Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Nourishing the Mind

 As we all live through a pandemic, it seems that mental self-care becomes more important. We discover that our daily habits and interactions, now lost to us, did more good for our mental health than we realized. When your mind and heart are damaged by worry and a bit starved, how do you nourish yourself? 

I think you nourish your mind with beauty. That's why God gave us beauty -- to nourish our hearts and minds, to soothe them. Beauty is a balm. In that vein, here are a few Youtube opportunities for you to do that!

Exploring the Cotswolds -- I just discovered this channel and look forward to touring one of England's most beautiful places, discovering how much of its old beauty is still there after hundreds of years.

William Morris wallpaper, "Trellis"

William Morris: Useful Beauty in the Home -- This short video is a delight! I had no idea about Morris's team, and their philosophy of usefulness in hand-crafted items. I believe that too. I enjoy feeling I'm part of a long tradition of hand-crafters.

Standen Farmhouse, East Grinstead, UK

The Repair Shop -- Following that idea, this delightful show (my all-time favorite lately) of English repair people, lovingly restoring their neighbors' family treasures, is comforting and reassures me about the goodness of human nature.

Gardeners Cottage Blakeney -- Do you find beauty in gardens? This Youtube channel from Norfolk, England, is enchanting.

The Cottage Fairy -- I just found this beautiful, peaceful channel of a young girl in northern Washington state, U.S.  So many people are crafting Youtube channels for beauty's sake, sharing both their desire for peace and love for hand-crafted things, with their viewers. In 6 minutes, I can tell this girl's channel is one I will enjoy. We share some common loves.

The Elliot Homestead -- I'd forgotten about this fun channel full of beautiful video. This sweet farm family live and work in Washington state too, and how she has the time to make such beautiful videos, I don't know!

Ambient music from The Chronicles of Narnia -- I need auditory beauty too, since I'm a music person. This is what I listen to while I'm painting. There are many ambient music videos on Youtube!

Normally, we all don't have time to watch so much Youtube, or if we do, we feel guilty about it, as if we're wasting time. But this winter, as the pandemic rages through the population again, we'll find ourselves at home. It is not wasting time to watch beauty, especially to watch others create beauty. A video itself can be quite beautifully crafted! Make yourself a cup-of-something, sit back in your comfy chair, and enjoy your fellow humans as they create. It nourishes the heart.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

In for the Long Haul

 I read Elaine's post today ("Retired Knitter") about how she's felt during the pandemic. What a kindred mind! She says she feels she's "slipping." I'd say I'm putting things off, putting off laundry, and especially house cleaning. How long can one put off dusting and vacuuming when one never has any company in the house at all for eight months? It's too too easy to become a sluggard. As Elaine says, the world won't stop turning (ha! the world will neither know nor care!) if I don't vacuum today. It makes one ask, "How much do I really care about all this fiddly stuff I do every day?" One of the first things that left my brain was writing, which was sad -- a little bit of anxiety makes creative stories vacate my brain.

Daughter Anna and grandbaby Isaac are here for a visit! I snapped this photo in WalMart. Why have I not taken more photos? I must correct that. He's a delight and so fun. Anna is getting some good naps, and I'm inwardly bubbling with delight that my little home gets to be a "granny house" for a while, Nana's house. Sigh. How wonderful to have them here! We went for a long walk on the property looking for plantain, and strolled out to the garden. He loves being outside.

Adam may or may not travel this winter during the pandemic; his health is pretty delicate. So Anna felt strongly that she needed to come see us while she could still fit behind the steering wheel. (She's pregnant now too.) Plans are not so much called off, as uncertain. Will we travel? When? How? For how long? It's hard to know.

I'm thankful I had my back surgery before the surge in Covid-19 cases began. I'm recovering well. I had a large lipoma removed and am sporting a 3" scar. That lipoma must've been putting pressure on other things, because so much of my general back and torso discomfort is gone, and I haven't had acid reflux since the surgery. What a relief to have that thing removed!

Adam made some yummy pizza tonight. He can't eat cured meats now, so my pizza toppings were pineapple, sauteed onions, and smoked pork.

I met the sweetest dog on Saturday, named Frankie. He's a Bernedoodle.

I made cookies for Anna and Isaac, 
and now they are all gone.

A little chicken painting:

This last is a scarf I finished this past week. It's time for these at the farmer's market. But painting and yarn work are put away while Isaac is here, of course! Nana priorities are in full swing! The house is strewn with toys, and all my vacuum attachments are scattered around. It's his favorite toy. It's a good thing somebody around here is willing to vacuum!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How I Feel About My Suffering

(This is a religious post, just so you know ~)

Some of you are suffering, I know. I am too. My heart aches for friends who are in such distress right now: loved ones very ill, job loss, crises with kids, marriages unraveling. My present suffering is anxiety, which (according to my therapist) is defined as: 1) uncertainty, and 2) self-doubt. That's a helpful definition.

