Posted in feelings, follow-up, meme

a year in review – 2021

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
bought + used the O’Cedar QuickWring bucket and mop,
donated through gofundme,
got hacked — or at least spoofed — on Facebook,
had a home invasion of big black ants,
ordered food to go from Rosie’s Mexican Cantina,
owned a smartphone,
signed up for Evernote (quickly lost interest),
spied a few termites in the kitchen,
started freezing bread to make it last longer,
“buttered” mashed potatoes and grits with Greek yogurt,
tried canned chickpeas (liked them!),
tried canned artichokes (that’s enough of that…),
tried Haribo chewy Star Mints (a new favorite),
tried the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Cliff bar (was more spice than pumpkin)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2021, I attempted to improve communication with my family. They reciprocated in some ways, and that inspires me to persist in the effort.
For 2022, I want to “live loved.” Reflect on the ways God loves us — me! — and identify its handiwork in my life. Then, live securely in that love, especially in the way I respond to others.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
In August, the coronavirus took the life of a long-time family friend. :*(

5. Where did you travel?
mostly to the store for necessities, although I did venture out to the nature trails at Rainbow Mountain

6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?
a long-term job outlook, so that I can move forward with plans for my own home

7. What date or event from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory?
the 20th anniversary of exchanging emails with my friend, Michele

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
being content to wrap up my efforts when I discern where enough is indeed enough

9. What was your biggest failure?
A few of my undertakings — worthwhile things that I very much want to do — blindsided me with extremely challenging moments. I was further stunned by my horrible attitudes in response, and by how long they kept resurfacing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Illness, yes. The “couple dozen recurring ailments” that cropped up last year are still flaring up. On the bright side, I see definite improvements, and so they are less “concerning.”

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new smartphone. It started as a necessity due to upcoming changes with my provider, but I quickly warmed up to the convenience of the features I gained.
Runner up: a new Gotham non-stick skillet, for cooking eggs

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
One person who was — repeatedly! — truly interested to know what I have to say on a certain topic, and another who expressed an appreciation for a comment I shared in our Bible study group

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I was beyond disappointed that the people I’d most expect to listen to me, didn’t. It happened time and time again, and it made for a very lonely year, overall.

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses, particularly to paying people to work in the yard (totally worth it, btw)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
A dictation feature, as in I talk and it types what I say. I’ve tried the options on my home computer, but apparently that microphone is insufficient. Happily, on my new phone, I can transcribe notes to a Google document — and I’ve been like a kid with a new toy. The resulting text isn’t perfect because some words get lost in translation. But even that’s a win because most of the mistypes amuse me greatly. For example,
ME: “… analyses…”
TEXT ON SCREEN: “… and now the seas…” xD xD

16. What song will always remind you of 2021?
Probably “My King is Known By Love,” which I learned this year after rejoining the church choir. The song’s warm description of the love of Jesus continues to resonate with me, and it is now one of my favorites out of all the ones we’ve ever done.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? happier
Older or wiser? (arguably) wiser, feeling as if I’ve learned a valuable lesson or two
Thinner or fatter? judging by my clothes, about the same
Richer or poorer? probably richer, because working from home means I purchase gasoline every few months instead of nearly every week #HighFive

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
recognizing specific ways in which I need to declutter (both physically and emotionally), and then doing it

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
resented my family obligations

20. Did your heart break?
Yes.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
While waiting for our Christmas activities to begin, I worked on these questions and did a load of laundry. My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our decorations and gifts, and made lunch. With the temperature near 70 degrees, even my cold-natured self could enjoy a long walk outside with only a light jacket. (“Have yourself a balmy little Christmas,” lol.) The fam and I ended the day watching DVDs.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I had a holiday from work. With the temperature again near 70 degrees, I went outside for a walk. I ran errands, did chores, and finished these questions. The fam and I watched DVDs, and then rang the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
The Chosen

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
“The greatest” has to be the delicious organic Indian products by Food Earth. But my breakfast experiments produced some notable contenders: cottage cheese on an English muffin, and mashed sweet peas spread on French bread toast with shredded chicken

25. What was the best book you read?
I’m still savoring “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
a pre-owned Norah Jones CD for $0.50 now has a prominent place among my easy listening replays, alongside Johnny Mathis and Kenny G

