Saturday morning, I walk into Trader Joe's and I'm half way through the produce when they start playing China Girl. I can't help singing along as I marked things off the grocery list. 

"And when I get excited, my little China girl says 'Oh Baby, just you shut your mouth."

I get home and put all of the groceries away. The house is still quiet with the exception of Josephine who follows me around while dragging the toy Mom bought her for Christmas. There's a squeaker on the end and Josephine holds that end in her mouth, repeatedly biting down making a clacking squeak sound. "Play with me." So I do. We play tug of war for a bit until I look at the clock and wonder if I should nudge the sleeping bears. We have to drop the Cabbage off at birthday party across town at noon. 

Before I can make a decision about waking the others, Michael comes into the kitchen and drinks a full glass of water. He nudges the Cabbage and then gets in the shower. At some point Michael asks me how my mental health is doing today. I shrug and say that I think I'm doing okay and I believe it when the words come out of my mouth. Really. Then we're in the car, teeth chattering from the cold, backing out of the driveway and heading out. Ask Me Another is playing on the radio and Michael turns up the volume so we can hear the interview of Chris Hadfield. The host asks Chris to play Ground Control to Major Tom, the song he sang in a YouTube video while on the space station. Chris starts singing and there is something so perfect about his performance. I don't know what happens or why, but suddenly tears are streaming down my face. It's the second time today that I am hearing David Bowie and I start to wonder if Chris (my Chris) is trying to send me a message. 

We drop the Cabbage off at the ice-skating rink for the birthday party and then head over to a Chinese place for lunch. Michael and I are the youngest people in the place and no one is Asian. We should have turned around and left but we stay and eat the blandest Chinese food. My vegetables are basically raw, which I don't mind. I'm not a fan of over cooked, soggy veggies, but all the chewing was exhausting. Maybe Chris had been trying to warn me about our lunch choice and I totally missed it. Disappointed with lunch and with an hour left to kill before we pick the Cabbage up, we head over to the Duluth Trading Company so I can get a pair of fleece lined leggings. I grab the last pair of XS from the shelf and try them on. The last time I bought leggings from there, I bought the mediums and they were too big. I exchanged them for a small and even those constantly need to be tugged back up onto my hips through out the day. I but the XS small and was shook my head at sizing. I've never been an XS small anything. Ever. I'm still not, but I'll let Duluth think that I am. 

We go back to the skate rink to collect the Cabbage and watch her walk around on ice skates on the ice. It's too late for me to get skates because the free skate time is about to end. So we help the Cabbage get her skates off and then head home. Michael wants to make a stop at Vintage Stock. The Cabbage has recently discovered Minecraft and he wants to get a copy for her to play on the X-Box in the basement. I wander around the toy and collectible section and try not to think about which toys Chris would have bought here today. I pick up a Princess Leia from the Force Awakens and for a moment consider buying it. I put it back because I know that money would be better spent elsewhere. Game purchased, we finally head home. I distract myself with laundry and reading a book while the Olympics play in the background. I'm going to make it through this day without shattering into a million pieces. Which I do. No thanks to David Bowie. 

I leave for New York early Wednesday morning. Michael will join me Friday night. We have not traveled together before to a vacation destination where we have to fly. We have not done this kind of sightseeing together where we try to cram as much as possible into two days. New York City is a lot. I'm glad I'm leaving before him so that I have two days to acclimate to the city. Maybe I'll just hermit it up in our apartment, only leaving to walk a dog and get food. My bag is packed. I'm mostly ready to go. It seems odd to imagine being still in a city like New York, but I'm looking forward to being still.

I believe with my whole heart (or what's left of my heart) that I will come back with better stories, the kind of story that I'd want to read. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Last Saturday, Michael and I went to IKEA to buy a futon for the basement. The basement is becoming a second living space and sleeping room for Michael. He's got our old TV set up down there along with his desk and computer. We had an old couch down there that he was sleeping on, but it reached the end of it's comfort ability. I suggested replacing it with a futon because it's a couch, it's a bed, it's a couch! And yes, we live at IKEA okay. Jeeze, get over it. Any way, we get in a check out line with our flat bed cart and then I peek around the people in front of us to see what's holding up the line. There is a woman at the checkout counter with two flat bed carts and one full (like Walmart on a Friday full) shopping cart. I convinced Michael to slide on over to the line next to us.

As we stood in our new line, I watched the show of getting this woman's stuff checked out. Her face looked so haggard and embarrassed at the chaos she was creating. We made it through checkout just as the woman and her teenage daughter were attempting to get their carts towards the exit doors. The mother was trying to push one of the flat bed carts with one hand while pulling the full cart. Her teenage daughter was behind, doing her best to maneuver the second flat bed cart. I don't know if you have any experience with pushing IKEA carts, but those things require skills. The wheels are designed to roll in any direction. If you are pushing a full cart, you are using all of your core muscles and arm strength to steer that cart in a forward motion that will not send you careening off into a display of vardagens, shattering them into a million pieces. Maneuvering two carts at once is suicide. 

Michael managed to swerve our cart around the woman and her daughter and make his way to the exit. I was following behind with nothing in my hand except a plant (that Josephine has already pulled out of the planter, by the way. I cannot have houseplants). I looked at the woman trying to push a cart while pulling a cart and I said "Can I help you push one of these carts? All I have is this plant." The look on her face was one of suspicion, but she agreed. We followed Michael to the elevators and he corralled us all on to the platform so we could make it all in one elevator trip. On the way down to the parking garage the woman told us that they had driven three hours to come to the store today and that one of her friends had requested some items. The woman said that she'd had no idea it was going to be so much stuff. She shook her head at her carts and looked slightly embarrassed. Michael and I shrugged off her embarrassment and reassured her that it could easily happen to anyone. We always go in to that store for one thing and then leave with a whole new bedroom.

