formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Thursday, December 31, 2015

And Here We Go Again...

Here we are again... at the last day of the year. It seems as though we were just here. I had one of those 'time flies' moments the other night, when I was talking to my cousin Chris, via Facebook. He's in England and when he was young, we corresponded quite a bit. It was really nice to catch up but I asked why he was in, talking to me at midnight on a Saturday, instead of being out with friends. He replied, "Because I'm 27, not 17." Twenty-SEVEN?! I wanted to cry. Time does indeed fly.

Last year was good in many ways... not-so-good in some others. Overall, though, I'd rate it a success... 

My girl is doing beautifully, in school and in the pool and in her happy social circle. There has been very, very little of the teen angst and attitude I was afraid of when she was younger (whew!). We have a great relationship and I wouldn't trade her for anything.

My fuzzy boy is getting older and I'm seeing him slow down, which is really hard. But he's pretty healthy and seems happy and he still looks forward to the park every single day (and pouts when he doesn't get to go). I'll keep taking him, as long as he smiles at me when I ask if he's ready.

At the end of last year, we added another fuzzy critter to our family - Rue (below, left). She was rescued by the friend of a friend, along with her 3 brothers, after having been thrown, caged, into a dumpster. She settled in beautifully... to be joined in the summer by Pip (below, right), another rescue.

Pip had been abandoned (we don't know how or why) by his mother when he was just a day or two old, so he was bottle-fed by his foster-family. As a result, he's pretty sure he's more human-baby than cat-baby... and we wouldn't have it any other way. He is pure, squishy rotten (oh, so, so rotten) and we love him like mad.

We are still loving our little cottage-that-feels-like-home, and we've continued to add our own little touches to it. It's likely I'll wind up moving after Ryan goes to university, as I don't think I'll be able to afford to stay then, but that's OK. I'm not so attached that I'll be devastated to move, but I'm quite happy here, now.

I turned 50 back in February, and two of the craziest, most wonderful friends a girl could ever have flew in from Chicago and San Diego to celebrate with me. And other friends, right here in Pigsknuckle, also made it an occasion to remember.

At the end of February I fulfilled a bucket list item by doing a 'polar plunge' (or an 'Arctic Dip', as the fundraiser was called) for charity, and plunged into an icy lake, along with about 40 other (crazy) people.

I finished up full year at the job I started in the summer of 2014 - a job I have come to really love. We're a small non-profit that works with people who have disabilities, which is terribly rewarding. And my coworkers? Beyond wonderful. It's a bright, happy place, where I feel welcome, useful, appreciated, and where I get to use and develop a myriad of talents. 

I came through chemo - not unscathed, certainly, but with little permanent damage. I faced a fear that had been hanging over my head since my cancer diagnosis, and let me tell you, that was big. The cancer is still there, but it's being held at bay (hopefully for a long time). Regardless, if/when treatment is necessary in the future, I know I can handle it, difficult and unpleasant as it may be. 

We had an amazing vacation this year - my girl (and her friend) and I. On the heels of cancer treatment, it was welcome and necessary... and better than imagined! 

I was also the lucky recipient, over and over and over this year, of acts of kindness, bestowed upon me by the wonderful, incredibly generous people in my life. I will never know what I have done to deserve them and their love, but I am so grateful. So grateful.

So, what's on tap for 2016? I'm not sure. I'll be sitting down tonight and setting some goals for the coming year. I know I've got another Arctic Dip happening in February... I'm hoping to knock another bucket list item out and jump out of an airplane in the spring or summer... I've got another fun camping vacation to plan... and a ticket to London to buy (for a wedding coming up in January 2017)... 

Other than that we'll see what the year brings... and abundance of good things, I'm hoping!

