Books that Survived

books show us

When I was a kid, I read all the time.

Unless I was drawing.

But mostly I read.

In college I stopped reading so much because there just wasn’t time.

After college I started reading a little bit more, but never as much as when I was a child.

And then I had kids of my own.

I continued to read, but not for myself…for them.

During the great declutter of last month we placed all our books on the  table.1004171728a

We got rid of anything that we weren’t going to read again, were never going to read or that was readily available with our new library card.

And then there were these books:

1105170941.jpgThese I pulled out as books I had acquired because…

well, because they “spoke” to me.  They had content that I thought could help me become more of the me that I want to be.

They cover topics like art and fear and creativity

and life and peace and spirituality

and so much more.

And they have been sitting on the shelf…some for a long, long time.

Some I started and never finished.

Some have never been opened.

Now they are all in one place – by my chair in the living room where I often end up sitting and watching television because it’s easy.

I will see them when I go to sit down.

And I will no longer ignore them.

I am going to read them.

Because…

kid president

Peace.

 

The Research

After I got out of the hospital this last time (a second round of multiple hernias and intestinal obstructions plus diverticulitis), I took quite a while to recover enough for everything to return to normal. I quit eating meat because that seemed to be stressful for my digestive system and I was struggling with a loss of appetite.  I wanted to (and needed to) lose weight, but I knew that not eating wasn’t a good option.

I found that I didn’t miss meat all that much…except for maybe bacon.

I didn’t set out to become a vegetarian.  I definitely didn’t plan on becoming a vegan.  I didn’t even know what the term “whole food, plant based diet” meant.

It just sort of started and didn’t stop.

Then one night when hubby was working late and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on Netflix, I happened upon the documentary section and started browsing…

I don’t remember which one I watched first, but here’s a list of what I’ve watched so far:

  • Forks over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Sustainable
  • In Defense of Food
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Choices
  • Food, Inc.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
  • Fed Up
  • Super Size Me
  • Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Most of these were watched while walking on the treadmill.  I found them to be very motivational!

Some of them seemed a wee bit crazy at first.  A very radical step away from cultural norms.  A lot of that seems more normal now that I’ve embraced this journey.  Some of them are still too crazy for me.

I’m also currently reading (and using recipes from):

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I’ve noticed some benefits other than health related ones so far…

Dishes are much easier when you aren’t cooking with animal based products and extra oils!  They pretty much just rinse clean.

The chickens and rabbit are very happy and well fed and the compost pile is filling up nicely.

And the amount of trash we are producing is significantly less.  We are recycling more efficiently and there is little that actually goes to waste.

Grocery shopping was harder the first couple of times we went after starting this.  Label reading took on a whole new meaning and many previously favorite items were reluctantly placed back on the shelf.  Then it became a sort of treasure hunt as we would read labels in the store and joyfully shout out, “We can eat this!” or “I found something!”.

Even though we thought we were pretty savvy shoppers, I was totally caught off guard at the amount of sugar (in various forms) that can be found in almost everything!  And how many ingredients does it really take to make bread, cereal or salad dressing?

Now the majority of our shopping is done in the produce section.  We shop for a rainbow of colors and I know words like phytochemicals and lycopene.

Our spice collection is growing beyond salt, pepper and garlic.  We still don’t like curry, but we’ll try it again at some point because our taste buds are slowly reawakening to natural flavors.  Smoothies with just fruit now taste too sweet to me and are reserved for dessert status.  Our added salt intake is greatly reduced.

I miss butter…on toast and potatoes and well, everything.  But, I don’t miss it as much as I did three weeks ago.  I’m sure my arteries don’t miss it at all.

This is challenging.

And interesting.

I think my mind is starting to wake up a bit as I pursue more knowledge about my food, my body and my health.

Good food for the body and the mind.

Steps in the right direction on this journey…

Surf’s Up

Today is a good day.

I voted.

