Project 1: Clean Slate

It’s so nice to be able to start again from a clean slate.  I wish life was like that.  Say there were a part of your life that you had ignored, or failed to tend, and it had become dull and dirty and full of life choking weeds.  If you could just clean it out and start over and none of the previous mess would haunt you or darken your days, well, that would be nice.  If that were possible, then perhaps marriages wouldn’t fail, and bridges wouldn’t be burned and relationships wouldn’t sour.  If people ignored their health and trashed their bodies, then they could just start over with tight buns and no saggy “wings” on their upper arms.

But it’s not possible to just clean out and start over with relationships or life, unless you’re willing to sell everything, move to another city and start fresh with no friends or baggage.  Which actually sounds nice, as long as the new town were a beach town, and instead of no friends, I still had all mine, and the baggage contained bikinis and sun tan oil.  But I digress….

So far this week, I have spent a lot of time cleaning out the patio area.  I pulled all the weeds from between the pavers, which was no easy task.  I have sprayed weed killer in hopes that the weeds wouldn’t return and I removed all the old leaves left over from last fall.  Ahhhh.  Manual labor is always so very satisfying to me.  It’s so easy to see the results as I move along, and then at the end, I really feel as though I’ve accomplished something.  Below is a photo of the patio now, in all it’s naked glory:

And here is the view from my kitchen.  I feel better already!

I also spent some time shopping for the things that would make my newly clean patio a true oasis.  Below is a sneak peek at the items that I found!  However will this pile of summery things be arranged to ensure a relaxing oasis for your intrepid blogger?  Just wait til you see!

I also took a picture of my yard to show you the many plants in bloom that may make an appearance on the patio.  I love the purple mini-lillies on the hill:

It’s really rolling along now, but rain is forecast for the next two days, so my progress may be impeded a bit.  No worry, I am repotting plants in the garage and sketching ideas for the final look, and once the weekend comes, with it’s predicted beautiful weather I will be able to quickly put together my outdoor oasis.  I am thinking that after a big weekend of Easter celebrations and visiting family, I may enjoy dinner out there Sunday evening.  I am feeling happier already….

Productively yours,

Maggie

Project 1: Outdoor Oasis

Today I begin my first project in the happiness journey!  As I posted yesterday, I am going to create an “outdoor room” in a previously neglected patio off of my kitchen.  Below are the “before” pictures that I took this morning.  I took them around 8:30 a.m., which is when I’d be using it in the mornings. 

Here is the patio from the back yard.

Looking out into the back yard, a gauntlet of empty pots lining the fence.

The sad, empty hummingbird feeder and the garden hose wrangler.  I also have an old plant stand that I forgot about.  It’s between the hose wrangler and the faded green plastic chair.

Another shot from the back yard…

The view from the kitchen.  I hope this will be a lot better in a weeks time.

So, there it is.  My first project begins today with a trip to Lowe’s and the Home Depot to look for a few things.  I am just window shopping today, since I may not need to buy plants.  My back yard is full of lillies and irises which all persist in blooming each year, despite my steadfast refusal to tend to them.  I will most likely spend my work time today cleaning and removing the weeds from between the pavers, creating my “blank canvas” from which to begin the design. 

I’ll post pictures as the transformation progresses!

Happy Monday!
Maggie

And So It Begins…

I was procrastinating in making my decision as to what my goal this week would be.  I know that I promised to do one project, or challenge one belief, or experience one new thing each week, all in my endeavour to find “happiness,” but it’s really difficult to get started.  What if I pick the wrong one to start with, and then the whole project goes to pot because it was boring, or took too long, or I just didn’t get the desired results?  But then I got a call from my sister and she asked, “So what project are you doing this week?”  She had read the blog, and actually sounded interested to hear what I would be doing!  I felt the excitement for the project flow back into my body and I was so excited to know that someone was on board with this little experiment.  So without further ado, my plans…….

I live in a little house on a tiny bit of land.  I am thankful that I don’t have more land, as keeping up with my tenth-acre is quite a chore.  Just off the kitchen, in the back quarter of the house, is an area that the previous owner started to make an outdoor sitting area.  He put down dark cement pavers, turned on a diagonal, and edged that with red brick.  When we first saw the house, I thought, “that is where I will drink my coffee in the morning.  I’ll put a couple of nice chairs right there, and create a container garden here, here and over there.  And I’ll read the paper and relax, and enjoy this space all the time.” 

Fast forward to today, and that space is a weedy, desolate space, ignored and barren.  It currently contains a grill that doesn’t work, a few plastic chairs, planters full of mosquito-infested rain water and weeds, a garden hose wrangler box, a sad hummingbird feeder that has been empty for three years, and leftover materials from when I replaced the trim around the door.  The space is around 6-feet by 20-feet and is surrounded by a privacy fence on two sides, the house and a sliding glass door leading to the kitchen on one side, and an opening to the rest of the backyard on the other.  It has so much potential, but I have just never gotten around to making it the dream relaxation spot that I have always envisioned.  Well, that ends this week. 

