T(g)GG – Day 003

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So, since my kids needed something to do during The Pandemic Summer of 2021, (beyond pushing each others’ buttons, and gnawing on my very. last. nerve), we signed them up for riding lessons.

The local barn has been so kind – both towards my kids (The Boy is afraid of large animals) and towards our social distancing needs. They gave us a time slot with no other people, and were willing to remain masked the entire time – even when the kids were on their horses and the distance was well more than 6′.

That being said, we’ve had, count ’em, THREE LESSONS since July. It became a bit of a running joke, wondering what weather phenomenon would cancel lessons on any particular Tuesday.

This evening was no different. We’d already left the house before getting the message that things were a no-go as the vet had to be called.

This is, of course, the main reason I don’t tell my kids anything until we’re in the car.

If we’re invited to a birthday party, I’ll tell them as we’re rolling into the balloon-decorated driveway.

If we’re getting visitors, I’ll tell them as the guests roll into ours.

It just saves on me having to deal with disappointed kids.

Zero hopes dashed. Zero eardrums assaulted.

Since we’d already left, and the damage done, I decided to take them for a drive to the next town over, so we could drown their sorrows in Dollar Store garbage and Timbits.

The kids all picked something Hallowe’en-y (Viv got a wig. Rae, fake nails, and Gabe a sign that said DANGER! KEEP OUT!”) and their favourite deep-fried horror story, and as we were getting back into the car, declared this evening a win.

“BEST NIGHT EVER!”

Guys, how jazzed am I that I saved $60 AND was home in half the time?

Needless to say (and yet, here I am, saying it anyhow) all our bars are set tragically low.

Day 003

T(g)GG – Day 002

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Here we are for Day Two of The (grudgingly) Glad Game!

First off, can’t you just hear the Price is Right theme song playing?

It’s pretty on-brand for this household.

It’s all trumpets and joy on the surface, but you just know there are people wearing tacky clothing, making poor financial choices, and having their butts pinched without their permission. (Cough. Me. I’m people.)

Second: Why is it so hard to be grateful?

Why is it so easy to see the trees but not the forest?

Why do I forget that April Showers bring May Flowers?

Why am I using so many clichés?

Turns out, some people are just bad at being grateful. Studies show that genetics, brain function, personality, and life experience all blend together to determine the ease at which a person can flex their Muscles of Thankfulness.

So, basically, I’m effed.

Since we all know that I’m not doing much in the way of ACTUAL muscle development, I wonder just how well I’ll get on with this exercise.

***

Third: Can we all just agree that kids are the worst?

I mean, there’s a reason that all the diagnostics for psychopathy can’t be used on anyone under the age of 18.

  • superficial charm
  • grandiose sense of self-importance
  • need for stimulation
  • prone to boredom
  • pathological lying
  • manipulative
  • lack of remorse
  • lack of empathy
  • lack of realistic goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • parasitic lifestyle.

Sound like someone you know?

Protip – If that someone isn’t legally allowed to vote, you’re probably fine. If they’re older, you might want to hide your credit card…and the cat.

My own darling parasites spent the day at each others’ throats.

Bitching and moaning about each other.

About me.

About their lives in general.

It was exhausting, and it seemed nothing could dam the flow.

You know what *did* help?

Not logic. Not a heart-to-heart. Neither cajoling, nor laps ’round the homestead.

Chores and an early bedtime.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

Me. I’m the winner.

It’s 8pm. My toilets are clean and my house is quiet.

It might not have strengthened their relationships, but *I’m* certainly in a better mood.

Look at me, exercising my gratitude muscle.

::FLEX::

The Glad Game – Day 001

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So, apparently, no one knows who the eff Pollyanna is, and why she’s pertinent to my Grudging Gratitude Project.

Once upon a time, a million years ago, people couldn’t just watch what they wanted, when they wanted.

They had to WAIT.

Cartoons held the monopoly on Saturday mornings, whilst Disney owned two theme parks and Sunday nights after seven.

I looked forward, all week, to Disney’s Sunday Night Movie.

Swiss Family Robinson
Mary Poppins
The Shaggy Dog
The Gnome Mobile

and, of course, Pollyanna.

