Just Life

Looking for Fall

We're heading up north for a few days.


I joke that I'm looking for fall (not finding much of it here at home yet) . . . But, really, we're just prepping to shut everything down for the season. Sorting. Storing. Breaking down "camp." It's a bittersweet time, always. 

I may blog from up there, but I probably will end up just taking a few days off.
(We'll see how it goes!)

Stay tuned.


"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize."
            --- George Eliot


Asking the World for What You Want

This has been one of those . . . full . . . weeks for me. Lots of things on my calendar. Long appointments. Fun stuff. Not-so-fun stuff. Life. And a lot of it this week!

So I'm especially ready for a slow weekend kind of weekend. 
I guess you could say . . . I want to manifest ease and peace.

Which is why I was just tickled yesterday when I saw a woman manifesting EXACTLY the life she wants from the universe on Instagram. She, too, is looking for "ease and peace" . . . but she's being VERY much more direct. (It's a very short little "reel." Here's the link, and if you have an Instagram account you might enjoy watching it as much as I did.)



So, following her example . . . I'm manifesting the kind of weekend I want.
A NO THINGS kind of weekend.


Have a good one -- whatever kind you want.
See you Monday.


Introducing . . . The Museum of Me

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately . . . about blogging. Why do I do it? What might I have left to say after 12 years of doing it? Why does anyone read it anyway? Should I continue this blogging gig or give it a rest?

That kind of thing.

And I came to the conclusion that . . . I really don't have answers to any of those questions, but I think I'll keep showing up anyway. It's sort of weird to think about blogging. It's very . . . personal, really. It's all about . . . me. What I think. What I'm doing. What I'm thinking about doing. 


It's like I'm curating . . . a museum about myself.
Or something.

Ultimately, I decided . . . to just go with that. To continue on . . . talking about myself . . . in much the same manner as I have been for 12 years now. And to embrace that whole Museum of Me concept by . . . creating it. Like with actual, occasional EXHIBITS in the Museum of Me. You know . . . like in a real museum.

So. Welcome to  the . . . 



And its inaugural exhibit:  The Oldest Thing From My Childhood Still In My Possession

Meet Billy Bear.


He's the much-beloved, fur-loved-off-him teddy bear from my childhood.

I don't know much of his backstory. He was a gift, but I can't remember from who, and I have no idea when he arrived in my life. But he certainly became a favorite early on. Here he is, for example, at Easter in 1961. (I would have just turned 2.)

Kym yvonne 1961

I'm not sure when I started calling him "Billy." But I can tell you that I named everything "Billy" when I was a child, so it's not surprising. Many of my toys were "Billy." When I made up stories, "Billy" was often the main character. I even had an imaginary friend named "Billy" who worried the crap out of my mother. (Thankfully, Dr. Spock said it was "normal," which comforted her somewhat.) (Billy-the-imaginary-friend disappeared not long after my sister was old enough to play with me, by the way.)

Anyway. Billy Bear was a constant companion for me, and appears in many of my childhood photos. Here I am, in the fall of 1964. Still wearing the sweet coats. Still clutching Billy Bear in my arms. Now with an added pocketbook! (My obsession with bags began early in my life.)

Kym 1964

At one point, Billy Bear wore a satin yellow ribbon around his neck. And he has a music box inside. There was a little key in his back, and when you wound it, he played The Teddy Bear's Picnic. As you can see, I wound the key (lost for decades now) quite often . . . 


As I grew older, I parted ways with most all of my toys - even other favorites like my Barbie dolls and my Liddle Kiddles collection. I'm not terribly nostalgic about my childhood toys, really. I don't need to have them in my possession; my memories are enough for me. But Billy Bear? He managed to avoid all my purges.

He even went to college with me! 


My kids thought he was pretty creepy. He's very . . . flat. Kind of stiff. Not terribly cuddly in the ways "modern" stuffed animals are cuddly. And I'll admit . . . those eyes are super vacant. But he certainly had staying power for me.

