I’m back…sort of…with the April A-Z Challenge

Do you remember my excitement about the challenge of posting everyday for the April A-Z Challenge beginning tomorrow?

I had planned a post every day focused on a female writer. That plan was moving ahead, rather well actually, and then a few weeks ago I decided that a writing break was needed. I spent a few days debating about just finishing out the writing associated with the remaining posts so that I could complete the challenge as planned. During those few days, while my fingers itched to smack at the keyboard of my computer, I knew also that my motivation to finish out the written posts for the April Challenge wasn’t going to be successful given my attitude and displeasure with myself, writing and life in general. With that in mind I picked up a pen and jumped into an art experience that had caught my eye some time back. Maybe you’ve heard of Zentangle or Zendoodle?

If not, or if you want some info go here. I don’t really remember how I stumbled across it initially, but I do remember looking at the designs, dismissing the idea because of my presumed lack of ability, but still being curious because everything I read kept insisting that you don’t have to be artistic to do this stuff. I played with it here and there, and it was actually easier than I thought.

So this writing break, combined with the fact that we are now in the midst of home school preschool with Miss G learning her alphabet, inspired me to create my version of alphabet flashcards. After working on a few pieces I had one of those slap-the-forehead, well-DUH moments, and decided that I would just go on ahead and stick with the A-Z challenge, but in a more creative way.

No writing involved, save for this introduction. Starting tomorrow, and each day in April except for the four Sunday’s, you will find a post with a Zendoodle alphabet letter surrounded by various designs that I’ve practiced. Practicing is the operative word here, as I have been learning as I go. I’ve taken up the more casual form of the original idea named ZenTangle. The real thing allows for only black and white, which I find I like, but these letters needed a bit of color, plus I’ve taken some shortcuts with the types of pens since this is my first real attempt at creating art. It is all free-hand, save for the letter itself, which I made by borrowing stencils from Miss G and tracing their place on the page first. Some days this process goes well, and others can be rough on the arthritis, but it’s been fun to do something completely different for a change.

I will refer in the future to this time as the ‘exploration of my artistic side’…whatever that means.

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You got to know when to hold ’em…know when to walk away…that time is now.

www.bubblews.com
http://www.bubblews.com

Where to begin except to simply begin.

I am saying adios to blogging for a time. I’m not deleting the blog. I’m not going away entirely. I am just feeling very much like what I write, or even if I write, will be for myself for now.

I want to be succinct here, but I know that I won’t be. Getting to the point and moving on is supposed to be easy, but I struggle every day with issues related to points, and decisions, and moving beyond, or forward. Those things have formed a circular pattern that, right now, I can’t seem to get myself out of. I know what I need. I know what I need to do, and I feel stuck swirling around a black hole because I simply can’t finish the process.

I started this blog on another site as an extension of a personal journal written about me for my kids. I don’t think they really cared, and that writing became difficult to sustain. I made some life decisions and felt as if I had found a new voice, one that I might be able to share in a more public way. Thus IATIW evolved. This blog has always been a glorified journal, although at various times I’ve tried to engage in dialog pertaining to more than just my occasional vacation, or senile cat, or garden, or granddaughter. I have the exposure to academics to thank for those attempts at broader commentary. All of the conversations that have focused on social issues have been so very important to me and to sustaining this blog for the last 4 years. Yet, if I am honest with you and myself, every post-every conversation-every new idea or journey documented here, has not led to the satisfaction that I think I need or deserve.

I’ve spent a great deal of time looking back lately, over old posts. Some were simply hangers-on from the original site. Others were the frivolous thoughts and random junk that would have been better placed on a FB status update, or simply kept to myself. Those are mostly all gone from the archives. When, or if this blog makes a return, especially if the return is in this format, I want the posts that remain to be ones that created conversations, that allowed me to get to know other bloggers, that allowed me to make some wonderful online friends. Many would have cautioned me not to remove the odds and ends. Those posts were a part of a specific time and place in my blogging world. They told a story even if I believe them to be inconsequential. Maybe, at some point, I will regret that they are gone.

