Let me start by saying I’ve never been particularly crafty. My creative outlets have been cooking, gardening and photography.
Retired and with an addiction to Pinterest, I’ve started to look for “recipes” in which I could make things using my essential oils.
For this project, I made these amazing shower disks. These can be placed on the bottom of the tub while showering, releasing the scent of the oils in the steam.
I plan to also drop them into baths. I love a good soak in the tub while reading, meditating or enjoying a glass or wine – or sipping a shot of liqueur.
Homemade Shower Disks – makes 6
1 cup baking soda
1/3 cup water to start, be prepared to add more
essential oils – I choose eucalyptus, lavender and wintergreen
Mix baking soda and water until it’s thick like a paste. I used a silicone muffin pan (spritzed with olive oil) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off. Remove and add your essential oils to each disk; I chose 3 drops eucalyptus, 2-3 drops lavender, 1-2 drops wintergreen onto each disk – it absorbs quickly. Put the pan back in the oven to let them “cure” or dry a bit longer from the residual heat.
The BUGS (Blogging University Graduates) bi-weekly prompt is to track our 2015 New Year’s Resolutions at mid-year.
FILING: Starting after the New Year, I combed and sorted through countless boxes, piles and bags of paperwork that have accumulated for more years than I’m willing to admit. A supposed “priority” upon retiring in 2014 – until I committed to “just do it” in 2015, it seemed overwhelming. Once started I nearly burned up our shredder, found things that were important (and ridiculous) even discovering a little black velvet drawstring bag of quarters ($20). For someone who is a control freak, this felt out of control but once completed, I felt euphoric.
MOVING MOM: Not a resolution per se, but a significant commitment for three weeks in March was flying to Florida, helping Mom pack up her home of 26 years and share the drive north to her new home in Michigan. Having my MacBook in tow and the blog established, I chronicled this in my 20 part series called “Moving Mom” (I’d be honored if you wish to check it out). It was a once-in-a- lifetime experience and I’m glad I documented it since in the moment, it was a blur of activity. What could have been contentious and stressful was in fact exhausting but a bonding experience unlike anything I can imagine. I’m so glad we took that journey together.
NEW BED AT LAST: I bought a bed after at least six years of bitching about my too soft bed. Procrastination and misconceptions had kept me from even starting the process, prolonging my insomnia, aches and pains. In my series “59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Twenty” I wrote about this experience. What I learned is “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I’m grateful I took a rainy day with nothing on the agenda and DID IT ALREADY.
FIND ALTERNATIVE HEALTH SOLUTIONS: I finally sought out alternative treatments for my aches and pains after realizing that pain meds were simply a bandaid. Besides my yoga and meditation practice, I recently found a doctor who is an osteopath, acupuncturist and physical therapist. At 59, a lot of my “structural” issues can’t be fixed but can and do seem to be responding with better flexibility, toning and some improvement with pain. At 59, I’ve accepted that “we’ve all got something” and feel blessed that any and all health challenges I’ve had are just part of living this long. And given the alternative, I’ll take living any day.
GARDEN – DONE AND SCALED BACK (well sort of) Completed my garden for 2015, and scaled back on my typical annual expenditure. Yes, I’ve given myself tennis elbow (which incidentally is very painful), strained my back and both shoulders from what I called “extreme gardening” pushing to the point of “feeling the burn” then usually 30-60 minutes more to finish up. But hey, the garden looks fabulous and from here out it’s just weeding and dead-heading.
I still have the following things to complete be they resolutions, goals or simply my to-do list:
Perfect my gnocchi recipe
Learn to make crepes
Learn to make tamales
Learn to make “bath bombs”
I’d love to hear how you’re doing with your resolutions…….leave me a comment!
