Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I want more energy

I didn’t realize what I was craving until I said it out loud.
I was doing a phone interview with a mental health expert about making New Year’s resolutions: whether or not to make them, tips for making helpful resolutions, and other such information.
We had veered off course a bit, talking about resolutions we had made in the past and what we might want for 2014.
“I want to have more energy,” I said.
It was one of those unplanned statements you make that you realize right away is so true.

Yes, I want more energy.

I’ll need energy for the things I want to do, for the adventures, for service to others.

Right now, I’m sitting at my home laptop after a long day at work.
We laid out the paper a day early because of the upcoming holiday, and we had an earlier than usual deadline.
On days like this, I come home feeling so tired. My bones and muscles ache. I pour down the caffeine, but I can’t seem to catch a second wind.
I have too many evenings like that and too many mornings when I’m already tired before I get started.
I get my work done. But how can I do it while feeling better, more energetic?
Better nutrition and exercise come to mind. So do following more of a routine and taking short breaks during the day.
It’s going to be an exploration for me in 2014, and I expect beyond, to find ways to feel more energetic, to feel less tired. I’m sure multiple things go into making me tired, and it will take multiple things to give me more energy.

I think all creatures have their rhythms of energy.

Sometimes Chase Bird wants to play.
He has his toy!
Sometimes Chase Bird is so sleepy.

I need to find ways to channel my energy more effectively.

How do you keep up your energy?

I’ll be back tomorrow, but in case I miss you then, I want to wish you a peaceful and joyful 2014. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013


I’ll tell you about the boots in a minute. But first . . .
My word for 2014 is adventure.
This is the word that will guide me throughout the year, much as the phrase “letting go” was my guide in 2013.

I wanted the word for 2014 to come to me in a natural way, so I didn’t make lists of words or sit and think about it. I just kind of mulled it over as I did other things.
And as I was doing some housework within the last month or so, the word “adventure” popped into my head.
At first it didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem very Tina. It didn’t seem serious enough to provide me with a plan and goals for the New Year.
Some of the definitions of adventure in The American Heritage Dictionary didn’t help: “An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature. An undertaking of a questionable nature, especially one involving intervention in another state’s affairs.”

But there were also these definitions: As a noun, adventure can mean “An unusual or exciting experience.” As a verb, it can mean “To venture upon; undertake or try.”

When I think of this word, I think of accepting each day I have as a gift, something to be enjoyed, not something to get through.
I think of taking chances, yes, of doing things that I need to do despite my fears. To serve others, to live my purpose, to live with joy despite OCD, despite anxiety, despite depression.


One way 2014 is already shaping up to be adventurous is that I am starting my editing business. Tina F. Barbour Editing Services LLC was born earlier this month and will be open for business soon.
This dream of mine to have my own business was a long time coming. I can read about something and think about something all day long, but take action? Well, there are all those fears. What if I fail? What if everyone thinks I’m stupid?
I got past those fears and did what I needed to do to create the business and prepare for the work. I’m still finishing up the details, but it’s all coming together.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m enjoying myself? That I love doing this?


For the first time in my life, I am in a place where I can even consider life as an adventure. During the past couple of years, I’ve let go of a lot of junk that was weighing me down. I got healthier mentally and emotionally. I gained a lot of tools in how to handle life with love and hope rather than fear. I have a much better relationship with my thoughts, which used to torture me.
I’m not happy all the time, but I have a contentment and joy that I’ve yearned for. I don’t take it for granted. I want to nurture it. I want to become a better person. I want to serve more.
And it’s going to be an adventure.

Now to explain why I have a photo of boots at the top of this post: I asked for boots for Christmas. I tried on several pair like I thought I wanted: plain, sturdy looking boots. Nothing seemed quite right.
Larry walked around the store and found another section of boots. They didn’t look like my type. But I tried on one. It felt comfortable. It supported my foot where I needed support. So I tried on the other one. I walked around the store. And I chose them.
I never thought I’d wear boots like this. The practical side of me loves the comfort. And the fun side of me that often gets pushed aside loves the style.
They’ll take me on lots of adventures, don’t you think?

Tomorrow I’ll talk about another way I’m approaching 2014.

