May 2018 RAW NEWS Update

Some sections of this monthly update post are shorter than usual. That’s because I have been very focused and driven in a couple of areas, and ignored everything else. It’s a good thing there’s research to suggest that an ongoing life balance is highly overrated. (Yes, it’s fair to accuse me of confirmation bias–seeking out the research that supports my opinion and conveniently ignoring the rest.)

hand drawn icon of bookRead

I’ve had a ‘blah’ month of reading and a slow one. Instead of my usual dozen books, I’ve read five–four fiction, and one nonfiction. On Goodreads 1-5 scoring system, four of the books scored a measly 2 meaning “it was okay.”

The one standout is Martha Grimes’ novel, Foul Matter. If you’re a writer, and especially if you’re a writer who has dealt with a large traditional publishing house, give this one a read. It’s a funny sendup of writers, editors, agents, publishers, and gangsters.

hand drawn icon of painting with brush and pencil on topArt

Nothing, nada, zip. I’ve been out to my studio a number of times with my dogs, but I couldn’t settle enough to create anything. At least not anything visual. I have, however, done lots of writing.


hand drawn icon of book with pencil on topWriting

But even so, the writing wasn’t anything sustained. Many journal entries, several blog posts, and a bazillion comments and replies to comments. I’m not complaining! I love the connection.

One noteworthy bit of writing is the work I’m doing using the book One Year of Writing and Healing. I mentioned this book in my post about writing to heal, and ordered it soon after. I expected it to be a book of prompts and it is, but they are unlike any prompts I’ve ever read. Diane Morrow’s book is nothing short of amazing. I’ll say more when I’ve finished it.

hand drawn icon of apple with bite out of itNutrition

This month has been a bust when it comes to eating intuitively. I have been setting myself some small weekly goals, like eating more slowly. Then I forget all about those goals as I’m wolfing down my meals.

I think the problem is that I’m trying to build new habits in a context where it is really difficult to stay hyper-aware, and all too easy to lapse back into old patterns.

I’m going to continue with intuitive eating, but I’m adding in a short-term restriction. From the research I’ve done, boycotting breads and sugars for a few weeks should help me get rid of cravings and some unhealthy belly fat.

hand drawn icon of stylized person in motionEnergy

This is the area where I’ve put most of my attention this month. We transitioned quickly from winter to late spring/summer, which means the property has been greening up and the grass has been growing. We’ve also had several vicious windstorms that have taken down trees or thrown small branches all over the lawns.

As a result, I’ve been spending oodles of time: chainsawing the downed trees; collecting twigs and branches; cutting the lower part of cedar trees to let the light in; loading all of the above into a trailer and hauling it to the burn pile; burning; cutting invasive grapevines out of trees before they kill them completely and, just recently, mowing the grass.

It’s all very satisfying and very time-consuming. I bought a tractor last summer with a 54″ cutting deck so that helps a lot, but there’s enough grass here that it still takes me seven hours to do a complete cut. And at this time of year, that needs repeating every three or four days.

Toffee, my Sproodle rescue pup, has been another big time commitment this month. She’s incredibly smart and is easily bored. When she’s bored, she’s a pain. So I’m driving an hour each way once a week to take her to obedience classes, and spending 40 minutes every day on our ‘homework’. She’s doing brilliantly.

hand drawn icon of open boxWonder

I had a couple of forestry guys here for a day to cut a new trail through a section of my woods. While I stay out of their way when they’re working, I do learn about trail cutting when I walk the trail after they’ve gone. I think I can do the next section of trail myself. Just as well because hiring this stuff out gets really expensive.

AJ Blythe recently posted a thought-provoking Dove commercial. It’s so thought-provoking, in fact, that I can’t get it out of my mind. If there’s something you don’t like about your appearance, especially your face, please pop over to AJ’s site and take a look.

hand drawn icon of lotus flowerSelf-Care

I’m working hard this month at ridding my vocabulary and my brain of the word ‘should.’ It’s a challenge when I have a multi-page list of outdoor tasks, but I’m learning to: avoid artificial deadlines; work for just a couple of hours before taking a break, and not do the work at all if I really don’t feel like it.