Ninth thing: Morel mushrooms. Early on in our relationship, Spence made a visit to northern Michigan, near Charlevoix. His friend Don (and Don’s parents) owned countless acres of wooded land. And on that land around this time of year, a miracle occurs. Morels everywhere. This would have seemed like a beautiful myth had Spence not returned home with a brown paper lunch bag literally brimming with morels. I was in heaven and by extension, so was Spence as I whipped up the most incredibly delicious meals. Not a morsel went to waste. Oh the memories.
Rarely now I will encounter morels peering out of the produce stands if and when I’m lucky. Regardless of the cost (which is incredibly steep) I’m seduced on the spot – and cannot pass them by. So imagine my utter dismay when only a few days into our most recent vacation I saw this picture posted by my favorite farmer’s market Facebook page (knowing that I’ve probably missed them for this year).
Tenth thing: I never knew my Great-Grandma (my Mom’s Grandmother) but had heard my Mom speak of her. Recently I helped my Mom pack up and move her belongings back to Michigan after selling her home in Florida. (see my Moving Mom series for more about that)
Moving from a good size two bedroom house to a nice size one bedroom apartment, Mom found that she couldn’t keep everything she’d moved. (even after parting with tons of her belongings when down-sizing) She offered my sister and I numerous items, one of them was Great-Grandma’s quilt. My sister graciously said I could have it; she’s planning her own downsizing in a few years. I was thrilled. The quilt is showing some wear but given it’s age, surprisingly less than you might expect.
Apparently the original passing of the quilt from my Great-Grandma to my Grandma Fox was not as gracious or amicable. Both she and her sister Ruth (who I understand was quite formidable) wanted this quilt. Drama ensued. My Grandma had to concede other cherished items in bartering for the quilt – but she prevailed.
Fast forward to my childhood. My sister and I stayed overnight on occasion with Grandma and Grandpa F0x who lived 20 minutes away. We were lovingly tucked in with this quilt at nap time, played on top of it with our Barbies and snuggled under it while watching our grandparents dance to Lawrence Welk on their black and white TV (they were impressive).
As soon as I brought it home, I unfolded it and snuggled under it. Good times, happy memories.
Eleventh thing: As I’ve written previously, I started the practice of meditation last year after retiring. I had tried before with no success. I simply couldn’t shut off my mind nor understand that meditation doesn’t necessarily require you to shut off your mind. What it is about is being still, being in the moment and allowing yourself to just…..be. Done with regularity it’s my experience that I’m more focused, even when I haven’t slept well. When I recently started missing consecutive days, I noticed that I felt a bit irritable. And kind of mad at myself for breaking what had become a good habit. As with anything, I re-prioritized and schedule it as a little “me” time each day.
Spence supports my practice though initially he didn’t understand that I can’t talk to him during the 15-30 minute sessions.
“I’M MEDITATING” I would have to yell through the closed door of my meditation space (or guest room). Now, he gets it and leaves me be though – and you’d have to know Spence’s propensity for deliberately switching out words – he calls it “mediation”.
I began living on my own at 19, taking a wrong turn into an ill-conceived first marriage at 21 (including 2 moves) followed by a blessed divorce at 24. From the time I left the marital apartment, I was a bit of a vagabond, moving no less than 6 times in the next 4 years. The only good thing about perpetual moving is 1) I didn’t have as much stuff and 2) every time I packed, I purged what wasn’t needed. I remember my young self watching my ex-husband carting away my collection of record albums (that was painful), my griddle (the man once called and asked me “how much water do you use to boil hamburger?” Seriously, I came home to evidence that he’d boiled hamburger) and numerous other things that were mine prior to our brief union. I remember sitting on my dining room table, clutching my two cats, Snooks and Bandit thinking “take it all, it’s just stuff”. But I digress. Fast forward to the autumn of my 28th year. From a one bedroom apartment, I moved into the house I’ve called home for thirty years. Three bedrooms, large kitchen, pantry and…….a basement. I remember a thought running through my head “however will I fill these cupboards?” followed by the thought of “haha, you’re a funny and pretty blonde”.
