Monthly Archives: September 2017


You get to grieve the way you grieve, and no one gets to tell you your way is wrong.  (Unless you’re being destructive).

There seem to be two sorts of grievers – the ones who like to keep the physical things around to look at and touch, and the sort that don’t.  My husband’s family is on one side, and I’m on the other.  This has caused hurt feelings from time to time.

So, since I’m in the process of grieving my dog (who I am putting down later today, and yes, I grieve before the moment of truth), let me help you into the head of someone who ISN’T the sentimental type.

You’re watching me clean and do laundry and put away the doggish things at mach 50.  I’ve heard you before, say that it seems so cold.  But I’m not cold. I’m agitated, and I’m hurting.  As I do this work, I’m calming myself, giving myself something to do.  I can’t do anything about the cause of the pain, but I can find a chore and do it.  So, I do.

As I pick up the dog bed and put it in the laundry, I think of when the dog started sleeping in my bedroom, and why.  And I remember.  And as I fold up the things, I fold up my memories, carefully laying them in a box to be taken out at leisure, and enjoyed.

Because I like to enjoy my memories, I don’t want them staring me in the face all the time.  That actually causes me more pain.   Do I want to come home today, fresh with the dog’s death, and step out of my bed onto the bedding?  No, I do NOT.  It will hurt more.    It’s not like I’m going to forget him… I just don’t want to wallow.  Let me rip off the bandaid, it’s better this way.

I am preparing myself for a time when I can curl up in a ball and cry and get it all out and rest.  And then I will get up, and I will go on.    That’s what I do.  This is who I am.  This is how I cope with pain.  I get up, and I do something.

And when you want me to keep my hands to myself and not start cleaning right away, because it’s your grief?  I’ll return the favor.


*The dog never sleeps on any of his bedding during the day.  I don’t know why, he never has.  So, no – I’m not taking away something he’s using.    And yes, I’ll wash it and put it away neatly for the next dog, if and when.

Mental Fitness = Spiritual Warfare

If you saw my blog from yesterday, you’ll have noted that one of the things I wanted to do was write down some verses that I’d remembered fragments of, so that I could remember them more correctly.

When I write down verses, I always look at the context.  Not so, with remembered fragments.  Well, today’s note-taking paid big dividends.  Have a look at what “Take every thought captive” dug up, will you?

2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

So, um, when I’m “taking every thought captive” I’m actually ENGAGING IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE.  Well.  Hi.  No wonder it’s such a battle!

On being more efficient, and making better use of my time:

Ephesians 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Or:  Why Hearthie kind of has a headache now… but it’s been a very productive day.

Referencing Els’ blog today, particularly one comment, as it relates directly.

Mental Fitness

Deep Work was convicting… and dug up some old ouches.  But most of all, it gave me something to do about the sneaking suspicion that my mental fitness was disintegrating.   I had one of those moments this week – I reached for my concentration, and I found a bag of goo.  What.The.Heck.

I’ve had that moment in my physical body – the moment when you reach for strength or endurance and come up empty handed.  What you’ve always assumed was a given, suddenly isn’t there.  It’s upsetting.

Yes, some of what I have to do with life will hamper my mental fitness routine, just like some of what I have to get done in life hampers my physical fitness routine.  But I’m not a mom of littles any longer – I do have the ability to improve the place I’m at, even if I can’t maximize my potential in a perfect world – I can improve where I am.  So, I made a list to get started with (this will grow, but we have to start somewhere, and doing it all at once isn’t wise):

  1. Limit my surfing time.  I’m not really going to limit my internet qua internet – but I can choose to close my web browser unless I’m in a deliberate period of surfing OR using it for a tool.
  2. Practice mental hygiene.  This is coming up in my spiritual life too – “Take every thought captive”.   “Pray without ceasing”.  “Dwell on that which is good…”   This includes:
    1. No imaginary conversations (my chief vice)
    2. No repeating mental circles.  Write things down!
  3. Make lists – this will help with repeating circles, and release my mental processes to other things.
  4. Practice free-writing.  Again, releasing the inner chatterbox and getting it out and away.
  5. Decide on something NOT internet related for my breaks.
  6. Take up reading properly in the evenings again.
  7. Make prayer lists and post them so I can practice prayer without ceasing.

While I was sorting that out, another bit of mental hygiene occurred to me – I want to get more things done, because I don’t want to give up anything, and I want to go deeper/get better with the things I do.  That means lollygagging has to go.  So – again I’m at

  1. Make lists of things to do
  2. Calendar the must-dos (I do this already, have for years, it’s one of my Sunday prep-for-the-week-ahead things)
  3. Do the next thing – reduce hesitation, just do the thing.
  4. Make a personal schedule for the times I am able to have such a thing (which is, essentially, the mornings before everyone gets up and my days become little snowflakes of individuality).

That’s enough for one month, I think.  I’m expecting to be pretty tired and a bit achy when next you hear from me.  I got my feet wet a bit last week (before taking a rebellious wallow in distraction-land) and I could feel my brain tiring.  That’s okay.  Did you know your brain burns mad calories?  😀   Nah, I got this.  It will be work, but it’s worth doing.


Conviction, Crankiness, and Deep Work

Magistra turned me on to Cal Newport and “Deep Work”.  I appreciate that… but it dug into an old sore spot – a REALLY old sore spot, and I wanted to talk it out a bit.  I couldn’t quite decide if this belonged on HRG where I go more personal/casual or here… but this gets a bit meta into gender roles, so here will do.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was an Art major in college, my dad spoke dismissively of Frida Kahlo.  Not because of her aesthetic, but because she was a “dilettante”.  In other words, she split her energies between disciplines, and all of them suffered from the neglect.

I’m a married mother of two.  I homeschoolish.  Well, I have a kid here most of the time, and I have to annoy her into doing her schoolwork.  And correct it, help her along, etc.  And my work – all of my various creative disciplines – suffers because I cannot sink into the kind of uninterrupted focus that Newport describes in “Deep Work”.   I stop, I start, I answer the phone, I have a thousand very different things to do on a regular basis – my life is diverse.

Because I am someone who must create in order to stay sane, I’ve learned a number of creative skills along the way.   I’m decent at most of them – or was when I shelved them.  But am I as good at any of it as I would be if I’d concentrated?  No.  I am, therefore, a dilettante – and there is no getting around that.

Our culture is organized to value accomplishment in male patterns – you go out, you do the job out there somewhere, you are an expert, you bring in lots of money, you win.  Feminism, if anything, promotes women being as masculine as possible.  And that leaves us SAHM sitting in the dust feeling like less valuable members of society.   We’ve lost the value of a matron – someone who had a number of skills, and was expected to have them in order to run a home.

But that makes no excuse for letting the mind get squoggy – and Newport has some excellent (and convicting) suggestions for toning up the mental muscles.    The one that hit me the hardest was using the internet for entertainment.  Ouch.  Yes, I do that…. I do that quite a lot.  I also use it for those times when I’m in between tasks or waiting for time to walk out the door.  I’d be better served sitting outside and watching the butterflies dance.

I’m tempted to throw my hands in the air.  I *want* to be very good at things.  But now, after so many years, I feel sorrow at the thought of picking just one to master.  Regardless, hours and hours to concentrate sounds like bliss.  Well enough – I can do better at the diversity of my to-do list if I make use of Newport’s suggestions about how to keep your mental muscles in tone.

Convicting?  Yes.  Cranky?  Also yes.

And very rambly.  But I wanted to get this out of my head so it would quit babbling at me when I was trying to get real work done.