I’ve also spent a great deal of time reading, really reading, the messages presented by the blogs that I follow. I’ve said before, I follow blogs for reasons that resonate with me. Some are very deep and personal blogs. Others are lighter, with the writers clearly meaning to highlight the positives in their lives and bring humor to the bloggers who read their posts. Each blog serves a separate purpose. I looked once more at my words. It’s been 4 years and I still don’t know my purpose. I still remain unable to say what I really hold inside. And I question if screaming all those thoughts and emotions to the blogging world is really what I want to present anyway. There are days that I find so much negativity in both the world around me, and in my own emotions and words. I feel a weight growing heavier because I can’t seem to find the key that will allow me to write what I think I want to write. I’m tired of writing here with the inability to form a true direction. Sunshine and roses and bluffing my way through happy posts isn’t in the cards either. Why pretend to be happy when the truth is I’m not.

All of this… all of the doubts about why I write, about the content and purpose of this blog, about expression and voice and who or what I am is absolutely a reflection of the me you don’t know away from these pages. That person needs to work on figuring out what is, what to do and where to head. Dragging you all along through what often seems like never-ending cycles of complaints and indecision isn’t fair, isn’t gratifying, and isn’t necessary, although so many of you deserve high praise for your words and comments as I have jumped from place to place and idea to idea.

How long away, and what the end result will be is unknown. I still have a powerful need to write. When my fingers are too long away from a keyboard I feel physically driven to put something down, to let the world know that I’m still searching and trying. That need may explain some of the drivel that is now gone from my older pages.

I have no intention of not being involved with all of you though. The blogs that I read and interact with feel like a lifeline much of the time. You all allow me to begin, or end my days with friendship, and that is a gift that I’m not about to put aside. I will be reading, and commenting, and waiting anxiously for news about houses, and animals, and personal growth, and retirement, and careers, and activism.

Thank you all for your friendship, for what and how you write, for sharing yourselves, and for allowing me to hold you as a continued presence in my world.

Deb

 

 

International Women’s Day

#makeithappen

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#paintitpurple

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#IWD2015

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Do you need more reminders to raise awareness, to celebrate women, to recognize their achievements large or small, to acknowledge women as human beings, to say thank you, to remember, to push forward, to take back, to encourage, to promote equality, to see that the future depends upon women as strong, independent, capable, worthy, accepted and welcome in every society and culture around the world…

Throwback Thursday (TBT), and not having much to throw, back or forward or any which way

This whole notion of TBT posts and pictures and such, is it fading or not? I am not connected to Facebook as I once was, having let that part of my social networking addiction almost go quietly into the good night, and I do not tweet, selfie on Instagram, make YouTube videos, have a Tumblr or other such account… I am so out of touch beyond blogging that I don’t really even know what is current and hot in social media so please forgive if I’ve left off your preferred methods in this introduction.

The Today Show was on earlier and they were hosting a TBT session, which then got me to thinking that I might be rather envious of the fact that most folks can take part in TBT fun if they choose to. I have very little in the way of pictures to use for such posts.

Beyond a few baby pictures, yearbooks, wedding photos, and some vacation shots after marriage and during kids, I believe a good part of my life was 1) either not chronicled on film, or 2) tossed.

I don’t remember many cameras around my childhood home, except for the odd Polaroid that spit out instant photos on rare occasions, or my own first Kodak Instamatic camera when I was in my teens. I don’t really remember anyone taking pictures of much at all.

The only photos I have now are the ones that somehow ended up with my father when he divorced my mother. When I left home I had my yearbooks as well as, what I believed then to be, all my treasured memorabilia. At some point, later in my life, long after getting married and starting a family, I realized – slowly and painfully – that much of what I thought I had saved was not with the box of memories sitting in my attic.

Not only were pictures that I had taken as a teen missing, but also things like my diary and a creative writing publication that I had contributed to in high school. If there was more, and I suspect that there was, those things must have been inconsequential enough that my memory hasn’t held on to them.

I mostly miss the pictures. I know a lot of my junior high and high school moments were captured by me with that Instamatic camera. There’s the vacation with my best friend in 1975. There are photo’s of painting the river bank during senior year, a long-standing tradition that I was so proud to take part in. There’s all the photo’s taken on my high school graduation trip to Hawaii with friends; a trip I paid for myself. There are pictures of first and second cars…there must have been pictures of many of my friends as well.