27. What did you want and get?
to meet safely again with my church family, and again reap the benefit of their encouragement

28. What did you want and not get?
two of my loved ones seem to be on a detrimental path due to unhealthy habits

29. What was your favorite film?
I didn’t see many, and not one of those merits a mention here.

30. What did you do on your birthday?
The theme this year was “a few of my favorite things” (yes, shamelessly stolen from Christmas-time). Lunch was my new-this-year favorite prepackaged food: Vegetable Biryani. Supper was my long-time favorite restaurant food, Rosie’s fish tacos. The day included some of my preferred pursuits, such as hiking at Rainbow Mountain, and socially-distanced shopping.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Feeling unheard has been a long-time struggle for me. Recently, I’m attempting to not take people’s inattention so personally. I mean, I don’t hang on their every word either, right? Still, the practice would have been more satisfying if it hadn’t so often taken the form of withdrawing into a sad, “Why bother?”

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?
Working from home again this year, I wear slacks (or a nice pair of yoga pants) during business hours, to help keep me in Work Mode.

33. What kept you sane?
While I was paralyzed much of last year by fear of the unknown, recognizing that God is working even in the unexpected is developing my “eyes of faith.” I’m pressing on despite feelings that threaten to stall me. Sometimes I’m even able to look forward with a sense of adventure!

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I mildly fancied a few TV characters. Jonathan Hart and Jim Rockford each made an appearance in a sweet dream in which I was so comforted because I simply knew they liked me. In every episode of The Greatest American Hero, something about Bill and/or Ralph appeals to me. A lot. 🙂

35. What social or political issue or news story stirred you the most?
I’m still limiting my news intake, but from what I heard, my main takeaway is that people must’ve found a way to get paid every time they use the word “booster.” #WearingItOut!

36. Who did you miss?
my former supervisor, who was transferred to work on another contract in October

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Kimberly the hair stylist. I shared my desire to chop off my grown-out pandemic hair, and she was so enthusiastic about my “transformation”

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
In addition to this list of ways my new normal gets newer all the time, I accepted a new role at church, where we gained a new pastor and our choir leader is taking a sabbatical. At work, staffing changes have left me as the only one on my project.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.
Make room. It made such an impact that I felt compelled to elaborate.

40. A quote that sums up your year:
“If you dwell on your own feelings about things rather than dwelling on the faithfulness, the love, and the mercy of God, then you’re likely to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Our feelings are very fleeting and ephemeral, aren’t they? We can’t depend on them for five minutes at a time. But dwelling on the love, faithfulness, and mercy of God is always safe.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Posted in b47eclectics, feelings, follow-up

keep calm and make room

My 2020 lesson learned was, “I can avoid a lot of frustration if I hold my plans with a loose hand.”

The lesson stemmed from my complete frazzlement when trying to plan for shopping at the very empty grocery stores in 2020. I’d regain some perspective by acknowledging that a divergence from my list might be necessary – and if so, it is totally do-able. “If they’re out of my favorite cereal in this trip, I can get this other one, and then I’ll check for my favorite in a later visit.” Before long, I could even look at it with a sense of adventure. “Who knows, maybe I’ll discover a *new* favorite!”

Since then I heard a phrase that further defines the concept for me: make room. And the application of it is proving to be equally freeing in other areas. For example, when I make room….

in my timetable. “I need the information I requested from Joe, but if he forgets, I’ll ask him again. While I’m waiting, I can work on this other part.”

for my family to communicate honestly. “If you don’t want any of the soup I made, I’m okay with that. I’d rather you say, ‘No, thanks,’ than to take a bowl and throw most of it away.”

for less than perfection. Is it that she doesn’t listen to me? Or is it that she doesn’t listen (and subsequently react) to my satisfaction, 100% of the time?

for misinterpretation. Lately, unexpected twists trigger my negative emotions — ones that repeatedly prove to be unfounded. I need to pause, not panic. Look again. This may not mean what I think it means.

I’m not sure when I began striving to eliminate every variable, but the tendency to over plan surely grew during my five years at a job in which I was expected to stay on top of everything.