“Young orphan Pollyanna (Hayley Mills) believes life’s most difficult problems can always be surmounted by a positive attitude and pragmatism. But when she moves in with her dour aunt (Jane Wyman), she is introduced to a range of disheartened folks who challenge her upbeat outlook. Not to be discouraged, she sets to work spreading hope and good cheer.”

Rotten Tomatoes is surprisingly kind to the saccharine story, with an over-80% combined score

In the movie, Pollyanna plays The Glad Game whenever she’s feeling down.

Basic premise?

Poke around in the pile of poop until you find a nugget of goodness.

She, for instance, when given a pair of crutches instead of a doll, is glad she doesn’t have to use them.

I, for instance, can look at my blog stats, see the common pairing of my Better-than-Sex Carrot Cake post and a referral from the Google search engine, and find humour in that someone, somewhere, is disappointed they landed on a recipe, and not pervy pictures from the produce department.

We have to find joy somewhere, amirite?

Canoodling Carrots

Grudging Gratitude

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So, I am not what one would call, a Naturally Positive Person.

I’m majorly sarcastic, moderately cynical, and mildly nihilistic.

The second shoe will always drop.
Murphy’s Law invariably applies.
The glass is inevitably half-empty…unless that glass is filled with urine, then it’s full – until the exact moment I spill it on my pants.

Part of this super-sunny disposition comes from the fact that the current socio-eco-political climate seems to be a long series of earthquakes, ice storms, and dumpster fires, but honestly, I think a lot of it developed as a natural extension of my Squirrel Brain.

See, my brain is AMAZING at coming up with a million and seven ideas.

Whether it’s coming up with names for your blog, or possible side hustles, or fundraising ideas, if you’re looking for someone to oversupply (but underproduce, ’cause I’M A VISIONARY NOT AN…opposite of a visionary…whatever, it’s fine) I’m your girl.

Not only can my brain produce certified-fresh (if not entirely realistic) ideas, but this hot-mess of neurons has a breath-taking capacity for idea improvement.

This, like most gifts, is the double-iest of double-edged swords.

It’s helpful if I need to see beyond the wallpaper and shag carpet in a house I’m thinking of buying.

It is useful if I want to take an existing knitting or sewing pattern to the next level.

It is a delight if I want to tweak a recipe to make it work for my family’s freakish taste buds.

It is substantially less enjoyable if I want to actually appreciate something at face-value, in real-time, instead obsessing over the 234 ways in which it could improve.

Sometimes I just want to BE IN THE MOMENT, you know?

Now, sometimes That Moment bites, and that’s just the reality.

World Wide Pandemic? Sucks.

Husband’s diagnosis? Blows.

Size of my ass? Lamentable, but that’s entirely besides the point.

So, how does one enjoy the moment when one has a brain bent on external improvement in situations that seems SO UTTERLY AND INALIENABALLY IMPROVABLE?

Can anyone else smell that?

Smells like I need both a dopamine hit and some GEE-DEE GRATITUDE.

Trumpets! There needs to be trumpets, right now.

Maybe cowbell?

My challenge for the next (what?….month? Year? Let’s say…) 100 days is to pick (and write about) a single, solitary bit of beauty from the fetid ashes of 2021.

MORE COWBELL!

I’m gonna POLLYANNA THE ISH OUT OF THIS TRAINWRECK.

***

Don’t Strain Yourself

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I have a recurring problem.

Whenever I start a new project – particularly when I’m also learning a new skill – starting small doesn’t, for a single second, occur to me.

“I want to learn to knit. Why make a dishcloth, when I can make an adult-sized, fair-isle, cabled sweater?”
“I want a garden. Why plant small container, when I can dig up my whole backyard?”
“I want an uncluttered house. Why start with a drawer, when I can empty the contents of my entire home onto my bed?”

It’s amazing how, even when you identify a behavioral quirk, it seems almost impossible to break.

Not long ago, I was asked to help make reusable cloth masks for a fly-in reservation in one of the Northiest bits of Northern Ontario. Upon hearing they had 300 elders they wanted covered, I asked, “Sounds good. How many in the entire community?”

I mean, why make 300 masks when you could make 1200, amiright?

This next Year of Done project was a victim of this all-or-nothing idiocy.

