Category: Simplify

Fall Is Back, It’s Time To Look Forward

fall-dayI’m a few days behind on my autumnal equinox recognition, but like its meaning, it gave me time to reflect on the past season’s abundance, of which there was plenty. Traditionally this changing of the season from summer to fall was celebrated as the second harvest, extolling gratitude for our blessings before the stillness of winter…horns of plenty and all that jazz.

Astrologically this is the time of balance – between light and dark, space and time, ego and soul – a time to remove old limiting patterns and Divinely renew intentions and desires for manifestations. Or simply put, work on our dreams coming true.

victoryFunny thing is, we don’t often realize a dream has come true until hindsight reveals it as such. Sure we have those jump-up-and-down moments when we get some acknowledgment we’re on our way, or validation that we’re on the right path. Those celebratory moments feel good – like baby dreams coming true.

dream-is-realBut if you’re anything like me you dream big – real big. And you start out on the path ready to face and embrace the miracles as they occur. And you have no doubt that there will be miracles because you believe in them. Even in those doubting moments you still keep the faith, keeping the dream alive.

Whether we use vision boards or gratitude lists or just share our dreams out loud, sometimes in the back of our minds we wonder, will this dream ever come true? So we plug away, invested, determined, focused, trying to execute whatever we think will help us reach our heartfelt goal. Every day we try to “get there,” on that road to success. Or we think it’s the road to success.

change-your-thoughtsWhile thoughts become things according to Universal Law, we don’t always know if what we’re thinking is right, let alone what we’re doing, when we don’t see tangible results. Are we on the right path? Or do we need to make a U-turn, better yet get on a new road?

Those answers may or may not clearly come. Ultimately we’re getting somewhere, this is just life. But we have to pay attention to the invisible-visible signs. When the confirmation is confusing, our dreams can take a detour, and we can feel quite off-balance.

still-growingAlthough we may be on our yellow brick road, it’s hard not to depend on others to help lay the bricks. That’s when we get into trouble of course – pinning our hopes on others. But in some cases it’s the actions of others that help make our dreams come true. Like writing a successful blog – it takes readers to excel. I’m nearly 950 posts in, but its growth is going slow.

I invest a lot of time and energy, but is a daily post too much? I get deep satisfaction from doing my soul’s work – I know I came here to write, and it feels completely good. But the perfect recipe or secret of success? I just have no idea.

keep-goingMaybe I’m missing the point. While I’m waiting for the miracle, I’ll look to the end-result…the big picture.

“You can’t expect to see the miracles during the journey,” Mike Dooley says. “You don’t see them until after you arrive.”

We have arrived at the autumnal equinox and I’m grateful for so much. But as the seasons change, so must we. Maybe my focus needs to shift toward fulfilling another dream of writing a book. I’ve thought about this since I was young and who knows if it will fly. But I guess while we’re here, all we can do is try.

horn-of-plentyI’ll still post at least once a week and please weigh in anytime ~ any thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome. Thanks to all of you who read, from the bottom of my heart. Abundant blessings to you all, and while I mention it, welcome fall.

 

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Is It Possible To Control Our Time Online When Life Is All Online?

It wasn’t the incoming rainstorm, or too much coffee, or a blood sugar low that made me sit at my computer and shake. I’m beginning to see a pattern now when I start to jitter. It comes on daily after I spend way too much time doing what we un-fondly refer to as “administration.”

wits endIt’s getting out of control. Incorrect billing issues, website technicalities, errors, glitches, wrong numbers, emails, documentation, scores of forms for whatever we need, Hippa this, privacy that, layers of security blips, spam, address corrections, changes, updates, by the time I come up for air, I’m fairly short of breath, not to mention half the day is shot.

documenting lifeBesides all the endless online time, there are just way too many “jobs” to take care of our basic needs. So I’m calling a moratorium. I simply can’t keep up. And I have some serious streamlining to do – well beyond the concepts of balance and simplicity – goals for which I continually strive.