Happy New Year, my peeps! I hope your 2016 is your best year yet! xoxo

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Abundantly Clear

For the last couple of years I've been choosing a 'Word of the Year' to focus on. The idea came from a blog I've been following for years (The Lettered Cottage); I thought it was pretty cool. Mostly. Part of me thought it was a bit corny and silly, but a bigger part of me - the part that believes in the power of both words and positive thinking - liked it a lot. Layla Palmer, the author of TLC, says she's been doing it for years, and the word becomes a bit of a mantra for her - something to focus and meditate upon, with the idea being to bring tangible examples of her word into her life. That's certainly what I hope for every year and it's what I try to do, but I will admit that at times during the year I completely forget about the word and focus on the opposite. 

For example, the first year I did it (2014), my word was 'light,' and though that year had many, many light moments, there were times I focused on the dark instead.

As I always say, I'm a work in progress.

In the end, though, when I looked back at the year overall, it was far lighter and brighter in so many ways than the years before. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm willing to accept the possibility that focusing on a word - on bringing tangible aspects of what that word represents into my life - helped to cause it.

This year, 2015, my word was 'bloom.' The blog post about it is right here. I chose it before I knew I was going to have to go through chemo and let me tell you, there were times during the summer when I felt pretty withered - the farthest from blooming as possible. But when it was over, parts of me definitely... sprouted. I can't say that I full-on blossomed, but thinking of my word definitely pointed me in the direction of healing - of blooming.

I started thinking about my word for 2016 a while ago. My process is to list several words that appeal to me and the one I wind up choosing just sort of jumps out at me. It actually chooses me. This year, the word that chose me was...


I already have some things in abundance. Like bills. And cellulite. And pet hair tumbleweeds. Heh. I also have other things, like good, loyal, generous friends. And for all that wonderfulness, I am so grateful. But this year I'd like to invite other wonderful things into my life, in abundance - things like joy, good health, strong relationships, clarity, satisfaction, love and romance, self-love and acceptance, positivity, creative opportunities, travel, opportunities to serve, prosperity.

I know for certain that in order to receive abundance, gratitude is absolutely essential, and so I shall make sure to express it regularly - and abundantly. And I will focus and meditate on my word... 

And when 2017 rolls around, we'll see what 2016 brought forth... in abundance... 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Grace is Amazing, Yo

Last week I wrote my Solstice lists, as I do every year. And as I mentioned in that post, one of my lists is things I wish for others, and, as I explained, a key point of that list is that I have to wish good things for people who have hurt me, people I don't really like, people I'd like to smack.

(For the record, I don't actually smack anyone.)


(OK, at all.)


(I'm trying to grow as a human.)

(I am!)

(Shut up.)

Anyway, it's an important list. Because it's about acceptance - of people who won't change, of situations you can't change. It's about moving forward. It's about forgiveness.

And forgiveness is hard, yo.

At the top of that list every year is my ex-husband. I started putting him there because I didn't want to feel the ugliness I felt toward him. I wanted to release the hurt, the animosity, all the pain. And it was hard because He. Just. Kept. Causing. It. Over and over, he caused more pain, year in and year out. And it was so hard to take because he was hurting our daughter.

Do you know how hard it is to forgive someone who is hurting your child?

It's damned hard. I dare say, it's damn-near impossible.

But here's what I discovered over time (over a lot of time)...

When you're wishing someone well, when you're wishing and hoping for good things to happen to a person, when you state emphatically - and eventually come to believe - that you really and truly want to see that person happy, when you have a desire to see their needs fulfilled, you can approach that person with kindness instead of anger. You can see that person with compassion instead of animosity.

You can forgive.

I think that's called grace. And heaven knows I need grace desperately from others, every day... and I think if I need it, I have to be willing to extend it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't accept or condone the behaviors that have hurt our family. But I don't have anger about them anymore.


For now.

It could change next week.

Dude, I'm a work in progress and I still fail regularly. Also on that list? My brother. Yeah. Still not there. Might never get there. On the up-side, I didn't wish for him to fall face-first into a patch of poison ivy.

(Not this Solstice, anyway.)

Again, I'm. A. Work. In. Progress.

