Day 206 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – My neck of the woods – There is always something to be grateful for.

Twice today I have thought of the term, my neck of the woods.  I paused for thought because I have never lived in the woods, but have heard and used this term for as long as I can remember. I obviously heard the term from my mom who had  unusual living situations. I know at some points she did live in the woods. Often her family lived on a prison ground as her father was employed on many farms on prisons. He was good at his job and it always meant food on the table. So I am assuming again , her neck of the woods, was an accurate description.

I never knew there was a song by the nameMy Neck Of The Woods

I gave thought today to what exactly is my neck of the woods. When I moved to this city it was not a city. It was an unincorporated area. That meant less taxes, less government in your face, less people, and more homeowner rights.     

I am grateful that my neck of the woods has no bears. (MY CITY) I wish we also had no coyotes. Too many people have lost their cats and small dogs to these awful creatures. I shall spare the details of what I have heard and seen.   

I am grateful that my neck of the woods is very multicultural. (MY CITY AND CLOSE CITIES) It has changed over the years and the community is so wonderfully varied.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I can get some really good Mexican food, which I love. (MY CITY AND LOCAL CITIES) I have friends in other areas who actually don’t have this privilege.  Worse yet are the people who actually think Taco Bell is Mexican food.   

I am grateful that living in my neck of the woods I am an hour and a half from snow in winter, with none here thank G-d. (FROM MY CITY)

In my neck of the woods I am an hour and a half to two hours from the beach so I can get away from the heat when needed. The beach is my happy place. (FROM MY CITY) 

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I am an hour from the desert when I want to enjoy its beauty. I am not so grateful that all these places used to take less time but congestion has changed things. (FROM MY CITY)   

I am grateful that in my neck of the woods I can now get fast internet and tons of TV channels. (MY CITY) I am not so happy about the high cost of these things nor the inability to get any FREE TV any longer.   

I am grateful that in my neck of the woods I gave a very short commute to work. This will be a mute point in less than a month however.   

I am grateful that my once strictly bedroom community now has a Target. (MY CITY)  Not that they are the be all and end all of shopping. It is just that before they arrived and since, if you want anything other than groceries you have to travel about a half an hour to an hour away. So I will accept the chain business and its closeness. 

I am grateful in my neck of the woods there are amazing schools for my community. (LOCAL AND NEARBY CITIES) I feel my children received a quality education and one went on to graduate from a prestigious university and the other from a wonderful private college.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods there are Starbucks. I know they are on every corner much to most people’s chagrin. But come cool weather I love a venti hot chocolate 195 degrees no foam no whip. They know me by my order. 

I am grateful in my neck of the woods there are places that for people who choose to, can go and worship. I am not so grateful that there are no synagogues nearby for many miles. (Not that I need an organized place of worship.)   

I am grateful that in my neck of the woods we now have good quality cell service. (MY CITY)  For many years this was not the case and we could get no service in our home or city or school.   

I am grateful that in my neck of the woods I can sit on my back swing and watch the sun set. (MY HOME) When I bought my home there were tall cypress tress and I had no idea there was a view.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods there are fun thrift stores to haunt. (NEARBY CITIES) I have developed a slight addiction to seeking and finding fun things.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I can see planes fly overhead, but not at a too low altitude. (MY HOUSE) I never knew how much I like seeing the planes until 911 when they ceased flying to LAX.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I can get a mani-pedi. (MY CITY) I should go way more often but it is a luxury gift to myself that I use sparingly. 

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I have canyons full of beauty and cows. (MY CITY) While these places are what separate my city from others they are peaceful reminders of traveling to other spaces.   

I am grateful in my neck of the woods I can be who I am without remorse or regret. (MY HOME)

I like my neck of the woods.


Day 101 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Decluttering – There is always something to be grateful for.

Today I am grateful for my pursuit of cleansing my overflow of possessions. I know everyone has been touting the value of  Marie Kondo. A friend reminded me of her presence. I knew snippets of  her techniques. I love the idea of getting rid of things. “Creating A Space That Sparks Joy” is her motto. I can’t say that has been my focus. My focus has more been I don’t want to have a home so overwhelmed with stuff that I don’t need. I do like the idea of finding joy though. Last year my focus for life was survival. This year my focus is JOY. So maybe I am ready now. 