The last point is especially important when using a chainsaw where one minute of inattention can be catastrophic.  I  bought a small, battery-powered chainsaw so at least I can manage it. However, I still have ghastly visions of those cutting teeth chewing into something other than wood. And I don’t even watch horror movies.

How was your month? 

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  1. I very much enjoyed this raw look at your month. My month seems far less productive than usual, as well. I do think the strange weather is to blame. Hopefully June will bring with it greater energy and renewed vision!

    1. Oh, I certainly hope so, Heather. May has been one of those ‘less than stellar’ months and I’m not even sure why. But I’m good with blaming the weather 🙂

  2. goodness karen – what a merry month of may – here its autumn going on winter and the beginning of fires and firewood collection, stockpiling kindling and wheeling loaded barrows to the verandah and finally at last drawing the drapes in the evening. the sun starts laying down so low that it glides behind the tall eucalypts for a portion of the day.
    and then I moved from all this activity this hustle bustle of forest activity to a little village of several hundred people into a newly built house with no trees or shrubberies all very very bare and the days are long now without my accustomed world of ‘things to do ‘ and ‘ways of being ‘. all has changed and I have to reinvent my ‘list’ of doings and rediscover my beingness in this new space.
    major attraction is the grandbabies that live opposite and grant me a thousand smiles and hugs a day.
    reading at the moment – ‘the secret life of the mind’ ( how our brain thinks feels and decides) by mariano sigman very interesting as well as a grand sci fi fantasy thingy for pure distraction on a cold blustery day…

    1. Hi Sandra. I hope you had a chance to read the piece about transitions that I sent in the email as part of the subscriber-only content. You’re sure in a doozy of a major life transition! I hope that grandbabies keep you smiling all day long. They’ll certainly help as you make your way through this particular forest.
      I’ll be interested to hear what you think of The Secret Life of the Mind when you’ve finished it.

  3. With all that outside work you are doing, Karen, it’s no wonder you are wolfing down your food. I had to stop mid-read and get a snack just at the thought of wielding a chainsaw. I am intrigued by your book about healing – can’t wait to read about that when you are ready to share. I love your plan to eliminate the ‘shoulds’ from your life. And the way you find research to fit real life. Off to read about why balancing one’s life is overrated. And when I have more time, I’ll check out the Dove commercial.

    1. Thanks for this morning’s laugh, Molly 🙂

      Yes, chainsaws scare me to death too. I’m starting to feel comfortable using this one, but then I get to worrying even more because it’s when you’re comfortable and you let your guard down, that those beasts see an opening and come at you. Oh good grief, now I’m anthropomorphizing a chainsaw. This is sad, Molly.

      I think you’ll really enjoy the Dove commercial.

  4. It’s hard not to should upon ourselves…and to stop others from shoulding on us. Glad to hear that you’ve been doing this. Like Molly, your outdoor work has vicariously made me tired….and hungry!

    1. I like that phrase, Donna. You’re now to blame if I irritate friends and family by insisting that they stop shoulding on me!! 🙂 Teasing. It’s good advice.
      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who gets hungry after outdoor work. In the movies, farmers and ranch hands seem to go for hours. I have no idea how. I have to stop for frequent snacks.

  5. I’ve just spent the past 2 hours outside in the rain cleaning plant beds and planting new annuals. I whine and complain about it every spring, but after reading what YOUR spring entails, I think I’m going to stop complaining!! wow, Karen – you have your hands full!!

    I have the same philosophy as you though. When I start to get tired, I quit. That’s when mistakes get made – and I’m not using a chainsaw!! I’m in awe. 🙂

    I appreciate your desire to cut ‘should’ out of your vocabulary. Too often I feel burdened by ‘shoulds’ and it makes me grouchy. I’m trying to reframe them as something that will ultimately make me happy therefore something I WANT to do – like planting stupid annuals 🙂

    1. Okay, Joanne, I have to ask about doing this stuff in the rain. Weren’t the bugs awful? Or did you work in the rain because there weren’t bugs? Either way, I’m in awe of you too. You’ve got a wedding soon! Isn’t this supposed to be the time you’re lounging about getting a mani/pedi?
      ‘Grouchy’ is the perfect word to describe how I’ve been feeling with all of the shoulds that are crowding my brain. I’ve been trying reframing too. It works … most of the time. Karen

      1. Yes, I got chewed on by a few flying vampires. I’m a magnet for them 😕
        I was on a mission to get those plants in the ground and I was treating the rain as just an inconvenience. My bigger problem was the mud. I hate mud … and by the end of it, I was covered in it.