So, for now? I'm happy to act gracefully toward my ex. (As long is it doesn't involve walking down my back stairs at 3am, grace is possible. Otherwise, broken arms are possible, [says the one-armed girl]. Ahem.) I had the opportunity to act gracefully today. And I did it. And I will try again, should the opportunity arise tomorrow. And the next day.

And so on.

Grace. It's kind of amazing, yo.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Everything!

It's Christmas Eve here in Pigsknuckle... well, OK, it's Christmas Eve in a whole lot of places. I've done all I'm going to do for today (not all that much, really). Presents are wrapped, breakfast for tomorrow (for some of my family) is prepped, the house is... tidy. Ryan's up in her room watching a 'Dexter' marathon (because nothing says Happy Holidays like a serial killer doing his thing over and over and over and over...) and I'm actually about to settle on the sofa for a bit of BBC crime drama on Netflix myself.

Tonight is not like the Christmas Eves of my childhood... or my young adulthood... or even when Ryan was tiny and we'd come from NC to Pigsknuckle for the holiday.

Our family is different now. It's just the two of us, really. My dad, who was the glue that held us all together, died. My marriage ended. My younger brother and I pretty much (mutually, silently) decided we don't want to ever spend time together again. My extended family in the states are all dealing with their own struggles (and joys) and the trips up and down the eastern seaboard are just too difficult to make.

But it's all good.

Though there's a part of me that longs for family Christmases steeped in age-old, boisterous traditions, Ryan and I have our own smaller, newer, quieter traditions. We get our real tree and put up our happy decorations... we watch 'A Christmas Story' and 'It's a Wonderful Life'... I do my Solstice rituals... we open our gifts together (me first, always, at her insistence)... and we always go to the movies on Christmas Day and get take-out after (my favorite, favorite part of the entire day).

It's different than it was...

It's not what I imagined when I thought of the Christmases I'd create for my family...

But it's good.

My job, which I love, allows time for me to spend the week between Christmas and the New Year on vacation. My wallet doesn't allow for me to go anywhere, so I get to spend the week getting things in order for the calendar flip... I set some goals, I do some organizing, I read, I find some time to be creative.

It's good.

The holidays have never really been my thing. I wish they were. I wish I looked forward to them and thoroughly enjoyed them. But I find them hard. I find them too hectic, too filled with missing people, way too filled with obligation, too expensive, too much. But I've realized that I actually have the power to change that. I don't have to do more than I want to do.

And that's very good.

So, as I sit here at nearly 8pm on Christmas Eve, in sweats (not even showered), ready to watch old episodes of 'Wire in the Blood,' my dog and two kittens all curled around me, my daughter upstairs, engrossed in blood and guts and Showtime depravity, I'm content.

I'm content.

And that's so very good.

So Merry Everything, my peeps! Merry Everything and Happy Always! xoxo

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Solstice!

The Winter Solstice is my holiday in the season of holidays. The day we welcome back the light in the northern hemisphere has become, for me, the running start to the new year (where 'running' = 'slowing down and breathing deeply'). It's a day (or, really, an evening) when I turn inward... when I both reflect and look forward, when I express both gratitude and longing, when I dare to hope for a better future... and when I dare to believe that better future is possible.

It's also a day of list-making. 

I make four lists and, after I'm certain they're complete, I burn them, sending all my hopes, dreams, good wishes, and gratitude out into the Universe.

My first list is everything I'm grateful for. I love this list. It's a long one and it always (always) begins with Ryan and Sundance (and this year, with Rue and Pip, the fuzzy, feline additions to our family). It covers big things, like friends and family, work and home, as well as little things, like books and rain and the park and tea (OK, so none of those things are little). And let me tell you, when you list out everything you're grateful for - everything you love - you realize just how damned lucky you are.

The second list is things I wish for others. Of course, I always wish good things for the people I love and those I'm close to, but the real key to this list is that I must wish good things for people I don't love so much. Or even like. Or have a strong desire to smack upside the head regularly. Or people who have hurt me, in both small ways and big. Though you might think otherwise, it's, surprisingly, not-so-hard to do. It forces me to see people in a light other than the one that shines down on them in my day-to-day thoughts of them; it forces me to be kinder than I might want to be. And that? Is a good thing. 