And that’s pretty much all I’m going to say on the subject.  Except maybe, that I’m glad this election season is over.  I’ve grown weary of the anger, rhetoric and fear.  Of the voices growing louder and louder as they attempt to convince themselves and others that their choice is the correct one.  Of friends that I know to be kind and good people posting things on social media that they (in normal times) would never dream of saying face to face with a real human being.

I will not be spending the day anxiously watching the news to see what’s happening.  I will not join in the media circus that has fueled so much hate, divisiveness, and frenzy.  The votes will be counted, the decisions made, and pretty much no one will be happy with the outcome.

Life will go on.

Life today will consist of a visit to the local library and we might even get a few book that are “educational”.  We will certainly get a huge stack of lovely picture books far below our actual “reading level”.  Youngest daughter and I will snuggle on the couch and pretend it’s a blustery fall day and share some stories.  We have at least turned off the air-conditioner for the first time this season.  It is November, right?

We will continue to shred cardboard and paper for use in our chicken yard.  We have quite a pile to work through. Our chickens do such a lovely job of composting it for us.  We are still far from a zero-waste home, but we are trying.  Recycling is a challenge because we don’t have curb-side service.  We have to haul it quite a distance away.  Mainly, we’re trying to focus on not bringing in things that we can’t reuse or recycle easily.

We will be especially aware of Barret the dog’s behavior today.  He just completed his third round of steroids for his meningitis.  The last two times he completed his medication, he fell ill almost immediately.  We’re experimenting with immuno-suppressants now to try and care for him.  He is the biggest, goofiest, clumsiest mess ever.  He has grown huge.  The shelter definitely missed the call when they claimed he was two years old.  They missed a lot of things – including that he was seriously ill.  Now we are “emotionally invested” in the big mutt.

The move into my new studio is almost complete.  I’ll spend some time moving things and finding the right place for everything today.

I guess I haven’t actually shared that news with you.  With only one kiddo left at home full-time, we’ve found that we have more than enough space and have spent some time envisioning what we might do with it all.  We have a huge room at one end that is going to become a small “apartment”.  We’re moving the classroom and studio space out of it and into the two extra bedrooms.  We lucked into a great deal on appliances from an apartment complex that was upgrading – a Whirlpool stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave in excellent condition for $100 total.  The space will have a small kitchen, bathroom, living area and it’s own outside access.  When it’s complete we will have a space for family members in transition and friends in need.  It’s one of those ideas that just came together as if it was meant to be…I’m very excited about it!

The annual pre-holiday decluttering activities look a little different this year.  So much has been decluttered in years past, that it’s challenging to find much to box-up. Nevertheless, a box is ready in the hallway as we work on tidying up and preparing for the holidays.  This season we are focusing more on better organizing our belongings and finding suitable storage for what we have.  It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have if you don’t ever put anything back where it belongs!  I am so guilty of that.  Piles of stuff everywhere!

Today is a good day.

A day in a free country with the right to cast my vote.

A day in a home that I can organize, tidy-up and share.

A day with family that I love and that love me.

A day to jump in the water and enjoy the waves…

Good Words

I found a good book at IKEA on Sunday during a trip with my daughter.  We bought it to share.  We are both trying to be money conscious and careful about what we purchase.  She is moving to her first apartment since graduation and becoming a real grown-up.  I am so proud of how much she is decluttering in preparation for a post-student life.  I’m thinking back to how much I moved across country after graduation and marriage.  So much stuff!

Anyway, the book is entitled Kinder Homes: 50 Ideas for Creative Living.  I’ve just started looking through it and have already come to a stopping point – a place to read and absorb and savor the words that I’ve read.

“Stay hopeful, be creative, simple and down to earth.”

Words from a person miles and miles away from me in another country and yet they have summed up everything I am working towards.

Yesterday I was discouraged and that feeling carried over to today.  We fixed a plug above my studio desk and hung my “inspiration” bulletin board, but other than that, I didn’t accomplish much towards working on the house.

Everyday stuff filled the rest of my day.

I will stay hopeful and know that each small step is a step towards a more conscious life.  All my efforts make a difference.

