Happenstance

I wrote some days ago about realizing that the journey I was on was not progressing as well as I would like

…about coming across some journals from years ago in which I expressed frustration with circumstances that are relatively unchanged today

…that the methods I was using didn’t appear to be very effective

…I’m still decluttering, and trying to find time for things I want to do, and attempting to maintain a simpler and cleaner home

…change has happened, but not as much as I would like

I wrote that there needed to be a new plan, but I had no idea what it might be.

I was frustrated.

I was hopeful.

I was anxious.

 

Then, by happenstance. I downloaded the game, gin rummy, onto my phone.

I’ve never been good at gin.  I just thought it might be a good distraction, and hey…it was free.

Do you play gin?  It’s pretty simple in theory.  You have a limited number of cards and need to form melds (sets) before your opponent goes out or you get stuck with points. I’m not going to try to explain the whole game…the important part to understand as far as this post goes, is to know that getting rid of “deadwood” is the key to winning.

The game I downloaded has a range of opponents for you to challenge.  They are ranked in skill from not very good to pretty much unbeatable.

When I started I couldn’t beat any of them.

I played anyway.

Then, I actually went and read all of the instructions just to make sure I understood what I was supposed to be doing.

I still lost a lot, but not quite as much.  I started beating the worst player every once in a while.

I started watching what the best players were doing.

I realized that I was playing the same way I had always played…trying to put together the same type of hand over and over again.

I kept losing.

Sound familiar?

Sound like the way I’ve been working on my house?

That’s what I started thinking.

I started discarding cards…ruthlessly.

I stopped saving cards that would make melds that I wanted to make

…and started saving cards that could and would actually win the hand.

I discarded long-shots.

I stopped holding onto cards that were no longer useful.

I didn’t keep a card just because I liked it (I’m partial to hearts).

If it wasn’t going to contribute to a winning hand, I discarded it.

I quit picking up cards that “might” be useful.

A hand plays out quickly.

There is no time for a lot of “maybe” and “someday”.

Holding onto deadwood is no way to win.

I can now beat any of the opponents except for “Jane”.  I’m pretty sure that she cheats. She wins a lot.  She seems to be very lucky.  Yep,  I think she’s cheating.  I may quit playing against her.

In any case, by happenstance, this game taught me a lot.

Help can come from the most unlikely places.

Who knew?

Life is short.

A day is even shorter.

I’ve got to play the hand that I’ve been dealt.

I can’t hold onto cards (stuff and emotions) that aren’t helping me to build the hand that I need to win the game.  The game being the life that I’m hoping to live.

The wrong cards or too many cards won’t ever come together to help me achieve my goal of a simpler, tidier, more comfortable home.

I need to ruthlessly discard cards that are keeping me from assembling a winning hand.

If I have something that I used to like but don’t any longer, it should go.

If something was expensive, but I don’t love it, keeping it just takes up space that could be filled with a more important card.

Just because something once held deep meaning, doesn’t mean that it gets to stick around forever. I change and the things that are meaningful can change also.

There are only so many cards allowed in a hand.

Holding onto the wrong card means that there is no room for the right card.

I have to make sure that I have the right cards.

Oh, and it helps to make sure that I fully understand the rules of the game – the direction I am headed and my ultimate goal.

Clothes that don’t fit right or don’t fit at all.  Gone. Even (or especially) if I am holding onto them because I like the idea of wearing them rather than the reality of wearing them.  You know, all those clothes you keep taking out of the closet and dropping onto the floor – never really wearing anywhere.

Beautiful things that fit the image of who I would like to be, but don’t fit into the reality of who I am – a woman who hates to dust and despises clutter.  I’m talking about those beautiful home magazine pages of meticulously displayed collectibles and art.  I love the way that looks.  It just doesn’t translate into my real life.  I need to be realistic about the life I live and the way I live it.

Things that I used to use all the time, but don’t use any longer.  Interests and needs change, but I don’t always adapt the stuff I have to reflect where I am right now.  I don’t have four kiddos at home all the time now.  I don’t cook the same.  Life has changed.  Stuff needs to be reassessed.  Holding onto stuff from when all the kiddos were home and little doesn’t stop the progress of time.  Those days are gone.  It’s time to let go of the “cards” that are no longer serving a purpose in my hand and start building a new hand.

