Life ain’t easy. Just like a car can get a flat tire or battery on the highway, a million things can lead our minds, bodies and souls to slow down, burn out or even blow a fuse. So what do we do when our car breaks down? We call for roadside assistance. If only there were the equivalent of the AAA for your mind, body and soul to pick you up, fix you and send you on your merry way with a new battery and a full tank of gas. Fortunately, there is, and after a long wait being stuck in a rut, assistance has arrived. We are that help, and after a quick read of this manual – we’ll have you back in shape in no time. Just like a car needs oil, water and servicing regularly, we need to look after ourselves inside and out. So, whatever failed relationship reason has made out of shape, it’s time to get back out there on this highway we call life. I feel a song coming on… Akin to leaving your car in the garage for months, our bodies get rusty. You’ve got to give your car a run out every once in a while or it doesn’t start, so here are some exercise tips to help you get back on the horse and not fall off the wagon again. Is that too many metaphors? EASY STREET Of course, if you’ve been in a slump for a while and are out of shape, we still want you to take it easy. You can’t go peddle-to-the-metal right away. Stretching and warming up is not only beneficial, it’s essential as (because you’ve not exercised in a while) less blood flows to your joints. Therefore, you should extend your warm-up a bit longer than you used to. Incidentally, Yoga and Tai Chi are wonderfully gentle ways to begin exercising after some time in prison away.MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Okay, now we’ve warmed up, it’s time for some real cardio. A great way to get back in shape is, of course, walking or jogging; either in the fresh air or on a treadmill. An hour a day for a month won’t necessarily tone any muscle, but will see the pounds falling off you. WEIGHT TRAINING Brad Schoenfeld, PhD and author of The M.A.X. Muscle Plan suggests the fastest way to get back in shape is with his 45-minute transformation workout:Perform each exercise for 8 to 15 repetitions, depending on whether your goal is muscle endurance (lower weights, higher reps) or strength (higher weights, lower reps), and go from one move to the next taking as little rest as possible. Do the circuit 3 times in 45 minutes twice a week and you’ll see quick results. Of course, combining weight-training with cardio is another great way to get back in shape, speaking of which…GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS Okay, not quite gone in sixty seconds, more like 420, but trying The Scientific Seven-Minute Workout every day for a few weeks will turn those love handles into go faster stripes!LIFE IN THE FAST LANE We’ve arrived at our final destination, the town of HIIT, Population: You! We believe High-Intensity Interval Training is the best way to get back into shape because it gets your heart rate close to its maximum then lets you rest briefly before you do it all again! The Body Coach, Joe Wick has a great HIIT workout video for beginners. From plain old squats and lunges to plank pike jumps, there are dozens of HIIT exercises to choose from so just pick the ones you love the most. HIIT also helps you burn fat faster: A 2012 study on speed exercise (HIIT) saw participants perform 5 x 30-second sprints on a stationary bike, each sprint separated by four minutes of active rest. After the two and a half minute sprints (total) the participants had burned an average of 200 EXTRA calories than participants who exercised normally. In essence, a couple of minutes of hard exercise can lead to all-day calorie burn. That’s a lotta bang for your buck. We’ve reached the end of our horsepower-fuelled advice. Adhere to these easy-to-follow tips and you’ll lose weight, tone muscle and look and feel much healthier as you navigate the highways and byways of life.