It shot to unhealthy levels after the pandemic started, no doubt from desperation for some kind of control among the chaos. It’s an understandable response — but not a beneficial one. The preoccupation with trying to nail down future moments was crowding out my capacity to appreciate the present ones. Not to mention, it is super stressful because it’s unending – an impossible task!

Limiting my plans to more of a near-future notion is also contributing to growth in my faith journey. With less of an eye on my own agenda and expectations, my excitement is building as I realize that I ain’t seen nothing yet!

Posted in crushes, etcetera, feelings, follow-up, letters

the new normal gets newer all the time

Yet again, excerpts from recent letters to Michele do double duty as a recap of happenings so far this year.


» That Guy » February

  • In reply to your questions, no, I haven’t seen him or heard any news about his personal life. When he crosses my mind, depending on my mood, I’m either hopeful that the pandemic is keeping him single… or I relive the hurt and embarrassment at how past encounters (so! clearly!) indicate that he doesn’t think of me as a romantic option. :winces:
  • I was pondering how, with the aspects we appreciate in our current TV dreamboats, someone might deduce that our ages are somewhat past the teen years. Which is fine with me! Our experience has helped us more clearly define what we’re looking for — and that’s a good thing. 🙂 I’m even starting to filter song lyrics through that point of view. Like when I hear Bruno Mars claim that he’d “catch a grenade for ya.” Well, thanks, but in my book, the height of romance would be for a guy to simply pay attention when I talk and respond with a modest bit of interest.

» That Guy » June

  • I did see __ … I can honestly report that I got no butterflies or other silly notions. I’ve accepted that he doesn’t like me “that way,” and I have no hard feelings about that. Actually, it’s freeing! Had he been nearby, I believe I could’ve managed the same, conversational “Hey! How are you?” that I would have with almost anyone else.
  • [Later that week] I was able to test what I wrote above, “I could speak to __ like I would to anyone else.” I was passing by where he was standing, and as I was right next to him, I got a bit choked on my sip of water! :BLUSH: Not exactly my proudest moment, but I was only slightly embarrassed — and then I shook it off. I casually looked at him and said, “Excuse me.” I even added, “Good morning.” (Yep, as I would’ve with anyone else.) As I recall, he returned the greeting, and gave a sympathetic look as my light coughing continued, as I walked on.

Apparently, it’s true: without butterflies, I can be almost normal. Almost! 😉


» Mind + Body » February

  • Part of my emotional stress comes from making assumptions based on present circumstances: “Oh no! It looks like my health issues are starting again, just like last year at this time!” And that stresses me out more than I can express, thinking of going through all that discomfort for another year… But I’m trying to take it one day at a time, since (as the Bible said) all worry does is cause more harm.
  • I made that reminder after a string of highly emotional days. As you said, I feel so, so irritable. Even more so when my family keeps doing things I’ve — repeatedly! — expressed issue with. On my angriest days, sheer exasperation sends me (as you said years ago that your guy would do) grumbling under my breath, often with my back to them. “Oh you’re interrupting again?! What a SURPRISE! WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?!?!!” 😦 I know that’s not helpful. In that moment, I just don’t know what else to do.
  • My health issues of late can be summed up as “more of the same.” Some of the ones from this time last year are making another appearance, as are some that first popped up ten years ago. It may sound strange, but I’m comforted when I remember, “Okay, I’ve had this symptom before,” probably because it reminds me that it didn’t last forever. #SighOfRelief Plus, I’m encouraged that the repeats from last year have, so far, been very mild.
  • Looking at past occurrences, the worst outbreaks of My Condition have also been times of extreme stress. Which makes sense. As I wrote in my cost-of-worry blog post, recently when I start to get frazzled, I remind myself that panicking will only make it worse. And I know that’s true, so I find a way to at least change my focus.

» Mind + Body » October

  • As I said in my Facebook message September was BUSY, and it coincided with — or perhaps it prompted! – a 40s flare up, and so I spent much of the days feeling frazzled: nervous and overwhelmed.
  • At least for now, I’m fairly upbeat because I’ve finished a few tasks, and made definite progress in a few others. 🙂
  • You mentioned feeling emotional as well. Do you notice any patterns in your feelings? I sure do. Starting from several years ago, I can track recurring outbreaks in which, for several days at a time, my mood/thoughts default to a theme. Such as…

…“Bad brain” where I repeatedly lose my train of thought
…Feeling completely lonely and unheard
…Obsessing over some small thing
…Overwhelmed, like there’s so much I need to do, want to do, and I’m not putting a dent in any of it.
…Guilty (often follows overwhelmed) that I can’t do anything right, like I’m letting everyone –and God! — down
…So, so annoyed at nearly everyone
I could go on, but you get the idea.


