Project 333- Part 2

It’s been a week. I feel better and look better. My closet is still overcluttered and full of stuff I haven’t sorted yet, but I’m creating outfits I like and wearing them and I’m excited about the change.

Last week I posted the first 3 outfits. If you haven’t already checked out her site about minimalist life-style, check out Project 333. Here are my next 3.

Outfit #4: Casual Corner

In this outfit I feel ready for a day around the house, or a quick check of the mailbox outside. Getting dressed for myself is a THING 🙂

Here it is on the actual body- looks different, right?- with or without the cotton/polyester/spandex blend zippered sweat shirt coat by Athletic (($5). I haven’t worn it because it’s winter white and I’m always afraid of getting it dirty. I couldn’t pass it up though because it was brand new, gorgeous, and fit me perfectly, so I’m going to keep trying to work it in. Practical is usually the best way to go, but…..beauty is always VERY tempting.

Outfit #5: Cargo pants, decorated

The Bass cargo pants ($6) are 88% polyester, 12% spandex. The blouse I bought years ago in Belgium has no label anymore, but it’s a cotton spandex blend. I have rarely worn it as it always feels too dressy, or sexy. It shows off my curves, which I’m always a little shy about. It was an inspiration to put it together with the cargo pants that I am crazy about and wear ALL the time because they are so light, and dry in a few hours after washing.

I’m challenging myself this year to feel free to look pretty! That means accept and not try to hide my body so much. This combo works because the work status of the pants balances the beauty of the shirt. Like wearing diamonds with jeans~ COOL!

Outfit #6: Feeling Pretty!

This dress and jacket ($10) grabbed my attention because of the fabric. Sadly all the labels are gone, because they were either scratchy or in this case I did some alterations which took them out. It’s a crunchy pleated shimmery polyester which never needs ironing and washes and dries in minutes. I love a beautiful pattern and I love the way I feel when I’m wearing it. I wore the sleeveless dress all summer last year, but it can also be dressed up for the evening with the short-sleeve jacket. I decided to wear the jacket backwards. It’s a huge upgrade that way, and goes from being a dorky dated outfit to a fresh glam look. It was inspired by a look Grace Vanderwaal rocked at Billboard’s Women in Music Awards. She’s someone worth checking out if you haven’t already. What an amazing voice!

333 Project ~ Wardrobe Challenge

If you are interested in decluttering your life while you have some extra time, the place to start might be your closet. I’m inspired to try. To get started, check out the link below.

Today I chose the first 3 outfits and photographed them. It’s a small step in an effort to simplify my wardrobe and choose 33 items to wear for the next 3 months. Let me show you what I have so far.

Outfit #1 – Spring into Comfort

This outfit is comfortable and very practical for cool spring days. The shirt is I.N.C. International Concepts, made of 95% rayon and 5% Spandex, which is why I bought it. Rayon is my ultimate favorite fabric. It’s so soft. The black and white sleeve embellishments add a pop of style that I decided was something I could use in a 3/4 length T. The pants are your basic Danskin yoga pants, and the sweater is acrylic which I usually avoid but I really liked the pattern and style. I just discovered today that it can be worn inside out. The leather flats, Trotters, were made in Brazil and cost $8 at Goodwill. I bought a second pair in cream-color. They were brand new. The total cost of this outfit was $19, and I have to say I feel great wearing it around the house, which is pretty much all I’m getting dressed for these days.

Outfit #2 ~ Time for Yoga

I joined a gym and started yoga classes 2 weeks before the Coronavirus blew up and everybody shut down here. I’ve got the outfit and the yoga mat and am making a relatively feeble attempt to get down on it once every few days. The clothes are versatile enough to wear to the grocery store or for a walk down to the Sound. The pants ($4) are made by Champion, and the shirt ($3) I have no idea as I cut the label out when I bought it. Hate that scratchy feeling! The shoes were new when I bought them at GW 2 years ago ($15). Made by Reebok and great for walking, treadmill or otherwise, they’ve put in some miles, but this will probably be their last season. I still never run. Btw, the faux leather suitcase was $8 at a GW in Asheville, NC, where I picked it up when I went to visit my sister a couple of years ago. It’s the perfect size for a carry-on, or an overnight bag to Emilie’s.