I was drunk the day my mom got out of rehab. Okay, okay… the song title is actually ‘I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison.’ But my mom didn’t go to prison, she went to rehab for her hip replacement. Then three weeks later back to surgery and again rehab for a broken pelvis and an additional hip replacement. Aaaand I wasn’t actually drunk, I had two Apple Ciders. But still… beautifulThey say life imitates art and my life this summer followed along with David Allen Coe’s song lyrics (at least in spirit) very closely for a while. That might in fact be the greatest country and western song, but it is not, in fact, the greatest song to live out. This summer had some big burdens but they were followed along with some pretty big blessings. Blessings that were big, previously unthinkable and happening to various people in my family. Blessings I could see with my mind, but I didn’t feel in my heart. I couldn’t understand why my heart and soul weren’t perking up once life started back on track again. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t angry. I simply wasn’t joyful. Couldn’t remember the last time I felt joyful. I was in a wasteland of joy. One of my best attributes is that I can find joy and laughter in some of the worst moments. But for a while I couldn’t even find joy in the typical ‘joyful’ moments. I think the best description of my attitude could be summed up with the expression, “Meh.” I’m here to tell you that “Meh” sucks just as bad as sad in my opinion. I was living the life of a sad country song in Meh town. Population: no one wants to hang out with you because you are such a big downer. I’m a big believer in ‘You fake it until you make it’ so I just plodded along with the best attitude I could muster each day. This morning I failed at life. I spent hours attempting to get my car registration updated at the DMV only to realize that my tags were not expired and I had another year before I had to be tortured with the entire process. I started snorting and giggling in disbelief. Oh my word I can’t believe how stupid I can be sometimes. The snorting and giggling just kept coming and then I had to tell everyone because this was just so funny. I’m in the middle of laughing and I realized I had moved out of Meh town. I was BACK. I found joy in an absolutely horrible morning. Joy and laughter and giggles. Because sometimes it’s not just one choice. It’s a lot of little choices to get back on path. I have always understood why it was the straw that broke the camels back. Why it was always going to be a straw. Why you carry most burdens alone. I just didn’t know that sometimes the path back to healing sometimes can’t happen all at once. It must be lifted straw by straw. Piece by piece. Until one day you look up and realize you are back in Joyville. Population: Me.
My friend told me that I was a hospice worker for plants. I help transition them into death. My thoughts on that is that I’m not just a plant hospice worker, I’m an excellent plant hospice worker. Anything worth doing, is worth doing well. In a way, you excellent gardeners are selfish. Keeping those plants alive for your own enjoyment while I send them on to Jesus for everyone in Heaven to enjoy. Hallelujah. I don’t let the entire process get drawn out, the plants I buy are dead within a 7 day span. I spend hours picking pretty blossoms out. I let each of my children pick a plant or two. I then spend a few more hours transitioning them to the pots on my porches. I buy spring rugs, I rent a machine to power wash the porches and I dedicate an entire weekend in spring to making a happy, flower filled setting around my home. Then I promptly go inside and never think about them again. Within 7 days the dry and wilted stems are reaching to the sky as if in a very lonely cry for help. This macabre display is what stays on my porches until the following spring when we begin our plant hospice activities once again. This is irrefutable proof that gardening skills are not passed on via our genetic code. My mother is an excellent gardener and my father was in charge of the city garden for years. In West Texas. Cacti die from dehydration in West Texas. If you can get plants to thrive in the desert of West Texas, you can get plants to grow anywhere. He would supervise the people sentenced to community service for their crimes or misdemeanors. He would put them to work growing food for places like Meals on Wheels and the city food pantry. My dad has serious gardening skills. But that’s just not my bag, baby. Being organized hasn’t necessarily been my bag either. I’ve moved a lot, so I have the benefit of the huge ‘move purge’ that happens each time, but usually every drawer is a junk drawer and each day includes at least one moment of frantically trying to find one or more items. I don’t like clutter so my disorganization is neatly hidden behind closet doors, but it’s still there. The last few times that we have moved, we have had the benefit of a moving company. They come in, they pack everything in your home, load it all in a truck, drive it to your new home, and then put all the boxes in your home. Ideally the room name on the box matches the room they throw the box into. In my experience, the unloading of the truck happens at a frenzied pace in which the movers all but toss the boxes into each room willy-silly and woe be on to you if you didn’t label the boxes correctly or already know exactly where you want each box to go. You and your boxes are standing in the way of getting home early and miller time. This