By this time next week, I will have created a sitting area suitable for morning coffee breaks, afternoons relaxing with a book, or evening wind-down sessions with a glass of wine.  I am not sure what this will cost, or how much time it will take me, but that’s part of the excitement!  Also part of the excitement will be how I can manage to get it done during Jack’s naps and after he goes down for the night.  I figure that on a few occasions, I’ve watched at least 20 hours of television during a week, and this project shouldn’t take that long. 

My goals for the space include:  Comfortable “loungy-type” seating, side table for time-of-day-appropriate beverage, attractive plants and flowers, maybe a grill if I can afford to replace or repair the one I have. 

That all sounds easy enough.  Tomorrow, I will post the “before” picture of the space.  I’ll also try to provide regular updates of what I accomplished each day, as well as photos of the space during its transformation.  If it is appropriate, I’ll let you in on any insights I’ve gained into happiness.  After all, that’s the point of this, right?!  I am so excited about beginning this project.  Could it be that I’ve already found a bit of the truth about happiness?  That if I have a goal, and a plan, that I am happier?  I think that is, at least, somewhat true.  I have a project and a vision of the enjoyment that will come at the end.  I think it’s going to be fun!

Here’s to dreams!

Maggie

My Baby is 1-Year Old Today

Today is Jack’s first birthday!  I can’t believe that I have a son, much less one who has survived birth 10-weeks-prematurely.   And open heart surgery.  And three heart-catheters.  And paternal abandonment.  And tachypnia, jaundice, apnea and his heart stopping.  Twice.  I have been blessed with a truly miraculous child who is stronger than I ever imagined he would be.  And he has shown me how strong I am, too.  He has brought me so much joy, and I consider my life much better for having him in it.

That is the portion of today’s post where I remember how much I have to be grateful for.  Now comes the crap storm portion of the first day of Jack’s life…

Jack was born very early and I had been in pre-mature labor two days before a c-section was ordered because he wasn’t tolerating the labor well anymore.  His heart rate was plummeting after each contraction, and since we knew that with each heartbeat, his heart was creeping towards heart failure, surgery was the best option to deliver my son safely to me, and the surgeons who could save him.  I was terrified, but all the appropriate personnel were in the delivery room and prepared to rip Jack from my body and immediately thrust him into medical interventions meant to prolong his life until we could get to the Children’s Hospital where they would try to figure out how to do open heart surgery on a heart the size of a small strawberry.  I heard him cry a blessed four times before they intubated him and set about placing iv’s and lines into each and every (it seemed) open vein in his tiny body.  Below, he is four pounds, two ounces, and 17 inches long. 

The delivery was fairly routine, according to the doctors and nurses, but they took my baby and put him in an incubator isolette and delivered him to the NICU, where he waited for emergency transport to Egleston at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  I was taken to “recovery” where I merely “rested” until they took me to my room.  My own recovery wouldn’t come for a while.  I was told that I wouldn’t touch my son for weeks, if I was lucky and he did very well.  I felt like I had been robbed of the emotional climax of pregnancy, being allowed to hold my son just seconds after his birth.  But in those horrible and scary moments, we began life together.  Faced with major health issues and forced alienation, Jack and I were apart and I had to let go and trust that others could care for him in my absence.  This would be a struggle that continues to plague me.

While his first day was terrifying and disappointing and awful, it is still one of the most amazing and wonderful days of my life.  I remember the news of the c-section, the epidural, the delivery and those wonderful first cries as if they were yesterday.  And I remember exclaiming, upon hearing those tiny cries, “I’m a Mama!”  It was suddenly clear that I had a child, and that this was what I was supposed to be my whole life.  Jack’s Mama.  And I relaxed.  No time the previous ten years of work and life with his father had it ever been so clear to me what my purpose on Earth was.  I knew that we were in for an epic journey together, but I felt peaceful just having him in the world with me.  He was here, and now we could begin healing him.  And what a journey it has been, but that story will come in time…

For now, I have to decide on the first project or activity that will help deliver me to “happiness” in the coming year.  Check back to find out what I have decided to attempt in this first week of my journey.  I may start out gently, or I may dive right in.  I have a few ideas swirling around my noggin, just gotta figure out where to start… 

I will decide by the end of this week, and in the meantime, I am enjoying a delicious glass of wine, which is, in and of itself, a mini-step towards happiness.  Prior to my separation, I enjoyed wine regularly, but since I have lived alone (and was pregnant, then breastfeeding) I haven’t done so, in part because I couldn’t finish a bottle by myself before it went bad.  But this week, I bought a delicious bottle of red, and will enjoy it until it sours, and then I will throw out the remainder, without guilt.   The point of enjoying life is not limited by achieving the absolutely most efficient use of my funds.  I haven’t spent the equivalent of a car payment on the bottle, just about $10, so I will not fret, and I will not be concerned with the safety I no longer believe a big savings account can buy. 

I will merely enjoy my glass of wine.  In the back yard.  Yes, that’s it.  Because I live in Georgia, where the spring and summer evenings are among some of the most beautiful on Earth.  And I deserve to enjoy them.  I can feel the happiness creeping in already………..

Optimistically yours,

Maggie

Below, a photo of the love of my life, on this, the anniversary of his brave and valiant entry into this world…  Heart defect?  What heart defect!!