» “Look up, Child” » June

  • Yesterday, I attended the Sunday morning service at church, for the first time since March of last year. Around 70 people have been meeting regularly… but I was waiting through the month of May, to monitor how coronavirus case numbers progressed after many places relaxed their mask mandates.
  • Happily, a downward trend has continued. The church plans to start Sunday School next week, and I knew I wanted to go to that. I decided to return one week early. And I’m so glad I went! I’ve sorely missed being around people who, like me, want to share about the trials and triumphs in our spiritual journey. (I love my family, but they are not exactly big with the encouragement.)
  • To that end, since March of this year, I have been attending church service on Wednesday night. (With only a dozen or so people, it seemed like a good way for me to ease back into being around crowds, lol.)
  • We have been watching through the TV series “The Chosen,” which is about the life of Jesus. We watch an episode, then discuss it. I enjoy hearing the comments: it all reminds me of many hours of pleasant diversion reviewing TV shows for my websites. 😀
  • When they first announced the plan to watch that show, I recalled that movie The Passion of the Christ — and wasn’t sure what to expect. But, whereas the movie was (majorly!) intense, this show is thoroughly engaging. It’s as if I’m right there in the Bible history… and I’m seeing parts of it like I never have before. WOW! ❤ ❤
  • Wednesday night, we watched episode 5 of The Chosen. I know I’m repeating, but that show is SO good. I’m completely taken with its depictions of the apostles and Jesus. I admit, before this I’ve pictured them (and others in the Bible) as perpetually somber and serious. But that series depicts them with distinct personalities — and insecurities — and engaging in pleasant banter… and having fun. This is a view of them I’ve absolutely needed!

» Pit of Random » February

  • A weather update: our region was clipped by that multi-state arctic blast! Widespread ice earlier this week, then 5 inches of snow Wednesday night, with multiple nights of low temps in the teens. :shivers: Our bathroom pipes were frozen for one day; thankfully the kitchen water stayed unfrozen, and the power stayed on.
  • I’d been needing a new nightshirt, and — obviously inspired by our cat chat — I got one with sweet kitties on it. You can see it at this link.
  • At least I’m having some success chipping away at my organizing efforts. 8) Recently, as an update to my (shamefully neglected) photoblog, I posted an example of the file drawer labeling that I’m working on. I love how readable those labels are… if I could only decide on what categories/titles would be most helpful, I might actually get that project finished! Anyway, the picture is here: chezannegallery.shutterfly.com/1196
  • I recently discovered that my work computer added a dictation feature (as in, I talk and it types what I say)… and I’ve been like a kid with a new toy. 😀 I used it to transcribe the ideas I’d written on paper to start this email, and I’ve been dictating things related to my job duties. For years, I have been curious about text-to-type software, as a less-laborious way to make my paper writings [journals, fanfic] electronic. Alas, it’s not perfect. I had to edit: insert sentence breaks, punctuation, some capital letters… But overall, I’m calling it a success. Simply getting the words typed is a huge start.
  • Not only is it a valuable tool, but speaking words and having the computer print what I say on the screen is so validating. :applause:

» Pit of Random » October

  • The highly-touted “new normal” continued to evolve when [my cell service provider] notified me that a phone upgrade was necessary due to upcoming network changes. So, I decided to join the ranks of smartphone users. Having to learn a new device while I was so busy would threaten to stress me out… but then, I’d calmly remind myself, “simply take it one piece at a time.” And navigating the phone has been much more intuitive than I expected, so YAY!
Posted in websites

milestone blogiversary

Twenty years ago today, I started my first website.

And although none of my online ventures have “went viral” — not even close, actually! — writing for an Internet audience has offered pleasant distractions and learning experiences.

Best of all, it’s given me a proverbial voice. Even if no one reads every word, just knowing that they could has made me feel as if I’ve been heard.

