Thanksgiving Anticipation

So technically I’m late and I missed a day, but I’m going to say that my clock is a little fast and it’s still November 20, dang it!

I’m having anticipatory anxiety. Big time. About Thanksgiving.

One reason I’ve already talked about: Dad.

The other is that we’re going to my aunt and uncle’s house, and I haven’t really spoken with them in four years.

When Lee and I decided to get married and were making up the guest list, it was easy to invite all of his family because they’re so close (physically and emotionally). My side of the family is a bit more complicated.

The majority of my family lives on the west coast. My dad and stepmother live in Holland, and because they had come to visit for Thanksgiving four years ago, they weren’t going to be able to come in for the wedding on New Year’s Eve.

But Dad asked me if I would invite his sister and brother-in-law to the wedding to stand in for him.

I didn’t.

I can’t say that it’s Mom’s fault. It’s not. Ultimately it was my decision to say no.

My grandmother, Precious I called her, my dad’s mom, passed away in October 2007. She died with my mom by her side.

Before that, she was in a nursing home in Dallas. She had dementia and couldn’t live on her own anymore. With her son living across the pond, and her daughter moving to another state for a job opportunity, my mom volunteered to have my grandmother moved to a place in Houston.

This is what I know. I know that Mom visited Precious several times a week. I know that she brought my grandmother her favorite foods and fed them to her. That she put moisturizer on my grandmother’s face and hands and lip balm on her lips. I know that, even though they didn’t speak for a long while after my parents divorced, that they both loved each other very much and were happy to be in each other’s lives.

I know my mom tried her hardest to advocate for my grandmother. I know that she gave my dad and aunt updates on Precious’s condition. I know she was frustrated with the nursing home.

I don’t exactly know what happened that caused Dad and my aunt to decide to no longer include my mom in family decisions. But I know Mom was deeply hurt. I don’t know if Dad told her why the decision was made. All I know is that my mom wouldn’t go to the funeral.

And she never wanted to talk to or see my dad or aunt again.

I sent my aunt and uncle an announcement. Maybe I should’ve explained my reasoning for not inviting them, but I felt like I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Yes, they are family. But ultimately, the day was supposed to be about Lee and me, wasn’t it?

I didn’t hear anything about it until my dad contacted me and told me that my aunt was upset. That I should contact her. What got to me was that she didn’t contact me directly. Maybe she felt she couldn’t. Whatever the case may be, it has been a battle between me and Dad for almost four years.

Dad told me a couple of months ago that he and my stepmother were going to be in Austin for Thanksgiving and they would be staying with my aunt and uncle. And that my aunt would be happy if Lee and I came to dinner. Initially he said that he would let her know that I would like to be there, but I told Dad I would call her. We had a nice chat.

I may be having anticipatory anxiety for nothing, but I’m afraid of what I will say if they ask. I’m afraid of the disappointing stares. Of us all acting one way when we’re thinking something else.

I just want to spend time with my family. Is that so much to ask?

Hard Work Pays Off

For many years, I’ve wondered what it would be like to freelance. I don’t necessarily mind working in an office environment, but the thought of being able to work from home, especially on days where I felt particularly anxious or depressed, appealed to me. I know many people who have been able to make ends meet, and while everyone has told me that it’s hard work, most have said that they wouldn’t trade freelancing back for working 9 to 5.

In the beginning, I didn’t think it would be possible. The only way I would be able to make it work is if I won the lottery, or had saved enough to live on for the months that I didn’t have money coming in. Well, I never won the lottery (because I don’t play) and my salary, combined with Lee’s, was enough to build a bit of a cushion, but not much.

If it hadn’t been for my parents’ help, I don’t think I could have taken that leap.

I received my first assignment toward the end of August. I knew that it would take a while, and I would have to work a lot of odd hours and weekends before I would see the fruits of my labor. There have been some days, just a few, where I wondered if I made the right choice.

Well, today, my decision has been reaffirmed. Today, I received my first check for freelance work.

I can’t tell you how excited I am. Well, actually, yes I can. I ran into the house yelling, “I got paid!” (The dogs looked at me like I was crazy.)

I know it may be some time before I see another check, but I’m just grateful that I finally have something to show for the work I’ve done.

I may not have won the lottery, but I feel like a million dollars!


Eating Mindfully

I did a little Christmas shopping today. Since my dad lives in Holland, and shipping is expensive, I decided to bring him and my stepmother a gift when we see them on Thursday. And then I thought, why not bring my aunt and uncle a gift as well?

For my dad and stepmother, Lee and I bought some of his sister’s art. Aimi‘s style is different from Lee’s, but she is just as talented. For my aunt and uncle, I went to Barnes & Noble and bought Underwater Dogs.