My third list is things I want to let go of. I hold on to a fair bit of negativity, most of which is directed at myself. By writing down the things I want to release, I first have to acknowledge them directly. I have to admit that I hang on to ideas and beliefs that aren't good for me (and might not even be true). And then I have to give deliberate thought - effort - to not doing that anymore. And I've found something really interesting... even though I've written many of the same things down year after year, my grip on several of them is lessening. My belief is wavering. I'm actually letting them go. Slowly, yes, but Life is a process, no? 

The last list is things I want to invite into my life. This is a selfish list, but I think it's an important one. I think we get what we give, so when I write down the things I want (which are never, by the way, things), I also have to think about how I can put those very things out into the Universe. It forces me to be more mindful of what I'm doing and thinking. If I want good, I must do good. I must be good. 

My lists this year were full. They burned brightly and then they were gone, turned to ash and dust, and scattered to the stars. 

By the way, you were all there. In both my gratitude and my wishes for others lists. 

You always are.

Happy Solstice, my peeps. XOXO

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Last Straw...

I've been wrestling with a heavy heart since last week - since the shooting at Planned Parenthood. On the heels of the refugee 'debates,' I thought it might have been, for me, the straw that broke the camel's back, especially when I saw people defending the shooter (the terrorist) because his target was a place they hated (the irony that they proudly identify as "pro-life" is obviously lost on them). I couldn't even talk about it. It was too much. Every shooting, every ugly incident, adds another straw.
Ryan and I were talking the other day and she said something about when she has kids. I asked her if she really wanted them... if she really wanted to bring children into this world. I told her I'd obviously support her decision, no matter what (in about 20 years or so), but that I will never be one of those mothers asking for grandchildren. I've said that if Ryan hadn't been born before 9/11, she wouldn't have been born at all and I feel that even more strongly today. And yes, I know we have to have hope that things will get better... and I do have hope... I just don't have any faith.
And then yesterday happened.
And the camel's back broke.
This world is governed by dogma and greed, and combined, they have fostered an environment of intolerance, hatred, and anger. It's everywhere. I can't scroll through my FB feed without seeing it all, some of it coming from people I actually know. Most of the people running for office right now make me want to vomit with the ignorant, hateful, oftentimes blatantly untrue swill they spew, and the disrespect with with we address each other over differing points of view has become too much to bear. I'm tired of logging in to my computer to see shooting after shooting after shooting after shooting - every single day. I'm tired of the useless prayers and the flags, the rhetoric that never changes, and looking for the helpers. The helpers must be so fucking exhausted. I'm so sick of seeing people with nowhere to go, soldiers who come home wrecked (if they come home at all) from wars they shouldn't be fighting, and our planet being destroyed.
We are reaping what we have sown, both abroad and on our own soil.
So I think it's time to circle the wagons and change my environment. I can't fix any of those big things. I can't. And I just don't think I can be witness to them anymore. All I can do is try to make my little corner of the world as peaceful as it can be. I can be kind to everyone in it, and if I can't be kind, I can be quiet. I can stand up when I see an injustice and I can help people right here in Pigsknuckle, because that's where I am. I can love the people in my circles. And I can let the rest of it go.
I don't want to give up FB again, because many of the people I love are there. So I'm going to go through and change my feed. I'm getting rid of all the connections and sites that don't bring me happiness. I don't need all the "news" and the information. Not for a while, anyway. I'm going to whittle down my friends list, too, and hide a lot more of my feed. I'm going to keep posting my "Smile of the Day" pictures and stories about Ryan and my fuzzy babies, and I'm going to look for stories and videos that make me feel good and that might make others feel good as well. I'm going to make FB my happy place again. And I'm going to come back here and blog more about the things that make me happy.
And good or bad, right or wrong, I'm going to spend some time in blissful ignorance about what is going on in the world. Because if I don't, I'm afraid the camel's back might never heal.