I had barely sewn a potholder before, so naturally it made perfect sense to make a king-sized pineapple quilt. There would be 100 – 12″x12″ squares, and each square have a mere 53 pieces.

Easy peasy makes-me-queazy.

In nearly TWENTY YEARS and in SIX DIFFERENT HOMES, I completed a total of FOUR BLOCKS.

ZERO of them were 12″x12″.

This one hurt a little more than the others. I can’t just reabsorb the fabric into my stash for future use. Congratulating myself on being so smart and organized, I precut yards and yard (and yards) of fabric into 2″ strips.

That’s a LOT of 2″ strips.

After wrestling the wonky blocks into some semblance of order, I ended up with a small quilt for my wall, and kids who are more than eager to use my scraps.

Don’t go big.
Stay small.
Stay sane.
Also, stay home, ’cause, you know, COVID.

New Plan!

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Okay, so, more of New Plan Required vs New Plan Acquired.

See, I went to (re)(re)start Beth Moore’s David study, and 30 seconds in, I knew I’d made a huge mistake.

This particular study of David is 10 weeks long. Each week has 5 days of homework. Each day of homework takes about an hour.

I have at least 15 uncompleted studies, each 6-11 weeks in length.

Let’s math, shall we?

Beth Moore’s David study – 50 hour commitment
Beth Moore’s Esther study – 45 hours
Beth Moore’s Quest study – 30 hours
Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study – 55 hours
Erin H Moon’s Ecclesiastes study – 20 hours
Fight Back with Joy – 30 hours
Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God study – 35 hours
Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study – 35 hours
Priscilla Shirer’s He Speaks to Me study – 35 hours
Philip Chan’s Crazy Love study – 50 hours
Lysa TerKeurst’s It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way study – 30 hours
Kelly Minter’s All Things New study – 40 hours
Lisa Harper’s Gospel of Mark study – 35 hours
Kay Arthur’s Genesis Part One study – 25 hours
Anne Graham Lotz Ephesians study – 35 hours

HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER

That’s a FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY HOUR COMMITMENT.

That’s a FOURTEEN WEEK FULL-TIME JOB.

If I did the prescribed amount per day, that’s AN EIGHTEEN MONTH UNDERTAKING.

Also: Undertaking is a great word ’cause I’D BE DECEASED.

I could pop out another two children in less time.

Also also: Thank you Jesus for birth control.

And that’s not even counting any other studies I might come across, or the shiny new Lenten study currently in my cart. Forget the fact that I didn’t finish LAST YEAR’S LENTEN STUDY. Someone talk me into it anyhow, please? Last year’s was SO GOOD. You know, the 27 days I actually completed.

Full disclosure: I’ve rounded up on some of these. Some may only take 1/2 hour. Or 45 minutes. I have two excellent reasons for doing so. First off, I have a squirrel brain, and 1/2 an hour is NEVER 1/2 an hour. Secondly, it makes my big reveal ALL THE MORE DRAMATIC.

So, a new plan is needed.

Right?

Suggestions?

Bible School Drop Out

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You know how, when you’re living on a modest income, but you’ve made a few extra purchases, and you probably need to get your financial bearings, but think that, somehow, if you don’t actually check your account balance, then it doesn’t count and you’re not actually fiscally irresponsible?

Or, it’s after Christmas, and you’ve indulged in every Gramma-goodie, and your yoga pants are the only bottoms that still have your back, but you haven’t actually stepped on a scale, so the enormity of your poor dietary decisions can’t be quantified and therefore don’t yet count?

I’m the same way with courses, non-audio books, and, in particular, Bible studies.

During a decluttering session of my bookshelves, I gathered all my workbooks together. In one place. Much like stepping on the scale, or scanning my bank card, I was in for a bit of a reality bitch slap.

No Graduation Day for You

I found 14 unfinished workbooks. FOURTEEN. And that’s not counting the legions of online studies, reading plans, or topical deep dives I’ve undertaken on my own, over the years. There may, in fact, be a Lenten study hanging out in my virtual shopping cart, even though I didn’t finished the one I bought last year. 40 days is a big commitment, y’all.

Full disclosure: I LOVE GROUP BIBLE STUDIES. I know it’s some people’s Fifth Circle of Hell, but I join every study presented, because, I want ALL THE KNOWLEDGE, and, regardless of my crushing social anxiety, I’m an Enneagram 7 and I want all the people, all the time, at all the gatherings. I *do* wish I never had to leave my house to get those things, but there it is.

