Friday, June 27, 2014

Garden update

As we near the end of June, I thought I’d give you an update on our garden. These photos were taken June 15, so some things have developed since then.

Our raised garden is overflowing. We have an abundance of lettuce and plenty of onions. We lost the broccoli to green worms.
 Some of our tomatoes have blight, but others are doing OK. We’re hoping for some ripe ones soon.

The cucumbers have spread up the side of the garden, clinging to the wire. We’ve gotten one ripe one off of the vines, and others are nearly ready for picking.

A cucumber vine clinging to the fencing.

A baby cucumber.

The peppers have blooms on them now. Here you can see the irrigation system Larry built doing its watering work.

We’ve been frustrated and thrilled at the results from the garden so far. I guess that’s part of being gardeners. We hope to learn from our missteps and try different things in the future.

I’m planning a salad of two types of lettuce, onions, cucumbers and blueberries for lunch today. The blueberries aren’t homegrown, but the rest of it will be.


I have been pondering the future of this blog and trying to find a way to be of better value to my readers. I’m taking next week off from blogging, but I’ll be back Monday, July 7. I hope to still visit others’ blogs and keep in touch with you.

If you’re gardening this year, how are your plots growing? And for all of you, how is your summer going so far?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Look at what you’ve got

A memoir in the making.

I haven’t been doing a lot of my “own” writing lately. Most of the writing I’ve done is for the newspaper.
But the pull has been there once again to work on my memoir.
I knew I had various documents in my computer files, scattered here and there between two big folders. But I had the sense that I really hadn’t done that much work on it. And where to begin?

So I looked at what I’ve got.

I went through the files and printed out things I’ve written, mostly over the past two years. I was amazed at what I found. I didn’t remember doing so much writing.
I had about 30 files with over 32,000 words written. If you look at it in terms of pages, with the standard page holding 250 words, that’s 131 pages.

It’s a draft, mind you, so I’m nowhere near finished. But it’s a good start. And it gave me a great sense of satisfaction.

Sometimes we get stuck in our thinking.
We think we’ve not accomplished enough. We think we’ve failed because we haven’t done enough. We think we’ll never start a project, much less finish it.
This can be especially true if we’re struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, or another issue that sometimes distorts our thinking and makes us afraid.

It may help to sometimes take the time to look at what we’ve got, what we’ve done, what we’ve created, what we’ve accomplished, and feel good about it.
Pull out the creations, print out the words or photos, make a list of our accomplishments, talk with a good friend who knows what we do. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
Then get back to work, of course.

Please share in the comments something that you have accomplished recently, no matter how small it may seem to you. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The boot is back

Yes, that is a picture of an orthopedic boot on my foot. I am back in it after reinjuring my foot.

Do you remember when I broke my foot last year? I broke the fifth metatarsal in my right foot in a break called a Jones fracture. It’s a break in a part of the foot that doesn’t have a good blood supply, so it is slow to heal.
Mine finally healed nearly 100 percent last year. I had to wear the boot for a little over three months, then an ankle stabilizer.
It was so nice to put that boot away in the closet.

Tuesday morning, I put on sandals to wear to work. They have a little bit of a heel, and no strap around the back of the foot.
I walked out the door to go to my car. I don’t know what I did to cause it. But I felt my right ankle roll over and a lot of my weight went on the side of my foot.
I wanted to cry, and not just from the pain. From fear that I’d broken the foot again.
I saw my orthopedic doctor Wednesday. He can’t tell from the x-rays whether or not I broke it again. He thinks it’s OK, but as a precaution, he wants me to wear the boot for three weeks, then x-ray it again to see if a break shows up.
Within those three weeks, if all the pain goes away, I can cancel the appointment with him and ditch the boot. Then I’ll wear the ankle stabilizer for a couple of weeks. That’s the path I’d like this to go.

So ….. I am trying to stay positive. It could be so much worse. Many people deal with a lot worse. This is mostly inconvenience.
I am bummed that I can’t go for a walk.
But I’m trying to stay active. Thursday I had some errands to run. It’s a hassle to drive in a supportive shoe, then put the boot on, walk around, go back to the car, take the boot off, drive, and repeat. But I made it. And I kept moving.