        I wish I was just relaxing until the big day. Unfortunately the month of April threw me a month behind schedule with the yard work. I’ve come to the conclusion, I won’t be catching up. Thankfully, no one is coming to our house!

        1. I like your acceptance that you won’t be catching up, Joanne. And even better that no one will be coming to your house so it really doesn’t matter. Look how mature and relaxed you are becoming about these ‘shoulds’! Impressive.

  6. I have no idea how you get so much done. I read about as many books as you (12-15 a month) but really, that’s what I do, besides writing. I don’t take my dog to obedience class (He schooled me already), work in my yard, give even a passing thought to my health/nutrition, or have a hobby (like art).

    This is a fun post. Maybe you’ll inspire me to stretch a bit.

    1. Wry grin here Jacqui at the reference to your dog schooling you. Isn’t that the truth! Toffee gets so excited about chipmunks in the yard that I’ve started watching for them on her behalf. Good grief!

      You’ve got your book launch coming up so I’m not the least bit surprised that you’re completely devoted to writing and reading. And given how prolific you are as a writer, I’m not surprised that this focus extends beyond book launch time. Your schedule used to be my schedule. That changed after burnout and retirement and I’m just beginning to learn how to live this new life. The RAW NEWS acronym helps me achieve some of the balance I’ve never had. At least it helps most months, not so much in April or May. We’ll see what June brings.

      1. I hadn’t thought much about burnout until I discovered your amazing blog. I see how it could happen–does happen. So far, I’m good but I definitely have noticed I am more willing than usual to slow down, take a walk around my yard, chat–stuff I never would have allowed before!

        I like your RAW NEWS. Good quick way to catch up!

        1. We lived such identical lives, Jacqui, that I’m surprised (although pleased , of course!) that burnout didn’t happen to you. Since you have a husband and kids, I’m guessing that gives you more inherent, enforced balance, and maybe not travelling relentlessly also helped. Who knows? What I do know and am really happy about is you saying that you’re more willing to slow down, walk and chat – that’s good protection against burnout for you. Keep it up!

  7. Your comment about finding research that backs up your point made me LOL. I used to say I could analyze data to support almost anything. But, I’m still thinking balance is the better place to be… but it’s a different definition of balance. The article feels like balance is almost the “zero point” when everything is equal and nothing is heightened, there are not moments of flow… everything is even-keeled. I think balance is about being in the moment with both the spontaneous and planned moments, being both grounded and soaring over time, filling your life with the things that provide flow but also finding the quiet times that bring you mindfulness and rest. Balance to me is also about making choices and not doing it all…especially on a given day, week, month. It’s not being boring & even keeled… but complete in the way you want to be complete.

    And if right now, working on the yard is bringing you joy (sense of accomplishment, being in nature, working off calories… lots of good things there), art will come back next month when the grass doesn’t need to be mowed because we’re getting into a drought! (yes, we are mowing every 4 days as well…. but it’s not the size of your space!) You are making choices (with some encouragement from Mother Nature)…taking breaks when needed, still focusing on self-care and puppy training midst all the yard work, still connecting with others (and posting thought provoking content.)

    I had a crazy busy April, and May had pockets of busyness… but this week has been slow and leisurely and yet nothing has gotten done on my to-do list (reading trash novels and hiding from the humidity doesn’t make a to-do list).

    I still love your RAW NEWS as a way to stop and think where your life is versus your vision and then consciously making adjustments. Like thinking about how to adjust eating (I stopped the food deliveries and am trying to continue to cook healthy… it’s not been totally successful) or recognizing that writing was your creative space this month (and after April, how you can even find a word in your head is amazing). It’s acknowledging that art has taken a backseat to nature this month and that is OK.

    For my should thinking, I stop and think who’s “should” it is. Is it my own should, based on my values and my attempt to shut up the critical inner voice? Sometimes it is…because my critical inner voice can often drive my behavior. Sometimes the should is someone else’s or my perception of their expectation… and then I can ignore it. So today I “should” be laying out my car shopping plans (an out of comfort zone item I keep putting off & will be sorry about next week! I put it off because I’m worried about lack of competence.). I had it in my morning journaling for 3 days now… and have 3 trash novels read instead.