The elevator doors opened to the parking garage and I continued to push the woman's cart over to her car, which was parked very close to where we had exited. When we all got to her car, she looked at me, placed her hands together and said "Thank you so much for your kindness." Her words were so genuine and the look in her eyes was of such gratitude. I replied "it was no problem." and I went to catch up with Michael. After we had loaded our stuff in the truck and Michael was pulling out of our parking space, I said "You know, I was really helping everyone when I was helping that woman." Michael nodded and said "Oh, I know. You were thinking globally and acting locally." That woman and her three carts were in the process of creating quite the traffic jam for those exiting the building, but also I could see the frustration on this woman's face. I could see her struggle and I recognized how easily I could be in her place. 

I am guilty of taking on more than I can chew more often than I can count. I will carry all of the grocery bags into the house in one trip as if I am a pack mule. Asking for help is not an option, but that doesn't mean I would not accept help if offered. Well...I might hesitate slightly at the offer, but eventually accept it. The description of 'pack mule' does not only apply to my ability/determination of carrying all of the things. I think that many of us can relate to this, that it is slightly easier to just accept help being offered than it is to ask for it out right. It feels nice to be the one offering and giving help and it was such a simple thing to do. It reminded me that the gift of gratitude is very powerful. Every week, I end this post by saying that I am grateful for you. I am grateful to those of you who read these posts without judgment. I do not ask you to read or follow this blog, but you do. So... thank you so much for your kindness. 

 

FORTY SEVEN

Chris turned forty one and then died one hundred and three hours later. This is the first thing I remember when I wake up on February sixth. It is the beginning of the losing. If this were a normal day and there were no such things as tumors or cancers, Chris would be turning forty seven, but this isn't fantasy land. Tumors happen. Cancer has been a thing since the dawn of man. No one lives forever. I can't even image what we would be doing to celebrate his birthday this year. Movie? Dinner? Maybe have Amy, Roger and Charolette up for the weekend? Traci, Chris and Quinn? Maybe we'd go there? I don't know. The only birthday of Chris's that we celebrated after our move to KCMO was the one before he died. It had only been a year since our move. 

One year. 

2011 was a year of great change. 2012 was the black hole that sucked up all of that greatness.

I keep thinking that there really is going to be a day when I don't dwell on this day. Facebook reminded me to share a Thankful Friday post from February sixth where I wrote about being thankful for the time Chris and I had. I read through it and rolled my eyes. What a load of sugar coated bullshit. Of course I am grateful for that time, but come on. I'm the Pollyanna of grief. Oh look at me! The person I expected to grow old with died before we were old, but I'm doing so great! Sometimes I think this attitude I have where I try to show everyone (mostly myself) that I'm doing just fine, diminishes Chris and what we had. I mean, if it was all so great, how is it that I've been able to move forward so quickly. What I don't always tell you or anybody is just how much I have to work at staying in forward motion. 

Do you watch This is Us? I don't know why Michael and I watch it. It makes us both cry every damn episode. The latest episode was the hardest for me but at the same time, a little validating. Twenty years later and each family member is still grieving. Each member of the family spends the anniversary of their Dad's/Husband's death dealing with it in their own way. Mom makes lasagna. Kate watches a home movie. Randall goes all out for the Super Bowl, Dad's favorite thing. Kevin...usually does nothing, but that changed this year. We see him start his own tradition. I feel like each of those characters represent my years of grief. I made everything jambalaya the first year. I got lost in all of our old photos. I haven't gone all out for anything or started a new tradition. Those are for years to come I guess. 

I have removed 90% of his junk from this house. Mostly garbage. Some toys. All of his clothes with the exception of a T-shirt that I still wear and his old bath robe. I still wear that too because it's big and soft and he didn't really wear it but once or twice. I never got around to fixing his Facebook account. It requires a photo ID and I've put all of that stuff someplace so organized that I don't remember where. Also it's for selfish reasons. The daily onslaught of messages to his timeline is too much for me. So I've let it slide. I'll fix it eventually. I owe it to the others who loved him. Just not today. Today I am too busy being split in two between the life I had and the life I have. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

I've been reading the news stories about Cape Town and how if water levels do not stop decreasing in the next three months, this city is going to have to shut off the water supply to homes and businesses until the rains come. Cape Town is not some small village. We are talking about a city that is on par with major cities all around the world. It was named the World Design City in 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. It was also considered to be one of the world's top 'green' cities. They have gone above and beyond in conservation efforts from new pipes and water meters to tariffs on exceeding water limits. Today the daily water limit per person drops to 50 liters from 87 liters. For everyone. People just like you and me. It is estimated that the water will be shut off in April. The water crisis that is happening in Cape Town and other parts of the world are a direct result of climate change. Cape Town is waiting for rains that are not coming.

I once heard one of my college professors say that the biggest battle we will have will not be over oil or who owns the oil supplies. It will be over water. It is far easier for me to see a world struggling for water resources than one searching for fuel, mostly because we've come up with alternative options for energy. There's not really an alternate source for water. We can build desalination plants that pull salt from ocean water, but those plants are expensive. They use a lot of energy and pollute the air and water ways. They disrupt marine life and fishing industries. It is not a sustainable solution. We can conserve, but while we are conserving we must come up with other water sources. It is all too often taken for granted that when I turn the handle on any of the faucets in my home or where I work, that water is going to flow freely from the tap. I don't even think about. I read a quote from a woman who said "you cannot mix up baby formula without water." That sentence floored me. 