There has to be a way to get it all done without it taking so long. But how? I’m ridiculously organized, process fast, am also efficient and quite thorough. The issue can’t all be me.

out to liveI started thinking about people I know who seem to “do it all.” You know who they are – successful at their jobs, look amazing, seem happy and healthy and fit – even if they have aches and pains. They’re graceful and kind and funny and fun whenever you connect. What is their secret? Because they must have administration too.

Do they end up at their wits end after hours on the phone with technical support, or billing issues, or redoing online forms that freeze and don’t submit? Do they delegate these tasks or just let them go regardless of any requirements for completion, compensation, registration or activation? There is so much administration required now to simply manage our lives.

unplugThe only answer I came up with after shedding a tear and some deep breathing, was to try to live more and technology less. Less texting, less emailing, less social media scrolling – just pay the bill and get off the device. Fill out the form and step away. Post the blog and go. It’s not that I don’t want to be social, I just need to lessen screen time.

I wonder if that’s even possible. Administration will always be there and it’s easy to get distracted by so much at our fingertips. But it’s more than a reconstruction of time, it’s also a mental shift. Less dwelling, less worrying, less ruminating – just striving for peace of mind. gritting teeth emojiRelax, read, get fresh air…breathe and of course also eat. Maybe then I’ll stop gritting my teeth when I sit down to administer my life.

offlineSo we’ll see how it goes to live more and tech less. I’m not the type to ignore emails or texts, mail or my friends, not to mention what news might I miss?

As good as it sounds to dial it all down – that may itself take time. winky face

 

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When It Comes To Everyday Items, Bulk Is Not Always The Best

Some people have issues with food…or beverages…or other compulsive behaviors that span a gamut of human idiosyncrasies. My internally-driven compulsion of choice? Buying in bulk.

I don’t know where it came from – this need to ensure I always have more than enough important basics like paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex, napkins, soap and baby wipes on hand. What if we run out? God forbid.

BJsI think it started when I had babies and joined BJ’s Wholesale Club. The first time I went in I was hooked. To buy enough daily-use items to only re-stock quarterly sounded heavenly. It was hard enough to haul the babies and all of their paraphernalia around, let alone paper towels and toilet paper…and back then diapers and formula.

bulk paper towelsBut somewhere along the way I got hooked, enough that the habit of keeping a closet stocked full of super-sized packaging became my norm. My motto was always, “Use one, have a spare on hand…use the spare, buy a back up.”

No, I am not a hoarder, in fact just the opposite. I embrace the minimalist mentality. I just don’t want to run out of the things we use every day.

supersizeAmericans love to supersize everything from meals to cars to houses or whatever makes them feel secure. Bigger is better and more is mandatory. And our think-big mentality – no matter how hard we try to resist it – can be contagious. I never subscribed to super-sizing my meals, but for everyday household items – bulk seemed best.

need lessSomewhere along the line regular big box stores also adopted the wholesale club m.o. Step away from the paper towel aisle, Sir Husband said to me in Target the other day when they had 16 rolls of Bounty on the end cap. He told me I have to go cold turkey – from buying in bulk to buying one maybe two items at a time because of our new small space.

There’s downsizing and then there’s getting rid of nearly everything you own. We had to do the latter after the movers ran out of space to put our things last week when we moved into our new city dwelling. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here. Being close to the city in an urban condominium setting is a perfect match for me.

very little is neededBut I didn’t realize that when we filled our moving truck that we still had too much stuff. For several days Sir Husband and I had to make serious decisions about what was staying and what was going. It wasn’t even deja vu from a month before when I thought we had already done that at our other house. This was truly eliminating everything we don’t need – bulk packages of paper towels included. No doubling up on anything anymore.

I had a hard time doing it. That’s when I knew I had a bulk-item problem. Sir Husband had to literally pull the shopping bag of plastic grocery bags out of my hand and throw it in the recycling bin. We have cats – I use plastic bags for the litter box – we need plastic bags. But apparently not as many as I had.