I have been doing a lot of decluttering on my own for the last two years. It is not a coincidence that my real goals began after having to empty my mother’s house once she passed. My older brother wanted me out of her house so he could have the entire house dumped in the trash. My mother and I spoke before her passing and she wanted many of her things to go to specific charities. I am grateful that I stood up for myself and her and worked non-stop to fulfill her desires. I had a short period of time to get done what was needed.

While cleaning out her house, I cried more tears than I knew were possible. Then I remembered many items that held memories of times together. I giggled at some things she coveted. I out and out laughed at some “collections” she had. My mother had a hard upbringing, a difficult life, but I feel she was more at ease in retirement than any other time in her life. I am so grateful that she had a time of peace. I am grateful that I was able to share time with her each month. I am joyous that when possible we would bring my grand kids out to see her.

I am filled with joy that when my step-father passed away she moved to a retirement village where her best friend since she was 12 or 14, growing up lived. They had both traveled across the country from the east coast to the west coast and both ended up in the desert. When they had their “lunches” it made my mom happy. I am grateful she had a friend for so long.

Whenever I clean things out it makes me happy. I do want to keep focused on the joy part now. I began cleaning and purging in my classroom. I spent over a year slowly cleaning out items. But the truth is, summer time is when I went bat-s**t crazy dumping items. I had boxes of items I had stored for over 25 years since I taught elementary school. I had so many things that had not seen the light of day for more than a decade. Every trash can I filled brought me joy without knowing that that is what I was looking for. I admit I made piles and piles of books that I later sent to some family who had friends home schooling their children. I sent a multitude of books to family with young children. Sending books brought me joy. It makes me smile to know that I had reached a goal I didn’t know I had.

Last summer I did a huge purge of toys and books from my garage. I blogged about that before. My garage is carpeted for grand kids and dogs. No cars have ever ventured in to my garage. It has furniture and supplies to do art, play games, play with toys, and read. There were two huge storage cabinets filled with toys. Now that the garage was no longer filled with another person’s home contents I was able to see what was there. So I sent off toys of really good quality to nieces and cousins. I then sent an email to my staff with photos of items to see if  anyone wanted anything. 

konmari guide

So now my garage is cleaned out, my attic is cleaned out, and my classroom is mostly cleaned out. I went through all my DVDs, my linen closet,  and all my books these last few months. I cleaned out my fabrics and notions. I am grateful for all the material things I have given away and donated. I am sad about the multiple things that were removed without my permission. The more I cleaned the more I realized what had been taken. I did not do the procedure of touching things before keeping them or giving them away. Maybe I would have purged more if I had done that step.  I know that I still need to go through my bedroom closet. There are many things that I don’t wear and that don’t bring me joy.

I have cleaned my kitchen cabinets but still need to go through them once again. I also need to go through the bathroom cabinets. They are a mess for sure. So my goal is now to find joy by decluttering the rest of my spaces that need it. By June I hope to be freer and lighter in my spaces. I know while the process may be difficult the result will bring me joy.

declutter joyful-declutter.png


Day 17 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Bloggers – There is always something to be grateful for.

woman wearing black and orange leather jacket blog-mentoringconfused-grandmother

I had been thinking yesterday and today, and well for even more days than that, how grateful I am to be on this path of blogging. Low and behold I read Maggie’s blog and she was inside my head. She wrote about the topic I was thinking about. Of course she is a wonderful writer and far more eloquent than I, but the topic was so very similar. I contacted her to see if it was OK if I splashed into the same water and she graciously gave me her blessing.   

So here I am writing on a very similar topic. I am grateful to the wonderful people that have come in to my life via blogging. Previously I had stumbled across some blogs in my travels on the internet. They held information about a topic I was interested in for that time and moment. I had never “followed” anyone for any reason.   

