Enough

gratitude-quotes2

I didn’t write about food yesterday.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t write at all.   You probably didn’t actually notice because you have a life and are not sitting anxiously by your electronic device waiting for my newest missive.

I don’t feel like writing about food today and sharing with you that although I didn’t find the hidden Rice Krispies treats, a bag of vegan oatmeal cookies did find their way into my shopping cart while picking up Thanksgiving menu items yesterday.

And I ate them.

Not all of them.

Maybe half of them.

At least they were vegan so I just blew it by eating too much sugar (which I have now figured out definitely affects my mood…and not in a good way). I am grateful to have food.

Anyway, I didn’t write because it is the week of Black Friday and the folks in this family who work for actual money work in retail. I am grateful that they are employed. They are all working crazy and overlapping schedules while trying to share one car.  I am grateful for that car. It is a logistical nightmare.  We hold planning sessions  every day to figure out how to make it work.  I am grateful that we are making it work.

I can’t drive in the dark because of my eyes so all I can do is pack lunches and wash work clothes.  I am really frustrated!  I am grateful to have eyes that work well enough and food to pack in lunches and clothes to wash.

No one is getting enough sleep. I am grateful for the sleep we are getting and a warm bed and shelter.

At least we have a holiday this week so everyone can rest.

Oh wait, no we don’t.  Some have to work on Thursday afternoon.  Black Friday isn’t just for Friday anymore. I am grateful for the time we will have and friends to share a meal with.

I hate Black Friday.

I hate that we have traded a day of thanksgiving for a day of rushing to acquire more.

How much crap do we need?

Enough I say.

I am grateful for what I have and I have enough.

I won’t be shopping on Black Friday and probably not on Saturday either.

I will be at home eating my leftovers and counting my blessings.

I have enough.

 

 

Old Ways New Ways

old ways

I’ve never been one to jump on the trendy bandwagon and embrace the latest “thing”.  I don’t rush out to buy the latest best-seller or try out the newest gadget on the market.

I’m also resistant to habits or routines and tend to not read the instructions that come with almost everything…except life.  Life comes with no instructions and it would make things easier if it did…not that I would read them so I guess it’s a moot point.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that a common theme has been my desire to live a simpler, more intentional and less cluttered life.

I’ve de-cluttered and organized and de-cluttered again.  I’ve made countless trips to the thrift store with lots and lots of stuff.  I’ve made lists and plans and schedules in an attempt to get my act together and live in a serene and peaceful home…

OR a reasonable approximation of peace considering the ever-changing chaotic circumstances our family calls life.

At the very least, I’d like to keep up with the dishes, not have wads of dog hair clogging up the base boards and occasionally be able to actually use the dining room table to dine on.

I try to keep my expectations reasonable (except when I’m having a cranky, irritable, unreasonable mood swing, but that’s a subject for another blog post).

So, the other day my oldest daughter came to me and said, “Mom, I think we should get the Kon-Mari book and read it and try it out”.

Um. No.  Everybody is buying, reading, and blogging about that book.  Why would I want to do that?  I’m already de-cluttering just fine.  Look at that pile of stuff in the hallway – that’s been there for over a month waiting to go to the thrift store.

Oh wait, maybe I should keep that whatchamacallit that’s in that box.  I might need it.

Okay, let’s be honest.  What I’ve been doing hasn’t been working or I wouldn’t have been working on it for a year -or two – or more.

We got the book.  I started reading it.  My daughter finished reading it and told me what to do.  Old habits die hard.

But, they can die and new, better ones can take their place.

It seemed stupid and like an enormous amount of work, but we followed the instructions.

We piled ALL of our clothes on the dining room table (after we cleared it off which took forever).  We touched every object.  And we got rid of a lot.

We piled ALL of our books on the dining room table (after we cleared it off which didn’t take that long)  We got rid of half of them.

Then, ALL the cleaning supplies were placed on the dining room table (which was clear).  All of the cleaning supplies are in one place where they can be found and hopefully used – cause that’s kind of the point of having them.

And so on…

I don’t know why it’s working…or how.

But it is working.

And we aren’t finished yet.

Something changed.  Somehow.

This is what we’ve accomplished so far…

 

A scary amount of stuff is on it’s way out.  But, more importantly, I’m excited about the empty storage and “organizational” containers.

While clarifying and articulating what my ultimate goal was, something clicked.  Figuring out if an item brought me “joy” made a difference.

In my case, that meant that an item had to be worth the cost of taking care of it.

Not just “did I find it useful”, but was it useful enough that it warranted using it, cleaning it and finding a place to keep it.