Since every inch of space counts now, for the moment I put as many of the paper towel rolls, Kleenex boxes, toilet paper, and napkins that would fit under our bed. And when those are used up we will see if I freak out or celebrate the new-found freedom of simplicity. Because sometimes less really is more.

 

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Super Downsizing for This Move Started To Feel Personal

IMG_2770It’s not a mystery that a lot of people – myself included – have a thing for firemen. They’re awesome. So when I finally had to say goodbye to my grandfather’s antique extension ladder, it wasn’t as hard as it could have been because a fireman bought it.

I’ve had that solid metal ladder for decades. I never even thought about getting rid of it until we learned we had to super-downsize to fit into our tiny city condo. Not only do we not need a 25-foot ladder, apparently we don’t need anything.

So for the last few weeks we sold, donated or threw away literally almost all of our stuff. I thought I was a pro at purging, but little did I know that when you get rid of nearly everything you own it starts to feel personal. First you get rid of things you don’t want, then things you don’t need, then it gets a bit tricky.

I wanted the last of it – the stuff we hemmed and hawed on whether to store or sell – the stuff that felt like extensions of us – to go to good homes. I actually put that in the ad for the ladder, “want it to go to a good home.” When the fireman came and took it away, I decided I could live with that.

car loadedWe’re down to the bare minimum now, but the latest round of elimination was the hardest. Maybe we’ve been too busy to notice we’re dismantling our life. It became rote to go through the house, sort, pack, load up the car and drive on autopilot to the town transfer station where we separate our trash from donations from the free-swap areas there.

 

IMG_1642I always loved going to the dump and getting rid of things I don’t need. But when I turned in for the umpteenth time, I surprisingly felt upset. The struggle came at the free-swap section, where people put things they don’t want anymore. I reached for three big candles I had in the back seat. Faded and worn, they sat on a triple-teared iron candle holder everywhere I lived. Those candles quietly burned while I was watching TV, or nursing my babies, reading a book, or chatting with friends. For 20 years they were part of my life. Amazing they were still in tact.

I held them in my hands and was overcome with grief. I didn’t want to let them go, although I have new ones for the holder, that for some reason I haven’t used. They’re just candles, I had to talk myself through it. I put each one carefully on the free table, got back in the car and slowly drove away.

Our stuff is part of our life. Sometimes it’s not even things we pay attention to that end up being valuable. The backdrops in our world adding dimension and meaning we weren’t even aware of until they aren’t there.

We’re down to the wire, in a just a week we close the door on our house for the last time. When we look around we feel a little disoriented. The house echoes and seems empty. It even smells different. But we’ve crossed the threshold. We can’t move all our stuff, but we can still move all our memories. Now we’re ready to go.

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Early Birds Paid With Cash, Late Birds Paid With Heart

Thank G the moving sale is over. I seriously thought I was going to collapse trying to get ready for the thing.

IMG_6203First, it’s exhausting to unload almost everything you own – except the teenager and cats. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to go through every shelf, drawer, basket, file, closet, room and then decide if it’s going in the garage for the sale, in a box for the move, to the dump or to the donation bin. Not to mention it’s emotional.

Second, shame on me for posting on the online community bulletin board two days ahead of the day, because my doorbell rang randomly from that moment on, people standing there with wads of bills asking to see my stuff. Good thing I had most of it set up in the garage, although it wasn’t priced.

They all had an excuse when they showed up days early. “We won’t be here this weekend…my daughter is at college and needs stuff…we figured you might want to get rid of it early…” And my personal favorite, “We live down the street, is there a discount for neighbors?” That might have worked if they had occasionally waved when we were passing by.

I realized later that neighbor allegedly took a brand new Yankee Candle that must have been hidden in her pile. She had already ratcheted me down in price until I was practically on the ground. But between her and the other early birds, we sold almost everything before the actual day, which isn’t a bad deal.