Needless to say, I found that filling cupboards and closets took little time and by the time Spence moved in 7 years later and added his belongings, well you get it. Over time I found that I had a lot of “junk drawers” and a sense of clutter hidden just out of sight in closets, cupboards and particularly….the basement.
Back to the subject of filing. I’m not going to say that I’ve never filed anything. I have taken it upon myself, on a cold or rainy day off to drag up a bag or box of paperwork that I’d put in a “good place” in the basement and sort through it. (usually around tax season) For every pound of paperwork that I combed through, 75% of it went into the recycle bin or shredder. Even then I still kept a lot of “stuff” that I’d never need but felt compelled to create a folder for nonetheless. I continued to accumulate more filing than a working gal would ever get to, especially when there were so many other things I’d prefer to do. And it was out of sight though not quite out of mind. I coddled myself into thinking, “when I retire, that’ll be one of the first things I’ll tackle.”
I retired on 2/28/14 departing almost immediately for a few weeks in Florida to “clear my over-filled head and embrace my new normal”. If you’ve read my blog, you know that since then I’ve been having a grand time, experiencing new things, traveling and living the dream with Spence. In short, the thought of tackling “the filing”, while in the back of my brain, just wasn’t a priority.
Enter the phase I’ll call “focus and inspiration”. Since April of 2014, I’ve discovered the joys of yoga and meditation which have created a sense of “focus”. It took till 10/31, but as I’d promised I started my blog. I mention yoga, meditation and the blog because I’ve successfully committed to making them a part of my everyday life, while still having lots of fun and adventures. Those three things have created “focus”.
“Inspiration” to get organized came from my mom. At 81 and in good health, she returned to Florida (after a summer in Michigan), decided to sell her home and move to Michigan to be closer to my sister and I. She met with a realtor before the holidays and began the process of getting her home ready to show by January. It went on the market and sold almost immediately. Downsizing to an apartment, she was now faced with what she’ll keep and what must go. This has resulted in numerous emails as she’s given “right of first refusal” to my sister and I on those things she’s parting with. With every email, a spark was lit in me. Realizing the enormous favor she is doing for us by moving on “her terms” and sorting through things that under different circumstances we would be overwhelmed by, I knew that could no longer put off the inevitable. The time had come to put my house “in order”.
In fairness, during the beautiful Michigan Spring, Summer and Fall, I adore gardening and Spence physically cannot do much to help me there. It is a full time job, though in retirement I don’t have to cram it into the rare day off when the weather cooperates. Seduced by sun, fresh air, my hands in the dirt, creating a symphony of chaotic loveliness, frankly – I wanted to be outside after the winter, not in the basement contending with filing.
Fast forward to early January. Armed with purpose and Christmas behind me, I made a commitment. The time was NOW. I started dragging up the bags and boxes, sifting through years of paperwork. Every single day. (okay, almost every single day) In fairness I should mention that I pay the bills; it’s “my domain”. Spence occasionally gives me something to file but though he’s been retired pretty much since I’ve known him, I’m too much of a control freak to hand over the sorting and filing of our important paperwork. He’s fine with that but in retrospect, perhaps I should have considered delegating it? Woulda, shoulda, coulda……
As of yesterday, I brought up and sorted through the last box of filing. Hurrah! In years past, if I’d pitch 75%, I’m now at 90-95%. Everything had to be evaluated – “shred it or recycle it”? I remarked to Spence, “should I die first, you have no idea what a favor I’ve done for you”. His reply, “if you die first, I’ll leave it for whoever comes in after I’m dead”. If you knew him, you’d know truer words were never spoken.
That said, this new-found commitment to organization has become like a drug to me. If I open a drawer, closet or cupboard that hasn’t yet been tackled, I stop and clean it out. I’ve made tremendous progress and found a few treasures – a black velvet bag full of quarters (really? when did I start saving quarters in a little bag? Still, kind of cool) an entire checkbook that had gone missing a year ago, my replacement Amazon credit card that I knew I’d received in 12/2014 but which had “disappeared” and my player’s club card from the casino that Spence and I frequent every month, a recent loss to a cluttered drawer.