I try to be mindful and conserve water. I don't let the water run while I'm brushing my teeth and I dump my water glass into one of the house plants. I recognize though, that I could do more. I have space for rain barrels. The water they collect could be used for watering the garden or even the chickens. I leave the water running while hand washing the dishes. That's more of an OCD cleanliness thing that I need to get over. I can and do support legislation that promotes research and infrastructure for dealing with our changing climate. I support scientists who are out there gathering data and information so that we can come up with solutions for a cleaner, healthier planet. It sounds really easy for me to be grateful for water. Such a simple thing. But today, I am thankful that I have access to a clean source of water. And because I am so grateful for this, I am going to continue to do what I can for this planet we live on. 

I am thankful for many things this week, like healthy bodies and ginger tea (water). I am thankful for the moments I have laughed in ernest. I am thankful for sunshine even when it is bitter cold outside. I am thankful for you. 

(I looked into ways to help Cape Town and could not find anything reliable. You can always make donations to Charity Water or The American Red Cross Disaster Relief.)

 

 

 

UNCOMFORTABLE

I've had some thoughts rolling around my brain for a few weeks now that I haven't felt eloquent enough to put down into words. Those thoughts center around the #MeToo movement and all of the commentary involved. Several days ago, Michael was trying to remember the name of some celebrity and he asked "Who's that guy who recently exposed himself?" and I replied "which one?" We narrowed it down to James Franco, but still...it could have been any male. I think that most guys hearing these stories of exposed penises think that this is a rare event or it's not so bad as long as the guy is not in a position of authority. First of all, exposed penises are not rare occurrences and secondly exposing your penis is bad. END OF FUCKING SENTENCE!

I'm going to make up some statistics and just say that one out four women are unwillingly exposed to a male penis every day. More often than not it is some random stranger on the bus, subway, in the park, walking down the sidewalk, standing in line at the grocery store, at the gas station. Pretty much anywhere. My friend Sarah was recently talking to a group of women about the #MeToo movement when one woman spoke up and said that she didn't understand how so many women could be coming forward with these kinds of stories. She said that nothing bad had ever happened to her. Then she told a story about how there was this one time while working at a fast food place when the other employee working with her that day pulled out his dick, but nothing happened. She thought this was maybe not normal, but just something that occasionally happened. No big deal. Just a penis. This brings me to my next topic, which I've been struggling to articulate about in discussions and that topic relates to the Aziz Ansari story where a woman described an encounter that made her cry. People are wondering if this qualifies as sexual harassment and why she just didn't remove herself from the situation. It also applies to that poor woman who didn't realize she was being sexually harassed by her co-worker.

Women are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.

That sentence comes from a really well written article called The Female Price of Male Pleasure. I recommend that you go over and read it right this minute because it talks about an issue that is just not discussed and it is an issue that really really needs discussion. In fact, it is the type of discussion that could clear up some things for the men who are confused by all of these tales of sexual assault. If you read that article, you will find that women and men have way different scales for what constitutes good sex vs bad sex. Women consider the sex 'good' if she didn't feel coerced or more likely it didn't hurt. Not if she orgasmed. Our pleasure comes second if at all or when we are alone and have no one to please but ourselves. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 5% of women between the ages of 25-29 masturbate more than four times a week compared to 20% of men who do. That number evens out a little for those who masturbate multiple times a month (something like 21% of women 25-29 and 25% of men in the same age bracket). But I'm curious to know how honestly those women responded to that survey. 

We got the Cabbage a new electric toothbrush for Christmas and it sounds like a vibrator. Over the weekend, I was walking through the living room and I asked "did she brush her teeth?" Michael replied "No. Did you here her vibrator?" Which we both laughed at and then I said something about when the Cabbage is older we're going to wonder why she brushes her teeth so much. Though we were making a joke of it at the time, it made me realize that female masturbation is not something often talked about, particularly when it comes to teenagers. When people talk about teenage masturbation it is almost always in regards to their teenage son. No one ever mentions the idea that the teenage daughter is masturbating. So right off the bat, as young women are learning about their bodies for health reasons, they are also learning that their own sexual pleasure is something that doesn't happen or is shameful and should be kept secret. 

When Michael and I started talking about the issue with Ansari, Michael said that it was that girl's responsibility to say something and get herself out of the situation. I agreed with him, but said "it's not as easy to do as that sounds." He was dumbfounded by this and I stopped talking because I couldn't find a way to explain to him why it is that getting out of unwanted sexual encounters, even if the guy is nice about it, is so difficult. It's almost even more difficult if the guy is nice. Because women have been cultured to please, even in disregard to her own pleasure. It may be hard to understand, but sometimes doing the thing you don't want to do is the easiest solution to a get away. Raise your hand if you have had sex when you didn't really want to have sex. I am positive that there are men out there who are raising their hands because I've heard Michael say it. So I ask you, why didn't you just make it clear that you didn't want to have sex and leave the situation?

It is not an easy question to answer.  

 

I DRANK LACTOSE FREE WHOLE MILK FOR A WEEK AND HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED

I get a lot of junk email because I went through a phase where I entered a contest every day or so. Some times I open a few of those emails and there always seems to be at least one article in the email that starts with "I drank blah blah blah for a week..." or "I ate this..." or "I started getting up at the same time...." I've fallen for the click bait sometimes because I do wonder what happens if you use a charcoal pore strip on your nose every day (don't) or if you eat raw meat every day. Most of these articles end on a positive note. The author is usually pretty happy with the results of giving up sugar or eating more fat or whatever the newest trend is. This post is not like those articles.