I can’t add “go for a walk most days” to my list of habits to develop, but there are many things I can still work on. I’ll just be thumping along in my boot as I do them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Getting up in the morning

The habit that I’m working on is getting up early in the morning. I like being up early. The hard part is breaking through my resistance to stay in bed just a little longer.
For much of my life, getting up early was the norm. I felt out-of-sorts if I stayed in bed very late in the morning. It was almost a moral issue for me, like I was somehow lazy if I slept in.
In trying to relax my compulsive need to get up early, I went too far the other way.
And I developed some unhealthy habits during periods of depression. It’s easier to stay in bed when you don’t feel like you have anything to get up for. When the day seems like it’s going to be one more bad day, why hurry into it? Why not delay it just a little longer?


The thing is, I can get up early when there’s something work related that I have to be up for. And I like being up early, when the air is fresher and the birds are singing and not many others are out and about.
Getting up early is a good habit for me. The earlier I get up, the more time I have for some of the things that I’ve been putting off: writing and exercising, for example. It’s harder for me to be active in the evenings because I’m more tired then.
I’m not talking about not getting proper rest. I’m talking about getting enough sleep but timing it so I get up before the sun is very high in the sky.


Sunday night, I set the alarm clock for 6 a.m. That’s the time that seemed right and doable. I’ve been aiming for it off and on for months, with no luck.
Monday morning, I woke up when the alarm, set to the local NPR station, went off.
And I made that mistake: I pushed the snooze button.
I’ve done that many a time without thinking. I’ve just automatically pushed it. But I did it intentionally this time. I thought I’d push it just once and then get up at 6:11.
I finally got up at 7:16. I was disappointed in myself. I know better than to push that snooze button for one more bit of sleep, just one more. But I had done it anyway.
On the other hand, I was up earlier than I had been in a few days. And I decided that I would take time to go on a short walk, up to the end of my street and back home. It’s just six-tenths of a mile, but it’s enough to get me moving and outside, with the air as cool as it’s going to be all day.
Monday night, I set the alarm for 7 a.m. I thought it was more probable I would get up at 7 than 6.
I’m sorry to say, I pushed the snooze button again and got up even later.


So I’m a work in progress. But I’m still trying.
And I’m thinking about the fact that I can get up when I have an early court case to cover or an early interview. Maybe I need to start thinking of other activities—like exercise, like my own writing, like meditation—as just as important as a work assignment.

Do you push the snooze button? If not, how do you keep yourself from doing it?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Making habits

A tree in our neighborhood. It's been here longer than I have and has seen a lot.

Hello, dear readers. I have not been consistent with my blogging lately, and I apologize for that. Here is what has been going on with me and what I want to do about it.

I have been working more hours than usual at the newspaper, which accounts for some of my absence. But the main reason is that I’ve been living an unhealthy lifestyle.
My eating has been all over the place—too much, not the right kinds of foods. I haven’t been exercising. I haven’t been keeping good sleeping habits. I stay up late, toss and turn, then sleep too late. Long naps are the norm when I get the chance. And still, I’m exhausted too much of the time.
I haven’t been spending enough time outside in nature, taking photographs. I haven’t been relaxing enough. I’ve let intrusive thoughts carry away my emotions.
I think about writing more than taking action and sitting down and writing. I let fear and inertia control me.
Basically, I’ve been drifting along, doing what I have to do, putting my head down and just vowing to get through the day. I haven’t been looking for the joy, or the contentment, or the peace that I believe can make each day a better one.

I love looking at trees like this and their huge roots. Trees are symbolic for me. I think of life and stability and strength when I look at them.

There are lots of reasons for letting myself go: lack of motivation, procrastination, some depression, feelings of insecurity, taking the easy way out. Fear.

Have you ever felt tired of how you’re living? That’s where I am now.

I’ve been here before. And my usual response is to make a huge list of things to change and set a lot of goals, all at once. And then I get overwhelmed.

So I’m starting slow. There’s one habit I’m going to work on first. I’m not going to tell you what it is today. I’m going to work on it and tell you about it Wednesday. I’ll tell you about it even if the process is going badly.
Because change is hard and sometimes the process is pretty ugly.

