Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Can Look Back, But Don't Try To Go There

I've discovered that it's dangerous to compare who you are now to who you were then.

I've been victimized by my own negative self-talk throughout my life, and am only now beginning to realize my own worth. There have been times that I invited people into my world who confirmed my worst thoughts about myself. That's part of what happened in my marriage. I married someone who had his own self-esteem issues and a critical nature. On some level, I thought that if I could become important in his eyes, then maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought I was.

That process worked for a long time. Especially once children came into the picture I was living my dream. My boys are 2-1/2 years apart. I LOVED being the mom to those little guys. We had so much fun together as a family and in different combinations.

I worked outside the home, volunteered, fixed dinner at least five times a week, crafted, was involved in my church, played board games with my kids constantly, did all the housework and home maintenance repairs.....and now I look back wondering how I did all of that.

That's where the comparison becomes dangerous. I look for my energy and self-management skills and can't find them. They seemed to disappear right about the time I was in my late 40s.

I'm still a list-maker and I'm still fairly organized. I follow the Flylady, too. I still alphabetize my spices. However, I accomplish less than half of what I used to even though I no longer have young sons and all of their school/sports-related functions to deal with. What happened?

I was tormenting myself with guilt. Was it my health? My age? Depression? I've thankfully come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter.

Who I am now is who I am now. What is, is. Each time I check something off my list I feel good. I'm still volunteering, still working outside the home, still caring for my loved ones (even though they are now more of the 4-legged variety) and know that I have a lot more wisdom than the 30-year-old version of myself.

I will probably always struggle with feelings of self-worth. Whether it's in my DNA or I'm a product of my environment doesn't matter. Each step I take in this journey I find new strength to confront those demons and push them aside.  Get thee behind me, Satan!

I've conquered the comparison game. Not only am I unique to humankind, I'm not even like myself from years past. And that can be a very good thing.

Faithfully yours,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Soul Sisters

Hey sisters, soul sisters...gotta get that dough sisters.

With my Soul Sisters, the dough we're getting is the living bread of the Lord.

Gitchie gitchie ya ya da da
Gitchie gitchie ya ya here
Mocca choca lata ya ya

I've been part of a group of dear ladies for quite awhile now. Do you remember the show "Starting Over?"

It premiered in 2003 and was canceled in 2006.  It was the only reality show I've ever really gotten into.

It starred Rhonda Britten as the primary life coach, Dr. Stan Katz as the consulting psychologist. Rana Walker was a life coach for one season, replaced by Iyanla Vanzant later on. 

Six women who were facing life challenges entered the Starting Over house where they were given assignments in order to create the lives they wanted. The chemistry within the house was fascinating. The coaches were empowering. And yes, there were things that were done in the name of therapy that were really more due to entertainment value.

The Starting Over website had several chat rooms available and I joined one. This was after my first message board experience in a "Lost" chat room in which I was reading comments such as "Man, I hope Kate goes swimming again next week!" At one point someone asked the question, "What was that song?" I answered that it was "Beyond the Sea" recorded by Bobby Darin. I was shot down by several of the chatters who said, "No! No! It's the song from 'Finding Nemo'!"  I quickly realized that I was talking to 12-year-old boys. I hoped the same would not be the case on the Starting Over boards.

Sure enough, I found some kindred spirits. I had to wade through the nut cases, but through a series of discussions I was led to an off-site board. While there I got to know these ladies even better.

Our values are so similar. We are all Christians who tend to lean to the right politically. Each of these 14 women are sensitive, loving, funny, articulate and have great strength. We're scattered all over. We check in with each other often, daily for some of us.

We are a community. We laugh together often, cry, prepare for battle, and share our wisdom. One of the characteristics I love the most about these ladies is their honesty. You won't find unanimous agreement on much of anything. And you won't hear someone just giving lip service to another member. What we do have is tremendous respect with constant encouragement for each woman to live the life that God intends for her.

Recently I received some gifts in the mail from some of the ladies. Aren't I lucky!