Outfit #3~ Feeling like a Lady

This is not a new dress. I’ve had it for a few years, but rarely wear it because I always think it’s too dressed-up for where I’m going. Not anymore. These days I’m putting it on for no other reason than I feel good in it. I always love seeing women in long dresses. It’s such a rare sight nowadays when most of us wear pants instead. I found the sweater by Mia and Tess ($3) and the color is pretty perfect. The dress was $6, at GW of course. The Jimmy Choo shoes, which are now about ready for the trash can, were a steal a couple years ago at $35. Already worn, they still had lots of life in them, and I have definitely worn them out since. I really really hate to part with them, they are a well-worn well-loved part of my daily life.

In conclusion for today~

I’ve been dressing up in front of a mirror since before I can remember. It’s what I do, and it’s always interesting to see what I can put together. The trouble has always been that I haven’t felt confident to take the pony out of the barn. That old expression, “You can dress her up but you can’t take her out,” comes to mind. I’m tired of living in the closet, and I’m challenging myself to wear what I like, and like what I wear. See the source of my inspiration this week at https://bemorewithless.com/project-333-challenge/.

Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Feeling more comfortable in my own skin.’ Hope you’re doing OK, and that we don’t go back to normal before we’ve all had the chance to redefine how we do community, and what we really want. Wishing us all the best!

Starting up again

It’s 2020. I’m not feeling so enthusiastic about anything, truth be told. You know when it feels like everyone is out to get you? Or however much you fight, you don’t seem to be winning?

I’ve been prone a lot these days…trying to take the weight off, to keep the stress at bay. It helps. I truly love my bed. It’s definitely a safe space and comfort zone. However, one can’t stay there forever. Lying down isn’t a bad strategy, but life does keep calling.

So today I asked myself, what could I be doing to help myself feel better? And as I was driving home I found myself telling the story of my weight loss a few years back, and was reminded of my TeaTalks days. I could do another Tea Talk. I haven’t thought of that in a very long time. I could reach out and share an inspiring story that might help someone going through the same struggle.

I could do another Tea Talk about joining OA, what led up to it, how I keep the weight off after all this time. I love telling that story. It reminds me that I can do things to help myself. And those are the kind of stories I need to hear and tell right now.

So…I’ll be sharing that story with you soon. This is just the introduction to let you and me know that I’m still here, and I’m starting up again!

Defensive Driver

I love my little Nissan Versa. I bought it in 2015 with only 31,000 miles on it. It’s been a pleasure to drive, a pleasure to park, and a pleasure to look at. I’m a satisfied customer. The only thing I don’t like is the expensive insurance. Even when I moved into a safer place with private off-street parking, GEICO wouldn’t lower my rates.

After searching around for a better deal and not finding one, I discovered an online defensive driving course that would lower my annual premium by $100. It cost $19.95 to take the course. I signed up, passed, and got the discount. I’m happy with GEICO now, and I’m a defensive driver now, with a certificate to prove it.

In the course, defensive driving is defined as “driving to save lives, time and money, in spite of the conditions around you, and the actions of others.

Some sobering facts:

-Violations are the cause of most collisions, and result in 38,000 deaths yearly.

-54% of those killed while driving were not wearing a seatbelt.

-Speeding reduces control of steering, and increases stopping distance and the severity of a collision.

The major takeaways for me:

Never allow other drivers to determine how you drive, or react to the behavior of other drivers. This is a big one for me. I get upset when people pass me on the right, tailgate, or weave in and out of the lanes at high speed. And sometimes I speed up just to keep them from passing, or slow down to keep them from tailgating. Not smart. Not defensive.

I was surprised to learn that stress is the root of aggressive driving. I’m checking to make sure I stay relaxed when I’m behind the wheel, no matter what other drivers do.

Keep a 3 second following distance at all times. I like keeping space between me and the vehicle in front of me, and when other drivers pull into it, I just adjust the space again.

Head-on collisions are usually the most destructive, and are often caused by driving too close to the center line. I’m being careful now to stay closer to the right line and keep my eye on oncoming traffic.

Distracted driving is a real thing and most of us are guilty of it (phone, food, fatigue, and failure to pay attention to the road). I’m not allowing myself to check that message like I used to. The average time is 4 seconds for a distraction, and a lot can happen when you take your eyes off the road for that long.

Check the rear and side mirrors once every 4 or 5 seconds. Know what’s going on around you at all times.

The new suggested side view mirror adjustment is safer and reduces the blind spot. To adjust the left side mirror correctly, lean left while strapped into your seat until your head touches the rolled up window. Adjust the mirror until the side of your vehicle is no longer visible. Same with the right mirror: lean as far right as possible with the seatbelt on and adjust mirror until the side of the vehicle disappears.