I’m still struggling with the “beautiful” category.  I have a corner that has “beautiful” things in it.  I’m slowly making decisions about whether it’s “beauty” is worth the cost of my time to care for it.  As an artist, I can see beauty just about anywhere in anything, but I can’t “afford” to fill my life with it all.

I’m finding that my joy is with less responsibility to things.  A shorter to-do list and more time for the things that I have identified as important:  being kind and patient with the people that I love (and trying to learn that I am one of those people, or should be) and making stuff that sometimes ends up being art.

We lost momentum in the process while I was depressed, but I’ve started back up again.

I’ll keep you posted!

What Now?

No writing the last few days…just a lot of thinking and a bit of keeping my mouth shut and some reevaluating my life.

This flu bug just keeps hanging on.  No fever, not really sick, but not feeling well either.  Lots and lots of coughing that’s threatening to become bronchitis.  I’m sure some allergens are responsible also.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and just do the really important stuff, but mainly thinking….

Thinking about the other night when I went into my studio and realized that my work table was once again so cluttered that I couldn’t actually use it.

One of the things on it was an old visual journal from 7 or so years ago.  It’s part of a box that I packed away about a year ago because I couldn’t make a decision about what to do with them.  And then I brought the box back out because there was an empty shelf in my new studio. Sigh.

I started paging through it.  There wasn’t actually much in it as far as original art went. There were a lot of articles about creativity and quotes.  There were some collaged pages using images and words from magazines.

I decided it wasn’t great stuff.  I reread the creativity articles and decided that they weren’t all that important.  You can find millions of articles in that vein on the internet.  I started copying some of the better quotes into a new journal and then realized that these can also be accessed anywhere anytime I might suddenly need a quote.

Then I came across a page that featured the words, “I need a pause button”.  I wrote about that just the other day right here in this blog.

The next page dealt with the issue of clutter…

And the next, dealt with finding time for creativity in the midst of life.

I burst into tears.

This journal is over 7 years old.

I’m still stuck in the same spot.

Sure, I’ll grant that I’ve made some progress.  There have been steps forward and steps backwards.  That’s how life works.

But…I have not changed my life significantly.  I am essentially still working on the same issues.

Insanity, right?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I took the journal and went to the center of my labyrinth that I am constructing in my yard (it’s technically just a couple of circular rock piles, but let’s not judge…work in progress) and set the damn thing on fire.

We could be generous and say it was a ceremonial gesture ritually symbolizing significant change and hope for the future.

Let me be brutally honest.  That’s not what happened.  I was just a pissed off and enormously frustrated woman destroying something that I had previously found significant.

In reality, that journal was just another one of the hundreds of things that are in the way of what I claim to want.

So, it turns out that this year’s motto…Re-thing, Re-imagine, and Reflect…are the correct words for change.

I haven’t come up with any grand solution or any new plan.

It’s just very clear that the old ways aren’t working well enough.  I don’t have time to piddle around with these changes.  I’m not going to live forever!

For now, I’m sticking with sorting through things.  Hopefully, more ruthlessly and with a clearer understanding of what needs to go.

This thinking can’t just apply to belongings.  In fact, “things” are the least of my worries. Old habits, relationships, emotional baggage, and choices all need to be brought under the microscope.

What is beneficial?

What brings joy?

What is worthy?

What brings me closer to the life I envision?

Ugh.

Reality checks can be brutal…

and painful…

and enormously helpful.

I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…

Stumbling

While stumbling through life, I occasionally discover treasure.  Such was the case as I wrote my last blog post.  I titled it “Not Helpful”.  While writing the post, those words kept popping up…”Helpful” and “Not Helpful”.

Over the last couple of days I have found myself repeating those words in my head as a reaction to situations.  And those words have been most helpful.

It’s helping to identify actions, behaviors, and worries as beneficial or not.  That goes a long way in eliminating stress and achieving a small measure of peace.

 

 

For example, I was planning on picking back up on my decluttering project.  The house has slowly gotten a bit fuller and I’ve realized that decluttering is going to be an ongoing effort for me.  An untidy house with piles of stuff and lost objects is stressful.  Not helpful.

I got an email about joining a decluttering challenge about two weeks ago.  It sounded like it would be helpful and fun.  Each day there would be an assignment to work on, and there was a facebook page to join and chat on.  That sounds good…right?

Yesterday, I got my morning email from the group and failed to open it.  Why?  Because I had not yet opened email number 1….or two….or… You get the idea.  I had not logged onto the facebook page and introduced myself.   I sighed heavily as  I looked around my house and at the long list of emails. I  started berating myself for yet another thing that I hadn’t kept up with or done.

That kind of thinking is not helpful.

I don’t need more perceived failures and recrimination.

The group was supposed to assist me in achieving my goals.  It was supposed to be helpful.

It was not.