    Stay safe with that chainsaw…. I cannot imagine using one (out of my comfort zone for sure!). And enjoy the green. I still think freshly cut spring grass is one of the best smells around!

    1. Hi Pat.
      What an awesome comment! I absolutely love your definition of balance. I’m going to write it out and post it in a few different places. Referring to it often will help me great rid of a bit more ‘shoulding’.

      Let me see if I can reciprocate, Pat. Talk to me about car shopping. I’ve read your posts where you referred to car shopping so I knew it was coming up, but I’m not getting why you’re worried about lacking competence to make a good decision. You are a planner and a researcher so I’m guessing you’re employing those skills in determining what features are important to you in a car and which ones are unimportant. I’m guessing you’re reading reviews of cars that have those features from reputable magazines like “Car and Driver.” Once you’ve got it down to a few models, you can make a decision during test drives and also based on how you feel about the salesperson working with you. Some are too high pressure sales-y, but there are some really good ones.

      When I bought my most recent car – a Ford Escape SUV about 6 years ago – I found the most difficult thing was with the aftermarket add ons. Just a word to the wise from personal experience – go for normal rust proofing, not those stupid magnetic packs they put in near the engine. I learned the hard way that they are a ripoff.

      You can do this, Pat. In fact, I know for sure that you can do it very well.

  8. I feel quite faint at what you have done! I’ll have to lie down to recover from the exertion of just reading about it. Neither a chainsaw nor a tractor would be safe in my hands.

    1. Oh you seem a very capable woman, Anabel. If you’re ever visiting Canada again and you come to Ontario, I’ll bet you’d have a blast zipping around on my tractor. We’ll leave the chainsaw for a bit. 🙂

  9. Karen, I wonder if you struggled with art because of the season change? I know when our weather warms I can struggle to stay focused on indoor life. Perhaps you should look at allowing yourself to get outdoors, replenish your vitamin D and enjoy the new life emerging in your yard as an important part of your health care? Giving yourself permission to do that would let you enjoy the moment and then when you go back to”regular programming” you might find yourself in a better off mind for the creativity to flow.

    And thank you for the shout out. I hope after thinking for so long about my Dove post you are starting to love the real you. x

    1. Hi AJ. I suspect you’re right about the season change affecting my art. I go out to my art studio lately and even the room feels wrong to me when, all through the winter, it was so right. So spending time outdoors is indeed the solution. I’m craving simplicity right now, and there’s nothing simpler than picking up sticks or driving in big circles to cut a field of grass.
      I am becoming more positive about the real me. That Dove commercial really had an impact. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  10. Congrats on all the work you have achieved in the yard, Karen. That’s a good place and activity to get rid of some energy! And, I can totally imagine how tiring April was with the A-Z Challenge. So much blog reading and commenting, on top of creating your own blogs! Nope. Doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I joined one year, and decided that was enough for now.

    My month of May wasn’t great, but none of this year has, really. I’m not expecting June to be any better. We’ll see what happens the second half of the year. And, one day, I do hope to blog about everything that has been going wrong. Zesty is only a small part of it.

    1. I’m glad I did the A-Z challenge, Liesbet but, like you, I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to do it again. April and May have both flown by. I don’t like that. I’d much prefer a more thoughtful, measured tone to my days, but I do also accept that there are seasons that are right for different things. I hope you challenging season, which is unfortunately lasting more than a season, doesn’t go on too much longer. I also hope that, when you look back at it, there will be some positives that emerge from the tough times you’ve been dealing with.

  11. Well, well, now…look at this rockstar driving a tractor and wielding a chainsaw! And plotting how to cut her own trail through the brush! You are amazing, Karen.
    Don’t you love the seasonality of certain tasks? When I had a garden that was big enough to require tools (as opposed to now, when I can garden with a kitchen fork and a spoon in my containers), I loved the peacefulness of garden chores and how they got me out of the house (also filled with chores).
    I never thought of having to spend more time on certain activities at different times of the year as being out of balance. To me the spring/summer is mainly for gardening, kayaking, and the beach; the fall is for hiking, cooking and canning; the winter is for cozying up, organizing the home, and handcrafting (or now: painting). I find it calming to live according to the seasons instead of my (never-ending) mental to-do list. To every time there is a season, right?