I always start out great. I’m early for Thursday morning group. I have my homework done. I’ve done extra reading and can tell you the origin of that word is Hebrew and yada yada sex.

Then, at some point, my interest wanes. Okay, not my interest, per se. My interest is still high. I still want to KNOW ALL THE THINGS. My motivation to pursue my interest on my own withers. Maybe I don’t do any extra reading. Maybe I only do 4 of the 5 days of homework. Maybe I’m 10 minutes late for Thursday morning group. Maybe I can actually see it happening, but seem powerless to stop the cycle.

It’s predictable, see? If the study is 6 weeks long, the first four weeks are stellar. If the study is 12 weeks, I’m good for the first 8ish. At some point, past the half-way mark, my brain says, “Meh.” to the study, but “Damn skippy!” to that new audiobook that just became available on Overdrive.

I’m still great in discussion. My squirrel brain makes connections in lightening-fast (if not particularly coherent) ways. I can connect the dots between faith and psychology and current events and literature. My cranium is a giant Red Thread Board. You’re welcome, leaders, for keeping the conversation going, if not in the direction you wanted.

I 100% deflect, however, when the question of “Who’s got their homework done?” comes up. I’m pretty sure it’s frowned on to lie, particularly at Bible Study, but there is absolutely no way I’m copping to not finishing homework that should have taken 20 minutes.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Add them to my Year of Done!

I’ll likely start with Beth Moore’s David study. I’ve left that one unfinished TWICE, with two different groups, at two different churches, in two different decades. Have mercy.

Maybe I’ll start from the beginning.
Maybe I’ll just fill in the blank bits.
Maybe I’ll set them on fire.
Either way, I’ll either get them done or get them out.

Quilt Squared

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Some projects you look at, and remember with fondness.

Maybe it’s a quilt made with old baby clothes (note to self: finish Baby Clothes Quilt).
Maybe it’s a binder with all your family’s favourite recipes (note to self: Finish Family Recipes Binder).
Maybe it’s a garden with clippings from your Nan’s flowers (note to self: Start a Nan’s Flower Garden so you can abandon Nan’s Flower Garden, so you can resurrect Nan’s Flower Garden, so you can add it to your YEAR OF DONE).

Others, all you can do is shake your head at yourself and think “What the actual eff were you thinking?”

This project falls into the latter category.

This was (yet another) sew-a-long, I joined with a friend.

Can we talk, for a second, about my compulsive need to enlist in every group/team/knit-a-long/sew-a-long/write-a-long/book club/book launch/challenge that crosses my path? I am a chronic joiner. I can’t seem to help myself. Is there a category in the DSM-V for Club Collector? I guarantee I tick all the boxes. Must work on this.

Anyhow, this was another Angela-bites-off-more-than-fits-in-her-gigantic-mouth project. Not only was I going to sew a quilt with ELEVENTY ONE BLOCKS, but I was going to sew TWO OF THEM. Seriously. Why is it that I need to double up when it comes to the girls? I’ve never been the mom that needed to dress her twins the same. Why am I the mom that needs matching linens?

So, not only was there supposed to be 222 blocks, but check out the colour palette.

Headline – PATCHY, THE COLOUR BLIND CLOWN GETS RUN OVER BY THE PANTONE TRUCK AT CARNIVAL

A clown threw up in my mouth.

I mean, I like colour. You like colour. There is, however ZERO NEED to put the entire rainbow in a single quilt.

TWICE.

Sadly, (luckily?) I didn’t get far. I made…wait for it…18 of the planned on 222 blocks.

Way to run the race, Roberge.

Anyhow, after slapping myself several times with my reality stick, I put the blocks together, and made a…rug? Lap quilt? Puppy blanket? Table runner? Not sure, but as it’s currently on my wall instead of in a Rubbermaid bin, I’m calling it a win.

A migraine-inducing win.

Tah dah!

Brain vs Heart

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Does your brain ever argue with your heart? Mine often have conversations, not unlike the shoulder angel/demon trope of ole.

