The Problem

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After a year of disposing of the spoils of my late husband’s accumulating, aka hoarding, there was still a lot of stuff in the house.  In my naiveness, I assumed that if you want to minimalize, you simply get rid of stuff.  I read books and articles, and I had down pat the rule, “if you don’t use it, don’t love it, get rid of it.”  Stuff remained.  That’s about the time when I realized THE PROBLEM.

I love and use a lot of stuff.  My whole life needs to be examined, not  just my stuff.  If I’m going to simplify my life, I need to look farther/deeper than just the stuff.  A diletante by nature, I have somehow taken it to new extreme levels.  I go in too many directions with all my stuff in tow.

I’ve had to think about what’s important to me, and there are still decisions to make.  I love blogging, so it’s going to take place here.  Welcome to Connie sorting her life!

These are briefly the basic areas that I have identified to date:

ART – I do pottery, but most of that stuff stays at Mudworks.  Alas, I also like to paint, draw, sew, cross-stitch – well, just about any crafty thing you can imagine.  Of course, it all requires stuff – acrylic paints, charcoal pencils, pastels, canvases, sewing machine, pattern books, project kits, how to books.  I have boxes and boxes of loved and needed stuff.  Goal is to pare down my art.  Do I really need to do it all?

HOBBIES – I love photography.  I love family history.  I love gardening.  If these things stay, then a lot of other activities need to leave.  After all, for my own well being, I do need to keep my bicycling and yoga, and they have been at the tail end of my list for too long.

COOKING – Now that I’m cooking for just myself, I can’t decide how or what I want to do.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  Do I want to eat vegetarian? vegan? gluten-free? Paleo?  Should I cook country style? Italian? French? Bake my own bread?  I gave away most of my cookbooks, and yet somehow I still have forty or so, all because my cooking goes in so many directions.  Not just cookbooks, but all the gadgets that go along with it.  I can juice, make pasta, decorate cakes – it’s overwhelming.  And I’m not even cooking!

FINANCES – After years of priding myself on my simplified record keeping, I am overwhelmed with the stacks (more like boxes!) of papers.  Who knows how it happened, well okay, I can trace it all back, but I found myself with accounts at too many institutions.  At the time, I’m sure there were reasons, but it’s gotten out of hand.  The process of paring accounts down isn’t as close to my heart as art and cooking, so the simplifying is quickly happening.

WORK – Here again, too many directions.  This is how some of those accounts came into being.  If my CPA business wasn’t enough, I added some other small (but time consuming) ventures including creating e-courses for creative entrepreneurs.  This area is going on the chopping block.

GENERAL STUFF – Yes, I have too many clothes, too many books, too many personal care products.  Slowly, it’s heading out the door.  These are easy decisions, once I realized my bigger problems.  I have heeded the “I wanna do ____” far too many times, and stuff just naturally follows along with it.  I’m sort of like the plant above, growing is too many directions, with one thing leading to another, and just about to tip off the ledge.

I’m committing myself to simplifying my life, and then I can deal with the stuff.  Who knew simplifying could be so complicated?

 

Out of the Fog – a BIG Step

Last August as I was struggling to figure out what my life would look like in the coming days, “something” came to me.  It was a simple thought.  You need to live in Lexington.  Simple as that.  But not so simple for me.  Rooted describes how I live in a place.  Henry County has been my home for 37 years.  That’s a lot of roots!

I can’t describe the weight of that simple thought.  It had enough pull that I gave it my attention.  There are lots of good reasons for Lexington.  But I’ve lived in the country for the last 37 years!  I have a son and granddaughter there, but then I have a son and two grandsons in Henry County.  There are places to eat, things to see and do.  My business is based in Henry County and Louisville.  At my age I can attend the University of Kentucky at absolutely no charge.  I can sit in my backyard and hear nothing but the birds and critters.  As foreign as it sounded to me, I needed to step out of my solitude.  Wherever that thought came from, I needed it.