While I was at the bookstore, I decided to look for a book on crochet. I didn’t really find anything I liked, so I moved on.

The self-help section is located next to the hobbies section, and since I have been pretty anxious lately, I decided to browse the titles. But it wasn’t the books on anxiety that I was drawn to.

I ended up buying a book about emotional eating.

I have a hard time explaining why I make the food choices I do. The thing is, I want to lose weight. I want to be healthy. But I struggle with my relationship with food.

I didn’t think I could have a relationship with food, but I do. I use food as a reward (Yay, I met my deadline!), as comfort (I am upset so I deserve some macaroni and cheese.), and as something to fill the void, like when I mindlessly eat at my desk while I’m working.

I’m not exactly sure when this relationship started. But it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve mindlessly eaten my way to being at least 60 pounds overweight.

I go through a cycle where I’ve eaten too much junk food and feel horrible, so I become determined to eat better and exercise. That lasts for a few weeks. During that time I say that I’ll let myself have soda or some other food that I’ve denied myself if I stay on the healthful path that week.

Pretty soon, once a week becomes twice a week, and then the temptation is so strong and I give in.

I’m not happy about it. I hate it. And I’m not looking forward to seeing the look on my dad’s face when he sees how much I’ve gained since we last saw each other.

That’s why I’ve been emotionally eating for the past couple of weeks, but what about the rest of the time?

Whatever the reason, I want it to stop. But I don’t know how to keep me from sabotaging myself. And, to tell you the truth, I didn’t realize that what I was doing was emotional eating until a book stopped me in my tracks.

It’s called Eating Mindfully. I’ve read only a few pages, and haven’t gotten to any of the exercises, but I’m hoping it will help me “end mindless eating and enjoy a balanced relationship with food.”

And hopefully it will help my anxiety and depression as well.

I tell people that I live in the present, because thinking about the future overwhelms me. But I really don’t. I dwell on the past and worry about the future. I try to capture moments, like the beautiful weather today. But for the most part, I was thinking that I was starving and once I’m done with all my shopping I’m going to get some Arby’s.

I’ve been saying for a long time that “I’m doing the best I can.” But I really do need help, and I hope this book has some of the answers I’m looking for.

The Creativity Gene

I like to think that I get my creativity from my mom.

When I was little, she sewed my clothes and Halloween costumes. She decorated our house. She loved to paint.

She knows how to transform ordinary objects into art. With a little sanding and some paint, she once turned a tree stump into a plant stand that looked like a pair of denim jeans. She’s taken the orange parts of printer cartridges and arranged them to make faces.

She created all the bouquets and other flower arrangements for our wedding. Her eye for color and patterns added so much beauty to a spectacular evening.

Mom’s beautiful flowers around our wedding cake

She still dabbles in flower arranging, but her passion these days is directed more toward paper crafts. And ribbon. Spools and spools of ribbon. She might be able to construct a life-size mummy with all the ribbon she has.

Not to say that she doesn’t use any of it. She does. For the most part, she uses them for hats.

My party hat

Birthday hats, to be specific. They’re centerpieces for tables. I love the one she made for me. And it’s not just the different kinds of ribbon that she used, it’s also because of all the personal touches she added to fit me. She’s made several of them, and each one is just as colorful and happy as the next.

When I think of all the time she put into each and every detail, I’m inspired to do some creating of my own. And, hopefully, make something just as wonderful as she has.

November 16

When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t have a clue what the topic would be. I even looked at the writing prompt today to have a jumping off point. But then I saw the date. November 16.

On November 16, 1985, my mom and I were on a plane, heading back home to Houston from Rochester, New York. We had lived near Rochester, in a town called Penfield, for a little over a year.

A month or so before, Dad had come home late from work. I remember him talking to Mom, telling her the reason that he had been out was because he had gone sailing. And then he told her he wanted to divorce.

Then Dad was sleeping on the couch, then Mom and Dad were arguing, then Dad moved out, then there were the boxes. So many boxes.

I’ll never forget the day we flew to Houston. On one hand, I was excited to be going back to school with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. On the other, I was going to miss the friends I had made in the short time I had been in NY.

I was very upset to be moving away from my dad.

I was 12.

I am now almost 40, and while I don’t usually dwell on the moments leading up to my parents’ split, this year it’s hit me pretty hard.

I think part of it is that I will see my dad, for the first time in about a year, on Thanksgiving. A year that has been rocky, and has tested our relationship as well.

But I’m looking forward to seeing him, giving him a hug, and telling him I love him.

Dad and me on the London Eye

Because I do. No matter what date it is.

Crochet Away!

Ever since I learned to knit, I’ve been comforted with hearing the clicks of the needles with each stitch. And even though I basically just held the left needle while I knit with the right, I still felt like both hands were occupied. (I don’t know if only one idle hand would still do the devil’s work, but I don’t want to take any chances.)