What’s the last habit you worked on developing?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Will the squirrels come back?

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

In 2013, the acorn crop in our area of Virginia was poor—almost nonexistent. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, several factors could have led to the poor crop, including weather conditions during pollination.

Whatever the reasons, most of the squirrels left the neighborhood last fall.
The lack of acorns affected other wildlife, too, including black bears. This spring, there have been numerous sightings of black bears around homes in my part of the state, even in the city of Lynchburg.

I haven’t seen a bear in my neighborhood. But this spring, I’ve seen a few squirrels here and there. I recently saw one in our yard, and I grabbed my camera and got some shots through the den window.

Here, he seems to be contemplating his next move, leg in air.

Here, he’s apparently had enough of this area. Or perhaps he senses a human nearby snapping photos of him.

I hope the squirrels come back. And I hope the acorn crop is better this year, which will help other wildlife, too, including bears and deer.

“It is when we are trapped in incessant streams of compulsive thinking that the universe really disintegrates for us, and we lose the ability to sense the interconnectedness of all that exists.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

The loss of the acorns reminds me that all of life is interconnected. What affects the tree affects the animals. What affects the animals affects humans. And on and on and on, around and around.
I like that feeling of connection. It tells me I’m not alone. None of us are. No matter how anxious or depressed I might sometimes feel, I’m not alone.
And it reminds me that the squirrel in my yard matters.

What kinds of wildlife do you find in your yard?

Friday, June 6, 2014

The garden is overflowing

Hello, dear readers. I’m sorry I’ve been missing this week. I have been very busy with work, and then so tired in the evenings, I haven’t been on the computer and doing my blogging as much as I’ve wanted to.

Our garden is bursting at the seams, it seems.

I harvested some of the Romaine lettuce, and Larry pulled some onions. No tomatoes, cucumbers, or other veggies yet.

I’m looking forward to a nice salad with fresh lettuce and onions.


Thank you to those who read and shared the CNN article “Religious OCD: ‘I’m going to hell.’”
The point of the article was not to paint religion in a good or bad light. It was to bring light to a subject that many people don’t understand. It was to let people suffering from OCD know they are not alone.
But many of the comments on CNN’s website were arguments about religion: whether or not God existed, whether or not a certain religion was the right one, who had the answers, who didn’t.
I didn’t read all of them—not nearly all of them. I couldn’t stomach the disrespect.
Not all the comments I read were like that. I appreciate all those who engaged in respectful discussion.

Religion doesn’t cause OCD. Believing or not believing in God doesn’t cause OCD.
OCD is probably genetic, or a mix of genetics and environment. The way that OCD manifests itself in my life, and in the lives of others with OCD, may reflect what’s important to us, or what we fear.
Being in an environment like my strict Christian high school probably was not the best place for me as a teenager. If I had been in treatment for OCD at that time, I could have dealt with my doubts and fears much better. But religion didn’t cause my OCD.

So I was disturbed by the tone of the comments.
But then I came upon an article by Parker J. Palmer that helped me put things in perspective. It is called “Reflections on the Inner Work of Holding Paradox.
In the article, Palmer states, “For me, holding paradox means thinking about some (but not all) things as "both-ands" instead of "either-ors."
For example, he says, when we disagree with someone about a religious or political issue, we sometimes think that we are right and the other person is wrong.
He goes on to say:
“But both-and thinking can lead to something much more creative: ‘Maybe I don't have everything right, and maybe he/she doesn't have everything wrong. Maybe both of us see part of the truth. If I speak and listen in that spirit, we both might learn something that will expand our understanding. We might even be able to keep this relationship and conversation going.’"

That’s the kind of conversation I’d like to have. It’s better just to leave the divisive comments behind and concentrate on discussions created out of respect.

Altavista’s annual Uncle Billy’s Day Festival is this weekend. It will include a carnival, music, a craft show, an art contest, food vendors, fireworks (Saturday night), and more. But I may not make it. I am covering two high school graduations for the paper on Saturday.

Whether it’s attending a festival, working in your garden, hanging out at the house, or whatever you choose to do, I hope you have a great weekend!