Pause. Reset.

There’s nothing like reaching the third day of a three-day weekend with nothing checked off your list to make you feel useless. Oh, wait! You could start a blog in January and not come back to it until September. This post is not, however, about self-flagellation. It’s about starting where you are. And here’s where I am: I’m still struggling with “the stuff”, my mood and finding the time (or energy) to move many of the things I think of from the idea column to the action column.

That’s the debit side of the ledger, but that’s only part of the story. On the plus side of the balance sheet; I have been better about regular grocerying and therefore our diet is better, my work situation is much improved, we’ve been adopted by another four-legged family member and he is a joy and delight. Also, I have been very successful at purging my closet of many of the things that mocked me every time I looked in there and found nothing to wear. I am slowly but surely rebuilding a wardrobe of pieces that are flattering, useful and most importantly, make me feel good. As a bonus, quite a few of the pieces that were still in very good shape but just no longer (or never really were) me, have found a well-received home with a co-worker. We both smile each time she comes to work in an outfit I recognize.

Maybe most importantly of all, I am here. On this blog. Ready to take another stab at it. I will not be paralyzed by perfectionism. I will not be thwarted by the “all or nothing” aspect of my personality. I will put myself out there and hit that publish button and not waste months editing. I will accept that rambling, incoherent posts like this are a necessary step in the direction of the mountain. And before this day is out, I will cross one thing off my overly ambitious to-do list and I will be satisfied.

Things

Things

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

Possessions. Stuff. Things. Whatever you want to call them, I have too many. Too many things to step over, move around, clean, tend, or deal with. Part of the creating of the life I want involves clearing the clutter so I can enjoy and appreciate the things that bring me joy and to have space to breathe. Have you ever cleared a corner or a tabletop and suddenly realized how much bigger the entire room seemed? How your eye is drawn to that clean, clear, empty space as soon as you walk in? That’s what I’m aiming for on a whole space level and simultaneously an inner decluttering.

 

Sometimes when I look around at whatever current pile is upping my annoyance factor or think of my to-do list, I just get overwhelmed and wind up not doing anything. Or worse, the frustration of not being able to find what I need or a simple task taking way longer than it should since I have to move this to get to that can cause me to snap in frustration.

 

The most important “things” in my life aren’t really things at all. They’re the living, breathing, feeling beings that share my home with me: especially my beloved husband (hereinafter referred to as The Boy) but also our pets (known collectively as The Critters). That I’m giving them less than my best self or lashing out because I’m unhappy with a stack of magazines or a basket of unfolded laundry makes me incredibly sad. He deserves much better. They deserve better. I deserve better.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a candidate for “Hoarders”. I’m not living in squalor or with carefully maintained paths through the mountains of decades old unread newspapers. I just have too much stuff! I’m not comfortable with a minimalist look. I like pretty. I crave cozy. The name of this blog isn’t “Stark Modern Abode”, after all!  The Boy would tell you that I choose form over function but that’s just because he would never think that there might be an attractive bottle opener or a well-designed trivet out there that works just as well as a plain one but does its intended job beautifully. No, the objects that make me the most happy are the ones that I reach for because I need an item to do that particular job and then give me a jolt of joy because they’re just so darn pretty doing it! I look at my calendar at work a dozen times or more each day. Why shouldn’t I get smile back from the stunning Katie Daisy artwork that looks back at me each time? Sure, the pork chops would taste just as good out of a plain stainless steel skillet but when I dish them out of our stunning green Le Creuset braiser they feed my soul as well as my body. If we would actually sit down at the table and I could set them down on that adorable felt trivet that would be even better but that’s for another day!

 

I come from a long line of pack rats and I didn’t build up this backlog of worn-out, used-up, second-rate or never right from the start things overnight so I’m under no illusions that I can clear it out in a day. Meaningful change is going to be made incrementally, in baby steps. Purging, tossing, rearranging, reorganizing and reassessing. I hope to donate or recycle as much as possible, throw out a lot and hopefully even get myself motivated enough to sell the things that have significant worth but don’t resonate with me personally or no longer fit my life. I want to get rid of the excess to make room to really appreciate the value in what I have.  I hope to gain peace by eliminating pieces.

