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So, I guess this is the time in my life where I explore what it's like to rest. I think I'm good at taking breaks -- reading, crafting, meditating, going for walks, dancing -- but I'm not great at resting all the way. At putting everything to the side, forgetting my projects and the household management for indefinite amounts of time, and just resting. I would like to say I'm embracing it, but. Well. I'm bored and restless, and resisting a lot of it. But I'm determined to see it through, not to take any shortcuts. As tempting as they might be.

Things are improving slowly but steadily. I'm well enough to pick up my banjo, and to do a little gentle movement (nothing that looks like exercise, but some meditative dance). I've also been well enough to focus on reading, and so I'm going through all the books I read this year and never added to my list or put on my Goodreads account and finally getting up reviews of them. I haven't been able to enjoy much TV watching -- you'd think I would, but it's hard to find stuff that strikes the right chord.

I'm still having to ask for a lot of help -- picking things up, carrying things, making food, and so on. Asking is hard. I think we're all doing a good job of communicating, of taking care of ourselves and each other, but Jeez this is challenging. I asked a lot of friends for help last week, and they all came through for me, which I'm grateful for. The more recovered I get, the harder it is to ask, though.

My experience, these last couple weeks, has made it clear to me that I haven't been relaxed since the summer, and before that I hadn't been relaxed since before we started the process of starting the school, back in 2012. I want to end on some sort of pithy philosophical note, but I've got no pith at the moment. Just pure data: Look, here I am. Here's what's been going on. Now what?
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It's been a sad week here. Last Friday my FIL passed away, totally unexpectedly. There isn't going to be any sort of ceremonies or gatherings until a memorial over the summer, and we didn't see him very often (he moved down south with his wife a few years ago), so it's been even more discombobulating than deaths often are, because it hasn't felt entirely real. And it seems to have tapped into my own grief for my grandparents in weird ways, so that even though it's been a year since Grandma died (almost exactly -- a year ago friday was when she went into the hospital, and she died on the 23rd), I keep finding myself half-thinking "has anyone told Grandma and Grandpa about Al, yet?" Brains and emotions and memories and time-sense are weird.

I'd said to my MIL (she and my FIL split many years ago, but they were still fairly close) that we were thinking of having something small, just to get together and remember Al and mark his passing, if she was interested in joining us in that. She offered to host, saying that would be easier for me (And she's right, our place is always cluttered, even when it's clean, because we use the diningroom table for crafts and games and paperwork and currently it houses the printer), so yesterday we went over there, along with my parents and my aunt, for a small, informal memorial. MIL made the Spanish Potatoes and String Beans she learned to make from her MIL, who brought it with her from Spain. I made Garlic and Greens soup, and roasted peppers, and Joe picked up fresh mozz, and Dunkin Donuts coffee, which was my FIL's constant companion.

The dynamics were a little tricky -- I was trying to give her as much authorship over the plans as she wanted, which involved a bit of guessing on my part, while still making sure Joe's and Sarah's needs for the evening were being met. There were things that didn't go quite as I'd hoped they would, but I think everyone got what they needed out of the day, so I'm glad for that. The food was good, and it was good to be surrounded by family who were there to support us.

I will say one thing for my family of origin. They drive me up a wall sometimes, but they recognize and appreciate and acknowledge emotional labor. Every single one of them I've spoken to has acknowledged the work I've been doing recently (this week and in other situations over the last year) to notice and support folks' emotional needs. (my little family does this too, all the time, and I appreciate that greatly, but it stands out to me as more noteworthy and surprising with my family of origin)

Today Sarah has a friend coming over for a visit, and I'm going out to see my usual friday-tea-with-friends people. Tomorrow I've got my women's circle coming over. Sunday... Crap, I have to get in touch with my aunt to let her know about Easter -- I'll be going and bringing my MIL, but Joe and Sarah won't be attending. I'd been planning to let her know on Monday but then life got chaotic and I wanted to wait a bit.

And then we start picking threads back up. JFC. Last year I screwed up and did the taxes super late because tax day fell while Grandma was in the hospital and I was not together at all. And here we are again, taxes are due and I'm just dragging myself back together. But so next week will be anti-procrastination week. Just getting to the point where the most important things are getting done and we're slowly getting back to all our good habits.
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I'm taking a class on mindfulness for Educators, preparing for my next career move. This week we're asked to keep a gratitude journal, writing for 5 minutes each day about the things we're grateful for. This seems like a good place for that.