    1. I really like that you think according to seasons, Deb. It’s very calming just to read the activities that take precedence in each season. I can only imagine that it’s even better than calming to live that way.
      I think that for the first time in my life, I am starting to appreciate, as you put it, “the seasonality of certain tasks.” Another nice phrase. Anyway, I’m starting to appreciate, but I’m a rookie compared to you and I have lots to learn!

      1. Today’s lesson: Never clean your house while the sun is shining. Save this activity for when it is raining/snowing/blowing out. Been practicing this for years. (Also, don’t expect my house to be pristine in good weather. If you want tidy, come see me in the dead of winter…or at night when I will keep the lights low and your wine glass full so you don’t notice the dirt/disorder.)

  12. Hi Karen…once again your post proves that we are often on the same wave-length…I start my post from this week referring to confirmation bias as well! But one thing we DON’T have in common is a lawn that needs mowing! We gave up our front yard grass 8 years ago and converted to desert landscaping. While it does take trimming and minor maintenance, nothing like mowing every couple of days–WOW!!!! It certainly sounds like you have been busy otherwise. I’ve been having a great (birthday) month and getting together with lots of friends and family (one of my favorite things to do) and attempting to get started on another blog-to-book. I have so many articles from all my years of blogging I am motivated to repurpose them and show them to a new audience. It is something high on the list, but apparently not high enough to get me very far. Hopefully next month will be better–for us both. ~Kathy

    1. I’m pretty sure it will be, Kathy. It sounds as if you actually spent May doing all of the important things. You’ve laid the groundwork for your next book and, now that you’ve had lots of time with friends and family, I’ll bet that you make lots of progress in June.

  13. Wow, Karen!! I am amazed and so impressed with all the outdoor work you have done and continue to do. Good for you! Bravo – standing here clapping and cheering you on from the sidelines. I think you are wise with the chainsaw – a little healthy respect goes a long way when it comes to safety with those things.
    I like being out in nature too. After the long seemingly unending winter we have just been through, I can’t get enough sunshine and heat. The black flies are out in full force here but they tend to not come out in the hot sunshine instead they choose to attack en masse at dusk, dawn and overcast days.
    My May was crazy busy too I planned out, purchased all the necessary plants and equipment for three garden beds. One is filled with perennial shrubs and flowers, another is for growing my veggies this year (two beefsteak tomato plants and one yellow low acid tomato plant to try for the first time), I have also sown in yellow wax beans, cucumbers and carrots. Leaf lettuce will be going in a long trough-like container when I can get to it. I am not too worried the other veggies need some time to get started as that lettuce grows pretty fast. I really like that you can harvest for a salad and they grow again…like a never-ending salad bar. LOL 😉 I have shot a couple of videos for my channel too, one talking about my plans of what I want to grow and where then a second being a tour of all the perennials showing the different kinds plus ideas of extra perennials I am planning on filling the gaps in the gardens with. I have yet to shoot a video of my veggie patch now that I have that planted as well.
    On top of all the gardening, I have just recently launched the church website I have been working on creating. The worship leader (who is also our landlord), Dave, who asked me to build the website on behalf of the church presented the finished website to the church at the annual board meeting (thank goodness – I am terrified of public speaking) and everybody LOVED IT. I got so many compliments! It is so nice to be appreciated. 🙂
    June doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any either. There is more yard work to do, we help our landlord and landlady who live upstairs, and there is the swimming pool to help open up and get ready for the season. We sure could have used it up and running this past week with the heatwave we have been having. Our landlady, Sharon, cuts our grass on a ride on lawnmower too, every few days so we don’t help with that but I run the gas-powered whipper snipper all over the property trimming things up whenever Sharon cuts the lawn. I have more videos to shoot, as always, and now a website to maintain and add to as the board tells me what I need to put up there and when. Of course, I still help clean the church every week, do housework, and with the recent addition of a 75-foot hose I bought for the gardens I will be washing and waxing our car – a lot! It gets dusty and muddy out here in the country. LOL
    I have managed to read a few books in the past while – either when I am on car trips to the city and back or just before bed. I am 7 books behind schedule on Goodreads but I don’t care. Here’s hoping we can both relax a little soon Karen. I am glad you are focusing on not shoulding yourself – after all, there is no one standing there tapping their foot waiting for you to punch a time clock.