At first the cars in the side mirrors looked HUGE, and it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to that. Now, after a few weeks, I can’t remember anything else 🙂

WHAT IF? This was one of the best teaching points for me: Imagine what might happen and be prepared for a quick response. For example, on a neighborhood street where lots of kids are playing, what if a ball rolls out suddenly from between the parked cars? Would I be ready to stop in time? Or driving down a two lane country road, if the driver of an oncoming vehicle looks down to check his phone and crosses the center line, where would I go? Am I ready?

I still have a few things to check out: my airbag for example. I’m not a tall woman, and the steering wheel even at its lowest position is directed more toward my face than my chest when I’m seated and strapped in. Airbags are an important safety feature, but they also need to be understood and used correctly or they can be dangerous. I’m going to the Nissan dealership this week to check out my airbag placement.

I also have to change my rear right brake light. I’m going to do it by myself (thanks to excellent youtube tutorials!) and save myself the crazy high labor charges.

Seaside Community Garden

What we found when we arrived; and how we transformed it.

Emilie, my gardener daughter and mentor

GETTING STARTED

I got involved this spring in a small community garden a block and a half from my house. I’d passed by the locked gate and seen the sign several times walking home from Eileen’s. There was still snow on the ground. By the way, scroll down if you want to skip the story and just see pics.

A month or two went by and I was getting antsy. This is the year, I was telling myself. I want to garden. My daughter Emilie was a big inspiration. Her tomato plants the year before, all those ground cherries in her freezer, and that pesto, fresh from her own garden. I wanted to try it myself.

The host of Digging in the Dirt at WPKN held a workshop for gardeners at the station in early spring I attended and received a gift of tomato seeds. Then one day, while volunteering to answer phones there I told Steve about the garden down the street, and he said, “Oh yeah. Talk to Bob about it. He’s the organizer.” Wouldn’t you know that Bob would be the next caller on the line. Destiny took my hand and opened the gate. Another reason to thank WPKN, a constant inspiration musically and otherwise!

That was the beginning of April. Here it is the beginning of August, and I’m planting a second time for a fall crop of beets, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and chard. The little bed I was assigned to has been cared for daily, after being set up by my daughter, who showed me how to prepare the soil for planting, and then gave me my first seedlings and sowed the first seeds. She set the design from the beginning, and I realize that’s what you have to do.

FIRST ARRIVALS

The heirloom pole beans were the first to sprout. They have taken over an entire trellis, and then some.

The trellis has been added to several times to make a place for all the exuberant growth. Now it resembles a rather rustic wedding arch with more recently planted pole beans coming up from the other side. They should be meeting sometime in the not-so-distant future.

My second trellis- for the nasturtium.
The Sage in the foreground is an old established plant from the previous gardener.

PERENNIALS

How cool is something that comes up every year without you having to do anything. Everything you see below are things we found already in the garden from the year/s before. They bring an abundance of early spring beauty, and lots of hope for a good year. I was so busy cleaning up and organizing that I forgot to take pictures of the mint, tulips, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, mulberries, and currants.

I still don’t know the names of everything, including the weeds. Learning is a process. And I’m taking my time. The photo above left is a dill plant, found all over our garden, and above that is a patch of garlic scapes, which I learned can be cut and eaten when they curl. In this picture they are just starting to curl. I ate scapes this spring, and then harvested the garlic a month or so later. Fresh garlic!

BERRIES EVERYWHERE

Black Raspberry Plants

Our garden is FULL of red and black raspberries. They are quite the propagators, and need to be kept in check or they will take over the entire garden. A lot of people wouldn’t mind that I suppose. This is a particularly healthy and happy black raspberry bush. Still waiting for the fruits to ripen, while the red raspberries are all picked, and a second harvest on the way.

Gooseberries

These are gooseberries. I have an old bush in my bed. Most of us have never seen one before. When ripe, they become pink and translucent orbs. I collected a bagful while they were still too tart for the other gardeners and took them up to Emilie. She’s the master of pie-making with fresh fruits. We made a rhubarb and strawberry tart, and ate the gooseberries all by themselves- they were too good to cook.

We also have some big mulberry trees hanging over the garden, and people shake them down to catch the fruit on a big tarp. Currant bushes bore a rather sour fruit this year, but it’s all edible.

RHUBARB

You might say I’ve discovered rhubarb this year. I’ve taken a lot of stems over the summer, and I’m probably the only one in the garden who knows how great rhubarb is. Right now I have a bunch of chopped stems in my freezer so I’ll have some vitamin C source in the dark of winter. I also combine it with apples to make a tart applesauce. Yummy.

THE EDIBLE GARDEN

Some of the fruits of my garden: Kolrabi, which my daughter introduced me to, finger eggplant, and the winter squash Mr. Yee gave me to plant.