The “everyday” stuff is the stuff that life is made up of.  It’s all good.

Empty Boxes

You know that you are making progress when the “declutter” for the day is empty boxes, storage containers, baskets and the like. That’s what left the house today.  Lots and lots of empty receptacles.  The family room/studio/classroom is decluttered and cleanish.

The only stuff that I didn’t deal with is my art.  Art that used to hang in a church:  art that was made for a life that is no longer the one I am living.  A lot of history including joy, growth and grief.  There are lot of emotions wrapped up in that art.  For now, it will remain tucked in the storage area covered by a quilt.  I know it’s there and I know that I need to make some decisions about it all, but not right now.  It’s out of sight, but not out of mind.  I’m learning to recognize when I’m avoiding an issue that is impeding my journey.  Something that is holding me back.

I keep reminding myself that this is a journey that cannot be traveled quickly.  For now, I’m exited about the progress that I’ve made.  A full pick-up load of stuff is gone to the thrift store and recycling.  The trash can was full yesterday and is already half-full today.

There is space in the room to set up my drying rack so I can cut down on my dryer use.  My art desk is clear.  There are two comfy chairs clear of clutter sitting next to the fireplace ready for winter snuggling.  The school stuff is organized and a plan is in place to read the books that we have on the shelves and to share them with other homeschoolers in the next few months.

I really and truly can’t find anything else in there to get rid of.  But that’s today.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  I may become a minimalist yet.

Um, probably not!

Thursday’s “Duh” Moment

We live in a pretty big house.

Sometimes it seems way too big and too much to keep up with, but sometimes…

It seems just right.  Holidays, weekends, all four kids home, guests over for dinner and games…

Sometimes it seems too far away from everything.  A trip to the grocery store, a movie out, going to work, a quick jaunt to the library are all at least 20 minutes away – most trips are more like 45 minutes to an hour.

Most times it seems like the perfect spot to live.  Neighbors that aren’t too close or too numerous and lots of wildlife:  Deer, raccoons, possums, birds galore all wandering or flying about.  Lots of elbow room!

In any case, we are here to stay.  At this point in our lives when we are trying to get out of debt and live a simpler life, we just can’t beat our mortgage payment.  We have four bedrooms, two living areas, and two bathrooms for about what a one or two bedroom apartment would cost closer in.  That’s double the space for less money.

I read articles about families that are downsizing and moving to smaller homes to save money.  That doesn’t work in our area.  There is nothing cheaper than where we are now.  Not with working plumbing and a solid roof anyway.  I’ve done the fixer-upper house.  Even if you do-it-yourself, it’s not a real money saver.

One of the biggest problems with living in a large space is the ability to have more stuff.  We also have a ton of storage space – lots of cabinets and closets.  It tends to fill up fast and because its out of sight, it can be out of mind.

Unless you happen to have compulsive tendencies and obsess over what the inside of your cabinets and closets look like.  I am constantly pulling things out in order to tidy and organize things.

Today’s “duh” moment as I’m attempting to get things “together” for a peaceful holiday season with a lot of guests?

Having more doesn’t equate to doing more.

Having more art supplies does mean that you make more art.  A certain amount of supplies are necessary of course.  I don’t have any idea what that amount would be.  I am figuring out that you can’t keep it all.  Everything may have potential.  I can only create so many things…a finite number.  I can’t easily create anything if…

I don’t have a clear surface to create at or if I can’t find what I need to work with.  Some folks may work well in their packed studios with endless boxes and bags and shelves and…

…but I am coming to the realization that I can’t or don’t.  I need to find out what works for me and quit trying to “look” like an artist and just become comfortable with being one.

More chairs and pillows and decorations don’t make for a more comfortable house if…

…you can’t relax and enjoy the home.  If you are afraid someone will come over and see it as a mess or if you feel the need to constantly apologize for how it looks.