So on the actual day I found myself apologizing for the sale’s puny offerings while pushing the lemonade and donuts we had as a shopping bonus. We did have some interesting patrons though. Mr. Ex and his Mrs. came early to lend a hand and to collect what they had pre-purchased, with the family discount of course. Some things we were happy to keep “in the family,” they actually loaded a truck.

Good friends stopped by with breakfast treats. One of them played the ukulele we had for sale while people looked around. We let him have the tiny guitar as a reward for the entertainment.

IMG_2734But it was those we didn’t know who made a special imprint. One man who recently lost his wife stayed more than an hour to talk. It was clear he was lonely and struggling, so we pulled up a stool and listened as he shared the details of his life. It’s amazing what you find out about people when you take the time to care.

Another codger pulled a harmonica out of his pocket. He hummed a tune and sang a song to us that he made up on the spot. He glanced at the items we had for sale but wasn’t there to shop.

Just as we started to call it a day, another couple arrived. This woman had recently helped my son get a new high-tech calculator when his was stolen at school. We didn’t even know her, she was like a guardian angel – those calculators are not cheap.

I offered to give her some things, in return for her kindness. “No thank you,” she said. “There are people who need it, just give it to the church.”

My energy renewed in that moment and we loaded up the car.

Our stuff is all gone now, it’s time to get on with life.

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Yard Sale ~ A True Reflection Of Who I Am

It was over 100 degrees in the garage today when I was out there doing what I do best. Organizing.

Sir Husband and I began our great “Everything Must Go!” purge this past weekend, piling up years of paraphernalia, running to the town dump with 55-gallon bags of “why did I keep this,” dropping things off at the free-cycle area in our town.

yard sale signThen he announced it. “Let’s have a moving sale next weekend.”

Whoa. That’s a huge ordeal. Why can’t we just put everything we own on our beloved Facebook online yard sale like we have done the last couple of years? Because of course, it’s more fun to have a real sale, to sell all the nitty gritty.

We have a lot of pretty excellent nitty gritty. I am sure everyone thinks that about their stuff, but for us it’s true. Including some very nice furniture, we have things that people may actually want –  think Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, LLBean. I can’t help it, although I am extremely frugal, I still like these types of home-style things.

So as I started to really think about a sale – items, prices, and how it might all go down, I’ve decided we are who we are no matter what. I would love to say that I don’t care about what I own or where it came from. And technically I don’t. But I am realizing we all have this innate self, who likes what it likes, who is drawn to a certain style, who operates with certain personal guidelines.

fb4e052f92c14afa5c8839318e4a0507Sir Husband said just throw the stuff on the lawn without even worrying about price stickers. I gasped at that thought. We will have signs and balloons to welcome the shoppers, tables displaying our things, the for-sale furniture arranged in the driveway, and a table of donuts until noon, at which point we will change to cookies.

I think they call that staging, like I did to sell my house. I can’t help it, that’s the “real me.” But in all honesty I wish I could change and not really care about any of this and live simply and free. Not just with my home items, but also in my life.

FullSizeRender-8While I was organizing the nitty gritty in the garage, our agent called to tell us we have more showings this week with our buyers. They want to come see the house again, which honestly I understand. But I thought we were done, the offers are signed. So my mind started racing about what I would have to do to change all the moving parts of my week, clean again, leave again, and work around someone else’s needs.

Everything in life is a negotiation and I struggle with saying no, or honoring what is best for me. But this is part of my innateness – I don’t exercise my boundaries well. There are a million reasons why, but it still goes back one thing – I’m just being myself.

Whether it’s shopping Pottery Barn clearance, staging a yard sale, or freaking out instead of saying no – no matter how hard I try I still like what I like and do what I do. There’s no deep philosophical meaning, it’s about accepting who we are and feeling comfortable with ourselves, regardless of who else is. At the end of the day we’re all we’ve got, and I’m ok with that.