For the focus and inspiration that kicked in to “get ‘er done”, I’m grateful. It only took the looming deadline of my first year in retirement to do what I’d promised myself for years. And it feels great.
Next project, after moving mom and the arrival of spring weather, is the much-needed organization of the garage. No more excuses and for that project, I will enlist Spence.
“Halotherapy is widely used in Europe as an all-natural, drug-free therapy that complements traditional medical treatment for a variety of respiratory and skin conditions, such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis, common colds, congestion, sleep disorders and more.” from Salinas Salt Room Spa
I first heard about the salt room from my yoga guru, Jules. I was intrigued and thought “I’d like to do that”. Then the holidays came and went as did my intent to follow through. Enter my lifelong BFF who has been instrumental in my post-retirement exploration of new experiences. She texted me suggesting a date to do it, had found a Groupon coupon and set the appointment for our Girl’s Day Out. Game on!
Intrigued and not sure what to expect, we helped ourselves to a complimentary cup of tea, took off our shoes and were quietly ushered into “the Salt Room”. With six comfy, ivory leather recliners, we took our seats along with a mother and daughter who joined us in the room. The lighting was subtle, the atmosphere – ethereal. Shortly after the doors were closed, soft music started. My BFF suggested we use the time to meditate, which was perfect. The room was a bit cool but soft blankets were provided. As I meditated, I breathed deeply, using the mindful breathing I’ve been taught in yoga. Our session was 45 minutes in length and we left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Prior to this day, I owned a lovely Himalayan Salt Lamp. (from Isabella.com) When heated by the 15 watt bulb, the salt rocks emit negative ions, adding healthier air and beauty.
In the days since my visit, I also bought a Himalayan Salt votive holder.
I even did some searching an found a Himalayan Salt Inhaler which was delivered an hour ago!
And in my new enthusiasm for Himalayan Sea Salt, I’m even using it in my cooking.
In my yoga class yesterday we discussed the importance of asking “will it disturb my peace?”
Whether from situations, people or things, increasingly I find that I ask myself this question. As I have embraced yoga and meditation in the last year, I’ve found more focus and clarity. I’ve also found that I need to “clean house” both literally and metaphorically. It’s meant making changes. As a result, my health is better, I’m happier and I’m accomplishing more. I’ve also learned not everyone you know will understand or support the changes. And that’s okay. It’s just the path I’ve chosen.
Yesterday was my yoga class with Jules from whom I take private instruction every two weeks. She is my teacher, guru and guide, responsible for my increased physical capacity as well as the expansion of my mind. She is light, love and inspiration, always positive. Besides time on the mat our time encompasses meditation, chanting and discussion of yoga philosophy. This time Jules presented a challenge to me, along with a pen and a legal pad. While she read a brief story, I was asked to consider as I listened, “Am I a Lion or a Fox.” I was then asked to write which I was and why. While it was a spontaneous exercise, it was surprisingly revealing and spot-on.
This is what I wrote in case you’d like to read it. And hey, ask yourself – which are you?
I am a Lion
Like a Lion, I take charge of things; it is and has been my role to be a leader.
A lion is decisive and watchful, as am I.
Out of necessity, the lion provides (and in my case) prepares the food for others.
As a Lion, I’m fiercely protective of my family and friends. I can roar when provoked but take measures not to show my claws, unless there is good reason to do so.
Like a Lion, I’m wise, sought out for my knowledge and I’m a survivor.
I’ve created a warm and comfortable “den”and share it with others with whom I feel a kinship.
I’ve created a safe haven for a colony of feral cats, providing food, water, shelter. While a Fox might threaten them, I ward off threats. Sometimes with a roar.