Do you make resolutions for the New Year? Do you ever choose a word or theme to guide you?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Christmas season: Joy and sorrow both have their places

The Joy
I hope you have been enjoying the holidays. We had a very nice Christmas.
Christmas Eve was spent with my mother-in-law and my stepdaughter and her family. Then we had Christmas dinner with my mother and one of my brothers and his wife.
And Santa visited the Barbour household and was very generous.
Chase Bird sniffed out his stocking after I laid it under the tree Christmas morning—I think he smelled the catnip in the toys.
He dragged the stocking around. Then we helped him get his new toys out. He seemed pleased.

I received something in my stocking that I’ve never received before: a bag of coal. I thought I had been pretty good this year, but apparently . . . Santa thought otherwise.

Oh, well, there was plenty of candy in the stocking, too. And actually, the coal is really candy.

The Sorrow
The ending of the Christmas holidays always leaves me feeling a bit low. But this year I’m trying to take a different perspective.
One of my mother’s younger sisters died last Saturday morning. It was not unexpected—she had been suffering from terminal cancer. But it’s always a sobering shock to hear of the death of someone who has been in your life—your whole life.
This week a person in our community who was probably known by just about everyone died. He was a good man, a public servant who served the schools and the citizens of the county for most of his life.
So how do we make sense of sorrow in the midst of the joy that we’re “supposed” to feel this time of year?
Somehow the sorrow seems to be in direct opposition to the holidays. But maybe it’s not.
The Christmas Story, whether you take it literally or figuratively, is one of love. Grace, peace, compassion—they are all there in the story.
Other religions teach love, too. As a Christian, I happen to celebrate Christmas.
For me, Christmas is a reminder of the love that we must share if life is to hold any meaning. Loving others is acting out the love of God. It’s love that we celebrate, and it’s love that comforts.
And if Christmas is a time of remembering this love, then that love should be lived out for the rest of the year.

Maybe the festivities are drawing to a close. But the love is not.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Barbours: Larry, Tina and Chase Bird! May your holiday season be peaceful and joyful.

*I won’t be blogging again this week until Friday. But I hope to be visiting your blogs.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random 5 Friday: Leaves and Christmas preparations

I’m so happy that this week Nancy of A Rural Journal is again hosting her wonderful meme, Random 5 Friday. During her break, I have been posting randoms on Friday, but it’s not the same without Nancy.
Check out her blog HERE, and find other bloggers enjoying sharing their random facts and experiences.

Larry got up the last of the leaves Wednesday (yes, we still had leaves in the yard) and then put up the lighted trees he made last year, along with the lighted Santa. I like having a festive display in the yard.

We never know the exact day the town truck will come by to pick up leaves. While Larry was working on the leaves the other day, he looked up and saw the truck. The driver slowed down in front of the house but then drove on by. Larry thought he had missed it, and we’d have the leaves down by the street for a while.
But later that day, the truck came back to get them. I thought that was a great customer service by the town.

When I was at Avoca last week, I saw some vases with tree ornaments in them. 

I thought it was a pretty and simple way to decorate. So I tried it at home.

Another little decoration that gets pulled out each year is this snowman that plugs into Larry’s laptop. He turns different colors.

For reasons he doesn’t know, Larry’s dad called him “Frosty” as a nickname when Larry was a boy. And Larry also loves snow. So we have several snowman decorations around the house, and they bring back sweet memories of Larry’s dad, who passed away seven years ago.

I finally—finally—finished shopping and decorating. I want to do a little cooking, just simple dishes to enjoy.

One thing I didn’t get done is Christmas card writing. I’ve decided it’s OK. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blogging friends

One of the wonderful surprises I’ve experienced with blogging is the chance for new friendships.
No, online friendships are not the same as face-to-face friendships. But connections are made even when we don’t meet each other face-to-face.
With readers of this blog and writers of other blogs, I’ve shared life experiences. I’ve received moral support, inspiration and encouragement. And I’ve had plain fun conversations with people I would never have met if not for the Internet.
One of those blogging friends is Patty of Patty’s Pretty Things.
The word “pretty” goes perfectly with Patty. She’s a pretty lady with a pretty personality who makes creative and—you guessed it—pretty things.
I love reading her blog and seeing pictures of the art she makes. She takes vintage items and creates new pieces that are not only beautiful to look at, but honor the people who used those items first.
Her family and her home are very important to Patty, and she celebrates them with her art.
Patty recently sent me a Christmas package. When I opened the package, I was so excited to find this:

This lovely Christmas card is an example of the paper art Patty makes.