Many thanks to you, dear reader, for listening. It has meant more than I can say. 🙂

Posted in b47eclectics, feelings, meme

a year in review – 2020

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
appeared on Facebook live, attended a high school reunion, participated in a cookie decorating class, edited photos at pixlr.com, visited the dermatologist, ordered groceries online, streamed my church’s worship service, used the dictation feature of Microsoft’s Office 365

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2020, my theme was to simplify. The pandemic contributed to that effort, minimizing my routine and offering a crash course in taking one step at a time. With fewer schedule-related activities, I had a chance to gain ground in streamlining various areas of home storage.
For 2021, I’ve identified a need to improve communication with my family. Actually, I’ve already started. And, unlike with past relationships, I’m inviting the other person into the process. For example, I’m being transparent when I’m clueless about the next step, and asking their input.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
In September, my childhood friend, Angela, passed away. :*( We mostly lost touch after I changed schools in 8th grade, but I’ll always remember the fun we had on the elementary school playground.

5. Where did you travel?
Only locally, and little of that. This was probably the least travel of any year in my adult life. Even my former one-hour-each-way commute was cut to a 30-second walk to my home workstation.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
the ability to move forward on my plans for my own home

7. What date or event from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory?
Aside from the obvious pandemic-related events — the world grinds to a halt, aisle after aisle of empty store shelves, etc. — two smaller-scale happenings: the washer flooded the kitchen, and a snake(!!!) got stuck in one of the windows(!!!).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
In January, while I looked forward to my class reunion, I was intimidated by its potential for awkward chitchat. So I prepared brief answers to questions I could expect, and I braced to not be thrown if some responses seemed a bit cool. Mostly I told myself to RELAX and have fun with it. And, I’m happy to report, I had a blast! Plus, this experiment could be a gamechanger; I’ll go forth armed with the knowledge that I can indeed make conversation. #WhoKnew? #ColorMeStunned 😀

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’ve stewed a lot over perceived slights by someone… until the oh-so-humbling day I understood that I’ve been guilty of treating them the same way.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, significant illness. From February until the present, a couple dozen recurring ailments — some new, bizarre and concerning — have supplied a vicious cycle of discomfort that dominated my thoughts even more than the pandemic.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
big thing: hiring someone to mow the yard
small thing: a lamp, for next to my evening chair

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My high school classmates. Their kindness at the reunion has me thinking I should have ventured to speak up back in the day! ❤

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
a certain person and two never-before scenes that left me reeling, sad that now I so often feel as if I don’t know them anymore

14. Where did most of your money go?
To replacing several household things: washing machine, TV, coffeemaker, toaster, bathroom heater, hair dryer, computer keyboard, my fitted sheet.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
little things, such as walking in warm sunshine, the store having my favorite cereal, and the assortment of birds that frequently visit the window next to my desk

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
Probably “Takes A Little Time” by Amy Grant. Plenty of mornings I’d wake up and be tempted to fall apart, and I’d repeat the lyric, “Well it may not be over by morning, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Then, praise the Lord, I was able to focus eyes of faith past the current body aches, the loneliness, the rampant uncertainty and anticipate a better day. A day when the proverbial Rome is finally built.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? definitely weighed-down and weary from the struggles
Older or wiser? OLDER!
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
let go of what I can’t control

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
“circling in deeply rutted paths”

20. Did your heart break?
yes

21. How did you spend Christmas?
In our usual way. My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our decorations and unwrapped gifts, and worked on computer projects before making lunch. The fam and I ended the day watching DVDs. One difference was that a bitterly cold polar blast had us struggling to keep warm all day.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I took the day off from work. I finished these questions and continued preparing for my year-end computer file backup. Later, the fam and I plan to watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m rediscovering my extreme fondness for childhood fave Knight Rider. I admit this somewhat sheepishly since, only a few years ago, I listed it among shows I was “over.” After a futile search for TV options that are light and fun, KR came to mind; “It’s cheesy,” I reasoned, “but I *love* cheese! GIMME!” XD

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Two ingredient drop biscuits. And for breakfast, toast (usually French bread) topped with canned sliced, stewed tomatoes… it may sound weird, but I find that the mildly-flavored tomatoes produce a tasty, pizza-y effect.