Teresa, who considers herself craft-challenged, made the darling bookmark with the cupcake on top.  Susan sent each of us a new Victorian magnetic calendar for the year with a matching bookmark, Kathy made each of us a cute little pocket bag to hold cell phone, lip stick, or any other little necessity. Star sent all of us a magnet that she personally made with our logo and all the gals' names. And who could resist the Valentine?!

I love each of my Soul Sisters from this group, as well as the other sisters that God has brought into my life.  In this post, I want to give a Hallelujah shout-out to: Teresa (Magnolia), Arlene, Angel, Ginny, Linda L. , Linda P., Susan J., Susan W., Star, Anne, Allison, Kathy, Lynn and Annette.

Be thankful for the soul sisters in your life, too!

Blessings and joy,

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Fixed My Dishwasher!

Maggie let me know that our dishwasher was leaking by licking the floor in front of it.  She might not ever save me from a burning building, but she'll lick up any liquid she can find.

I knew the sink had been filling while the dishwasher ran, but I usually solved that by running the garbage disposer. I should have known better.

When I stopped the cycle and opened the door, there was water everywhere. I removed all the dishes and the bottom rack. It took three beach towels to mop up the water from the floor.


 Sundance and I gathered our supplies:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Measuring cups
  • Screwdriver (although I ended up needed pliers isntead)
  • Towels
  • Extra strength Excedrin (I know myself too well)
I took a bucket and started baling water from the dishwasher's interior. As the bucket filled I dumped it into the yard. I started with the 1 cup measure and went all the way down until even the 1/8 cup was too small. At that point I started using the turkey baster. It was a SLOW process, but I gathered an entire half-gallon using the turkey baster alone!

Looked pretty scrungy!  Next step was to remove the basket behind the spinning arm and the screen all the way in the back. Depending upon the dishwasher you'll either need a screwdriver or pliers. My pliers worked fine.

I removed the parts and can we all say "EWWWWW!" How clean were my dishes actually getting when the water was going through this muck?

I filled a bucket with vinegar water and dumped these parts in to soak. Vinegar is a natural, inexpensive and eco-friendly disinfectant. The acid in it helps break down grease, soap and other yukky stuff. I knew that half my work on these parts would be done just from a 1/2 hour soak, followed by a scrubbing with a baking soda paste using an old toothbrush.

While the parts soaked it was time to clean the rest of the interior with vinegar as well. I cleaned the base, sides and door frame using straight vinegar on a clean, damp sponge.

Your dishwasher has a tube connected to the garbage disposer.  In this picture, it's the white bendable plastic pipe.

When the dishwasher overflows, the problem may actually be the disposer, so I knew I had to disconnect that pipe and make sure there were no obstructions. This time my screwdriver came in handy.  Using a flashlight I was able to see that the tube was clear.

Next I disconnected the trap leading from the sink and garbage disposer.  Make sure to have a bucket or dishpan to catch anything that comes out.  The trap actually looked pretty good, but I put it into the vinegar solution just to make sure. 

With that all clear I next used an auger to go through the horizontal pipe under the sink, just to make sure there wasn't a clog further down the line.

Time to reconnect everything and give it a try.  You can see how clean the basket and strainer is after its vinegar soak and baking soda scrubbing.

Before trying it with dishes I wanted to give everything another shot of vinegar. Instead of detergent in the dispenser, I poured some vinegar in the bottom of the basket. That would help clear any remaining detritus throughout the plumbing system, including the garbage disposal.

It worked like a charm!

In order to prevent future clogs and build-ups I've put it on my calendar to do a baking soda/vinegar cleaning in the sink monthly.  

  1. Take 1/2 cup baking soda and pour into the sink's drain.
  2. Add 1/2 cup vinegar. You'll see the solution bubble.
  3. Let sit in drain for 1/2 hour - 2 hours.
  4. Flush out with a tea kettle full of boiling water.
  5. Run hot water from sink for a few seconds.
  6. Put stopper in sink and fill with hot water.
  7. When sink is full, take stopper out.
  8. This combination is cheap and effective.  If you DO end up having a clog anyway, this solution is non-toxic. It will not endanger you or your friendly neighborhood plumber.
I am so proud of myself!

May all your water be clear,