These cardinal tags came complete with ribbon to use to attach them to packages I give out this year.

The kitty faces on these cards are so sweet. How did Patty know I like cats? (smile)

I can’t wait to send out these butterfly cards.

Patty made my day with this fun and pretty package. She’s so sweet. I hope you will check out her blog and see many more pretty things she’s made.
Thank you, Patty! And thank you to all my blogging friends who make my life richer from just knowing you.

What do you like best about your blogging friendships?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Products that help me through the hectic times

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about feeling down during the holiday season. I’ve been practicing as many of my coping measures as I can. I haven’t been getting up early enough to journal, and I haven’t played my keyboard, but all in good time.
I’ve also been turning to certain products this holiday season to help me navigate the stress and hectic nature that this time of year can include.

Holiday lights
I love being surrounded by the tree lights and other lights on decorations. They light up the darkness and make me feel warm and safe.

Battery-powered candles
I think I write about these every Christmas, but I just love them. I get to have the pleasure of candlelight without the worry of lighting a real candle, or having a real candle sitting around in reach of a jumping cat.
Some would consider this an avoidance of dealing with an obsession in OCD. Essentially, I’m not facing my harm obsession manifesting as fear of fire.
But I believe that some obsessions can be dealt with in ways other than exposing myself fully to the object of my fear. I think in this case, I’m choosing a safe alternative to lit candles in a house with a cat. And if I had to light a candle, I could. I’m choosing not to.
Not everyone will agree with me. But it works for me.

Lipton Soothe Smooth Green Tea
We just recently discovered this. I’m usually not a big fan of green tea, but this tea has a delicate, light taste, and it really seems to soothe me. I enjoy having a cup in the evening as I wind down.
I especially like to drink it in a holiday mug I found at a local thrift store.
(Note: I was not asked to write about this brand of tea or compensated to do so. These opinions are mine.)

My phone
My timer function on my iPhone has been very helpful to me. It’s easy for me to lose track of time. I get involved in whatever I’m doing and time goes by.
So I’ve started using a timer when I really need to be reminded to look up from my work.
For example, often Larry calls me at work to see if I’d like to go to lunch. After I hang up, I set the timer for nine minutes. It takes about that long for him to leave the house and drive over to my office. When the timer goes off (with a soothing tone), I know it’s time to put my coat on and go out the front door of the office building. This saves me from running late, keeping Larry waiting, and just feeling frazzled.

Gas logs
The gas logs help heat the house. We have a furnace and a heat pump, though. What we really use the gas logs for is comfort.
Chase Bird loves to sit by the fire, warming his tummy, then his back.
In the late evenings, I like to curl up on the sofa. The tree on the dining table is behind me. Candles are on the mantel. And the fire is going. It’s so peaceful.
The photos I took of Chase by the fire turned out blurry. By the time I realized it, I couldn’t get him to return to the fire for a retake. 

Do you have a favorite product that makes life a little easier?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday’s Critters: Chase Bird in the Sun

Today I’m joining Saturday’s Critters, a new meme started by Eileen of Viewing Nature with Eileen.
We have an enclosed back porch, and Chase Bird loves to roam the perimeter and make sure all is safe and sound or sit in the sun.
I admit that I get nervous when he is out there and tend to hover around, making sure he’s OK.
Mind you, the doors on the porch are locked, and there’s no way he can get out or something else get in. But I tend to worry, as you know.
On this particular day—Dec. 1—the sun was shining and Chase Bird was so obviously enjoying himself. I relaxed and tried to capture his contentment in these photos.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Old houses, Christmas decorations and another parade

I’m still doing randoms on Friday. Random 5 Friday is a meme started by Nancy of A Rural Journal. Nancy is taking a break, but it’s hard for me to give up my randoms.
So here we go for this week.

Becky Green Aaronson of The Art of an Improbable Life recently did a giveaway of a 2014 Creative Peeps Inspirational Calendar she designed and produced through Improbable Publishing. I won!

I already have it set up on my desk, ready for the new year. I’m looking forward to having an inspirational quote in front of me to help carry me through my work.
Please stop by Improbable Publishing and have a look at the calendar. Becky is donating $1 from every sale of a calendar to cancer research.

Please visit Lisa at Two Bears Farm for a wonderful story about a horse rescue and continuing work to help horses in need.
Lisa is such a kind person with a generous heart for people and animals. I have been inspired by her, and I know you will be, too.