I’ve tried to crochet before, but I never got the hang of it.

There’s only one hook? I hold the yarn with my left hand? What kind of a crazy world is this?

And…there’s no sound! Crochet is silent! My mind will wander and I’ll start to get anxious!

But I was still intrigued. So, on Sunday I took a class at Gauge called “Crochet for Knitters.” The first part of the lesson was spent learning the basic stitches, and the second was practicing those stitches to make a granny square.

I crocheted a couple of rounds, but when I got home I was still befuddled.

It looks like a circle now. Why do they call it a “granny SQUARE”? A ch 3 equals a DC, so I only have to crochet 2 DC at the beginning of a round…what?

I kept practicing. I reread the instructions. I watched videos. (Thanks for the recommendations, Staci!)

And then, this happened:

I did it! They’re not perfect, but they’re squares. Beautiful squares. Four corners of yarn-y goodness.

The conditions were perfect. The soft yarn and complementary colors made me want to crochet one more. Then one more. You get the picture.

And you know what else I realized? There is sound in crochet! It’s not as present as when two needles meet, but it’s there.

It’s a whisper. As yarn is pulled through loop.

Music to my ears.

Time to Go for a Walk!

I took Blue to her yearly checkup this past weekend. She’s 8 years old now (we think) and, even though we take good care of her, I still get a bit nervous at what the doctor has to say.

“Blue’s doing great. Her blood levels are normal. Her tests came back negative for parasites.”


“There’s just one thing…she’s overweight.”

Well, I can relate to that. I have gained several pounds myself. It’s my own fault.

Blue couldn’t really help herself. A few months ago she jumped off our bed and started howling in pain. We were so afraid she had broken her leg, or even worse, her back. The vet said that she had a slipped disk. I think that’s what he said, anyway. I was just grateful that it wasn’t anything worse.

The doctor prescribed pain medication and steroids. That is when our hot dog turned into a sausage.

Thankfully she is doing much better, but she is not able to walk very far, most likely because she is out of shape. Like me.

Today was such a beautiful day that Lee suggested we take Blue and Buddy for a walk at lunch.


(^Our first walk together.)

We both started off strong. Buddy was leading the pack, of course, but Blue was close behind. By the end of the first half of the walk, though, we were both panting. She made it all the way back, but at a snail’s pace. (I think my body was grateful to switch to “stroll” status.)

I know it’s just the first day, but I’m hopeful for both of us. I always enjoy our walks, and now there’s even more of a purpose to them. In time, we will feel better and fit better into our garments. Well, her harness, anyway. She won’t let me dress her up in anything.

And, in time, we’ll both be smiling about how great we feel.


Clicking with Crochet

I don’t have any photographic evidence yet, but I crocheted a granny square! With two different colors!

The reason I’m excited is that I took a crochet class on Sunday, and yesterday I still didn’t quite have the hang of it. I think I have four beginnings of a square scattered around my room. I wasn’t really frustrated, but I didn’t think each one looked right.

But today, it clicked.

And not only did I crochet a granny square, I also made a circle coaster!

I see handmade placemats in my near future.

Blogging on the Road

Today’s writing prompt from BlogHer is:

Where is your favorite place to blog?

I would have to say my home, because that is the only place where I have blogged. I’m not really the type to take my laptop for a ride in the car and blog in the outdoors.

Wait a minute…why don’t I?

One of my goals when I turn 40 next year is to blog every day for that year. Sounds daunting, I know, but BlogHer has prompts for every day of every month. I may end up sticking to the writing prompts except on weekends.

But what if, once a week, I go outside my comfort zone and find a spot that catches my eye? Take some photos and write about my experience?

I need to make a list of places to go. I live in Austin, so there’s plenty to do, but any suggestions would be helpful.

Off the top of my head, I’m thinking about Mt. Bonnell, Laguna Gloria, Hamilton Pool…

Not every trip has to be somewhere outdoors. I’m sure I can find inspiration indoors too.

I’m actually excited about this idea!

Any suggestions would be great. My birthday is in January, so I’ll be blogging on the road soon!

I’ll leave you with this photo. I took it when I was in London several years ago. If I had been blogging then, this would probably be the photo I’d feature.


It’s a Colorful Life

One of the things I love about my husband is that he is an amazing painter. His artwork brightens up our home in nearly every room. I love how each piece is colorful and whimsical.


He has even painted some cakes for me as well!


My favorite painting hangs just inside the doorway of our home. Lee said that the hearts symbolize us. (I love the smiles with jagged teeth. Makes us seem like we’re into mischief, which we may very well be!)


I’m grateful to be surrounded by such bright, beautiful images!


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