One of my zillion Year of Done projects is a sew-a-long quilt I started in 2017. Not that long ago, considering some of my stuff, but still far enough in the past that times (and tastes) have changed.

The Vision vs The Reality

My brain says, “Angela, you KNOW you’re not going to finish that project. You know you just signed up for that sew-a-long because your friend did. Also, your style has changed over the last 4 years, and you no longer like the fabric palate you originally chose. Just let it go. You’ll feel better. Also also, you HATE applique. Also, also, also: WTF is up with the rabbits?”

My heart says, “Angela, you CAN’T not finish this quilt. You’ve already started. You’d be wasting all the time and money and energy you’ve already put into the project. I know you never really liked the project, but your joining encouraged another friend to join, so you’d be letting her down, too. Also, considering you raise rabbits for meat, the theme is hysterical. You love hysterical. Also, also, your mamma didn’t raise a quitter.”

Seriously, they bicker more than my kids.

This is when I have to repeat my mantra 278458652 times.

Not finishing a project that no longer serves me, IS NOT A FAILURE.

Choosing to cut my losses is being a better steward of my:

Time – I can spend the time on things that DO matter
Money – I can repurpose the fabric into something I DO want
Space – One fewer project bin
Emotions – One less avenue of shame
Energy – Did I mention I LOATHE appliqué?

So, here it is. My first of (hopefully) many projects in my Year of Done.

Is it perfect? Nope
Is it done? Yep.

Done is better than perfect.

<<insert trumpets>>

The Year of DONE

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Previously, in my brain…

“Ugh. Why do I suck? How can I suck less?”

Normally, I hate labels.
Don’t tell me what I am.
Don’t tell me how to be.
Don’t tell me to wear pants.
Also: Where is my label maker? ‘Cause I love labels.

I gotta say, though, getting a big ol’ ADHD stamped on my forehead (in a non-Mark of the Beast way, obvs) has given me a weird freedom. It’s amazing what it can do for your psyche knowing your tendencies are hurdles to overcome, rather than personality flaws that make you a garbage person.

So, knowing what little I do about this particular label, (it’s still new) how can I hack my own brain to get ish done?

Enter The New Project with its dopamine inducing New Project Smell.

Since I’m great at starting things, but rubbish at finishing them, what if my beautiful broken brain and I launch a New Project that sweeps all my Old Projects into one pile?

You should know there is trumpet fanfare playing in my head right now.

The Year of DONE.

So, as out of practice as I am, I’m a Writer (stamped it, no take backs) and a Word Nerd. (Also: Why does no one talk about the fact that ‘yada’ translates into “sex” in Hebrew? It adds a hysterical layer to that Seinfeld bit. Seriously. Picture your grandma saying “Yada yada yada.” I dare you.) It tickles me that the word DONE is both a get-off-your-arse verb, AND means worn out and exhausted. This is so on-brand for me that I’m thinking of having it etched into my tombstone.

“Here lies Angela. 100% DONE with this.”

Ground Rules for The Year of Done

1 – Everything is fair game. Sewing. Books. Knitting. Home improvement. Bible studies. Everything.

2 – I am not required to FINISH every project, but I am required to MAKE A DECISION on every project.

You know how, when you ask your kids to do a chore, and they have a temper tantrum, and you’re like, “If you’d just done The Thing, you’d be finished by now, but you’re still arguing, and you still have to DO THE THING.”? Like that, but it’s all in my head and I’m a grown-ass woman who should know better.

I spend so much time agonizing about The Thing, and ignoring The Thing, and feeling guilt over The Thing instead of DOING THE THING. I need to either DO THE THING or make a decision to NOT DO THE THING and, instead GET RID OF THE THING. Then I don’t have to look at it and beat myself up. ‘Cause you know my brain will forget it even exists if it’s out of my line of sight.

My current mantra is: NOT FINISHING a project is NOT A FAILURE. It’s a decision to be a better steward of my time/money/energy/emotions.

I don’t quite believe it yet, but fake it until you make it.

Also, there should probably be more than two ground rules, but I’m kinda done with this entry.

I’m riding high on my dopamine hit.

Felt bored. Might add more later.

So, here’s to you, 2021 (you flaming pile of horsehair).

Here’s to finishing partially completed projects – Whether it’s getting them done or letting them go.

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