is how my lifetime of trashy romance novels and my epic collection of Halloween decorations were stored in the safe room. I don’t happen to have a room labeled ‘trashy romance novels’ or ‘boo ya’ so I had to decide in a split second or they were staying on the driveway. I waved them into the long, dark bowling lane-esk room of cement safety and patted myself on the back for getting the items out-of-the-way. I had no idea we had moved to a location that had actual tornadoes and we would absolutely need a safe room. A safe room that you could actually fit your entire family into along with seating, water, flashlights, a go-bag and your important documents. When you need a safe room in Missouri, you are going to be in there for a while and you might have to climb out. Most people save the family pictures and precious mementos that document a lifetime. If our home had been hit in the last 4 years, I would have epic stories of highland warriors in kilts and spooky spider fabric to clothe my family. Happy Samhain, you mighty warrior! The kids cried last year because we couldn’t squeeze our fat pug into the safe room with us. You don’t know drama until you’ve had to pinky swear to a 3 ear old that you would sacrifice your own life so the pug wouldn’t die. At the beginning of the storm season this year, I decided to get organized. Martha Stewart level organization. Organization as if she was producing a week-long TV series on organization, writing a book on the topic, building a new store line dedicated to an organization system, type organized. I went through every closet, every drawer, every scrap of paper, under and over, around and through all the nooks and crannies of my home. I got credit at a used book store from the books I swapped, dropped off countless bags to Goodwill, trashed, cleaned, scrubbed, moved and shoved every single item in my house. You know what happens when you get organized? You go broke. Storage systems, totes, racks, shelves must be bought. Your family goes hungry because you are too busy to cook, you have unplanned garage sales, and you may find treasures you haven’t seen in years. Finding treasures could be a good thing. Or it could be cursed like the doubloons in Pirates of the Caribbean. “This is either madness… or brilliance. It’s remarkable how often those two traits coincide.” – Captain Jack Sparrow. I found some treasure. I’m not saying it is cursed, I’m saying that finding treasure set of a cascade of unexpected events. How is it that any one decision seems too small to be one of the biggest decisions of your life? I found a home-made, fabric purse made with vintage fabric. I wasn’t particularly entranced with the little purse, in fact, I put it in the pile for the garage sale. But Landry swooped it up and began to carry her treasure around. Soon my 7-year-old asked if we could buy her a purse as well. I explained to her that the purse was made by hand and we couldn’t go buy her a purse just like that one. In a sad little voice, she asks if I could make her a purse. How hard could it be, really? Heck, I’ll just make one for each of the girls. We began our treasure hunt. The search for X. We trotted to JoAnn’s Fabric and promptly spent enough money to buy 10 designer purses because I had no idea that 4 yards of fabric per child was extremely excessive for a small purse. I don’t research my projects, I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. I then spent 8 hours on Saturday and most of Sunday attempting to figure out my sewing machine. I’d had the machine for 10 years and this was the first time I pulled it out of the box. I read my manual, I you-tubed videos, I looked up troubleshooting ideas online. I could not get that machine to work the way I wanted it to work. Finally ,I shoved the thing aside in anger and pulled out the embroidery fabric I had found in a closet on my organization journey. I sewed these puppies by hand with no pattern, no measurements. The time, money, blood, sweat, cursing, beer and tears I spent on those first three bags was ridiculous. But my children rewarded me with clapping hands, excessive praise and the purses are not forgotten items, they are loved and toted around. What the heck am I going to do with all this left over fabric? I should just use up this fabric and make a few more purses to give away. But I need to go back to Jo-Ann’s fabric store to pick up a few more things. I went in for a ‘few more things’ and I got lost in Jo-Ann’s fabric, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and every Antique and Junk shop from Texas to Nashville for the past 4 months. With no thought as to what I was going to do with any of the items – I made an entire dining room full of purses, mounds of jewelry and key chains, a garage full of furniture I’ve made over or created from scratch. I went from hyper organized and broke to looking like a hoarder and broke. Thus the journey to X became an Etsy shop I’m trying to get off the ground. It was a lesson in technological frustration, but I opened up my Etsy shop (Pieces of Reesie). I’m attempting to reserve a flea market booth for the items like the dressers, desks, lamps, bed frames, chairs and book cases that are just too large to ship. A large portion of it is taking on an Industrial or Steam Punk vibe I really like. So we will see. This is either madness or brilliance. It’s funny how often the two coincide. *If you are up for it, please go check out my Etsy shop PiecesOfReesie. I added the link at the top of my Blog site so you could find and click on it easily.