25. What was the best book you read?
Since I found myself with regular times of unplugged waiting, I started re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The songs at WAYfm repeatedly surprised me with encouragement on the days when I would’ve said my heart was too heavy to look up.
Also, while radio-surfing, I stumbled on a classic country music station, which brought to light a strong affinity for the voice of Mr. Waylon Jennings.

27. What did you want and get?
Although we each had distinct bumps, my family and I stayed in good health overall.

28. What did you want and not get?
for our church to be able to safely meet again

29. What was your favorite film?
I only saw a few repeats of ones in my collection; of those, I enjoyed the 1990’s remake of “Sabrina.” I hadn’t seen it in so long, I watched with a fresh appreciation for some details I’d missed before.

30. What did you do on your birthday?
took the day off of work, computered after breakfast, did some socially-distanced shopping, fixed lunch, took pictures of my purchases, loaded new audiobooks (of the Bible) onto my MP3 player, went for a walk — twice, fixed supper, thanked the well-wishers at Facebook, and finished the day watching DVDs

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
less drama

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
To borrow a phrase, I frequently changed from my night pajamas into my day pajamas. Working from home most of the year, I aimed for a notch above “day pajamas” during business hours, to help keep me in Work Mode.

33. What kept you sane?
As I wrote to Michele, “… even with so many low days, I’m thankful that this latest experience has again brought home the beautiful truth that our faith grows as we observe God at work in our lives. It’s given me much-needed practice pressing on in faith in spite of my feelings and circumstances.”

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
James Garner as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files

35. What social or political issue or news story stirred you the most?
At first, I closely (read “obsessively”) followed stories about the pandemic, checking for reports every couple of minutes. Finally, taking the advice of the mental health experts, I turned off the news and quickly witnessed an improvement in my outlook.

36. Who did you miss?
my sweet church family, especially our Wednesday night Bible study crew

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I was reacquainted with some former high-school classmates.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Few things *didn’t* change. I blogged about ways 2020 has rocked my world.
An addendum to that post: for now I’m okay with skipping the haircuts. As it turns out, I identify as a “long-haired, freaky” person. 😉

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
I can avoid a lot of frustration if I hold my plans and expectations with a loose hand.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I know your heart’s been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet…”
~ “Move (Keep Walkin’)” by TobyMac

Posted in feelings, follow-up, work

those things I do, 2020 edition “climbing out of the rubble”

“It’s been a hard year
But I’m climbing out of the rubble”
~”Less Like Scars” by Sara Groves

While outlining thoughts for each of my annual reflections, I’ve considered using the quote above to wrap up the post, as a summary.

Then came 2020! Those lyrics seem spectacularly appropriate as I look back at life this year. For me, adventures in pandemia have included…

  • Sinking in a river of tears. Count me among those who initially fell apart. As the coronavirus continued to ransack life as we know it, I found myself wearied by an old battle’s prolonged new attack. For weeks, if I wasn’t melting into tears, I was staring at the floor, shell-shocked and stuck on worst-case scenarios.
  • Looking up, pressing on. A modified mental diet — especially turning off the news — helped give my outlook a boost. More than that, I was reminded of a lesson from dark days not so long ago: anxiety, not answers, tends to follow a laser focus on the details of my situation. The only path I’ve found to peace is to process my circumstance through the lens of faith, trusting that just as I’ve seen God work in past struggles for my good, I can trust him with “even this.”
  • Virtual officing. My co-workers and I were sent home in March and have continued to work remotely since then.
  • Feelin’ the burn… discomfort and malaise. In the true spirit of 2020, my body added distress with an extended flareup of the mystery ailments I collectively refer to as My Condition. Since February, a couple dozen aching, off-kilter body spots have supplied a vicious cycle of discomfort that dominated my thoughts even more than the pandemic.
  • Growing my hair. My sole haircut for this year occurred in January, and it may be spring before I’m brave enough to visit the salon. Fortunately, I kept the hair clips, bobby pins, and ponytail holders from the intervals when I had, according to one schoolmate, “[darn] hippie hair.”
  • Going (Facebook) live. More than once I contributed to my church’s online Bible studies by joining the teacher for a discussion of the week’s lesson.
  • Showing some skin. My first ever visit to the dermatologist was a win-win, with an a-okay for the spots I was concerned about and options for follow up, if needed, on another potential issue.
  • Tending to the walking wounded. My mother fractured her arm right before Columbus Day, and that necessitated a whole new wave of schedule adjustments.