 

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Hash-tagging As Fast As I Can: Contemporary Woman Can’t Keep Up

 

We live in a #hashtag #world that makes it #easy to become #overwhelmed #reading #socialmedia posts with everything #hashtagged. #wow.

I am pretty sure I’m doing something #wrong to not #hashtag #everything I #write. Anybody else #feel this way?

I #remember when it all started. I thought my #hipster son was just using one of his #idioms to be #cool. Little did I know that he was on the #cuttingedge of #existence as we #live it #today.

But in all seriousness, I can’t keep up with the hashtags. I’m told by my teenager I’m #doingitwrong. I believe that is the case, because I almost don’t get it. I do understand that this tags the world at large, and gets posts “out there,” but do I really need to do that? #why?

I don’t want to sound like one of those #old people who does not keep with today’s #modern youth. But I find myself sounding more and more like the generation who uses the words “I can’t keep up with those crazy kids.” That’s #crazykids.

When Facebook came on the scene, I held back, sort of not interested in reconnecting with old chums. Turns out I married one, so it was actually the best thing I ever did. But it took awhile to get on the #bandwagon, it seemed like one more thing to do. Since the launch of social media, it’s a lot more than “one thing.” It’s effectually the most time consuming endeavor of my life.

Not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but nobody really talks about it. Oh sure there are articles out there that advise cutting back on social media to improve #timemanagement #mentalclarity #bettersleep and #productivity. But does anyone #payattention to the #advice? I don’t see my hundreds of friends backing off of their social sites. How do people have the energy to post so many things #all-the-time?

I’m finding myself conflicted in a definable triangular vortex. One side is measured by stress-reducing advice: Relax about social media, it’s just there for what you make of it. Another side is labeled: Be sure you are active on any and all social media if you want your business known and launched. And then there’s the third angle: I want to keep up with the news – of friends, of people, of life. At the end of the day I still don’t know where the #priorities lie.

Here’s the bottom line (minus some could-be hashtags).

As long as I can remember, I have been trying to keep up with my life. There are many reasons for my anxious soul, that go back to the age of five. I have always felt like I was running from an often painful present toward some kind of calm and peace. But in spite of that running, I was able to productively function in a healthy way that worked. Without getting too complicated in analysis (#analysis,) I was able to manage the dysfunction around me, chronic pain, cancer, three children, divorce, near bankruptcy, remarriage, police protection from a psycho, six moves, working, and still bake cookies. Really good ones. #delicious.

But I’m older now, and sometimes find social media as paralyzing as it is enlightening. So I’m trying to figure out how to remember who I am, even reinvent myself because I want to not just #keepup but #thrive and #shine.

So I’ll look at social media as being an open door instead of an obstacle, which no doubt I’ll frequently choose to walk through. Our #decisions are up to us, regardless of #pressure from the world. Did I meet my quota on #hashtags? #bringiton

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Unsubscribed From Your Wisdom Today

You lost me at Hello this morning when I opened your email. I have followed you for the last few years, and subscribed to your guru wisdom. I used to look forward to your weekly email blasts filled with helpful information about what I could do to feel better, find abundance, and live happily ever after. But what you told me this morning made it clear we’re now on different paths.

Which kind of bums me out.

I’ve been watching your messages subtly shift as your bank account has grown, and now you seem to have forgotten there are some of us who can’t keep up with your elegant yet expensive lifestyle. So the advice you give – and it’s lovely of course – is now not ‘one size fits all.’ And in fact, made me wonder if you have forgotten about how the rest of us live, or at least a good portion of your subscribers.

I realize you’re doing something right because look at your hard-earned success. But when your teachings now rule out the majority, it makes me pretty sad. Not because I don’t want those things – the benefits of financial abundance – but because you presume we can all afford the luxury if we just take your advice. It doesn’t always work that way, but we all sure wish it did.