I wash down my breakfasts of pancakes or tofu scramble every day with a glass of almond milk. I used to use soy milk, but I started to get weird and weepy. Something about estrogen. I don't need help with the weepy thing or even the weird thing. So almond milk it is. Last week, Michael and I went grocery shopping and Trader Joe's was completely out of Almond milk. They didn't even have an empty space for it in the dairy section which caused me to panic. Michael checked with an employee who said something about getting a new distributor. In the meantime I needed to find a substitute. So Michael pointed to the lactose free whole milk and said "what about that?!" I looked skeptical and said "Ahhh....I don't know." So into the cart it went. I also made a very unhappy face that Michael said I should never make again. 

Growing up, I always had the option of milk or orange juice with breakfast. I always chose orange juice, mostly because I didn't really like milk. My mom was not concerned about calcium or vitamin D deficiency because I was one of those weird kids who liked to eat broccoli and spinach, most vegetables, really. I would occasionally have a glass of milk with a chocolate chip cookie or with crumbled up cornbread, but I was never one to go "Mmmmm...a big glass of milk!" Now the only time I drink milk is if it's the cotton candy milk from Shatto. That's not very often and it always makes me sick to my stomach. Which is why I made that very unhappy face as Michael put the lactose free milk into the cart. I was skeptical that 'lactose free' would make any difference in how my gut reacts to milk.

And I was right! Lactose free means nothing! NOTHING! I spent the whole week bloated up like a balloon with a crampy gut. It also tasted like I was drinking cream instead of milk. I couldn't figure out if this was because I hadn't had actual milk in so long that I forgot what milk tastes like or if this particular milk tasted weird. Later, when I'd given up on the milk, Michael had a glass of it and confirmed that milk tasted weird. So, I am back to almond milk. Thankfully it was back in stock at Trader Joe's this weekend. 

I've just written post that goes against one of the first rules of blogging and that is no one cares what you had for lunch. Or what you drank for week. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Someone recently asked me how 2018 was treating me. I replied that I kind of felt like I was failing at all the things I had set out to do this year. That person then said "Cindy! It's only January!", except I heard "It's already January!" And I fell over with anxiety. I know this is just my brain playing tricks on me. My brain is an asshole. Yesterday, I read an article about a woman with sudden onset depression. It turned out that she had ovarian cancer. They removed it and everything turned out okay, but as I read the article I thought "I HAVE ALL OF THESE SYMPTOMS! I HAVE OVARIAN CANCER!" I do not have ovarian cancer.

Really, I didn't set any specific goals for 2018. So it is pretty silly to think that I am already failing at goals that were not set. I started another 365 day project on Flickr, taking a picture of myself every day and the project is becoming my morning meditation. It seems that I am more creative and more apt to take a selfie at seven in the morning. Those days (weekends really) where I don't get going in the mornings and I end up putting the picture off until later in the day are days where I just basically point the camera at my face and click. I started this project because for a while now, I've been looking in the mirror and seeing a sad saggy fat face on top of a lumpy sack of potatoes with arms and legs. Almost a whole month into this project and I still see that face and body. It's just a little less saggy, fat and potato like. I captured a picture of myself in Warrior II and when I looked back at the picture I thought "Wow! Look at that ninety degree angle of that front leg!" Side note: I still cannot get myself into Marichyasana. It is as if the yoga gods looked at me one day and decided that after years of doing this pose that I was done with it. Move on. 

What has pleased me so far about this project is that I have not gone out of my way to set up some elaborate shot. I've kept things simple and when I edit the images, I use the same filters and edits. As a result, my 365 day album is acquiring a clean, glowing look. The photo album is inspired by a series of photos that were on display at the Nelson some time ago. I forget the artist, but she had photographed herself daily. All of the images used the same backdrop and it was rare to see a picture of her face. You only saw pieces of her. There was something so honest about this idea and I thought about how we only see pieces of each other. An Instagram picture. A blog post. A status update on Facebook. We infer so much about others from these snippets and these snippets are part of who we are, what we believe and think. But those pieces do not tell the full story or show the whole picture of us. It reminds me to use those snippets wisely. I learn something or gain some kind of insight every time I participate in one of these 365 day projects. I am thankful for the lessons I am already learning from this year's project. I am thankful that I am not already failing at 2018. 

I am thankful for the warmer temperatures. I am thankful for the two students who consistently show up to my evening yoga classes. I am thankful for my own daily practice on the mat. I am thankful for those moments when Josephine spends a whole bunch of time digging around and building a nest in the blanket next to me on the couch. Then she abandons it before even trying to lay down in her nest so that she can come curl up in my lap instead. Those are sweet moments. 

I am thankful for you.

IN OTHER NEWS

Over the weekend, I increased in age by one whole year. According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I am now the answer to the ultimate question of life, the Universe and everything. You probably will not be surprised to hear that forty two doesn't feel any different from forty one. It just is. So the real answer to life, the Universe and everything is that it just is. It just is, people. That might be a slightly unsatisfying answer to some, but unicorns wouldn't be magical if you saw one every day. I don't know what that means, but just go with it.

We celebrated my birthday with a Pimms cup and snails from the Westport Cafe, because the Pimms cup is becoming a birthday tradition. Terry and Billy met us there for appetizers and drinks, which was a surprise because I didn't know they were coming to meet us. I received a card from Billy and Wilson that had a sexy man picture in it and set of lottery scratchers. Terry gave me a gift bag containing multiple awesome gifts, but the most awesome gift in the bag was a bag of tiny hands. They fit on the ends of my fingers so that if I put one on each index finger and then pull my sleeves over my hands, I look like Dooneese. I plan to keep a pair of tiny hands near me at all times because you never know when you're going to need an extra (tiny) hand. The rest of those hands are going to end up in my Halloween display. I love them so much. After drinks and appetizers, Micheal and I went to Bob's Wasabi for dinner where I ate the best sushi I have ever eaten. That's really a remarkable statement because I've eaten sushi on the east and west coast. Also, KCMO is darn near the middle of the country. It's a loooong drive to the ocean. I don't know how Bob does it, but it is delicious. After sushi, we headed back to the Westport area to a donut/cocktail place. I ate a mediocre donut while drinking a champagne and Chartruese cocktail. The cocktail was delicious and made by a bartender who thought very very highly of himself. It's good to be confident. 