    1. Wow. That’s quite the update, Susan. You’ve clearly had a very busy and productive month of May. Congratulations on the success in creating a website for your church. I’ve heard that it doesn’t have to be super difficult to do, but I’m a bit chicken about the challenges.
      It definitely sounds as if it’s past time for you to be doing some relaxing. After you have planted all of those veggies of course 🙂

      1. Thanks, Karen, I am actually going to have a relaxing evening tonight. So far in June, I have helped my landlady, Sharon, plant flowers, spread weed screening and top it with natural cedar mulch. I then fired up the gas-powered whipper snipper and trimmed up the entire property front and back. We just got back from a 75th birthday party of a mutual friend and had lots of snacks and coffee with cake and ice cream. Sharon is having a nap while I program the laptop for church tomorrow and then I will read while Sharon figures out dinner. I am having a wonderful weekend so far – feeling great about all that has been accomplished and looking forward to kicking back in the Lazboy for some reading. 🙂 Life is good!

  14. Karen – I am more than impressed by all the work you are doing outdoors. That is really hard work! I almost never work outside; recently I bought some small garden tools, and after two 4-hour days of cleaning up the yard, I could barely stand up! Then it got humid. But at least I cleared some of the old weeds and leaves out. And I celebrate the small amount that I did do.
    Thinking about balance – what I have found over the past couple of months, is that you will balance yourself eventually. If you eat too much, you will want to eat less, and healthier (and I do have some pounds to lose). But if I want that ice cream, I have it. If you don’t do the indoor work, it will get done eventually (like when company is coming). I try not to let it get too out-of-hand with a giant, muddy dog and a husband who works outside in the woods and keeps bees, so I clean a little each day. To get it cleaned up for my long weekend houseguests, it took me about two 8-hour days to get my small house immaculate. And I had fun doing it, because I knew I wanted a clean space and yummy food for my guests.
    If I skip the piano practice (which I have done for a couple of weeks at a time since my February vacation disrupted my schedule) I get back to it. I find that each time, my fingers find the keys easier than the last lapse.
    Books, 5 books a month is great! I may read more, but I don’t really keep count. I have a huge list on my notes on my phone, and I read when I can, usually at night for a couple hours.
    About the only thing I am regular with is swimming my laps, because of my two back surgeries, and teaching Sunday School, to which I have made a commitment, and I refuse to disappoint the young people. Thinking about the shoulds – I, too, have recently given up on shoulds. Only recently. Your post on transitions got me thinking about how many transitions I made in my life prior to retirement – over 24 years, a marriage, a child, a move from NYC to Boston exurbs to a rural dairy farm, career transition from private practice back to public education, both as a teacher and administrator.
    Retirement should have been a huge relief to me, and in a sense it was, but I have felt guilty about not having a to-do list that I accomplish daily. Your post, and some of these comments, have helped me think more about transitions, ‘shoulds’ or lack thereof, and going with the flow. I’ve been transitioning into going with the flow, and it feels good! I like Pat’s comment about making choices and not doing it all. I’m finding that I have a list of things to do short-term as well as ideas for long-term projects. If I don’t get it done one day because I feel like doing something else, then it goes on the list for the next day. Very few things have a deadline anymore, and it is fine with me!
    Thank you for your thought-provoking posts!

    1. Thank you Carol, for your incredibly rich and thought-provoking comment. You mention that you have been transitioning into going with the flow. I just have to say that you’re well on your way with that transition. I love that you are learning to treat yourself more kindly, with an attitude that there will always be time for what needs to be done… and that if you want ice cream you will have it! The ease that you are experiencing in your life, the flow, comes through loud and clear in your comment and it is incredibly inspiring.