While 2020 has been something else (to say the least!), plenty of years have deviated wildly from my expectations. Now, as then, I can crumble or grow. Growing is hard, but (to paraphrase a quote I heard this week) crumbling brings some hard consequences, too. As I see it, growing is the more worthwhile choice. So, some days I can truly appreciate the ever-shifting “normal” as a refreshing change of scenery. Other days, I fall to feeling frustrated and overwhelmed… but more and more, I’m recognizing that doesn’t mean I’ve hopelessly blown it. Bad days and good days are both part of the faith-building process. And so I can take a breath and keep going — even if it’s only the tiniest step forward.

Posted in feelings, letters

no news

A status report… recycled from my latest email to Michele. 😉

I still check the local news websites (for updates that directly relate to my life), but like you, I shun the Yahoo’s, the MSN’s, etc. Primarily because I realized that a disproportionate number of their so-called headlines are merely speculation. [“XYZ says the pandemic could deplete the world’s supply of widgets!” 😒 Oh, it COULD? Then it also could NOT. Remember the good old days, when the news stuck to the facts??] Plus, even their valid reports can provide additional things to worry about. “No widgets?! Oh NO! I HADN’T EVEN THOUGHT OF THAT!!” :FretFretFret:

I’m sorry you’ve been anxious. Believe me, you’re not alone — and I don’t think it’s just the two of us, either! Especially when my work doesn’t exactly keep my brain engaged, and my mind tends to camp out on worst case scenarios. More and more, I find myself turning on the radio to WayFM. The DJs consistently offer a positive, Biblical perspective, and song after song speaks deeply to my struggles. Many of the lyrics can double as a prayer, as in two of my top current favorites: “Peace Be Still” by Hope Darst and “You Already Know” by JJ Heller.
https://www.wayfm.com/

 

Posted in crushes, feelings, follow-up, meme, websites, work

a year in review – 2019

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
participated in the Walk Through The Old Testament Bible study, learned to check the traffic flow in Google Maps, used the Opera browser, noticed quail in the yard, set a snap mousetrap, tried less-sugar Chobani and Campbell’s Healthy Request Bean and Bacon Soup, purchased and cooked a non-fish-stick-equivalent fish fillet, heard the train-rumble sound of a possible nearby tornado, printed at Staples from a flash drive, and got bit by a tick

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2019 my goal (repeated from 2018) was to spend more time on what adds value to my life, and I did indeed labor in several “valuable” areas. Loosely in order from least to greatest attempt: improving communication, nutritional eating, accomplishing tasks more efficiently, and upward thinking of the Biblical kind.
For 2020, my theme is to simplify. Pare down my stockpile of stuff. Reduce over-analyzing and over-to-do-listing. Focus more on the next priority, and less on nailing down the legion of conceivable tangents.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no. But quite a few people I know lost loved ones.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
the ability to consistently style all of my hair in a way that looks good to me

7. What event from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory?
seeing the storage shed door open, and realizing that someone had cut the lock

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
completing an overhaul of my signature site, www.rusted-crush.com

9. What was your biggest failure?
Far too many times, I was annoyed with certain people — and I peevishly let them know it. :winces:

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In addition to regular recurrences of familiar digestive, sinus, age-related, and overuse issues, a backache slowed me down for a month.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased a tall cabinet to corral my foodstuffs. (Technically, the unit is for storing officesupplystuffs but it’s fine as a pantry.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
A group I’m working with on a certain project. They listen when I talk (WOW, NOT EVERYONE INTERRUPTS), and they make me feel as if my input is appreciated.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The main object of my affection sent a *clear* sign of disinterest in a Painfully Awkward Moment. I don’t think he intended to be harsh, but I distinctly felt the harshness of rejection. :*(

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
the — mysterious, wonderful — ways God is redeeming my story

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
probably “Look Up, Child” by Lauren Daigle because the phrase was part of this year’s resolution

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? happier
Older or wiser? older. I reach for reading glasses more than ever. (Sigh.)
Thinner or fatter? judging by my clothes, about the same
Richer or poorer? judging by my bottom line, about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
nipped a potential negative in the bud