The next day, we went to our hairdresser for haircuts. I looked down at the chunks of hair that fell into my lap and noticed that there sure was a whole lot of gray in those chunks. I said something about that to my hairdresser and she said "Yeah...I noticed that you've gotten a lot more gray since the last time you were here." That was a little more than two months ago. My new haircut is kind of edgy with my bangs real long and the sides real short. I have a strong urge to color my hair gray. I know that there is a lot involved in this process, especially if you are not already blonde. It's totally damaging, but I still kind of want to do it. Maybe this is a mid-life crisis thing. Except Michael and I both agreed that I'm probably going to live to be ninety something. So, it's a little early yet for a mid-life crisis.  

Maybe it's a pre-mid-life crisis thing. 

 

CRYBABY

I used to cry whenever someone would say something to me that was harsh or unkind. A girl on the playground would criticize my dress or my cartwheel and I would burst into tears. Then I would listen to her laugh while she stood with a group of girls, all wearing the same color hair ribbons and she would say "She's such a crybaby." Girls are so cruel to each other. You couldn't pay me enough money to go back and do that part of my life all over again. It never eased up either. All through elementary school, middle school and high school, there was always that group of girls who went out of their way to be judgmental and cruel. I remember in high school, just after breaking up with a boy I wasn't really into, overhearing Katie Hanniford say "I don't know why she would break up with him. It's not like she's ever going to get another boyfriend." It wouldn't have stung if I hadn't thought that Katie was a friend.

For the Record: I'm sure I said my fair share of cruel words as well. I regret every single hateful thing that came out of my mouth. I am sincerely, truly sorry if I said those things to you. You deserved and deserve to be treated better. 

By this time, my outsides resembled a hard bouncy ball and those snide, snarky comments just bounced off. What did I care any way? I was too busy plotting my escape from that town to give a thought to boyfriends or mean girls or friends who really turned out to not be friends. The crybaby phase did not last long. I learned pretty quick how to shut off the main valve to the waterworks of my eyeballs. Tears only showed up in cases of pain (like the time I broke my arm on the playground and had to sit in the main office for four hours waiting on a parent to come get me) or deep sorrow (like the time my favorite 4-H extension agent got a brain tumor and died). Getting the inside part of my ear pierced hurt so bad that I wanted to jump off the table screaming, but I did not cry. Not crying became part a rule. First, you never let them see you sweat. Then, you never let them see you cry. 

Do you even remember those deodorant commercials? "And never let them see you sweat!" Women were supposed to take care of the kids, the house work, have a career and stay fit. Like really fit. Like look good in a leotard and leg warmers fit. You're supposed to do ALL of that without breaking a sweat. Or burping. Or farting. Crying is the ultimate weakness. We're expected to cry but we should be ashamed of it. "Whut? You gonna cry like a girl?" is a line they teach all of the bullies. Only sissy babies cry. Thanks to that stigma of weakness, we've been forced to sequester our crying jags to while we're alone in the shower or sitting alone in our cars at the grocery store parking lot. Sometimes while shoving Oreo cookies in our mouths. We must be exhausted from always putting on the 'brave face'.

If I start crying in public it means I have lost all kinds of control. And THAT is unacceptable. The problem is that main valve I shut off so many years ago has gotten worn out and in the process has sprung a leak. The threat of losing control hangs over my head like a guillotine. One time I walked into the women's bathroom to find a coworker crying. We were both so awkward neither one of us knew what to do. It was like I had might as well have caught her smoking in the bathroom. It took a minute, but I came to my senses and reached out and hugged her to give her some kind of comfort. She didn't need me to tell her that everything was going to be okay. She didn't need to explain herself to me. I had already used that bathroom for a crying space so many times. I didn't need an explanation. Instead, I told her this was a good place for crying. It’s like we just don’t know how to even handle seeing someone crying let alone allow another to see you cry. 

The thing is, we've been taught that showing any emotion other than happiness is in some way wrong, weak, or just generally unacceptable. It makes people uncomfortable to see you sad or even just indifferent. You're sitting on a park bench minding your own business or walking down the sidewalk when you hear someone say "Smile, sweetie!" You can't let your face rest for a second. 

Every time you smile, it's a fake. Stop pretending...

I sweat. People have seen it. I don't care. I cry. People have seen that too. I'm trying not to care. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to sub a Saturday morning yoga class at the same place I'm teaching during the week. I've taken to setting up my mat in what has become obviously opposite of where all the other teachers set up. It's a strategic move. The space has mirrors on most of the two walls of the room. If I set up opposite of those mirrors, then the student are facing away from them. Mirrors are distracting and they pull your focus off your mat and away from just feeling what is going on with your body. That Saturday morning, I walked into the room and started setting up my spot for teaching. There were already a few mats down on the floor where some people had set up their space. My position put these mats on the front row. 