A verse from Scripture that has puzzled me for years is this one: "But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing." (I Peter 4:13) I've pondered long over what exactly it means to "share the sufferings of Christ." Recently I decided to make a list of some possible ways our sufferings could be a sharing with Jesus's sufferings -- how are our sufferings like His?

1. Does your suffering bring glory to God?

2. Does your suffering stem from any self-sacrifice of yourself for others?

3. Does your suffering come because you are in any way obeying God's call in your life?

4. Does your suffering come to you because of your love for, or commitment to, someone else?

5. Is your suffering ever done in quiet surrender?

6. Does your suffering ever require you to bear someone else's grief or carry their sorrows?

7. Does your suffering seem insanely unfair to you, like you are being sacrificed?

8. Does your suffering seem to diminish you, humble you, or curtail your potential?

These are descriptors, I think, of Jesus's suffering, and sometimes of ours too. You may not think you ever share in Jesus's sufferings, but probably you do. His suffering came from love, self-sacrifice, humility, patience, and obedience. 

It has helped me to have definitions, to put a finger on the problem and look it in its face. I look at my anxiety and I say to it, "I know you. You are my self-doubt. I'm working on that." Or, "I know you, you are uncertainty in my future. I'm working on that too." My uncertainty and my self-doubt have come about, at times, because of my sacrifices for others, and I bet your sufferings have come for that reason too. 

Be comforted, friend. Peter finishes with, "Let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." God doesn't want me to be anxious, but He has given me the situations that have produced that self-doubt and uncertainty, and He wants me to trust myself to Him, in the middle of those feelings. Trust that He knows what He's doing. Trust that with help I can manage it. Trust His promises to be with me as I walk this road.

As you wake up today and deal with your suffering, remember that Jesus suffers with you and won't leave you. There's a purpose. If nothing else, suffering like He did will make us like Him, won't it?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

October, Wait!

 Is October flying by? I used to slowly savor every moment of perfection - the dry and crumbling leaves underfoot, the blue skies laced with crying geese, the little caresses of cool breeze. This year, I've had to work hard to remember this is the beloved month. As I age, I find myself saying to myself, "I'll do better next year. Next year I will taste each moment of autumn in my mouth, making the days pass slow. This year ... it's too hard."

Gotta change that!

I'm deep into yarn work now, weaving and spinning. The farmer's market has been going well, and I must must do more painting of cards! They sell very well. I want woven scarves to sell soon as the weather cools, but they are so time-consuming to make.

Last night our church family enjoyed an outdoor party of sorts -- a chili cook-out. Large pots of chili, pans of warm cornbread, desserts, and s'mores over a fire pit. It was very fun, and wonderfully safe to see each other's smiling faces outside in a light breeze off the creek. We all needed it so much.

There were even dogs.😁
I'll give you a little update on Adam too. He's been taking Cellcept and prednisone, which have kept his symptoms under control. The goal, however, is for the Cellcept to take over the job, and for him to be able to reduce and gradually quit taking the prednisone. (Steroids are so bad for you, esp. at 40 mg/day.) Well, the Cellcept is not doing its job. Next week he'll try one last time to reduce his prednisone, but if it doesn't work he will transfer to a new medicine. It's a bit discouraging because he's spent 3 months taking this drug, but it can't be helped. I'll be honest -- it's a struggle for him many days, dealing with all the side-effects of those 2 medications. 

I continue with doctoring. This week I'll have a large lipoma (benign, harmless, uncomfortable) removed from my back -- outpatient surgery. It will be sore. I have to quarantine all week for it. And apparently I also have something called esophageal spasms. They only happen about (I think) twice a year, rather random, and are quite painful in the entire torso area. I didn't know what in the world they were, but now I do. I take a couple of tylenol and lie down, and after a while the pain goes away. 

I've been buying up all the lovely hardly-used baby clothes at our nearby thrift store (such a nice one) for the new grandbabies coming! The baby boy is coming next month, and the baby girl is coming in February. What exciting times! I think I may be out of town a lot, Covid or no Covid! I am ready to hold some grandbabies.

Lastly, I'll post here a couple of the Youtube videos I've done recently. This first one is about a repair/sewing project I did for a dear friend, bringing her childhood Christmas tree angel back to life:

And this second one is a "hodge-podge" of various things -- chickens, more about those baby clothes, etc. 

If you go over to my channel (click here), there's also a longer video showing all about warping and weaving on my loom, if you want to watch that. If you haven't done so yet, click the "thumb's up" button 👍 and click on the big red "Subscribe" box. It sure helps Youtube to put my videos out there for other people to find. Thank you, friends!