Chard, kale, bok choy, lettuce, chives, garlic, raspberries, basil, and tomatoes…I’m eating a lot of greens every day. Gently steamed, and mixed in a large bowl with beans, nuts, onions, berries, an egg or a small piece of meat, some sauerkraut, and topped off with sesame oil, and a sprinkle of vinegar – OMG! This food makes me feel good and I’m slimmer and spending less. What’s not to like?

SAVING SEEDS

Harvest seeds for future gardens, and pickle the cucumbers to enjoy right now. Dill seeds are what give dill pickles their distinct flavor. Who knew?

CABBAGE AND SAUERKRAUT

A fermented cabbage is a tasty and healthy addition to almost any dish. Like a Korean, I don’t want to live without it anymore. I’m still waiting for the cabbage in my garden, so I’m making sauerkraut with store-bought heads. Combining a red and a green cabbage makes a beautiful pink-colored kraut which can be added to soups and salads, or piled onto a hot dog of course.

VERTICAL GARDENING

Our garden beds are not huge, and there’s so much more space to plant if you go vertical. Tomatoes were my first experiment with vertical gardening. Thanks to Youtube I found lots of tutorials. In the end, I create my own style, and it becomes a fun building project. This is my first trellis. It’s about 9 feet tall, and the tomatoes are almost at the top now. I built it in a rush right before leaving town for 2 weeks, knowing that those plants were going to need the support.

Emilie brought me 4 of her tomato seedlings to get me started. Unfortunately they got hit by the very last of the cold days in May and didn’t survive their first night in the garden. That was a heartbreak, but one of the things I’ve learned is that a gardener learns from mistakes.

The tomatoes she replaced them with have been my first fruiters, and have provided me with all kinds of pleasure caring for them. In all I have 20 tomato plants in 3 different beds, most of them planted from seed. I really enjoy entering the garden in the early morning and spending time with them – building trellises, training them to climb, pruning – it’s focused, creative, and good for the mind. And the tomatoes are delicious!

This is my second tomato trellis. It’s higher and had to be sturdier in order to support 10 plants. The seeds of theses plants were given to me by Kevin Gallagher from WPKN. They’re taller than this now, and have been bearing fruit. I’ve been radically pruning them, as per youtube tutorials, and spending time with them is my greatest pleasure. It’s calming and meditative, and they respond well to my care.

UNWANTED VISITORS

This morning when I was checking the tomato plants I saw some strange berry-like stuff on several of the leaves. When I looked closer I suddenly saw a huge caterpillar. It was 4 inches long – HUGE – but I almost didn’t see it, it blended so well. My first instinct was to cut it off immediately, but I went home instead to google it. It’s a life-form after all.

Turns out, it’s a hornworm caterpillar that is a very serious threat to a tomato garden, and the black stuff is the poop, a very nice tell-tale sign to alert a gardener to its presence. Too bad for the caterpillar. He was duly removed, and given to a neighbor who thought his 14-year-old boy might be interested in watching it grow. If not, his grandmother has a chicken who would enjoy it.

COMING SOON

Potatoes are almost ready for harvesting. We have pumpkins and maybe a watermelon or two will make it. Lots of peas and carrots. Someone planted 3 or 4 rows of corn. The camomile I mistook for parsley and picked was given a new start and hopefully will survive. Bell peppers and hot chili peppers, and a few onions that survived my first planting. My beets didn’t make it the first time so I planted some again on Aug 1st – two rows of them. See below left. They’re coming up this time.

COMPOST AND MULCH

Another thing to mention is the importance of compost and mulch to keep the soil nutrient rich and moist. Already on our 5th mulch delivery from local tree cutters, we’re making more soil everyday. More about that in the next post.

Thanks for visiting!

CHOOSING MY LIFE

It feels good to realize that I’ve been choosing my life for all these years.

In 2000 I chose to follow Rev Moon’s direction to go to Korea. Before that I chose to sign our family up for the National Messiah mission. We got assigned to Portugal. It was there I chose to take a teacher training course which certified me to teach English as a second language. That came in very handy later on. In Portugal we understood the suffering course that Rev Moon always talks about, and we each gained something infinitely beautiful to take with us when we left. Thank you, Portugal!

Before Portugal we chose to go back to my hometown in Tampa Florida, where we bought our very first home and where Emilie got introduced to my family. Thank you, Rev Moon, Tampa, and all the Gatlins.