One older gentleman stood over to the side doing some light stretches. He looked at me and asked "Are you subbing for Gina?" I smiled and replied "Yes. I'm your sub for the day." The man made a face and then started to grumble as he walked over to his mat. Then he dragged his mat away from the front of the room. He stayed though. It was a big class and consisted of mostly the Silver Sneakers crowd. After class was over, several students came up to me to tell me just how much they enjoyed my teaching. One woman even asked if I was teaching any where else. I watched that older gentleman out of the corner of my eye as he rolled up his mat and then left. I hoped that I hadn't made the class too unpleasant for him. He had been so displeased that I was there instead of the teacher he was used to. So you can image how surprised I was to see him show up for my Wednesday class and then again for this last Wednesday evening class. In fact he was my only student on Wednesday and we had a great class together. 

Even though I only had one student in my class that night, I left there giving myself a little fist pump and a "YES!" because I had won over this older gentleman enough to keep him coming to my classes. These classes I'm teaching have had some pretty variable attendance from thirty students one day to one student the next. It's new to the schedule and the weather has been terrible. Getting a class established takes time. I am not upset when I end up with only one student. I am also getting used to this new schedule and getting back into a habit of writing down a class that can be adapted depending on the kind of students that show up. I am getting used to the pacing of a class and at times I feel at a loss of descriptive words. I'm a bit rusty or at least I feel a bit rusty at all of this. I am grateful for the validation that I'm doing this well. I am grateful for those moments while I'm teaching when I feel strong and confident. At some point during the class something will just shift into place and suddenly I will be all "Yeah...I totally know what I'm doing." Which is something I can't always say with confidence in other parts of my life.

I am thankful for above freezing temperatures. I am thankful for small but mighty dogs. I am thankful for my yoga practice. I am thankful for you.

HERE NOR THERE

I've got nothing for you. I started writing about the darkness that's starting to crawl across my brain and then I deleted it. Last night I sat in my therapist's office and wept for twenty minutes because it is the one place I don't have to pretend. I pretend every where else because I don't want to be sad girl. But right now I am sad girl. So instead of me talking about that, let's all look at that puppy in the picture up there. Isn't he the cutest? He looks JUST LIKE Josephine. 

That's Murray. Terry brought him home on Christmas Eve. Things have been hard for Terry and Miles (his other schnauzer) ever since Max passed on. I told Mom about Miles waiting at the door when the vet took Max away and I started crying. Max made an impact on a lot of people, as I am sure Murray will as well. He is 100% puppy and he is so tiny, that Terry has to carry him up and down the stairs. He is so tiny that he fits inside Heather's handbag and she almost took him back to California with her. Murray is a squiggly ball of needle teeth right now and he makes us laugh and laugh even while he is stabbing those needle teeth into our flesh.  

Josephine is going to stay with her Uncle Terry in February. I can't wait to see how she and Murray get along. Josephine is really good with my brother and sister-in-law's little dogs. She's never tried to hurt them and plays well with Rayland. Josephine has learned to give Buttercup her space. Buttercup is the oldest chihuahua in the world. She is a queen who sits on her giant pillow and watches the shenanigans that go on between Josephine, Rayland and the cat, Nero. I think Josephine will be great with Murray and they will play and play and play. The best thing about Murray is that I've heard Terry laugh, really laugh, more than I've heard him laugh in a while. 

Puppies just make you feel better.

SELF CARE

For weeks now, I’d step down a certain way with my right foot and feel like something was poking me in the foot. I would pull my sock off and rub the ball of my foot in search of whatever was sticking me, but I wouldn’t find anything. So then I would check my sock and finally my shoe, not finding any kind of thorn or needle in either. Each time I would shrug and just go on my merry way. Then, the other day I set a timer for five minutes and set myself up in baddhakonasana. And because my brain wanders off the map whenever I hold poses for minutes at a time, I started inspecting the bottoms of my feet. That’s when I discovered a splinter about half a millimeter long buried in the ball of my right foot. I thought “Oh! No wonder I thought something was always poking the bottom of my foot!” So for the rest of the four minutes of my time in baddhakonasana, I picked at my foot until I was finally able to pull out the splinter. I know yoga is all about self discovery and listening to your body, but usually those lessons aren’t so blatantly obvious.

Sometimes I need reminders to take care of my body. Like the time I sliced my wrist open with my toenail when hopping forward to forward fold. I still have a scar that rests lengthwise with one of my brilliant blue veins.  If it were any longer, I’d have to constantly explain that it was unintentional and happened because I forgot to trim my toenails. Taking care of this body just doesn’t come naturally to me. Taking the time to rub lotion into my skin or making sure my toenails can’t be used as weapons or soothing salt baths are all work. That sort of self care takes more effort than sitting quietly with a book and a mug of tea. It also requires me to take off multiple layers of clothing that is currently keeping me from falling over dead from the cold. I mean, you should see my hands right now. They are so dry that even my fingertips are scaly and my phone is having a hard time reading my thumbprint. 

There's this little town north of us called Excelsior Springs and like most towns that end with 'Springs', it is named after mineral springs that are in that area. The ferro-manganese water from one of the springs was discovered to have 'healing powers' and visitors started flocking to the small town to bathe and drink the water. The Hall of Waters was built in the late 30s as a WPA project. At one time, it housed a bottling plant for the different spring waters and bathing pools. Now it is just a municipal building and visitor center. The Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs is over a hundred years old and was one of the original national health resorts. It still stands and the spa has a fancy grotto area where you can scrub your body with fancy bath salts and bathe in pools of spring water. I've wanted to go ever since I found out about it so I booked facials for me and Mom there this weekend. Saturday morning we will drive forty five minutes north so that an expert can slather our faces with cleansers and creams. Then we will scrub our skin with fancy bath salts and soak in hot tubes filled with the healing mineral waters of Excelsior Springs. 

