Valley of the hell dolls

The house organization/purge/clean-up continues. I’m making progress, even if it is slow progress.

I remember hearing my mom and grandmother mention “the dolls” from time to time, especially when they were talking about storage and space. There seemed to be great concern and reverence for these dolls. I don’t recall ever being shown dolls when I was a child, so there was this kind of air of mystery surrounding them. I wasn’t even sure where they were to be honest.

I imagined they must be antique dolls, rare and beautiful, so imagine my excitement when I was cleaning out a cabinet and finally came across some dolls! I literally gasped with excitement, and quickly started to place them all in a box so that I could look at them later, research them, find out what was so important about these dolls.

The doll that ended up in the top of the box isn’t that impressive. Her hair is messy, doesn’t look that special, so I’ve hesitated to go through them. Well, I’m sick of all the crap stacking up in the living room, so I started looking into the dolls, hoping that deeper into the stack I would find something special. Not so much.IMG_0147 Aside from having porcelain heads, they’re just dolls, and some of them are frankly just a bit creepy. I’ve been trying to do some research, and what I can find, these aren’t all that rare. Sure, some people are selling them on eBay for a nice price, but that doesn’t mean they are actually moving them at that price, especially with the numbers that are out there. But still, these are the elusive dolls! How exciting! They deserve respect because they were so loved.

Then today, it occurred to me–I’m not the one who loved them, bought them, or cared about them (then stuffed them away in a cabinet and never looked at them). It was the people that I loved most that loved those dolls, or coveted those dolls, or whatever. Those people are gone, and the dolls, or any money I could get from them, is not going to bring them back. Its not going to tell me where these dolls came from, the memories that they hold. These dolls can’t talk (thank goodness), and nothing that they do are going to bring back my loved ones to tell me those stories. The best thing I have of my mom, my grandmother, grandfather and dad, are the memories in my heart. That’s what’s going to keep them alive and with me, not some random dolls, or 34 freaking sake/tea cups (don’t even get me started).

I know to be happy, to make those around me happy, I want this house to be clean, uncluttered, and inviting! Its time to make the most of what I have now, and what’s ahead. I need to stop worrying about upsetting my mother or grandmother and just let stuff go. If that means donating something that could be valuable, so be it. Sure, the money would be super useful, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get much for any of it. The here and now and the people that I love and live with are what matter to me, along their happiness and sanity. I’ve never seen Frozen, but the title of that song everyone knows sure is resonating with me now.

Love and light, people. Enjoy the moment, the people you choose to surround yourself with, and enjoy the new moon tonight! New moons mean the beginning of something, so make something happen!

 

My house, at the beginning of the street

Ok, so the house is not legally in my name yet, but I have a meeting with a lawyer tomorrow to get the ball rolling. Here’s hoping its a smooth process.

The household has changed a lot since my dad passed. I’ve come to realize what a sad presence he was. Whether it was because he was ill, or depressed, most likely a combination of things. But the constant worry over him really brought things down. Yes, I miss him, but I know for sure that he’ much better off now.

Jon (and his cat Ziggy, who is currently having a psychotic meltdown on my bed over a hair tie) moved in at the end of January, and Zach moved into my parents old room. Zach’s room was painted a pleasant shade of blue, and I painted the smaller room he had occupied a calming gray, or at least I think its calming. I hope its not depressing.

Anyway, he moved in to help us out while we transition into living as a smaller family unit. He’s helping greatly with the bills, and maintenance type things that need to be done around the house. The thing is, he’s in the small bedroom, and I feel really bad about that! There’s plenty of storage space in there, but I have yet to clear it all out, as I didn’t have the time to do so before he moved in.

I know this is stressing him out, and I’m doing the best that I can to change it. Thing is, my grandparents (who originally owned the house, purchasing it while it was being built in 1961 for $20,000) had SO. MUCH. STUFF! Some of it is junk, for sure, a lot of it is stuff I don’t need and can donate. There are items that I want to hold on to, and then there are items that I don’t really want to keep, but they are old and I want them to go to a place where they will be appreciated for what they are. I’m trying antique stores, but some stuff is just really hard to move.