A plan formed.  I would find a small house in Lexington, and for the time being, I would live both places.  I would work in Henry County and play in Lexington.  People have second homes, although they are usually by the ocean, or a lake, or in the mountains.  My vacation home would be in the city.The Dudley HouseMy house in the city – The Dudley House.  It was hard to find, and has been a journey making it livable.  I rang in the New Year in the Dudley House.  Well, if you can call being asleep long before midnight ringing in.  Soon I’ll be telling you all about it and sharing photos of the makeover things I’ve done.  Can I see the future clearly?   Of course not, but there’s a twinkle in my eyes.

 

 

How is it you’re not here?

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How is it that you’re not here?  Of course my intellect knows — you have passed.

But me, I don’t understand how it can be.

You were here doing everyday things.  All of your stuff is here.

Your van sits in the driveway.  Still full of firewood, your gator sits in the garage.

I look in your closet, and I can even smell you.

How is it that you’re not here?

Your body came back on an airplane.  I saw it.

I held your hand until it warmed up in mine.

I know you are dead.

Everything here looks so ordinary and as it should be.

I went to Sanibel Island and walked the beach.

Your memories were everywhere, but I was alone.

In a moment that I wasn’t aware, everything changed.

How did it happen that you’re not here?

Mind on my Brain – or – Brain on my Mind

Day 7 of BlogtoberFest and 31 Days.  Obviously, day 5 and 6 are missing.  Everyday is just too much blogging for me, and probably too much reading for you.  Yes!  As a public service, I’m saving you from excessive blog chatter.

On to minds and brains, which does have something to do with stress reduction.  I’m not being chased by lions; there is no “thing” out there to cause me stress.  Yet, my body continues to respond as if that were indeed what was happening.  My cortisol overload is coming from my mind, from my thoughts.  mind blogThe mind and the brain have always intrigued me.   When I was a philosophy student a zillion years ago, Immanuel Kant was my hero.  Kant believed that time and space are constraints that we put on our perceptions rather than being something outside of us.  Of course, this is a simplification;  after all, it took him volumes to say it.  Never the less,  it gave me a starting point for understanding.

This interest was peaked again a couple of years ago by a TED Talk by a neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a stroke.  If you haven’t seen this, and I know it’s 20 minutes long, it really is worth it.  She’s funny, too.  Since watching it, I have read her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey several times.  I read it again this summer, and now it seems that every book I pick up has to do with brains and thoughts.  You’ll be hearing more about this gray matter.

Would love to hear what you think of Dr. Taylor’s TED talk, and if it gives you pause for thought.  It’s on YouTube here and has been viewed over 2.5 million times.

Day 4 – Massage

Yes, massage relaxes me.  No question about it. massage blog

A monthly massage is  a splurge that I give myself.  Although, I consider it not a splurge but rather a medical necessity.  I found the most wonderful massage therapist about three years ago.  Selfish of me, but I’m not giving you her name, since she already stays booked months ahead.  I often think that finding her is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me.  She, however, probably doesn’t think the same of me.  She is amazed by my continually tight muscles.  It seems that some people improve over time.

In addition to short periods of relaxed muscles, she has also re-introduced me to scent.  A zillion years ago, I gave up everything scented.  It seemed that any scent aggravated my allergies.  On my first visit, she had me sniff about six unidentified bottles and then choose one.  Bergamot.  Never heard of it.  But over the next year, every visit I went through the same sniffing process.  I was determined to pick something different.  Every time, Bergamot.  Believe it or not, in some ways, I don’t even like Bergamot.  Now, I’m experimenting with essential oils myself.  I ordered several bottles, including Bergamot, of course.  My friend, Rachel, has an online store and she knows her essential oils.  Wonder if I can sniff my way to relaxation.

If I could afford (time and money) to have a massage a couple of hours every day, then I think my cortisol levels would come down.  Bliss.  Or who knows, maybe I would tire of it.  How much massage is too much?