The conventional and unconventional sides of my life.

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New Blog!

Well, I have my own website and while the website itself isn’t complete, I spent several hours today setting up my WordPress blog on it. I found a free theme that I really like (I tried several) and just finished tweaking it to my satisfaction (at least for now). If you subscribe to my RSS feed or via email, you will need to go to my new blog and subscribe there. I’ll see you over at my new blog!


Lessons From the Universe – Don’t Wait for a Normal Week

I am the type of person that gets both distracted and overwhelmed easily. I rarely finish a book or a project because I usually move onto something else new and shiny before said book/project is finished. Organized is not a word I would use to describe myself. Cluttered is much more accurate.

In late August I decided that it was time to be more organized and actually establish routines so that I can accomplish what I want to accomplish in life rather than always being 1 1/2 steps ahead of chaos. I started the Fly Lady system and was over a week into it going strong when several things happened that had me derailed. First, my dad visited for 8 out of 11 days (there was a 3 day reprieve between visits), the following week I had jury duty, the week after that I had a bad cold, the week after that I thought my dog was dying (He is very old and has chronic renal failure. I thought it was the end for him but he actually bounced back and I think he will be with us for several more weeks and possibly months). And then there was last week when my husband was hospitalized with heart problems (he had angioplasty back in May with a stent put in. It turns out the stent closed up which happens about 10% of the time and had to be reopened. He’s been home for 5 days and is feeling much better).

Somewhere in the middle of all of that I was telling Micah how I was doing well with establishing routines and then things went to s&#t. I said that I just wanted a normal week so I could get back to it and he mentioned something about the universe letting me know there is no such thing as a normal week and that is the reasons for routine, to help you through rough weeks. I’m pretty sure I gave him my “crinkly nose face” because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear and I kept waiting for a normal week.

A couple of days before Jim went into the hospital, I decided to go back to using a paper planner so I went to DIY Planner to print some calendar pages and other forms that I wanted to use in my planner. I had printed out everything but had not yet decided how to set up my planner when Jim went into the hospital. By now I realized that what Micah said was true and I had to work on organization/routines despite how my days/weeks are going. I was able to get my planner set up while spending time with Jim in the hospital.

My intent this past Sunday was to do things that would make me less stressed for the week ahead. This involved stuff like doing laundry and meal planning complete with grocery shopping (yes this is stuff that I regularly put off and it does lead to a lot of chaos during the week). On Sunday evening I looked at my various project lists and came up with a game plan for the week. There are so many things I want to get done that usually I just spin my wheels and accomplish very little. By focusing on what I felt could realistically get done and also by not adding too many things to the week (because I can always add more if I get through what I’ve planned) I now have something to assist me with staying on track.

I feel like I am back to establishing routines/being more organized and I went back to it while my world was upside down rather than waiting for a “normal week”. My advice is to not put off something for a “normal week” otherwise the universe may decide to not give you a normal week for several weeks!

Still Here

Wow! I found my blogging voice two weeks ago and then I went silent. Sorry about that! The past few weeks have a bit out of the ordinary for me. My dad was in town for 8 out of 11 days (there was a 3 day break between visits) and I had jury duty last week. I never had jury duty before last week and just the potential of having to sit on a jury brought up judgment issues I didn’t even know I had. Let’s just say it’s been stress central around here!

I was looking forward to this week being the first “normal” week for me all month (no family in town, no jury duty, normal work schedule etc). On Sunday, I realized I was getting sick. Now I have a full-blown cold. I actually haven’t had a full-blown cold in 3-4 years. I discovered that if I take Airborne at the first sign of getting sick (when my throat feels “funny” before it actually starts to hurt), I don’t get any sicker and I feel “back to normal” in about 24 hours. This cold snuck up on me and I didn’t take Airborne as soon as I normally do. Last night my nose (whole head actually) kept clogging up and I was really having trouble breathing. I was dreading going to bed thinking I’d have to prop my head up to try to breathe and I’d probably wake up periodically since I was so stuffy. I was so glad to see we actually had Nyquil on hand and I took some before bed and slept wonderfully. I did have to warn Micah before we fell asleep that I tend to snore when I am sick. Micah and I have been together for 2 1/2 years and this is the first time he’s really seen me sick. When the alarm went off this morning, I asked him how I slept and if I snored. He told me I only woke him up twice. Sorry! At least I did warn him 🙂

So, that’s what has been going on here. I’ve still been able to do some work in my studio. I’ve been taking a great Art Journal workshop from Marit in the Netherlands, I’ve made a few things for some wonderful friends of mine to celebrate some milestones in their lives, and I am working to launch my own Etsy shop in mid-October!

Finding My (Blogging) Voice

I’ve been pretty quiet in the blog world for the past week. There’s been a lot of inner reflecting going on here.

Earlier this year, I began a year-long course studying the seven major chakras of the body(See more about chakras here). We spend six weeks studying each chakra. Right now we are wrapping up the six week period of the the fifth chakra, the throat chakra. The throat chakra is all about communication and expression. I anticipated some trouble working through this chakra as I tend to be a very shy/quiet type. My teacher recently said that I will say something brilliant and then she won’t hear another thing out of me in class for the next six weeks. I just don’t speak up unless I am highly compelled to. I tend to be more of an observer.

So, this six-week period has been about finding my voice. That includes my blogging voice. When I started blogging back in May, I decided I wanted an anonymous blog with cute names for our household members and I wanted to be able to blog about anything without worry of who might see it or making people uncomfortable. Only, I still did worry about making people uncomfortable. I wanted to blog openly about all things in my life including my relationships and my spirituality. But I was scared to stick my neck out there. Scared of making people feel uncomfortable. Scared most of all of opening myself up to criticism and judgment.