I cannot wait and have in fact been dreaming about floating in warm pools of water while stars sparkle above. I am also very much aware that these are things I can do in my very own home. Apparently I need a special occasion and permission to spend money in order to care for this body or do nice things for this body. Which is dumb. I so often forget that the easiest way to be kinder to myself includes some of the simplest tasks.  

PUSSY

The other day, we were all standing around talking about various music artists, when someone mentioned John Denver. I said "Every time a John Denver song comes on the radio, Michael turns it off and calls John Denver a 'pussy'. Which bothers me." It doesn't bother me because I like hearing John Denver sing about sunshine and country roads. His songs were among the songs we would sing around the campfire. Sure, his lyrics tend to lean towards happy optimism, but sometimes after you've been listening to a whole lot of Cure, a little happy optimism is nice. Michael's dislike of John Denver is not the issue here. It is his use of the word 'pussy' to describe someone he sees as weak and wimpy. He is not alone in this use of language and really the only time I've ever heard him call someone a pussy, that someone has always been John Denver. But still...

Definition of pussy in English

1. A cat

2. A woman's genitals

    2.1 Women in general, considered sexually

    2.2 A weak, cowardly, effeminate man  

In 2009, a woman broke vaginal weight lifting records when she attached weights to an egg, inserted that egg into her vagina and lifted thirty pounds by contracting her Kegel muscles. The human vagina is lined with ringed muscular ridges that can contract and expand and during childbirth, those muscles expand up to 200 percent. In rare cases, the vagina has been known to spasm and clamp down on a penis hard enough to inflict pain. The vagina is just one organ that makes up the complicated system that is women's genitals. The vagina and the vulva are often confused structures. Let me clear that up for you. The vagina is inside and vulva refers to the outside structures like the labia and clitoris. The clitoris has over 8,000 nerve endings, twice as many as the penis. There is no doubt in the strength of the female reproductive system

Last year, 2.6 million people marched in the Women's March, a march that screamed to the world that women will no longer put up with inequality, harassment and disrespect. We wore pussy hats and carried signs that read 'not my pussy'. We proved to the world that the pussy is mighty. Yet, we are still using female words like 'pussy' as an insult to describe weakness. I think if any offensive adjective is required to describe weakness and cowardice it should be 'limp dick'. Though I don't condone it. Two wrongs never make a right. Just say that person is weak. As Seth Meyers said at the Golden Globes: "It's 2018, marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn't." This also applies to our language. This is the year that we remove article 2.2 from the definition for the word 'pussy'. 

Wait.

This is the year we rewrite the definition for the word 'pussy' to say 'strong and amazing'. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Way back, when I was finishing up my Masters Degree, I was working really hard and writing my dissertation. My advisor did not read my dissertation before my defense, which I did not completely pass. My committee sent me away with revisions. I did those revision and my advisor again did not read my dissertation before my final committee meeting. Though my committee was happy with the revisions and passed me, I still had to turn in a complete dissertation approved by my advisor. Meanwhile, I had gotten a job in Oklahoma City and marked the calendar in our lab with my last day at OSU two months in advance. I spent those two months staring at my dissertation. On my last day, I took my lab key to my advisor and he looked at me confused. I told him that today was my last day. He looked at me and said "You can't leave. Your dissertation is the worst thing I've ever read." 

I was too shocked to argue with him or to even believe he had finally read the paper. My advisor had been unavailable every time I had gone to him to talk about my paper. For months, I had asked him at least once a day if he had read it yet or if we could sit down and talk about the paper. Every time he would either put it off or tell me that things were going just fine and to just keep writing. So for him to tell me at the very last minute that my paper needed a complete and total rewrite was like being dropped into the Arctic ocean. I managed to stammer out to him that my last day had been scheduled and on his calendar for two months and I had a commitment to this other place. I handed him my key and left. I enrolled in more nothing hours so I could have another semester to turn in my dissertation and earn my diploma. I heard nothing from my advisor for over a month. I rewrote my dissertation and sent it to him. Then Chris basically had to stalk my advisor to get him to sign off on the final revision. 

The whole process rocked any confidence I had in myself and things only got worse when I started that first job out of graduate school. I went into a core facility that required all kinds of molecular biology lab techniques that I had zero experience with. I don't even know how I got hired for the job and I was terrible at it. I would have good days where I'd get reactions started and a gel loaded and every thing would go just right. Then the next day I would repeat all of the steps from the good day and everything would practically catch on fire. The other women in the lab were not the most kind and it was often very much a Mean Girl kind of environment. It was not a big shock to me when the facility lost a grant that I was the first and only one 'laid off'. In fact I had already started looking for another job before I got the news. By the time I started in Margaret's lab, I was pretty convinced that I was not smart enough to be a research scientist. Since I had no other prospects or talents and was the sole breadwinner of our household, I didn't really have a choice but to join Margaret's lab. 

This turned out to be the best decision (other than the scooter purchase) I have ever made because this is when I started to get some of that lost confidence back. Turns out that I am not as dumb as I thought I was. I was just stuck in a job that was not suited to the way my brain works. Now I'm super confident in my work and sometimes I even say some really smart things. That confidence spilled over into other aspects of my life and for a brief moment I believed that I could do anything. My confidence got rocked again when Chris died. I just sort of lost myself, doubted myself, forgot that I was not just Chris and Cindy, but my own person. To be honest, my relationship with Michael hasn't really helped me regain that confidence. I still doubt myself. Recently I was asked to conjure one word to represent something I want in 2018 and was surprised (and a little embarrassed at the selfish idea of it) to see the word "me" float around in my brain. It reminded me of the video that's gone viral of the toddler who refuses help buckling her carseat. She tells her parent "You worry about yourself!" 

Worry about yourself.