After 4 years in Portugal I chose to leave and followed Emilie to Korea, where she had decided to go to middle school. Jean followed close behind. In Korea I chose the university I wanted to teach at, and after a very intense interview I got the job, much to my surprise, and loved every day there. I chose to create The Coffee Morning as a way to follow up on WFWP’s investment in bringing women from east and west together. After being elected president, I chose to delegate some of the leadership, which was not an easy thing for me to do and taught me some invaluable lessons. Thank you Peter Drucker for all the management advice, and all the IWK sisters for keeping the dream going.

After renting for a few years, Jean and I chose a lovely apartment in Seoul to buy, and after a short period of panicked buyer’s remorse I fell head over heels in love with it. We chose to make it truly our own by adding a solarium, hidden storage under the floor, and a raised platform for our bed which doubled our storage space. Thanks, Jean, for seeing the potential, and for being so handy, and thank you Korea for the best years of my life.

After 12 years in Asia I followed Jean to his hometown in Belgium, where he took up teaching, and I became a part of the Debacker tribe. After 3 years in Liege I chose to leave Europe and come back to the US where I got to live with my mother and make amends before she died. When she chose to turn her care over to my sister, Dana, I chose to leave Florida and fulfill a longstanding desire to live in New York City. Thanks Dana, for taking over, and thanks Mom, for allowing me to go.

First I chose to attend a film-making course at UTS, where I met Chaplain Kone. After meeting him and feeling the call, I chose the CPE internship I wanted in Manhattan, and from there chose the residency in Bridgeport that opened up. Because I had fallen in love with Seaside Park and the Long Island Sound during my work there, I chose to stay in Bridgeport after wandering around the globe for twenty years, and chose a tiny home to buy. It’s the perfect place for me. Thanks Kone, and thanks Eileen and Janet for helping me find a little refuge by the water.

During chaplain training our supervisor suggested we find and attend a 12 step group. Thanks, Adrian. Two years later I am still going, and last year I chose to create a step group within that. That smaller group is my weekly rock and salve, my healing place. I also chose to look for musicians and start a band. Thanks to Craigslist I found Ian and Matt. In the band I chose to call myself a new name, Moxanne, because it’s my intention to reveal more of the Moxie within.

In Bridgeport I also chose to become a regular volunteer after discovering my favorite radio station, WPKN, broadcasting out of UB. From there I met the DJ who hosts ‘Digging in the Dirt,’ and chose to join a community garden where I get my hands in the dirt and get my daily dose of Vitamin D. I’m alive and creative there and making choices everyday. Those little plants are pulling me right along with them into the future. And everybody there knows me as Moxanne 🙂 Thanks Steve and Bob!

I’m happy that my daughter Emilie and I like each other as we do, and share so much. That’s a dream come true. As I told her yesterday, ‘Before she came into my life, I missed her so bad, I missed her so so bad!’ I chose to have a child, and worked hard to make it happen, and she’s my greatest joy. I’ve chosen to let her live her own life, and finally realized that I’m not the center of it, and that’s OK. She’s opened up to me in ways I never thought possible and only longed for before. Where I’ve chosen to live is only 2 1/2 hours from her, which means I can see her often, but not so often that she wishes I lived farther away. Thanks, my darling daughter.

I chose to join the Unification Church in 1978. Thirty-five years later I chose to leave it. Looking back the one thing I can’t say I chose was my husband. He was chosen for me by Rev. Moon. Although I chose to accept the match, it has been a struggle for both of us all the way through. Not that the other choices didn’t involve struggle or pain. They did. Every one of them has a story of challenge of some kind or other. Jean and I both chose to go through with the blessing, but neither one of us was clear about that choice. There’s something strange about that, because marriage is the most important choice a person can make.

Since making the choice to live on separate continents we have grown closer and more empowered, less co-dependent. We still operate like many other families – discussing major decisions, sharing resources, and showing up for important family events. We talk more, and laugh more often. It’s easier now than it’s ever been to get each other’s attention:  all we have to do is get comfortable and open Messenger Facetime, and Voila! We’re choosing to keep in touch on a very regular basis, which sometimes means 3 or 4 times a week. Friday is our scheduled call, and we rarely miss it. We talk about anything and everything, only interrupting ourselves to get up and pee or go get something to eat. I often think we should record our conversations and make a radio talk show – they’re THAT interesting! Thanks again, Jean.

So, here I am at what could be called a conclusion, but of course we know it isn’t. I certainly didn’t foresee where each choice would lead me. And I look back and feel grateful for all of them, even the mistakes. I suppose that could be the lead-in to a sequel…Life is full of choices, and there are many more to come.