I unsubscribed to the group and started setting up my studio…still undone from the move quite a while back.  But, I’m working on it and have filled a trash bag and a giveaway bag during the process.

You can barely walk in there and there is still a ways to go, but it’s a small win for today.

Letting go of what’s not working, or what’s not helpful is difficult.  Sometimes it just feels like quitting or failing.

I have to keep reminding myself of what the goal is…of the direction I am trying to go…

In this case, the goal was not to successfully complete the decluttering challenge.

My goal was to simplify by decluttering unnecessary items and find peace.

Two very different destinations.

Confusing the two was just a “not helpful” part of the journey.

Now that I have checked my map (clarified my actual goal), I can once again start moving in the right direction.  There will, undoubtedly be more detours.  In fact, this was a challenging day filled with road blocks…

…but I had figured out where I was going and that was helpful.

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.

Being in the Right Spot

Someone gave me a plant several months ago.  I don’t do plants very well.  I like them well enough.  I’ve read that they are good for a healthy home environment – that they clean the air and lend an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

In my “if” life (the life I imagine I could have “if” I had time, energy, money, etc.) my home is filled with lush, green vegetation.

In reality, any plant that I have tend to get forgotten.  Most days, I deem successful if I water and feed me and my family.

During one of my past decluttering sessions I got rid of several sickly looking plants – mostly consisting of sticks and dried leaves.  The pots went too.  I was done with plants.

Then this one showed up.  It moved around quite a bit and finally landed on the table in the entryway.  I like it there.  If someone shows up at my door, they can see the plant and know that I have made an attempt at decorating.  My hope is that they will see the plant and overlook the pile of shoes, jackets, dog hair and bags full of who-knows-what that typically fill said entryway.

The plants sits in a very visible spot so I remember to water it.  Okay, to be totally honest, I can see when it’s wilted to a point that I remember to water it.

It’s in a good spot for me.

Lately I have noticed that the plant is leaning – reaching out away from the wall towards the center of the room – towards the light of the window.  I turned it around so it would straighten up.  It still reaches towards the window.

The plant knows what it needs to stand straight and to grow.  It’s not concerned with being in the right spot to “look good” or satisfy a shallow need to keep up appearances.

The plant knows where it needs to be and what it needs to be the best possible plant that it can be.

A simple lesson for me from the humblest of places.  Today I am wondering and thinking about what I need to be the best possible me.  Where do I need to be?  What do I need to do?    What is in my way?  What is keeping me from the light?

What unnecessary things and actions are keeping me from standing up straight and growing fully?

I’ve moved the plant in a place of honor in front of a window. And gave it water.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Yesterday in the midst of my Monday, we got a phone call.

My daughter answered (because it was her phone), got a weird expression on her face and said, “I don’t know.  Why don’t you ask my Mom.”  She then preceded to hand the phone to me.

I didn’t take it.  You know why?  Because when the conversation starts like that, I get concerned.  Her phone, her friend, and she wants me to handle it.  What could go wrong?  Remember, this is the Monday I wrote about yesterday where everything seemed to go awry.

Be careful what you wish for…

If you recall, I’ve shared on this blog about my desire to live a simpler, more intentional life.  I’m getting rid of stuff.  Living with less. We’re attempting to leave less of a “footprint” on the planet.  We’re recycling again.  We are transitioning to a more whole food diet that includes less chemicals, additives, processing and packaging.  Getting healthier, losing weight, exercising more.

The whole lifestyle reboot.  Sounds good, right?

Back to the phone call…

“We have a hog.  Do you want it?”

I reply, “Ummmmmm, a hog?”

There is silence.

“A friend of mine shot a wild hog on his property and doesn’t want the meat.  Do you want it?  It weighs about 60 lbs.”

I should note at this point that wild hogs are a big problem in these parts.  They are destructive, dangerous and have no natural predators.  They are overpopulating and just not nice creatures at all.

I ask tentatively, “Has he cleaned it?”

“Oh yea, he skinned it and gutted it.”

Now, I’ll add that my oldest daughter has been to culinary school and studies Food Service Mangement at College.  My husband majored and degreed in Animal Science.  I like pork.  Therefore, our family has the skills it needs to deal with this.

So now, we are off with our giant ice chest to go get a hog.  A whole, uncut, unprocessed hog.

I don’t know about simple, but you can’t get much more natural than that.  From land to table in I don’t even know how many steps…but I’m about to learn.

Addendum:  I’m not really into hunting myself.  I don’t have a problem with it for others as long as you aren’t doing it just for sport.  If you kill it, you better eat it or find someone who will.  We’re not vegetarians, but as a family we don’t eat much meat at all.  It’s too expensive and we have problems with the way animals are treated in today’s food cycle.  I guess this is our next step.