I’m trying to make the house a brighter, happier place, but at the same time, I’m creating piles of stuff that I have no idea what to do with, which makes for clutter, which makes for not happy rooms. I’m trying to mitigate that by making small changes here and there that make spaces feel better.

Living with someone we’re not related to, who is used to a different lifestyle, has been an adjustment for all of us. Its something we’re still fine tuning, and will continue to work on, but generally, the company is nice. Even if the cat is insane.

30 Days of Yoga

Many many years ago, I tried yoga. I had a VHS tape. There was a woman with a very calm voice, who wore all white, talking about Iyengar yoga. She emphasized form as we moved from posture to posture. Things like Proud Warrior, Triangle Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Legs up the Wall, and finally ending in Corpse Pose (don’t think she called it that) falling into blissful relaxation. I liked it, but I didn’t “get it.” I didn’t get that deep connection you’re supposed to feel, so I eventually got bored and moved on. Later, through other workouts, I learned about sun salutations, but yoga in general remain a bit of a mystery.

Cue May 2015. Lots of things are changing. I’m changing. I’ve been reading about living a cleaner, active lifestyle, so I decided to give yoga another shot. I searched on You Tube for 30dayscalendarvideos I could follow. I found Adriene Mishler and her channel/website Yoga with Adriene. I liked her vibe, and she had a free 30 days of yoga program, which seemed like the perfect way to get myself started. I printed up the calendar and was off to the yoga races.

I’ve remained pretty flexible in my old age, but my strength and stamina have definitely been waning. We eased in with fairly well known postures. She explained things so clearly, talking about rooting into the earth through all ten fingers and the tops of your feet to create a stable tabletop position to work from. When standing she reminds us to connect to all four corners of the feet, rooting into the earth. She said things like “find what feels good” and “no yoga robots,” encouraging organic movement with the postures if that was what feels good. She gave breathing cues, which helped immensely. She used the sanskrit and common names for poses, encouraged setting intentions. I was enjoying it so much, some days I would do two videos. Eventually I added in a bedtime routine to help calm down and stretch out at the end of the day.

My 30 days just ended yesterday, and I feel so much stronger already! Breaking out that yoga mat I’d had for years was one of the smartest things I have done in a long time, and I fully plan to continue practicing! My intentions are balance, strength, flexibility, and grace, things that I can apply to yoga and life. Yoga is making me happier and more mindful. I find myself wanting healthy food, lots of vegetables, fruit, and avocado toast. Ohhh, how I love avocado toast. I haven’t had alcohol in over two weeks and don’t miss it. I’m more active around the house, and my outlook and disposition have changed drastically. Most importantly, I finally “get” yoga. I understand the mind/body/breath/spirit connection, and the benefits that come from it.

So here’s what I think you should know:

  • Yoga is not an exercise program. Yes, its exercise, but at the heart it is a practice. You will not be able to hold some poses in the beginning, you might not even be able to get into them, but don’t get discouraged and give up! Keep working and it will come to you. If you fall down, get up and try again, making any necessary adjustments.
  • If yoga is completely new to you, take some time to learn fundamentals, like alignment, so you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Breath, or pranayama, is SO important. Take some time to learn about it. Adrienne has videos on that, too. Lion’s breath is pretty fun, especially if you have kids.
  • You don’t need yoga pants. Wear whats comfortable and won’t get in the way. I do my bedtime practice in my pajamas.
  • You do need a yoga mat. I think its worth investing in a good, sturdy, sweat proof mat, but don’t break the bank. Other props like blocks are nice, but you can find substitutes. Yoga straps are nice, but you could use a mens tie, or something like that.
  • Don’t do yoga on a full stomach. Give your food a few hours to digest, especially if you’re going to be bending over, going into downward dog, or inverting yourself in any way. This is self explanatory.
  • Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you’re in a pose and a muscle or joint is screaming at you, stop what you’re doing, adjust the pose, or take a rest.
  • Savor savasana. Seriously.

If you’re thinking about yoga, I say GO FOR IT! If you want a yoga buddy, just let me know, I’d love to have some! Namaste.

Love and light to all! (Man I am turning into such a hippie).

 

 

 

A little public service announcement

I’ve been threatening, in my head, to start blogging again. This was not the subject that I planned on leading with this, but I need to get it out there. Sit down and relax, because this may get long.