About little over a month ago I went on a girls trip to Nashville. Our first morning in Nashville we all meandered to the front of our hotel and stood in line for the shuttle to get downtown. I have no idea who found the shuttle, timed the shuttle or figured out the fee for the shuttle. I just arrived promptly to my designated location and began my chit-chat with my friends while I stood in line. Chitty-chat, chittty, chitty, chat, chat, chat-chitty-chat. The shuttle arrives. I pay my fee. I find a seat. We’ve been on the shuttle for about 20 minutes when a big green sign announcing the airport flashes by our window. One of my friends shouts out, “Are we on the shuttle to the airport? We need the shuttle downtown! Is this the shuttle to downtown?!” The shuttle driver promptly shouts back, “You picked a hella-fine time to start paying attention.” Tru dat shuttle driver. Tru dat. It’s all about the timing of the details. inconcievableDetails. Details. Everyone keeps saying that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means. I thought I was paying attention. I thought up was up and down was down. Good was good and bad was bad. Turns out I was wrong. If you asked me to list what I felt what my most positive attributes were, being self-reliant would be in the top 10 on my list. When I can do things for myself, I choose to do so. When I can’t do something for myself, I am skilled at knowing which resources to use. I can pay my own way, I can forge my own path, I can thrive when others fall. ChurchillI pride myself on being self reliant. My mom once told me that you have to pay attention to the lessons that God is trying to teach you, because the lesson just keeps coming at you like waves in the ocean until you learn what he is trying to teach you. It starts out with soft gentle waves, but can end up a tsunami if you keep ignoring the lesson. Don’t worry, God. I’ve got this one. I’m good. I can handle my problems. I can find the solutions. I can find the knowledge in some really great books. I can talk it out with my mom and my friends. My husband and I can tackle any problem. And I could. Until I couldn’t. 39 years old is a hella-fine time to figure out that being self reliant has left me vulnerable to solving the big issues. No amount of reading or talking on the phone or indulging in creative problem solving can handle the issues that need the hand of God. I’m 39 years old and I’m like a toddler that refuses her parents hand in the parking lot. I don’t know how to grab hold of the hand that has been extended to me all this time. Because I’ve been self reliant. I’ve handled my business. I’ve forged my own path. I’ve solved my own problems. TroubledWater“Trust in the Lord” What does that even mean when I’ve never really had to extend that trust? Pray that prayer? Feel that need? I have worshipped at His feet while I’ve refused to take his hand. It’s been a hella-fine time figuring that out this summer. A hella-fine time. I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. – Amen.
My mom called me at 5: 26 pm Monday May 30th to tell me my grandfather was dying and I needed to come home. Memorial Day 2016. I packed up my car, my kids, my dog and didn’t so much drive to Texas as use my car to fly along the roadways. My grandfather holds a special place in my heart. Many times you will hear someone use the phrase, ‘He was like a father to me.’ He was never my father figure, he was just a really good grandfather. One of the best. My relationship with my grandfather became something more than just a vague ‘responsibility relative’ to check off my list right about the time I became pregnant with my first child. My grandfather held on to the hope of seeing his first great-grandbaby to stave off cancer and I used his house as my new home base when I would come into town to visit. Other than very distant memories of staying at his house as a child, I had never spent any more time in his home than a few hours scattered around holidays here and there. We weren’t particularly close. I have time spans several years in length when I never set foot in his home. I just never had a reason to do so. stubbornStaying with my grandfather when I would fly my newborn back to Texas to visit came about for a variety of reasons and it did not start out as convenient or easy for anyone involved. It was a lot like my first month as a freshman living in the dorm. We would circle each other with the vague politeness you bestow on strangers as we would try to build our routines around each other. Well…I would build my routine around my grandfather as that man is stubborn combined with obsessive compulsive disorder. He doesn’t change his routine for anyone. You don’t go through Granddad, you go around him. coffeeThat first holiday I spent with him will go down as one of the most irritating holidays I had experienced thus far in my life. Parenting did not come easy for me and life in general was one exhausting struggle at that point. I had a three-month old I had no idea how to manage gracefully and a 70-ish holiday roommate that had decided I was unpaid labor to tackle his unending list of chores he couldn’t manage or just didn’t care to manage. The man was relentless. I remember the baby waking me up at 5:00 am the first morning I was there. I sat in the dark attempting to breastfeed my screaming child and praying she would go back to sleep when granddad got up to be ‘helpful.’ Helpful was me getting him coffee. And so it began. My grandfather and I are a lot alike so by the end of each day we are usually grumpy with each other. He has demanded that I do about 10 more chores for him than I think he should be asking for and my kids and I have moved too many items in his home and changed up his schedule too much for his OCD to tolerate. Many nights that I’ve stayed with him over the years have ended with him grumbling under his breath as he huffs himself to his room while I’m slamming stuff around trying to get my kids settled as I complain very loudly about my irritations. Overly loudly. Just in case he couldn’t hear me. Nights at Granddad’s house can be hostile and grumpy. CoffeeFThe nights may be fueled with irritation and impatience but the mornings are golden. My grandfather and I have coffee together every morning that I stay at his house. It’s our thing. It’s the reason I have refused to stay anywhere else long past the point when it made sense for my family to stay at his home when we travel back to Texas. That first irritatingly inconvenient coffee clutch at 5am over a wailing child began a routine that continued up until the last morning that I spent with him this past Christmas. Coffee in the morning with Granddad was sacrosanct as far as I was concerned. Regardless of the time I got up, we had a routine. I’m not the quietest person so he would hear me shuffling about when I woke up. I made the mistake of not jumping into the bathroom as soon as I woke up only a few times. If Granddad gets into the bathroom before you do in the morning, you might as well go pee in the bushes outside because it’s going to be a while. The man will not be rushed. By the time I have the curtains open, kitchen lights on, coffee brewing, newspaper retrieved from the driveway and placed near his chair, old newspaper never thrown away until after he has read the new paper, rubber band from the newspaper placed in the jar he has just for those rubber bands, and creamer on the counter; he would be in the kitchen with me. He would take his morning pills while I poured our coffee. He would ask me if I slept well and then he would verify what time my mother was coming over to cook us all breakfast. (I’m not sure she enjoyed that routine as much as I enjoyed my coffee routine.) Then we would move to the recliners in front of the window to begin our day together. friendGI can’t think of a topic we haven’t discussed over coffee. I have very few topics that I feel are taboo or inappropriate or flat-out embarrass me to discuss and in 11 years off coffee discussions I never found a single topic my grandfather wouldn’t discuss in-depth. He’s given me some real gems of advice over the years and some real bad pieces of advice I made sure to leave back in the 50s where that advice belonged. My grandfather has a reputation for not actually saying ‘Thank You,’ to anyone performing the endless chores he is snapping out or taking care of preparing and placing his meal in front of him exactly the way he likes it as he sits at the table like a king. It is enough of an issue that I can’t recall a Thanksgiving where that wasn’t on the list of TOP 3 irritations of the event for pretty much everyone in the house. But in the mornings he will take his coffee from my hand and tell me, “Thank you, Sweetheart. I love you.” Every time. Wednesday morning, June 1st 2016, I woke up at Granddad’s house about 7am and started shuffling around. I went straight to the bathroom so I didn’t end up peeing in the bushes, I opened the curtains, turned on lights, started the coffee, retrieved the newspaper from the driveway and placed it right next to the armchair and the rubber band in its proper spot. I poured my cup of coffee and didn’t pour Granddad’s into his cup because he likes his hot and I didn’t want it to get cold before he got up. painI was staring at the spot on the wall just above the counter where he keeps his pills when I realized he was not going to join me for coffee that morning. He was not going to be joining me for coffee ever again. My brain went a little fuzzy in that moment. I just kept starting at that one spot on the wall while I shoved that pain into the invisible backpack I carry. My own personal oubliette where I place all the thoughts and pain I don’t want to look at ever again but can’t set down. I didn’t take a sip of my perfectly prepared coffee. I just placed my full mug in the sink and quietly turned off the coffee pot. This was no longer a refuge, this house was just an empty shell making an echo of a home I once had. I spent the entire week in that empty echo of a home while I watched my grandfather die in his hospital bed. It wasn’t gentle and it wasn’t easy. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to watch or experience. griefFearWhen the depth of love that you feel for someone is bottomless, the grief you feel when they die is bottomless as well. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to shove that into the hidden corners of your mind, it’s too big to be contained. Life isn’t fair and life doesn’t stop even on the moments you want to forget all your responsibilities so you can grieve. So I’ve been shoving the pain into my oubliette and in the midst of life I will notice that tears have run down my face un-noticed and un-checked in a way that is similar to a nose bleed. It happens out of nowhere and I’m scrambling for tissues once I sense the moisture dripping down my chin. This past Saturday I spent the day getting my mother into a rehab facility so she can recover from her hip surgery. I was only going to be in town for one night and I had the moment when I had to decide where I was going to sleep. beginningsMy father has been asking me to stay at his home for several years. I just couldn’t make the change as it felt like I was abandoning Granddad. So that night I dragged my bruised and weary soul into my father’s house. It would be the first time in over 21 years I had spent the night in a place he called home. I had a very long drive back to Missouri the next day so I went to bed early. I woke up to the sound of my father and the smell of coffee. He had made it very strong, just the way I like it. We gathered in the kitchen as I found the creamer and sugar and we sat in the living room discussing quite a few topics as the sun rose up. I didn’t set that backpack down, but I was able to gently close the door to my memories sharing coffee with Granddad and stride boldly towards the wide open door my father had been holding open for me for years. The heaviest of burdens sometimes bring the brightest of blessings.