In these first few days of this brand new year, I have felt more solid in myself than I have in the whole of all of last year. Some of that has to do with regaining some lost confidence and some of that is due to focusing more on worrying about myself. There's gratitude to be had in these lessons. I am grateful to feel that maybe, just possibly, I could do anything. 

 

CHUGGA CHUGGA

Yesterday morning, I went out to start my car and the engine went "whir whir whir.....clickety clickety...ugh ugh ugh." I had a moment of panic before turning the key in the ignition again. Finally, on the third try, the engine puttered to life. My car is paid off in March (or April...something like that). My plan is to drive this car until the wheels fall off, but my plans and Murphy's Law don't always match up. So when there's a moment of starting hesitation, I get a little bit nauseous. Really, the only reason the engine struggled is because it is so awfully horribly cold outside. It really is the worst and I just go on and on about how one day I will retire to some place warm. I don't even care if it ends up being Florida. 

Once the car warmed up to a drivable temperature, I headed off to teach my first yoga class of the new year. I've been dreaming about teaching yoga. Really...not figuratively. I told you about the dream where I was teaching yoga in a room that had a potato bar (I still think Yogatado would be a great studio/restaurant idea). A few nights later I dreamed that I was teaching yoga in a space that was also hosting a birthday party. It was very loud and I had to shout. There were kids running around in between yoga mats. This dream turned out to be not too far off of reality. The space where I am teaching is an open space that also holds the free weights. A partial wall separates the room from the rest of the gym. You can hear everything from the work out area and people walk into the class area to get weights or just wander around. I totally had to yell to my students. 

When I first started teaching yoga to my coworkers at my old job, we had a hard time finding a class space. We ended up in stairwell. You opened the door and immediately to your left was a staircase but to the right of that staircase there was a closet/storage space. It mostly held a stack of folding chairs that fit under the stairs, leaving the rest of the floor area open for yoga mats. It was drafty or steamy depending on outside temperatures and occasionally someone would walk in to actually use the stairs or more likely hoping to use that space to make a personal phone call. I made a little sign to place on the doorknob outside whenever we were having class to warn people that yoga was happening in that room. Later on, I would end up teaching in real classrooms and yoga studios, but I never gave up the stairwell space for my coworker classes. 

I've been nervous and apprehensive about teaching yoga again after all this time of not teaching. The new teaching environment to most yoga teachers does not sound ideal, but to me, it's perfectly normal. In fact it was almost comforting to teach my first class of the new year after a five year hiatus in this noisy open space. It is familiar, which I know sounds crazy. One doesn't really link noisy open spaces with yoga. I see it as the perfect environment for teaching a student to be fully present on their mat and to guard their senses for relaxation. Because outside, in our every day lives, our environment is not ideal. I don't just mean the temperature, though saying the current temps are not ideal is being polite. Our world is busy with sights and sounds and things that make us uncomfortable. I don't necessarily want to teach people how to ignore all of this. Some times we need to be uncomfortable. I do want to teach people how to approach all of it with calmness though. This is a lesson that I needed to be reminded of, the practice of taking our yoga off the mat and into our daily life.

It is one thing to do yoga, but quite another to be yoga. 

GOODBYE HELLO

I took down all of our Holiday decorations yesterday along with doing some normal Saturday things. I got up early and went grocery shopping. Then I stopped by Anthropologie to spend my Christmas gift card. I walked in to find that all sale items were an additional 40% off, which meant that I could buy these really cute denim over-alls and the softest sweater with frilly sleeves. I went home to collect Michael for the rest of our errands and then we spent the evening on the couch. Today has been much of the same. Sunday has been just like every Sunday with CBS Sunday Morning, a dog in my lap and a cup of coffee in my hand. I scrubbed the bathroom and the kitchen. I even scrubbed all my jewelry. Michael vacuumed while I put clean sheets on the bed. Then we watched more TV. 

It's the last day of 2017 and I've spent the whole day in pajamas. Later on, Michael will make Pad Thai and we'll eat while watching a movie. After a week of traveling and visiting friends and family in Oklahoma, we've opted for a New Year's Eve homebody celebration. The temperatures here are part of the reason we decided to stay in tonight. That, and I've also agreed to teach a yoga class in the morning. But really, it is too cold outside. The chickens have only left the roosting box for a minute to get a drink of water. I went out to feed them and nearly lost all of my fingers to frost bite. Right now my weather app says that it feels like minus seventeen outside. There's a lot of swearing any time I have to go out to the garage to get to the washer and dryer in the basement.  

I don't regret our choice for the evening. I'm glad I spent the day cleaning. It feels nice to know that we will be starting out the year with a clean house. It just feels nice to be starting a new year. Most of the time, I am ambivalent to moving from one year into the next. Of course there have been years I couldn't have said goodbye fast enough to, as if the idea of moving from one year to the next actually removes all the strife and grief from the previous year. Even then, I have made the transition from those bad years into the new year with apprehension and a wish that the new year is at the very least not as bad as the previous. The strife and grief doesn't change just because the planet got a year older. 

It is funny how this time of year makes us all a little bit more reflective and ambitious. We all take a moment to look back at the good and bad of the year. Then we all make plans for the next. Those plans often involve becoming better versions of ourselves: skinnier, healthier, more organized, more outgoing. I wake up with those very same plans every morning. If I were to make any kind of plan for this new year, it would be to finish a project. Any project. I've become the worst about starting things and just leaving them to sit and fester. I'd like to break that cycle in 2018. That is one of the reasons I'm thinking of doing another 365 Day photography project. The other reason is to remind myself to not just be content with this body, but to love this body. I do want more for 2018 than to simply finish a project. I look forward to the new joys and adventures to come in the next year, but I am content with that one resolution/wish.