These days, he sits atop a bookshelf in my sewing room . . . keeping an eye on things for me.


That Billy Bear . . . he's seen it all!


Now that I've officially created The Museum of Me, you can watch for new exhibits . . . maybe once or twice a month. And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of my prompts) and we can talk about ourselves together. (It might be fun?)



Unlocking: A Progress Post

A lot of times, I share my progress on some sort of project or another here. Knitting, often. Sometimes sewing. Painting from time to time. Stitching. Container gardens. Even home décor.

Let's go for something different today!
Still a progression.
Just a longer term and different type of progression. 

Today, my friends, I'm sharing the progress of my Pandemic Grow-Out-Your-Hair Odyssey!

At the beginning . . . 


This is me on March 21, 2020. It is not a great selfie, but . . . it gets the job done. You can see the starting point of my Hair Odyssey: short, lots of layers, bangs. (I'd had an appointment scheduled for a regular haircut just as everything was shutting down for the pandemic, so my last haircut was in mid-February 2020.) I'd already planned (pre-pandemic) to let my grow out a bit and see where my mood took me . . . and with no immediate option for a haircut, I decided to roll with it. Y'know. For a few weeks, maybe a month. (At the time, I assumed I might miss a haircut - maybe two - before everything was under control again.) (HAH.)


Almost six months later . . . Here I am on August 21, 2020. No haircut in sight. At this point, I could pull my hair into a baby-ponytail using lots of little clippy-barrettes to hold back the layers. I was cutting my own bangs, but wasn't doing any other snipping or trimming. It was at this point that I decided . . . Let's do the Full Monty here and grow out those bangs while we're at it!


And - ugh! What a horror that process is . . . the Growing Out of Bangs! Here I am, February 13, 2021 . . . and completely dependent on headbands, mini banana clips, tiny barrettes, and (most often) a pair of glasses-as-headband to hold the hair away from my face. Also hats. Lots of hats. (It was a good thing I wasn't going anywhere anyway. I'd never have had the patience for this VERY LONG stage of the journey at any other time of my life.) My salon had opened again, but I stayed away. (I was afraid my stylist might not be fully onboard with my hair growth strategy.)

Which brings us to today: My MISSION ACCOMPLISHED moment.
Because . . . YOU GUYS!!!!!!

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I have unlocked the JUST PULL IT BACK IN A PONYTAIL achievement!

I don't need a headband.
I don't need tiny barrettes.
I don't need bobby pins or mini-clips or hairspray or anything.

It's my Dream Hair!
Just pull it back -- or not -- and GO!

And - BONUS. I've even unlocked the MESSY BUN achievement.


I am declaring my Pandemic Hair Odyssey officially "over," but that doesn't mean I'm planning to cut my hair into a different style anytime soon. I like the ease of my newly-long hair (and not having to mess with my bangs anymore).  I'm planning to keep it long. I do get occasional shaping-things-up haircuts now that salons are open and there are good safety protocols in place at my particular salon, but it's just for a trim-up and to keep things from looking . . . feral.


18 months.
18 months of pandemic.
18 months of Hair Odyssey.

I'm calling an end to one of those.
(And I wish it were the pandemic.)


Getting Real

Blog-land (like social media, in general) is such a funny place. Carefully curated slices of someone's life: stories we decide to tell, views we decide to share. With pretty pictures, to boot!

I try to be authentic here on my blog. I don't shy away from hard things, but I still curate, y'know? There are plenty of thoughts I keep to myself, stories that I consciously decide not to share. I try to keep most of my pictures . . . pretty.

I guess this is my way of warning you  . . . that shit's gonna get real here for a minute. Not so pretty today.


You see, I'm in a bit of a . . . stuck place . . . right now. Life has thrown me a curve ball. And after thinking about it for a few weeks, I've decided to put it out there. To share it with you. Not because I'm looking for sympathy (I'm not), but because . . . maybe it will be relevant for you in some way. Maybe it will strike a chord for you, personally. Or maybe it will help you understand someone else better. Or something.


