One of my favorite twitter feeds is when people share their #sixwordstory. When I thought about what mine would be, in all cases, there was a component of where I came from to get to where I am. Childhood lessons taught compassion and wholeheartedness.
I visualize these childhood/life lessons as starting in the fingertips of my left hand and working their way slowly up my left arm … research, noodling, journaling … until they settle around my heart. That’s when they hurt most, but that’s where the healing begins. Sometimes, they even settle into my lungs making it difficult to breathe. As I process this pain, I feel like they start to move down my right arm until finally I shake them off my right fingertips or better yet, drop them fully like a loud, singular mic drop.
This is almost identical to the house I lived in during high school with my single mom. She redecorated the kitchen (smartly) with a moveable island and barstools instead of a kitchen table and added a screened porch off the back (here the right side because we lived in a tri-plex). I personally lived in one similar before I got married — same layout only the front door was on what would be the left side of the house here. The kitchen in that one had been updated as well.
The size was good — I remember being a little cramped with stuff — never enough places to put my stuff — but with a renewed love of decluttering, this is still a livable size for two people. And it was only 675 sq ft. (I know, not a “tiny home” by today’s standards, but definitely smaller than anything I’ve lived in since.)
I’ve seen this bumper sticker … a take-off on the similar Co-exist but this one leaves me feeling less enthusiastic … jaded, even. (Don’t believe me, google “tolerate” and check out the images — it’s not as pretty as it sounds.) And the definitions of tolerance confirm my feelings:
transitive verb \ˈtä-lə-ˌrāt\
: to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done
: to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed
: to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)
The time for tolerance was when you didn’t have a choice … because you grew up in the same town where your parents and grandparents lived and leaving wasn’t so easy … because your best friend married that schmuck from science class … because you grew up being a minority in your community in some way … whatever your reason was, tolerate was something you did because you had to.
Today, the ability to surround ourselves virtually and even literally with “like-minded” folks is easier than ever. To simply tolerate, therefore, is no longer a valid benchmark. I am now setting my sights on celebrating. Care to join me?
I heard a statement last week that was true for me — we don’t get what we EXPECT, we get what we INSPECT.
My housekeeper quit today. I think it’s the right thing at this time and look forward to taking back some ownership of the condition of my home. I’ve used my work as an excuse for too long now for mindlessness — around money, food and STUFF and all have gotten out of hand.
So today, I’ve refreshed my Flylady.net subscription and I’m on my way upstairs to dress to the shoes.
At our middle-school Christmas concert last night, I saw one of my favorite small-town vignettes during the “March of the Armed Forces”. Three, maybe four, generations of service people were in attendance and stood to represent their branch and be recognized. Each year I live here, I recognize a few more of those standing … so this year I felt for some fellow band parents when their son stood for maybe the first time as a representative of his military branch; for our band instructor when her father stood up as a long-time representative of his branch; and for many of the the eighth-grade parents serving active duty.
I grew up in a big city, too expensive for retirees to live on a limited income and so the average age in my community always stayed relatively young. It’s the kind of place people move to “make their fortune” or when their first marriage breaks up and they want a fresh start.
The town where we first moved to raise our girls was a fast-growth town with big, shiny, new houses and young families to match. Some of our parents moved in to be close to the grandkids and now the retirement community is growing there, but it’s not the organic growth that you see in a town where people rarely leave.
Our new town is historic, with a Main Street that pre-dates the Civil War and a sense of community all new to me. Support for our military is a shared community value. The first town settlers were veterans of the Revolutionary War who were granted land as payment. A major battle of the Civil War was fought inside the town limits and local homes were commandeered as field hospitals and headquarters for both the Confederacy and the Union. I witnessed the town’s continued dedication to service at our high school’s 100th anniversary Veteran’s assembly when my daughter was in JROTC and we had local veterans from every war all the way back to WWI attend and be recognized. Our Veteran’s parade in downtown is heavily attended, even in the middle of the week in the middle of the workday.
I come from a military family. My father was in the Navy. Both of my grandfathers were career military. I have eight different “patriot” lines in my ancestry documented with the Daughters of the American Revolution. I was raised to honor our military heritage even at a time when that was incredibly unpopular where I lived. I’m grateful that time is gone.
To all who are or have served I thank you and wish you a wonderful, peace-filled holiday season!
I’ve been reading the minimalistwoman.com’s e-book, “The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All“ and have begun today with the first step toward becoming a mindful consumer by stopping recreational shopping. I’ve been working on mindful consumerism for a while including buying more organic, locally produced and American-made products and taking month-long hiatuses from shopping in big-box stores. In the end though, there is still an incoming stream of stuff, my house is more cluttered than I like and my savings account isn’t growing as fast as I would like. (I am debt-free except my mortgage and I don’t incur new debt. I just spend more than I want to and I acquire things that I don’t love — often impulsively — because there are just more places popping up where you can buy organic, locally produced, American-made stuff!)
On the surface, eliminating “recreational shopping” should be a piece of cake for me. I’ve even created rules for myself to make it easy ala Zen Habits such as an exemption for shopping for my family, (it’s not recreational if I go in, get what I came for and leave). BUT, (you knew there was a but), I don’t know what to do for fun. I grew up shopping as a hobby. I’m addicted to how shopping shows me the possibilities. I’ve mastered shopping as a “creative excursion.” I’m good at it. I can buy more in a single trip than anyone I know and I can always get the best DEALS!
Challenge: What do I enjoy doing?
Just in case my aspirations at semi-minimalism may have led you to believe that I am a Liberal, let me correct you … when it comes to standards for myself, I am ultra conservative. I avoid commercial television like the plague. I avert my eyes from all of the popular magazines in the grocery check-out lines. I haven’t watched broadcast news in 16 years (with the exception of 9/11). Yep, I’m a censor. For myself.
There are down-sides to my personal censorship. I am hopelessly out-of-the-loop when it comes to pop culture. I have excluded myself from these sources for so long now that I don’t know who most of the people gracing the covers of the checkout-line magazines are. When conversations in social settings turn to TV shows, they might as well be talking football, because it’s all Greek to me.
I like to think of self-censorship as a form of minimalism — leaving space in my mind for things that I love instead of unnecessary stuff. So I will pass on the latest Dancing With Survivors and instead watch something I love. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, commercial-free from Netflix. (I’m not telling you what to watch.)