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
balked at the slightest deviation from what I was expecting

20. Did your heart break?
For the first time in years, no. Although — to be sure — there were plenty of hard days that bent it

21. How did you spend Christmas?
I worked on these questions while waiting for late-risers. 😉 My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our 22-year-old, low-frills video camera. I then took pictures of our decorations and unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. Lunch was red salmon loaf, corn, boiled potatoes, and crock-pot green bean casserole. A lovely afternoon of casual puttering was followed by a soup supper. I walked outside to enjoy the 70-degree sunny-ness. The fam and I ended the day watching DVDs.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I have to work. Later, the fam and I will watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
My TV time is still spent rerunning past favorites such as Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Quantum Leap, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I also added What’s Happening? to my DVD collection.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
I gained an affinity for snacking on Oatmeal Squares cereal, for Publix egg salad on an Aldi rice cake, and for Ezekiel bread. I also found a delicious and versatile broccoli fish bake.

25. What was the best book you read?
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is the only book I’ll finish this year, but it remains an all-time favorite. Almost every day, some truth in it resonates with me.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
“Native Tongue” by Switchfoot: set to a mesmerizing beat, the lyrics are a fresh look at the wonder of God’s amazing love. (Not to mention a challenge to me to be more loving.) “The Strength to Let Go,” also by Switchfoot, expresses my heart’s prayer in the struggles of this current season.

27. What did you want and get?
My tick bite did NOT result in symptoms of a tick-borne illness. #PraiseTheLord

28. What did you want and not get?
for my new coworker to have potential to become a close friend

29. What was your favorite film?
There were none. I thought Captain Marvel was okay. I pretend Avengers Endgame was just a bad dream. #NeverHappened

30. What did you do on your birthday?
It was largely a repeat of last year, with taking the day off from work, computering, shopping in Madison, and hiking at Rainbow Mountain Trail. However, there was some newness in that the heat set a record: 100 degrees, in October! That meant cutting my hike short. On the bright side, I could shed my fall layers for a cute summer top.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if I had connected more with people

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
still business casual — with function over fashion, since I prefer not to shiver all day in our 63-degree office

33. What kept you sane?
choosing peaceful thoughts

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I was drawn to the strength and competence of Captain Stottlemeyer on Monk. Also, after seeing Captain Marvel, I outlined a fanfiction scene inspired by Jude Law.

35. What political issue or news story stirred you the most?
For a change, a positive news byte stood out to me: “I feel like it’s so easy to love. People like that, you never know what they’re going through. You just want to help them.” – gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s gracious response to would-be body shamers

36. Who did you miss?
my former coworker, Tricia

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Clarice and Beth from church

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Sweeping reorganization efforts continued across the board. Two significant changes were renaming my blog and being relieved of the website forums that I started back in 2004.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
Earlier this year a tweet by Beth Moore (“Thought I’d arrive at spiritual maturity then just abide right there undisturbed… Instead, here I am… still grappling”) caught my eye because it echoed my own perplexity. I, too, expected some sort of fill-her-up zap, after which I’d be perpetually unflappable. :sheepish: The lesson for me has been that when I trust that God *is* working, right where I am? That struggling is part of the faith-building process? Hallelujah, what a awesome gamechanger!

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I know You have Your reasons for everything, so I will keep believing.” ~ “No Matter What” by Kerrie Roberts

Posted in websites

new layout for rusted-crush – done!

Latest layout update = finished!

TV Toaster

In carpentry, they say to “measure twice, cut once.”

When I’m reworking a website’s content and layout, I “brainstorm for a week, decide one thing.”

Nevertheless! Last week I finished and posted my latest project: updating rusted-crush.com.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, that looks like eclectic,” fret not! The similarity is by design, part of a strategy to give my website collection a more unified format.

Next up, neloo.com and fannesite.com will get “unifying” makeovers.

The primary objective for this streamlining effort is efficiency, for visitors in navigating between features and for me in maintenance. Building from a template will certainly save time in forthcoming layout designs.

Website work will resume in 2020(??). Until then, I’ll largely be occupied with the annual review plus real-life gotta-dos (chores, organizing) and wanna-dos (Christmas!).

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