Lenten Challenge, the Sixth and Final Weekend, Plus a Couple of Days

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve had an exceptionally busy week at work and in life.

On Friday, I accomplished nothing, cleaning-wise, because Mom and I traveled an hour plus each way to visit a friend who was kind of in town, kind of on business. After work, I walked the dog, picked mom up, drove up there, picked her up, drove to a restaurant, caught up with her and drove home, and I walked the dog, and there wasn’t much left of the evening. But my eye had stopped hurting, so that was nice.

Saturday, I got up with the dog and took him to physical therapy (its own special post), then had breakfast with him on a patio. I was going to take him home to sit in the sunshine, when it occurred to me that I could take him to a park just as easily. There’s a great park that goes from manicured sports areas to rough-and-tumble tall grass and creek beds. We’d walked there once last fall, enjoyably, so it has happy memories for me, and I was hoping, for him. We went, we lay in the grass, him basking and me reading; he explored the mouth of the creek with some other dogs, we walked through the tall grass and sat by the tennis courts, we lay watching a dad throw a football with his kids. It was nice.

Then, I took him home and I made a plan for a dessert I needed to bake for a gathering that evening. I admit I don’t really remember, but I think I emptied and reloaded the dishwasher and washed things that needed washing, in preparation. And then I went out and sat on a patio and read some more, and wrote in my journal. The thing is, my mood has been pretty low. And I’m starting to get concerned, because it’s been a few weeks and I’m not bouncing back, even though I’m paddling pretty hard. And the thing that stood out, to me, is that I’m not getting enough exercise. Laying in the grass is lovely, but I’m doing an awful lot of it. And I feel bad going to the gym because it means sticking the dog in his crate for yet more hours in a day. But exercise is fundamental for me. I feel heavy and like there’s nothing I can do about it that doesn’t inadvertently punish the dog, and I think that’s a key part of the spiral. So I started thinking about what I could do about that.

And I went home and baked the dessert. This isn’t my recipe— it’s out of a church cookbook I once helped to edit (as a volunteer), and one of my favorites. It’s a chocolate-strawberry pie. You bake a pie-crust until it’s brown and let it cool. I had some left-over homemade puff pastry frozen, so I thawed and used that. I used a hand-mixer to blend 8 oz softened cream cheese with 3 T honey and 6 oz melted chocolate, until thoroughly mixed. Then I spooned it into the pie crust, chilled it for an hour or two, and topped it with, in this case, some thawed raspberries I had bought fresh, washed, and frozen for just such an occasion. You can drizzle more melted chocolate over it, or scatter chocolate shavings, but I didn’t bother this time. It’s delicious. Not really cheesecake-like, but rich and dense and simple. If you use raspberries, as I did, be sure to drain them well. I drained them, but not well enough, and juice stained the entire top of the pie and some of the crust. It didn’t make it too soggy, but that’s a real danger, especially with puff pastry instead of real pie crust.

I swept the living room/dining room floor, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran the dishwasher. Let’s say I spent 45 minutes on the non-food-prep portion of things, before I returned outside with the pup to hang out before I ditched him for the evening. I went to a really interesting event (more on that, later) in the evening, the pie was a hit, the dog got walked again.

Sunday morning dog walking, then a jewelry party at a co-worker’s, then Costco for supplies. I saw huge resin half-barrel planters there last week for under $18 each. I grabbed a couple, but noticed that there were no drainage holes. I’ve learned my lesson about drainage holes. I’m really good about putting broken crockery and things in the bottom of pots, to promote drainage and prevent overwatering, but in a climate as arid as Colorado’s, I never thought my bigger problem would be flooding. Which is to say that a friend gave me some pots and I didn’t realize there was no drainage and they’ve basically been full of water for a year, now. So I charged my cordless drill (can I just say I love my drill, and I love that I’m the kind of woman who has quality power tools, but the fact that it doesn’t hold a charge from use to very occasional use is the bane of my existence, because I don’t want to drill in 90 minutes, I want to do it now!) and spent some time breaking down terra cotta pots that were damaged in last year’s hail, and breaking up the plastic pots that were damaged in the same hail, so I can use them for drainage in the new pots. And when the drill had juice, I added drainage holes to the new pots, then started filling them with potting soil from damaged and flooded pots, so that I can empty the flooded pots and drill holes in them. Planting this year is going to be soo late, with me moving sluggishly through this process, but we do what we can, and this is all I can manage, at this point. I spent 90 minutes on garden stuff, Sunday.

Monday, I didn’t do much. I ended up working late, and my eye was wonky, so I played with the dog and mom cooked for us. Tuesday, I got a solution in place for working out more frequently with the dog, without making him walk farther. I helped mom unstick her door. I walked the dog twice. I did two loads of laundry and started mom’s taxes (which I’m totally counting as cleaning time.) Let’s say with mom’s door, laundry, and the taxes, I did 2.5 hours.

I think it’s worth admitting that I failed to develop a routine, but I think what I did develop was an awareness that I’m headed for depression, if I’m not already there. And I’m not sure I would have seen it before I went a lot deeper into it, if I weren’t consciously working on this. I need to think about whether I go back to therapy. I’m a big believer in it, but I’m not sure it’s what I need from where I am. So I’m going to hold onto that. Journalling is helping quite a bit, and I’m being open about it with the people around me, so they can call me on it if they see something. But for now, I’m going to start with more exercise, and an understanding that I’m under a lot more stress than I want to cop to, and that I might need to adjust my standards/expectations accordingly. Prioritizing self-care is more important for me in such times. (When I say “depression,” I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but my mom has talked about periods that she calls depression, in her life, and I think it’s certainly possible that there’s a predisposition there. If lifestyle changes don’t show an improvement, I’m absolutely open to therapy and other solutions. But I’m starting with diet and exercise first.)

But where does that leave me with the house? It leaves me with an understanding that housework is necessary. That the need for it is reduced when I can throw a bunch of stuff away. That routines make it easier to know where to start, but when in doubt, start somewhere— anywhere. Anything is better than nothing. And on the days when you can only manage nothing, be gentle with yourself.


3 thoughts on “Lenten Challenge, the Sixth and Final Weekend, Plus a Couple of Days

  1. As your canine buddy seems to enjoy his walks, and he clearly also plays, perhaps you could consider taking him on a nice walk somewhere and, every now and then, break into a jog for a few minutes. He will burn off some additional energy, and you can burn extra calories. Assuming you do not have a running background, then short bursts of increased speed should start getting your body acclimatized to the change. Over time you could build up to running/walking alternate street light posts! Just a thought! 🙂

    • I would love to— the back story is that he’s coping with angular limb deformities in his front paws and another orthopedic problem in his back leg (why we’re going to physical therapy and contemplating surgery[ies]), and I’ve been told not to let him overdo it and to rest him. Before that happened, we were doing 5 miles a day and more on weekends. It’s the right thing for him that I let him lay in the grass, it’s just, unfortunately, not the right thing for me. You’ll see in a later post that I have a wacky plan that lets him rest but be out in the sunshine and gets me some exercise, all in one.

  2. Pingback: Crazy Dog Lady | Adventures of Auntie M

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