More supplies in the kitchen – dishes, pans, spices, food – don’t make for better meals or better entertaining if…

The dishes aren’t washed, the table isn’t cleared and the fridge is so cluttered that you can’t function in the kitchen.

More clothes don’t mean that you dress any better.

More school supplies don’t mean that you learn more.

More cleaning supplies don’t mean that you clean more.

More books don’t mean that you read more.

More just simply isn’t more.  More is not simple.  More is hard work.

It has to be paid for, picked up, cleaned up, stored, sorted, found, organized, accounted for…

and did I mention PAID FOR?

I know all these things.  Knowing and doing are two different things.  Sometimes knowing has to be realized more than once.  Sometimes I forget.

I have invited a lot of guests for Thanksgiving.  Folks that may not have a family to be with – a home to share a meal in.  I am excited.  I hope they all come.  It means a lot to me.  I want to welcome family and friends – old and new.

I want my home to be ready to welcome them.  I don’t want to apologize or be anxious.  I just want to throw open my door and say “Welcome, I’m glad you are here.”

I have work to do.

I haven’t posted the five items the last several days, but fear not.  Stuff has been going.  I just haven’t had time to take a photo or post.

At least five items have left each day. More old business files have been recycled.  Craft items, scrapbook paper, dried up markers, clothes, pillows, pantry items, trash, and more art and craft supplies – gone.

Today.  Thursday.  I have realized that more isn’t always more.  More stuff doesn’t mean more productivity or happiness or security.

For me, more stuff means more anxiety, more work, and more stress.  I’m so tired of dealing with it all.  I’m tired of it taking up so much of my time, energy and focus.

Change is hard.  Change doesn’t happen all at once.  Change is a journey.  Change is not a destination.

Back to the journey for me.  Happy Thursday to you!

Time

Monday morning here at the old homestead and it’s quiet.  Such a change from yesterday (all last week really).

Husband and oldest daughter are at work. Second daughter is back at school. Son is in his room.  Youngest daughter is at a friend’s house.

Just me, the dogs, chickens, rabbit and the kitchen.  Today is kitchen cleaning day according “The List”.

It’s actually a great relief to have the list to fall back on today.  I’m really worn out mentally and physically from all the activity and people of late.  I got up and looked around at the state my house is in and sorta freaked out.  Then I sat down at my desk and saw the list.

I don’t have to clean the whole mess up.  I just have to clean the kitchen.  The rest will wait.  I suppose that some people have brains that would logically come to that conclusion, but I don’t.  And that’s okay.

I’ve resisted the urge to WRITE IT DOWN for a long time.  I didn’t want to admit that I struggle with whatever brain oddity I struggle with.  I just want to be competent and organized and have it all together.  But I don’t and that’s okay.  I’m getting it all together…slowly.  At the end of today, I will have a clean kitchen.  YEA!

What else has been happening here, you might be asking…well, maybe not, but I’ll share anyway because you are obviously reading this…

I am reading a book.  Just for fun.  Nothing intellectual or informative or on the best seller list.  Just a book.  I used to read all the time.  Back before kids and stuff.  My daughter is in the summer reading program and I decided that I could read this summer too.  In fact, I actually wrote it on my list.

I don’t know at what point in my life I quit reading.  I guess it just got put on hold until there was time.

I’ve rediscovered the fact that we only “have time” for what is important when we “make time” for it.  It’s another one of those things we have to make a conscious decision to do.  Otherwise, the time we have just seems to drift away from us and we never get to what’s important or what we enjoy.

How many times do I catch myself saying “I’m going to………”

  • I’m going to paint the pantry that still has ugly vinyl manufactured home wallpaper
  • I’m going to paint the living room that is still beige ten years after I moved in – I HATE beige
  • I’m going to start on that giant canvas that’s been waiting a year
  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to read that book
  • I’m going to call that friend

You get the idea…

I don’t have forever to wait.  I have right now.  And maybe tomorrow.  Nothing is guaranteed.  I’m not going to quit planning on tomorrow, but I am going to quit waiting on it.

My next list is the “what I want to do list”.