Where all of those items are now is a mystery. I was once told that my mother destroyed all that, all the things that must have been stowed away in a second box that I somehow missed when I left home.

Initially hearing that someone had purposefully tossed, or otherwise got rid of things, that were important to me made me angry of course. The story seemed to make sense when it was presented to me. Those ‘things’ were a part of me, some of the very few parts that I could tie to happier moments, to activities far removed from living daily with alcoholics. The story seemed plausible because I knew of the anger directed toward me by my mother.

I felt very fortunate to discover, sadly upon my dad’s death, that he had some photos, because prior to that, I thought all the pictures associated with me were gone. He had some of the baby pictures, and only a few of me in my teen years, but those were something tangible to hold on to. I have old school photos, and as I mentioned, the yearbooks through high school, however those posed, still photos aren’t the same.

It’s only been recently that I’ve decided to let myself speculate on the original story about the missing box. If you remember this post, associated with the brief series I wrote about my siblings, then it may not seem odd that I’ve started to wonder if the story about my mother’s actions is altogether correct. It seems as if the possibility could very well exist that my mother might have had some help in the tossing, or that it wasn’t her at all. Those thoughts lead me to wonder if that box still exists, somewhere. Those thoughts also lead me to ponder on trying to locate that box. That option, of course, means confrontation. That option seems unlikely to get me very far.

I have some thinking to do on this. A voice tells me to let it go. ‘Stuff’ doesn’t matter. But as the years move forward, and memories are growing more and more faint, and are harder to pull to the surface, that ‘stuff’ would be welcome, not just for myself, but for my children as a means to share more about the person who is their mom.

There’s also a desire for closure as well. I don’t like having those naggy ideas that I might have been lied to. That something important to me was taken and still exists. That I deserve retribution in the form of just getting my ‘stuff’ back.

I don’t want to think that someone could have felt such anger, or resentment, or jealousy toward me, so yes-a big part of me now wants to know and confront, even though I understand that the reality may be continued lies and denial, or no response at all. Someone took away any opportunity I had to participate in the quirky process that is Throwback Thursday. Shouldn’t I be the one to make that choice?

 

How the Huffington Post ‘Post 50’ Suggests I Retire

Getting out of the glorious United States when you’re ready to retire isn’t just a dream for many of the done-with-work folks who are putting fun before practicality and becoming expats. Actually, I’m not one to judge being practical, so if you have the financial means, feel adventurous, don’t mind (or perhaps secretly want) the inability to see family and friends on any regular basis, then have you considered retirement in another country…

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Post 50  has been kind enough to share many real-person accounts of life after the United States. Smiling faces stand in front of beach-side homes, and towering condominiums with amazing views. White sand, lush vegetation, endless mountains, and even modern art seem to make up the surroundings of many retirees living outside the USA. Couples look happy. They look contented. They look like they are having FUN on grand adventures, although they are photographed alone, usually side-by-side in photos resembling Facebook or Instagram selfies and not among the towns and communities that we really want to see and read about.

As you might expect, the lower cost of living seems to be the big draw for most of these people.

But what of the downside to living so far away from what they have known for most of their life? Some of the highlighted expats are linked to blogging websites, which I have not checked, so perhaps they do share the bad as well as the good. The Post 50 article does little to make this idea anything less than grand, and I will say that they caution that most of the retirees did a great amount of research before making the final decision.

Could I do it? I honestly don’t know. I’m having enough trouble just contemplating the process involved in selling this soon-to-be too large a home and finding something smaller, and more importantly, maintained by others. Completely uprooting every aspect of over fifty years, plus leaving family behind…I think a vacation sounds lovely, however I don’t think I’m truly cut out to be expat material.

What about you…rather you’re close to retirement or not, have you (if you live stateside now) ever thought about finding adventure as an expat retiree?

A before and after centered on the car rant post

We went from the 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4, which in this picture actually looks like it’s in great shape for something 22 years old…trust me…it’s not

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To this last night – a 2008 Ford Escape AWD. This has been a lease car and it is in great shape. The sun is obviously out in full force and so it wasn’t easy to get a picture without glare and such using my phone, but I think you get the idea.

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For a better side view I give you the edmunds.com stock photo

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My check book is now closed and locked to future used car purchases.