As I mention from time to time, I have RA (rheumatoid arthritis), and have for over 30 years now. It's pretty severe, and has caused me many problems (including my bout with lymphoma) over the years. I don't talk about it much. I try hard to pretend it's not a part of my life, actually. It's been well-controlled through medications, and I tend to grin-and-bear it. I don't want it to be a defining trait of Who I Am. Most people have no idea I have RA, and those who do . . .usually forget. And I like it like that!

But I've been having some trouble with my RA this summer. And right now, I'm in the midst of a full-blown, major RA flare. Not just an oinky-joint or a bit-of-discomfort-for-a-few-days kind of flare . . . but a Big One. The likes of which I haven't experienced for 20 years or so. Why? I won't go into the complicated details of this for you (and, trust me, they are very complicated), but . . . basically, I had to go off my tried-and-true-but-possibly-liver-killing meds for a few weeks to prove that YES! it WAS the meds killing my liver and not something more insidious. But stopping those meds for a couple of weeks? It opened the door for the "RA inflammatory process" to step in and take hold (there's a reason I was taking those meds). And now . . . that "process" doesn't want to let go.

So I'm having some bad days. And some REALLY bad days. But there some good periods thrown in, too, where I can almost live my life normally. (RA is a Very Weird Disease.) I've re-started the liver-killing meds (yeah I know), and I'm starting some steroids that might help. I'm also looking to "re-start" another longer-term medication that I used to take but haven't during the pandemic (because it wipes out your immune system and . . . well . . . that's something I decided to hold onto during these covid times). Like I said, this is pretty complicated, and it gets overwhelming sometimes.

So these days, I'm in pain, a little depressed, very irritable, frustrated, exhausted, and Sick of This Shit.
But also Dealing With It. 

I will get through this. 
I'm not just sitting here, waiting for a solution to drop into my lap. I'm actively pursuing options and gathering a team to help me figure things out for the future. (Because obviously the liver-killing option is not good for the long term, and covid isn't going to magically disappear.)

So . . .  I might just blog a little bit more (but not all the time) (don't worry) about this not-so-pretty slice of my life.

Because right now?
I decided to share.

Honey, We're the Big Door Prize

So it feels like the world is in A Very Shitty Place right now. But there are still things that break through; things that have the capacity to make you smile and feel a warm-and-fuzzy feeling inside.

Maybe . . . a song like this one?

That's actually my theme song for the weekend.
Because it reminds me of Tom and I.
And because on August 22, 1981 this happened . . . 

Tom &  Kym 8.22.1981

That's FORTY years ago, my friends.

And how can that be?

Shoot. In 1981 . . . We were just two 22-year-olds with stars in our eyes. I still thought I'd be teaching forever. Tom was hoping to make it out of grad school alive. We had no idea what was ahead of us. We just knew that we had hearts dancin' in our eyes . . .  and we wanted to make a go of making a life together. And we really didn't think much farther ahead than that. (And certainly, definitely . . . not forty years out!)

But there we were. . . 

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a-sittin' on a rainbow.
Against all odds,
Honey, we're the big door prize.
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces.
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.

Kym & Tom 8.22.1981 - 2

At one point, just a couple of years ago, we were Thinking Big about how we might celebrate this milestone wedding anniversary. A trip to Italy. That was what we THOUGHT we'd be doing to celebrate. But. Well. We're not planning anything Big or "Special" this year after all. Just a 3-day-extravaganza of Ordinary Stuff. Y'know . . . Kicking things off tonight with our weekly ritual: Pizza Friday + ice cream cones + Ted Lasso. And we are throwing caution to the wind on Saturday and going out for dinner at a favorite restaurant . . . inside! And on Sunday, we'll have my dad and Brian and Lauren over to grill on the patio (and they'll all probably forget it's even our anniversary and that's just fine by us because it's our day anyway).

