Tuesday, September 8, 2020

This Summer I made a Greek Alley in my Own Backyard—newsletter


This summer didn't go as planned for anybody. It reminds me of that essay about planning a holiday in Italy and winding up in Holland.
Only in our scenario there is some pestilence there too, in the form of a pandemic.
Holland isn't flashy like Italy, but it's a nice place. Kind of like being home for months and months isn't a bad thing, and since I couldn't take my writer trip to Greece, I built my own Greek alley at home. Lemons to lemonade, right?
My big thrill recently was getting a refund from United. Remember they're the airline that dragged that doctor off a flight? Fly the friendly skies my eye. I've spent many hours on the phone with them. They're not my favorite people, so I felt a bit like Rocky doing his victory laps when I finally wore them down.

Hope, patience, and low expectations are my superpowers this summer. Okay, hope and low expectations are. I'm still working on patience (and I'm sick of waiting for it). Let's be real here. I only have low expectations when it comes to housework and paperwork. But I've got hope! I definitely have hope! Yeah, hope is my superpower.
Recipe for an at-home Greek alley: Use farm stand plants and the sad remnants of last winter's grocery store herbs. Get ALL the clearance sale lavender from Lowe's, potting soil, and new pots. Voila. 
It was fun until I got tired of watering everything. So I found them new homes with better plant parents this month, and picked all the herbs. 
What's your answer when someone asks you how're you doing? Are you in the It-Could-Be-Worse column? Couldn't-Be-Worse column? Mr. Brightside one? All of the above within a ten minute time-frame? 


That said, I don't think anyone's eye is going to stop twitching until we admit at least to ourselves what we're really feeling. For instance I'm feeling anxiety, frustration, fear, disappointment, discouragement, and contentment all at the same time. Can you tell I've discovered the Dr. Marc Brackett/Brene Brown podcast about Emotional Intelligence?

If you're struggling (and who isn't), I wanted to share how much it's helped me to carve out time and space to sit quietly. (Away from the news.) Maybe it'll help you too. There's also the classic Oatmeal comic take on why all the conflicting data is driving us nuts. Matthew Inman has a great way of getting to the root of the problem.  
When reality takes my words, another thing that helps me is sketching and making collages in my journal. I also do it during ZOOM meetings. Don't tell.
This summer I read through old journals. It's been great for spotting bad habits and reminding myself how wonderful life is.
My phone has 63,192 photos on it. I take pictures of beautiful things. That helps too. As Louis Armstrong said, "What a wonderful world." He never said it's an easy world.
My little olive tree. An evening walk. A postcard I sent. A sunset here in the shire. It helps me to document every bit of wonderful.
Playing helps too. Sometimes I find a kid to play with and make art with. It justifies all my water balloons, stickers, chalk, and the kaleidoscope collection. 
This summer I've rediscovered the library. It makes me read faster because I have to return those books. I also share my books and am gifted more in return. Life is good.
My favorite reads this summer have been the often mentioned book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates,  Madeleine L'Engle's collection of short stories The Moment of Tenderness, and War with the Newts by Karel Capik. I put my reviews on my blog and cannot recommend them more highly.
A couple summers ago I discovered Eugenia Gerontara. I love her uplifting whimsical world. This year I ordered a couple more pieces of her art and sent her so many I LOVE YOUR WORK messages that she invited me to visit her studio in Athens!
Believe me I will visit ASAP after COVID. When I can get there. If her work speaks to you, check it out online. She has an ETSY store too. I had my pieces personalized.
The Little Red Riding Hood pieces are wonderful. I love Little Red swallowing the Big Bad Wolf. I love him sleeping with Grandmother. That one reminds me of Hubby and me. Don't tell.
I'm making myself stop with all the photos. We didn't even get into me feeding gluten-free bread to the chipmunks Hubby caught in his catch and release traps. Apparently hundreds of chipmunks are a problem. They like gluten-free bread and I'm pretty sure they run all the way back to my house when he releases them a few miles from here.
Hail to the bird using my hanging flowers to build a nest on my front porch. Hail to the hummingbird who sits in my tiny olive tree. Hail to ZOOM classes, books, and summertime. It's not what I planned, but what's not to love? So, how you doing? 
"You're only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with." ~Austin Kleon
Writer: Stephanie Karfelt/S.R. Karfelt/Saffi Karfelt
Specialty: Seeing the bright side 
Aspirations: Backing up all my photos

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