I don’t want to be like one of those haters who wishes tough stuff happened to other people so they would “get it.” That doesn’t always work and I don’t ever wish anyone pain. Not to mention we come into this life with certain privileges, not just from birthright. I mean soul-right. You may be entitled to your lifetime wins, because you worked hard in others to deserve it now. I believe in reincarnation and the evolution of our souls. Some lifetimes we may be more blessed than others, hoping the trajectory each time is always upward.

So I’m happy for your well-off to riches story, I really am. But your latest message gave me pause for thought. In fact, thanks to you I had another ah-ha moment, it’s just not what I thought it would be.

Ready?

It doesn’t matter. It absolutely doesn’t matter that things have changed and I have outgrown your wisdom. Or maybe you have outgrown mine. Life is just a big experiment and the variables are constantly changing. I never thought about it really but the fact is that nothing is static. Lives and lifestyles change all the time. And I don’t have to dwell on it. I loved realizing that I could let you go and be ok with it without holding on to regret, or residue or worry about what I’m missing.

So I unsubscribed from your list. And that’s important too, because I’m learning where to dedicate my energy, my time and my headspace, you taught me that you know.

Is every moment a teachable one or only for those who subscribe?

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Keep It Simple

I think it was Oprah who coined the phrase “aha moment,” which was officially added to the dictionary a couple of years ago. Can you imagine actually inventing words that go in the dictionary? Only Oprah. But we can’t deny it’s a good one, aha moment. And it fits everyone at one time or another.

I had one myself yesterday clear out of the blue. When aha’s come you must pay attention, because they are – as defined in Merriam-Webster – moments of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. And who doesn’t want to retain that kind of thunderbolt.

The jolt was about simplifying. For weeks, months, years now, I have been trying to manage the “noise” in my life. It comes from every direction, but most noticeably in my email inbox. Not spam, but real messages from real people, banking and bills, work and kid stuff, reminders, notifications, coupons, promotions, podcasts, videos, releases, reviews, meditations, inspirations, you name it. It compounds and I cannot keep up with what I’m supposed to read, watch, listen to, fill out, return, file, do or answer.

And in a whim, clear out of the blue, unprepared and unintended, I deleted everything. Click. Gone.

For one second I gasped and panicked. What did I just delete? And then almost immediately, I felt immense relief like I have never felt before. It was like the whole world lifted off of my shoulders. Space opened up in my mind. And my life became simple for a second. I liked it.

Yes, I went back and looked through the trash in my email to be sure that I didn’t lose anything important. But I realized as I did it how much I didn’t need, and felt empowered to simplify my life right then and there.

Aha.

The simple act of deleting my emails opened up a whole world. Maybe I don’t need to answer texts the minute they ping. Or I can put my cell phone down once in a while, and not worry if I miss anything incoming. Because stuff comes in all the time.

I heard a podcast the other day by a couple of enlightened spiritualists who said 98 percent of us spend time on 98 percent of what does not matter. What matters they said, is not what is on our daily agenda, but what is on our life agenda, our soul agenda, our heart agenda, and that’s what we pay attention to, not the noise around us. If we aren’t careful, we might spend decades stuck in a routine of surviving the noise.

I get that. Survival has been my life story. Now I’d like to spend time on what does matter, and what that really means. For me it’s time to simplify, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. While we all have a slightly different recipe, I think it comes down to one thing. How we feel.

I started to ask myself simple questions and insisted I have simple answers.

How do I feel? Do I feel good or light or happy with what’s on my agenda? Is it helpful to me or my mission? Is it improving my life or weighing me down? Is it filling me up or sucking my reserves?

The aha’s began to flow.

Slow down. Say no. Schedule free time. Surrender. Clutter and commitment out, comfort in. I’m turning down the noise.

After those few aha moments, I closed my laptop and walked away. I felt a renewed sense of existence, it was really that profound. I thought for a minute about what I would do next. Sit down and read a magazine? Take a walk along the shore? Write a book?

So much of living got lost in the noise, 98 percent in fact. Simplicity is bliss. How do I define that?   Ahhhhhhhh ha.

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