Last Saturday was my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday. To celebrate, we took her out for an early dinner at J.T.’s at the Lavalette, a restaurant in Gretna in the next county over.
The restaurant is in the Lavalette House, a lovely historic house. It was decorated so beautifully for Christmas.
And the food was great, too.
These photos were taken with my phone.

Every year, the staff at the newspaper I work for have a Christmas photo taken. We put it in the Christmas issue of the paper, and it goes in the publishing company’s newsletter.
We went to Avoca in Altavista this week for the photo. The news editor at a sister paper met us there and took the group picture.
According to its website, Avoca was built in 1901 and is built in the American Queen Anne style. It’s on the site of the home of Col. Charles Lynch of the American Revolutionary War.
Avoca was decorated for its annual Christmas open house. I got some photos on my phone to share. They're not great photos, but they will give you a sense of the place, I hope.

The local high school’s football team, the Altavista Colonels, will play in Salem on Saturday for the Group 1A state championship. My paper’s editor and sports reporter will cover it, of course. I don’t think Larry and I are going. But we’ll probably be listening to the game on the radio and hoping for a win. Go, Colonels!

And this week, I have a sixth random.

I’ve got another Christmas parade to photograph on Sunday afternoon. It’s the Rustburg Christmas Parade. It was rescheduled from last Sunday, when we had all the ice.
I’m looking at a very busy time at work next week. We’ll be working not only on the Journal issues but on Forest Life, a monthly publication we also publish.
We’ll be laying out the Dec. 25 issue of the paper a day early, Monday, Dec. 23. So that means we have to have all our copy and photos done early.
With all that in mind, I’m taking today off. I have comp time to use, and I really need to get stuff done, like Christmas shopping, card sending, a bit of decorating, working on my editing business set up, etc.
I know this time of year gets busy and hectic for so many of us. Let’s all take a collective deep breath and focus on what’s most important in our lives.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A cat’s eye view

What does a cat see when he looks out the window?
Chase Bird looks out the large den windows, especially in the morning right after he has his morning meal of soft food.
We leave the blinds partly open so he has a view.

He looks right.

He looks left.

He looks straight ahead.

What does he see?

No squirrels on the rail fence today.
I hope I see a bird.
Where did that stick come from?
Are those leaves our leaves?
Will Mama leave in her blue car again?

Just my thoughts, I guess, not Chase Bird’s. 
But I like seeing what he sees.

Have you tried a different point of view lately?

Note: I took the photos of Chase Bird looking out the window and the actual cat's view photo on different days. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy Holidays from my almost-decorated home

First, I’d like to say that I’m thinking about all of those caught in the latest winter storms, some with ice included.
We have had some sleet, a little snow, and freezing rain that left us with some ice. But we fared just fine and didn’t lose power—at least as of late Sunday night.

The frozen camillia bush in the backyard.

Larry and I were busy bees Saturday. We dusted, vacuumed and scrubbed floors, wanting the house to be extra clean before we started decorating for Christmas.
On Sunday, we put up two trees: the main one in the den and a small one on the dining table at one end of the living room.
With the main tree, we decided on red and silver for this year.

I still need to put the tree skirt around the bottom.

For the little tree, we used mostly gold and a little green.

Here are a few individual ornaments:

Larry likes snowmen. I found this ornament at a flower/gift shop in town a few years ago.

I bought this Mountain Lake ornament when I was at the resort on Thanksgiving.

A friend from grad school gave this ornament years ago. I like the stained glass look of it.

I cross stitched this kitty in 2000. She's black and white like both Waddles and Sam were.

I also put out Mr. and Mrs. Snowman. This pair lights up a cabinet in what we call the futon room (because it has a futon). It’s where I have my office, and I like glancing up and seeing the snowy duo smiling at me.

I get a little nervous while decorating trees. I worry about balancing things and whether or not the tree will look “good enough.” Isn’t that a waste of worry? It’s the meaning and thought that count, right?

The wreaths are on the doors. But we haven’t finished decorating. The lighted Santa and Christmas trees need to be set up in the front yard. And I need to set up the Nativity scene and hang the stockings.

I recently watched a show on TV that featured a woman who has well over 100 trees in her house. I wouldn’t want that many, but I am thinking of getting one more (small) tree for the back bedroom that we use as kind of a second den.

What about you, dear readers? How many trees (if any) do you have in your home for the holidays?