I'm grateful for:
* the recommendation for our basement drying company, I've been very pleased with everything except their communication consistency and it's so good to feel confident about the work they've donef
* our emergency fund (it was eaten by the basement repairs but without it things would have been even more stressful)
* all the friendly, helpful, competent employees at the hotel we've been staying at
* our home insurance which should at least help a little with the cost of repairs
* all the friends who offered assistance and support -- people who offered a place to stay, people who offered other practical support, people who've reached out to check in on us and see how we're doing
* the friendly car salesman who chats with me a bit every time he walks through the waiting room (I've been at the mechanics for nearly 3 hours, waiting for the car to be done) -- he's striking that perfect balance between charm and professionalism so that it's pleasant attention without being at all overbearing or awkward
* getting back into the house, knowing we'll be able to sleep there tonight
* my colleagues from the school who made me feel very appreciated when I saw them yesterday
* all my free school skills which have prepared me to help make a difference
* tea
* my gorgeous yard and my garden plans
* my little family, and the fact that we'll be spending this evening together at home, playing board games and having parallel project time
* more about my little family -- how well we worked together to get through these weeks, and how we support each other always, and how they took care of me when I needed it last week (acute anxiety episode early in the week)
* our health -- we all have small things we need to take care of, but for the most part we are all quite healthy, which is a great blessing
* getting back to our usual routines, especially our evening mindfulness practice, our family time, our weekend rhythms.
* my extended family who I know I could lean on if I needed to
* all the activists everywhere who are taking a stand and working on their little corners of the world
* all the folks who are waking up into activism for the first time
* knowing I'll be seeing A next week -- we missed our November plans so it's been nearly 5 months
* my new (ish) black jeans that I love and which are so sturdy
* having enough to eat and a warm, dry house and a clean kitchen (we did some serious cleaning before leaving for the week)

Okay, that was more than 5 minutes. More tomorrrow.
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I'm thinking a lot about my grandparents. I mean, I've been thinking a lot about them for the last 6 months, and the last 2 years, and the last 15 years and and and... So that's not all that different from normal. But these days I'm thinking a lot about how they lived through some really awful periods in history, and made it through, and kept their focus on their home and their community. They read the news (I mean, grandpa worked for the Times, he often read it before anyone but the writers themselves), and thought about the state of the world. But they also stayed grounded and centered in the things they could do right in front of them -- kindness and charity and hospitality and raising their family and taking care of the neighbors. It probably helped that they were people of deep faith, who could trust that God had a plan. I don't have that comfort. And I do see all the ways that it was at least in part their areas of privilege that allowed them to just go about their lives even when the world was chaotic.

I don't want to just keep my head down, but I also don't want to flit from action to action without anything grounding me in my particular life, eventually burning myself up or out. I think the balance, for me, is somewhere between that focus on immediate community and that call-to-action save-the-whole-world attitude that I absorbed from some combination of my parents and my high school friends and my free school colleagues.

Some of the ways I'm folding my attention back into my life are:

* reading -- trying to make it through 50 books this year, because I've certainly freed up enough time by leaving the school, and it's good to have something to focus on other than the news

* my garden (more on this next week when I start buying seeds)

* crafting (painting the hallway, making jewelry)

* music -- trying to get the singalong started back up, picking the banjo and bass up again.

What rich little details of your life are you focusing on, these days?
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We're vacating our house for 3 days while demolition and mold remediation is done. Apparently, going by the number of books I packed, I'm planning to do nothing but read the entire time.

How many books do you bring for three day trips?
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apparently the only post I've ever made here was in 2011 and I can't let that stand. I wonder why I created the account, and why I didn't keep up with it?

What I'm up to these days:
- supporting kiddo as she homeschools high school
- volunteering as Treasurer for the democratic free school I helped found
- doing lots of activism, including starting a small local action network, being active with a group of homeschoolers working for racial justice, supporting a local center for homeless LGBT youth, and various one-off actions
- doing some local community stuff, including hosting a regular women's circle, a weekly gathering of local homeschool moms, a regular singalong, an intergenerational comic book discussion group that focuses on diversity and representation in comic books
- preparing to start training people who work with kids to use/teach mindfulness techniques, mediation techniques, NVC, and participatory democracy
- managing our home repair projects
- reading
- making music
- gardening
- getting healthy (focusing on DASH eating plan, aiming for daily meditation and an hour of exercise a day)
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Wow, I've never posted here? Apparently not!

Okay. First thing I'm going to do when I can get to LJ again is save all my LJ stuff again.

Second -- find out from my various LJ/DW friends how to crosspost easily.

Third -- track down all my LJ/DW friends and make sure I'm in touch with them here, as well.

Fourth -- find all my favorite authors and figure out whether they've got their stuff posted anywhere but LJ.

Finally -- never, ever, ever again have only one part of a story open in a tab. If I start a multi-part story, either go through and open all the parts in different tabs, or maybe only read stories that can be downloaded all at once. Because, *damn*.

In other news: I'm having an awesome week. I've had enthusiastic responses to my invitations to our homeschool friends for the classes I'm offering in the fall (active citizenship and music), I'm going to be singing with a bunch of funky hippies, two regular gatherings that feed my spirit are going to be restarting next month (slow food and sacred song), I'm going to be reactivating the "children's caucus" at my volunteer gig, we're doing well with prepping for Sarah's pop-up restaurant, and the exercise I've been doing finally feels like it's kicking in. Oh, and I've made some decisions about my immediate future and I'm feeling really good about them.

Now to go see if I can find all my LJ friends in exile...


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