 

I reclaimed a few areas from the clutter-beast over the weekend: the top of the washer and dryer, the small table in our kitchen and a portion of my very limited kitchen countertop. The battle to keep them clear is only a few days old and already hard fought. It’s so easy to fall back into old familiar habits even when you know the new order of things will be so much better. But here I am, declaring to myself that I will keep them and that the clarity will spread instead of the clutter. I want quality time to spend with my Boy and I want the words I speak to him to come from a place of love and not a place of frustration and I will not let that desire be derailed by issues of Real Simple from last spring. I am on a mission! Hear me toss!

Lifecrafting

Life Crafting

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot

 

My life is good. No, actually my life is really good. I have great love, a cozy roof over my head, more than enough to eat, the health of my family (both the humans and the furry ones) and moments of bliss. I have everything I need and most of what I want, but when I look at the big picture, I realize that it can be better. I can make it better.

 

I’m not talking about a perfect life; I am suspicious of “perfect” people. Perfection doesn’t leave any room for failure. If you stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone, you will, occasionally, fail or at least find that the new place you’re in is not to your liking. But sometimes when you take a chance on something new the results can be transcendent. And that’s what I’m looking to do, to make more time and room in my life for those moments of bliss I mentioned above. I’m trying to figure out how to balance the have-tos (work, laundry, supper) with the want tos (creating, reading, exploring). There are so many different things that fascinate and inspire me: food and wine, books, movies and music, style, design and beauty, culture (both high & low), technology and spirituality and on and on and on! Just thinking about it all gets me excited. There is a selection of blogs that I read daily and dozens more that I dip into when the mood strikes and while I often come away with something new to think about or admire or try none of them speak in my voice, directly to the heart of me.

 

First, there’s the point of view issue. You see, I’m not a twenty-something living in Brooklyn and working in publishing or a thirty-something stay-at-home-mom from Seattle. Chronologically at least, my twenties and thirties are past and physically at least, my home is a small industrial city in the Deep South. There’s not an Ikea or Whole Foods in sight. And as much as I love reading about them, art galleries and farmer’s markets are not part of my day-to-day reality. Next, I’m decidedly out of step with the prevailing conservative values of my community. It’s not easy being green not to mention a liberal, SBNR, indie-movie loving, NPR listener in the heart of the Bible-belt. Finding like-minded local friends is, to put it mildly, challenging. What I’d love to do is make a connection with other women who share some or all of my interests, to build a community of kindred spirits. In the meantime I’m more than happy to listen to the echo of my own thoughts and converse with the crickets.

 

I’m also looking for a way to hone in on those things that will bring me the most joy. My tastes are eclectic and wide ranging and while that can make for a rich life tapestry it can also produce an overload that results in a lot of noise. I need to learn when to follow a shiny new thing that catches my eye and when to shed an experiment that didn’t fit. I want to pare down in some areas to make room for more fullness in others. To embrace the new and polish up the old. To sample and explore and learn and grow and figure out what I want to be when I grow up now that I’m grown up. I think a diary of what I try and find and see and experience and what I like and what I don’t will help me do that.

 

I also want to more fully recognize and appreciate what I do have and already love. It’s so easy for me to get caught in what’s next that I lose sight of what’s in front of me. I want to be more grateful, more mindful, more here in the now. Striving for a more fulfilling life without appreciating the wonderful world I already inhabit will only make me busier, not happier. I want a place to remind myself of the little moments of beauty that might otherwise be lost to the turning of the day’s page. I need a documentation of what’s good and true and real in my life so that when I forget, and I will forget from time to time, I can read back and know that even if I’m tired or cranky or overwhelmed at that very moment, that brightness has visited me before and will come back again. I struggle with my moods, we all do, I over think things and sometimes I just feel swamped by the activities of living and a judgment-free chronicle of when I triumph and when I flounder will help me see the path I need to take. A chance to re-read and say “Ah! That’s where I went off the rails,” could be really beneficial to me.

 

Maybe that’s a lot to expect from a diary, for that’s really what I think this is, but it never hurts to think big. Let’s see: stylebook, gratitude journal, design folio, diary, to-do list, coming attractions, community, yearbook, book reviews, confessional, recipe box, aspiration file, humor log, therapy…and whatever else comes to mind or seems right as I go. No right, no wrong, all me. Sounds about right.