Just a friendly, yet mildly morbid reminder, dear readers: if you lose a loved one and have to plan their final rest, or you are looking to pre-arrange your own, or know someone that is, PLEASE AVOID BALDWIN FAIRCHILD AND DIGNITY MEMORIAL!! PLEASE!! I IMPLORE YOU!! DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO AVOID THESE COMPANIES.

Making final arrangements for yourself, or a loved one, can be a stressful time. You need a funeral director/planner and cemetery that are ON. THE. BALL. to make your life easier. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make, and you need support, love, and options. When you call you need a friendly voice to answer the phone. You need people willing to work hard to provide you with what you need in a timely fashion. Trust me. I’ve done four of these so far.

I’ve dealt with Baldwin Fairchild for my grandfather, grandmother, mother, and more recently with Dignity Memorial (whom they’ve merged with) for my dad. I have had SO many headaches, as I’ve shared in the past. I do not wish this on any of you. For instance, and this may seem small, but my dad was a veteran. I was told that if I provided a copy of his discharge papers we would receive a flag in his honor. I supplied those papers at the end of November of last year. Its occurred to me, several times, that we never got that flag, which I know was something that was important to Zach. I made a phone call today, stated my case to a receptionist, and she, not the funeral director,  made a phone call and located the flag. This is a good thing.

If you followed my posts at the end of last year, you know about the difficulties and frustrations and flat out anger I was dealing with at my dad and the cemetery. After my mom passed, I set up, what I thought, were my dad’s final arrangements. I thought that I was planning for cremation, an urn, and placement in the niche with my mom. Turns out, all that I paid for was the cremation. Maybe some of the blame falls on me, I didn’t ask enough questions. I was just thinking back to my grandmothers pre-paid where everything except death certificates and an obituary were paid for, and thought I was getting the same thing. Of course, I was also still in mourning at the sudden loss of my mom, so asking all of those questions was not at the front of my mind. I am still glad, however, that my dads cremation was pre-paid, because in just over three years, the price of cremation through them more than doubled, nearly tripled.

Anyway, there turned out to be a space issue in the niche FOR TWO that they sold me in 2011, so I was given the dimensions for an urn that would fit, and was told to search for something on my own. I voiced my displeasure, so they searched and rooted around, finding an urn for his ashes (oddly the one I thought I’d chosen and paid for) and gave it to me for free.  However, we still cannot lay him to rest because they want $685 dollars to do so. To open the niche and place the urn inside. No ceremony, just placement. We did ask that his date of death be placed on the marker, since the marker is paid for and that would be done at no cost, providing us with a bit of a memorial for him. This was at the beginning of December 2014. I went to the cemetery to take flowers on Sunday (May 31) and it still has not been updated. I placed a call to, lets call her June, who has handled everything at the cemetery for me for my parents (and set up my dad’s cremation), today. She said she was surprised and would look into it.

This does not surprise me though. It took nearly four months to get the plaque placed when my mom died, but seriously. This is just adding a date. Five months, and nothing. Now, June is a very nice person, probably one of the nicer people I’ve dealt with. She’s also very forthright, which can be helpful when you’re making decisions, but also comes off as a bit brash. However, I’m beginning to question why so many problems have come up when I worked with her. I don’t know if its her, or the company, or both to be honest.

So if you can, save yourself the trouble and don’t use these companies if you can avoid them. There are other options out there. I wish I’d looked for someone else when my mom died, but since that was who I knew, that was where I went. The company has definitely gone downhill a great deal since 2008 when my grandmother died, and at that point they’d even gone further downhill from 1997, when my grandfather passed. And Dignity? They don’t deserve that name. They have been the least helpful and compassionate of all. You would think they would help families of veterans, who are sometimes entitled to compensation from the Veterans Administration, figure out the process. Instead, they just tell you to “check into it.” Its a MESSY place, and I really would have liked help because I still haven’t been able to wade through all their red tape and whatnot.

Also, please do consider pre-planning your final expenses if you are in a situation where you know what you want and can afford it, because the prices just keep getting more and more astronomical. Also, make sure you’re family and/or friends know what you want and make sure they will agree to honor that, pre-paid or not. Also, make a will. Please and thank you.

Love and light. Enjoy tonights full moon! Be bold and spontaneous!