  15. I think you win the prize for having the most in-depth comments on your site! This post must have touched a nerve – maybe because we are all a little hard on ourselves about getting things done. I agree with one of your commenters that so much of our activities are seasonal in nature. I think this harkens back to our long ago ancestors. You have done such amazing things that many of us can only imagine doing (you had me at your mention of cutting a section “through my woods” – this Southern Californian living in suburbia can’t fathom having woods of my very own). Artistic expression will come, as it always does. Be kind to yourself and embrace your life without shoulds.

  16. Hi Janis. I had no idea that so many tribe members also struggle with that dreaded word, ‘should’. It’s so reassuring and heartwarming to hear other people’s stories and how they are grappling with some of these issues.
    You’re right – artistic expression always does come. When the time is right, it will be back. In the meantime, I’ll embrace these seasonal activities and will be grateful for having woods of my very own. You don’t have them but you do have that gorgeous ocean. I absolutely love the sound of waves lapping on the shore.

  17. You’ve done very well with your outdoor hard work, Karen. Be kind to yourself every day and enjoy the flexibility to do what you feel like doing, or skip what you don’t feel like doing.

  18. Well, the month was over a week ago, and I’m just now getting to your post, so that’s where I’m at 🙂 I recently told a friend that I feel like I’m doing a hundred different things, but none of them well. I haven’t had much time for writing, which is a disappointment, and my blog is collecting dust. My one small victory is that I got my flowerpots and (tiny) garden planted. Baby steps! I can’t even get organized enough to prioritize, but I have high hopes for next week!

    1. Hi Jenny,
      Boy do I know those days. April and May were both a lot like that for me. I keep thinking of the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Or actually not the title so much as the last line – “Some days are like that even in Australia.” (substitute our home towns). I’ll be there to read and enjoy your blog when you’re ready. Don’t be hard on yourself – please.

  19. Ah, the “shoulds.” I am trying to train myself to get over the “shoulds. ” I can’t help myself from measuring the success of my days by what I get done- the more I get done, the better my day was. It is still a struggle to just live and breathe and be and not obsess about how much I get done. It is a journey. I can’t make a list like this monthly reflection because I would obsess that I haven’t accomplished enough this month! I always feel like there is more to do. When I add “fun stuff” it sometimes just becomes more to do! It is a sickness and I hope eventually I will be cured.

    1. My favourite songwriter of all time, Kris Kristofferson, has a line in one of his songs that applies – “I recognize the symptoms, girl. I’ve got the same disease. I just haven’t got a clue to how to cure it.”
      Many of us have this sickness, Michele. It may not be too strong to refer to it as an epidemic. Fortunately, we don’t need a doctor, just a group of fellow sufferers, all committed to helping ourselves and each other find a permanent cure. We’ll get there.

    2. Hi again Michele. I was just out in my woods picking up sticks from the ground (a useless activity if ever there was one, but very satisfying.) I was thinking about your comment about you could never do a monthly reflection like this one because you’d drive yourself crazy with all you hadn’t accomplished. I realized that’s exactly how I felt and I wonder if this post about when I started RAW NEWS might help you -
      Basically, it comes down to aligning actions with intentions, which turns a monthly reflection into a reflection about how you did on your wants, not your shoulds. That way, even if you’re still obsessing about what you haven’t done, at least you’re not constantly trying to clear the decks of shoulds (used to be my problem) and never getting to the wants.

      1. Thanks Karen. Our journeys are so incredible similar. I loved the term ” learner on steroids.” That describes me perfectly. I read constantly and refuse to apologize for it, it is who I am. I also can’t get rid of my books, but that is a post in itself. I explored the whole bullet journal thing too, and while I love the idea, it is too structured for me. I don’t like the little symbols/codes and I know I could never stick to them. I also need sentences! The more I think about it, the more I realize I do a daily/weekly/monthly reflection, but I don’t write it down. It does help me stay aligned to my values and goals and calls me out when I stand by the refrigerator eating ice cream out of the container.

  20. I like AJ’s and Deb’s comments about living according to the seasons, especially the point about never cleaning your house when the sun is shining. After a winter that just kept hanging on for way too long, and an April in front of your computer doing A to Z, maybe in May you did exactly what you “should” have been doing – spending some time outside enjoying the sunshine!


    1. I completely agree, Jude. And having gotten comfortable with that, it’s amazing how much more relaxed I am in June when the same outdoor work continues. 🙂

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