There are no excuses in gin.  There is no justification.  Deadwood goes or you lose.

There comes a time when you have to quit talking about what you want.

A time when you have to quit explaining why you can’t have or do what you want.

You have to do what is necessary to make space or time for what you want.

And you have to do it.

 

 

Seeking Normal

Once upon a time there was a woman on a journey.  She started this journey many, many years ago although she didn’t realize it’s importance at the time.  Maybe she realized that it mattered, but she didn’t really define it or name it or make plans for it until fairly recently.

Initially, when she was a child, she just wanted to find normal and be normal and fit in.  That was the extent of her life plan. She didn’t think much beyond doing the next “normal” thing.

As a young child she just wanted to stay in one place longer than a year.  She didn’t want to move every June and be the new kid in school every September.  She wanted to have a birthday party and invite other kids that she actually knew and hadn’t just met.

As a teenager she just wanted a pair of blue jeans.  It was the seventies.  Every teenager wore blue jeans.  Even the really poor kids who were on free lunch and had to ride the bus to the elementary school to eat.  She was a junior when she finally got a pair of jeans – plain pockets from J.C. Penney’s.

She went to college like she was supposed to.  She majored in English because she promised her Dad she would get a teaching certificate so she would always have a job to fall back on.  She had no intention of teaching and snuck in an extra major in Art because that’s what she really loved.

Somewhere along the line she quit making art because it was time to be a grown up.  In her “normal” world, normal people didn’t make art.

Normal people got married, bought a house and had kids – in that order.  They also had credit cards and two cars.  This means that they had debt.  They had jobs – both Mom and Dad – so that they could buy all of the stuff that they needed.  Each kid had their own room and lots of toys and a big yard to play in.

So, she got married.  This was most definitely not a mistake.  He turned out to be a really great guy who loved her and stuck with her through times that any sane man would have run away from.

She had four kids.  Also, not a mistake.  They are beautiful human beings that amaze her with their talent, self-confidence and abilities – despite the fact that she raised them and was pretty clueless most of the time.

The house was really a good idea also.  She worked to make it a home – the home that she had longed for all of her life.  A place she didn’t have to leave against her will. She had vowed that her family would stay in one place and they pretty much did.  They did move, but never left the same general area.  She provided her family with the stability that she never had.

Then one day the kids started growing up.  She had time.  She started making art again.  And she started thinking – about herself and her life.

She thought about the choices she had made and the ones she hadn’t made.  The path she had travelled looking for “normal”.  She thought about the time she had spent on “auto-pilot” because there just wasn’t the time or energy to be introspective and thoughtful.

She started looking around and realized that “normal” didn’t really exist.  At least not the way she had thought.  Everybody had their own idea of normal.

The first really big eye-opener came when her children started living their own lives and made choices different than the ones she had made.  Honestly, some of their choices seemed a bit scary to her.  She worried about them.  She kept her mouth shut (most of the time).  She watched and marveled and learned.

She pondered her choices and decided that there wasn’t a whole lot she regretted.  Each choice had contributed to the person that she had become and she liked herself well enough.  But, she decided that there were things that she would like to change and she resolved to do so.

…To hell with seeking normal.  She decided it wasn’t too late to find her own way and to stop trying to conform to an ideal that had never existed in the first place.  She realized that this was a hard thing to do.  It’s difficult to deviate from a path that you have travelled for so long.

Then, one day she met a young man – a pretty cool guy.  Smart, educated, thoughtful and caring, he had a wide variety of interests and was brave…so very brave. His “normal” was very different from hers.  He carried a magic backpack that was much like Mary Poppin’s bag.  From it he pulled everything he needed.  He needed very little.  He travelled light and was confident that he could meet his needs and wants without owning a lot of stuff.  She was very glad to have met him.

She was coming to the realization that her journey on the well-worn path meant that she often didn’t really look at the world around her with open and inquisitive eyes.  What had she missed?  What had she categorized as normal and not normal?  What limits had she put on herself and those around her?

She found joy in her realization that she was leaving the path she was on and was making a conscious decision to wander.

 Not the End.