Enter Maitri, whom I met in my SARK adventures. Her stories were real and I wanted to learn more. So I actually started to “follow” her. I know it is just me but it seems the terminology is a little bit stalkerish. Of course the reason many blog is to have followers, but it is such a daring leap of faith to allow people in to your private world. I felt compelled to respond on her posts and did so with more than a little trepidation. I always received kind, caring replies so my fears were unwarranted.  I felt OK to send the greeting, “Gentle Hugs.” This greeting came from my fibro friends who understand that not all hugs feel good. When your body is in a flare most touch is unwelcome. But a gentle hug is sensitive to the feelings of the receiver as well as the giver. 

Maitri opened a writing group and I wanted to sign up right away. It turns out it is filled with the most amazing women. They are so different than I am and at the same time so similar. Getting to know these women at whatever level they felt is OK has been an inspiration in many ways.   

I started looking for some other bloggers to see what topics and feelings interested me. My sweet cousin follows many people and over time had mentioned names of people she respected. I am not sure of the correct terminology but I am so grateful for the blog/ video blog/ vlog of Martha Beck. She is so inspiring and each week she talks about things that are heavy on my heart. I am so grateful to watch her on Sundays as she discusses things near and dear to me.   

Enter Maitri again. She put out a challenge to her followers both in SARK and in the writing class to start a blog. I was pretty convinced that I had nothing to say that anyone would want to read. I also knew that my time to even begin this task was not available. Then a kind, generous, woman, Tanya, offered to help set up the blog. “Help me” is a joke of a term. She talked to me about my interests and likes casually. Then she spent hours upon hours setting up a blog site for me. Being the perfectionist that she is, she redid it time and time again. She spent her time and energy getting my blog going and teaching me some of the tricks of the trade. I never would have attempted blogging without her. I began to be so excited to start my own blog. I also decided I wasn’t writing for anyone else, but for me.  Currently my blog gently coerces me to focus more on the things I am grateful for and less on my stress and stressors. 

Then more and more wonderful women either started a new blog or started one to go along with the 365 challenge. I visited Julia’s blog and I admire her adventurous soul and her writing. I so want to stroke her new little puppy. I know Sassy will bring such joy to their home.  Julia is a spiritual soul and I know she “knows” things other people are totally unaware of.   

Maggie’s blog speaks of a gentle time with a loving family. I feel like I am stepping back in a simpler time. Her family brought such joy to her and I envy what they shared. Her writing style is so very beautiful just as is her voice and her spirit. I admire her so very much.   

Donna’s blog is a terrific reminder that we are all writers. Because of her I  feel inspired to be dedicated more to my writing.  She writes in so many genres and is talented in them all. She brings such a devotion to writing that it makes me want to challenge  myself. 

Lisa’s blog touches my heart because of her love of gardening. I am by no means an expert but I do love my gardens. I like to see her drawings. This is a talent I have never had. She travels and once I loved to travel so I can vicariously travel with her on her blog posts. Quebec is indeed a beautiful place. I love most areas of Canada. My personal favorite is Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia.      

I enjoy sharing in Victoria’s commitment to being a caregiver. It is an extremely challenging job and she does it with grace. A dear friend of mine runs a support group for  caregivers and I appreciate how difficult it is.  I understand why one would need support fulfilling this calling. 

It is so much fun watching and reading Kim’s blog/vlog. Her meals with her circular friend, Wilson, are hilarious. I sure will avoid some of the food companies she tried. She has far more expertise in the kitchen than she lets on. I have always wanted to try spaghetti squash.  So I shall continue to “follow” her.      

Maryann Rozsas Udelhas blessed my heart with her wonderful vlogs and messages. If I wasn’t in SARK I never would have her gifts blessing my life.  She knows and speaks of the fact that we all go through so much and there is always someone out there who can help.   

This brings me back to Tanya. She is such a talented, prolific writer. She keeps telling me not to compare myself to her as she has been writing much and for a very long time. I had two choices: to listen to her and keep blogging, or to listen to my inner critic and stop all together. She is talented, honest and fights the good fight every day.   

So today I am grateful for blogging and all the gifts it has brought me.