And this is all good.
Perfect, in fact.

Because, after all, we've still got those big old hearts dancin' in our eyes.
And that's all that actually matters.
Turns out we ARE . . . the big door prize!


I hope you all can find something to celebrate this weekend.
(And if you can't, maybe just listen to some John Prine. Because he's sure to bring a smile.)


Sometimes Plans Change

Way back on Monday, I had plans for the blog posts I'd write this week. But after a week where we all feel like we've been battered and bruised and drained and depleted, those posts just feel . . . trite and tone deaf. Those blog posts can wait. Or disappear forever. Sometimes plans change.

Instead, for today, please try to find some space for peace and ease in your life.

IMG_5668 2

Take some time . . .

To breathe.
To find what might soothe your soul.
To send your best juju to the universe.
To be kind.

It's no time to give up, my friends. We need to keep shining our lights.


"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
            --- Desmond Tutu

How I Spent My Summer Staycation

Remember when we were kids . . . and our teachers always assigned that How-We-Spent-Our-Summer-Vacations paragrah when we started back to school in the fall? Well. Here's my grown-up version for you: How I Spent My Summer Staycation.

When I decided to take last week off, I just felt like I needed a little break. Tom flew out to Wyoming to visit his parents, so I thought it would be a good time to take some "me time" while I was holding down the fort at home. I made a list of a few things I wanted to do/accomplish during my "solo" Summer Staycation -- but it wasn't overly ambitious.

I kicked things off with a visit to the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids after I dropped Tom off at the airport. I've never actually been there on my own, but I'm just gonna say . . . going solo is a great way to visit a botanical garden! You can wander wherever you want. For as long as you want. At your own pace. I took my time and lingered. It was wonderful!

I meandered along the wetlands boardwalk . . . 


and leisure-d my way along the paths in the lovely Japanese garden (one of my West Michigan "happy places") . . . 


And I lingered for a long while in the Michigan Farm Gardens. They're so charming and whimsical. . . 


(The Meijer Gardens are really wonderful. If you're ever in Grand Rapids, it's well worth a visit -- in any season.)

On the other end of the activities spectrum, I cleaned out and organized my refrigerator and pantry.


Hoo. Boy. It just doesn't get any better than the excitement of a newly ordered refrigerator, does it?


And in between, I caught up on some tasks I've been needing to take care of. I read a lot. I watched White Lotus.  I knit a little. I cut out a top, but didn't sew at all. I also didn't do much gardening (because it was such a hot sauna of a week last week), but I did play around with my art supplies in air conditioned comfort. . . 


It was the perfect kind of Staycation. I took care of some things. I rested. I filled my tank.

Ready to get going again!
And happy to be back.

Summer Vacation

Summer is going fast, friends! 


I've decided to take a little summer vacation this week. I'm not going anywhere or doing anything exciting or special. Just . . . taking a few days off to enjoy the summer, kick back on my patio, and fill my tank.

I'll be around.
It's just a little blog break . . . summer vacation style.

Have a good week -- and I'll see you next Monday.


"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside you."
            --- Deepak Chopra

The Centurion

Our old dog, Jenny, celebrated her 14th birthday last April. In "dog years" . . . that's 98. Close to 100. But not quite. So Tom figured out when her 100th birthday would be . . . and it was yesterday.

We threw her a party!


She had a day filled with special attention and treats -- capped off with her own hamburger, a dog-cookie cupcake, and a new chicken. (She always had a "thing" for chickens as a young-and-active dog. She cared not a whit about the new chicken - it was purely symbolic - but Brian and Lauren's dog, Ferda, loves it.)


Jenny's deaf now. Nearly blind. Increasingly incontinent. But happy! She gets frequent belly rubs, walks every day, plenty of treats, and a whole lot of love.

We think she'll be around a while longer.
(She knows a good gig when she sees it.)


Happy birthday, Jenny!