So, I stuck mainly to cooking and gardening topics and later on, some of my art. But I mainly left out this whole other side of me that is just as much part of me. I knew I had created this blog as a medium to be my true self but yet I wasn’t being my true self. The disconnect had me feeling anxious periodically.

It is time for me to stick my neck out there and just be me. Unapologetic and authentic me. I’m losing the “Dot” persona. Using the name Dot felt like I was wearing a ridiculous wig. It just DID.NOT.FIT.ME. I think my actual name fits me quite well so here I am (as taken from my revamped “About Me” page):

Hello, my name is Holly. I like conventional things like gardening, cooking, knitting, and art but as far as things like politics, relationships, and spirituality go – compared to the mainstream, I am definitely unconventional. I live in a cul-de-sac in the suburbs of Atlanta with my husband, Jim, my other partner, Micah, and our menagerie of pets. This blog was started as a way for me to share my passions in life – both the conventional and unconventional ones.

I’ve Been on Vacation!

Last week, my husband, Wakko and I went to upstate New York. We spent four days in the Finger Lakes Wine Country to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary before we headed a few more hours east to spend the weekend with family and celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary!

The first day we flew into Rochester, NY and drove 90 minutes south to Corning, NY. We stayed at an awesome place called The Inn at Gaffer Grill which was right in the Gaffer/downtown district of Corning. The “room” was more like a suite with a hallway that led to a living room/kitchenette area. Sadly, we were only in Corning for one night. I’d love to stay there longer.

The next day we went to the Corning Museum of Glass where we spent the next 5 hours! I am pretty sure Wakko doesn’t care to see another piece of glass in his life! I’ve always been interested in glass blowing and I was able to try it out and make my own glass sculpture!

The picture on the left is a shot of the glassblowing area in the make your own glass studio and on the right is the glass sculpture I made! I’ve always been interested in glass blowing and this experience has prompt me to look up local glass studios to take a class or two.

After we finished at the Corning Museum of Glass, we drove to the bed & breakfast that we stayed at on Seneca Lake. I was exhausted by the time we arrived. We took a little nap and then headed down the road to the Stonecat Cafe for dinner. The Stonecat Cafe uses a lot of organic and regional food in their menu. I was impressed to find such wonderful local food and especially impressed to come across a restaurant in rural NY that not only knows what falafel and quinoa are but has them on their menu! We sat out on the deck which overlooked their organic garden (in the shape of a labyrinth!) as well as grapevines and the waters of Seneca Lake.

On the left: Photo of the Garden at Stonecat Cafe. On the right: View of the Stonecat Cafe Deck from the Garden.

I loved the restaurant so much that Wakko and I decided right then that we would be back the next night for dinner there as well.

This was our appetizer the following night. Local Chevre cheese with organic mixed greens and fresh strawberries. All drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and served with their homemade focaccia bread. It was delicious!While staying at Seneca Lake, we toured many wineries. In fact, I toured too many wineries a bit too quickly before lunch on Thursday! We hired a driver/tour guide for 6 hours to take us around to the various wineries. Because there are so many great wineries so close together on Seneca Lake, we visited six of them in the first two hours. I realized that I really needed to slow down my wine tasting. I didn’t see how I was possibly going to last another 4 hours. We took an extended lunch at one of the wineries and then headed over to Cayuga Lake to visit a few more wineries. I was so glad we slowed the pace down. With the long lunch and drive over to the other lake, we visited just three more wineries in the last four hours.

On our final day in the Finger Lakes region, we went to Watkins Glen State Park to hike the gorge. The gorge is about 400 feet deep and was formed by a stream cutting through the rock. There are over 800 steps winding though several waterfalls, cascades and pools as you climb the gorge. The scenery is so beautiful. I would often take a picture in front of me and turn around to look behind me and it was just as beautiful to view where I had just come from! It took us about 90 minutes to hike to the top. I was thankful for the gift/snack shop and restrooms at the top. i munched on a soft pretzel with nacho cheese and drank some water before heading back out of the gorge. The hike back out was only 45 minutes. Here are some of the pictures we took while on our hike.

Body Image

This past week I attended an event with the theme of dressing outlandishly. Well, I didn’t have many outlandish clothes to choose from but I did   immediately think of my purple tights with horizontal black stripes. On the day of the event, I went into my closet to see what I could put together. As you can see from the photos, I found a stretchy horizontal striped shirt that I hadn’t worn in at least ten years (!).

Now, I’m not a small woman. I am definitely curvy and wear a size 14 or 16. Because of this,  in general, I avoid horizontal stripes. Despite having grown up hearing how stupid and helpless I was, how I couldn’t do anything right, how everything I do is a half-assed job, I (usually) don’t have an issue with body image ( though I had other major self-esteem issues that have mostly worked themselves out). I say usually because there are times, especially when I am clothes shopping and something looks so cute on the rack and so wrong on me, when I do feel bad about how I look. Hey, I’m still human and I think we all have that from time to time.I’ve seen how people, especially women, struggle so much with body image. Ladies, please love yourself for YOU! I know that I am not every man’s type but I’ve met so many men that love curvy women. In my experience, the pagan and BDSM communities are full of men that love ladies of all shapes and sizes. Those communities are also full of men and women that love themselves for who they are and aren’t afraid of expressing themselves. I credit getting away from the emotional abuse of my father as well as surrounding myself with such positive people in both the pagan and BDSM communities for helping me with my self-esteem issues and keeping those body image issues at bay. I love how the look I chose showed of my curves and yes, even my rolls. And, important to me, Yakko and Wakko, really enjoyed the look too!