journey

Not Today Boys

Not Today Boys

So there I was.
Standing on the edge.
Feet scuffling pebbles
into the abyss below.
One shift.
One tiny shift in weight
and I would fall.

My life is not a movie.
There would be no
superhero to catch me.
No resilient awning
to bounce me back.
Just the hard, cold surface
of rock bottom.

In a way,
it called to me.
So much easier to fall than to fight.
I could lose myself…
and gain nothing.

In the not too distant past,
I would have let myself slip;
welcoming the familiar
pain and self-satisfaction
of mini-martyrdom.
As if falling into self-pity
was somehow noble,
wise,
deserving.

But today,
I am different.
I step back,
hug myself,
thank God for all the good in my life,
and walk away from the edge.
As my heart proudly whispers
“Not today boys.
Not today…”

This is a part of my “I can write/post whatever I want” freedom. Self-pity is a pit. A deep, dark pit of unnecessary negativity. I don’t step away from the edge every time but it sure feels great when I do. Do you know this edge? Have you heard the endless echo of the rocks falling beneath you into the darkness? What did you do? What stories do you tell yourself to back away from it? What stories do you keep in your heart to keep away from the edge altogether?

I’m not asking because I’m trying to get you to leave a comment (and therefore make my blog look more appealing). Please leave one if you have something to offer. I’m new to this kind of self-awareness. I’m mostly just curious about how other people stay sane. ūüôā

As always, I’m grateful for your time. I’m grateful that you read my words. Sincerely. Namaste, my friend.

Love and Light,

Ginny

Minimalism. Hard Work. Big Rewards.

Work is love made visible. – Kahlil Gibran

Though my outside circumstances are pretty rough, I’m in a great place internally. A big part of that is because I’m working very hard at being a better person. I honestly flinch to write that. Work hard? At being kind and caring and honest and sincere? Aren’t we supposed to just “be” those things naturally? If we are, I’m screwed.

Enter minimalism. As I began the action of reducing my things, I learned early that it is not an easy process. It’s taking a long time because I don’t want to just throw it all away. I’m a curious person. I want to explore why I hold on to things and why I feel the need to let go. Minimalism has become much more about the internal work than the external process of eliminating stuff.

I feel like I’m finding important pieces of myself buried beneath my collection of clothes and old beliefs. Pieces I told myself that were worthless because I had to “work” to make them shine.

The process fascinates me. I examine an old toy. Then I examine the belief that rich people are all assholes. Odds and ends I’ve collected on my journey so far. A lot of it is a bunch of crap. There are days when it’s not fun to decide what to do with a box of baby clothes or my scraps of religion.

But it is worth it. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to like myself. What a treasure to find on my quest for simplicity.

A few days ago, I remembered an interview with Kris Carr I’d seen years ago. She is a fabulous woman. Please check out her documentary titled Crazy Sexy Cancer. She is a survivor and an inspiration to many. She said something that stayed with me and as I grow into my new identity as a person with less baggage, I’m ready to embrace those words. Please watch the video below to hear her response when asked how she stays so positive (the answer is within the first twenty seconds of this clip).

I’m ready to work hard at being a better person. I’m ready to let go of my belief that the good stuff in life comes easy and without effort. So far, all the good stuff in my life has come because I’ve worked for it. All the miles under my feet. All the love in my life. All the joy in my heart. All the light in my soul. Yes, they are gifts but if I don’t nurture them and work to make them grow, then they are as worthless as I once believed I was…

Thank you dear reader. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. As you read these words, know that I wish great things for you, my fellow traveler along my simplicity quest. I’m honored that you would walk with me.

Shine on,

G

Minimalism. Just. Got. Real.

Sad painting

“When I diagnose my depression now, I think it was partially about saying goodbye to these kids that I always expected to have but already knew that I wouldn’t.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Years ago, I had a crazy idea to put most of my things in the attic. I’m still going through them. Since the beginning of this year, I have braved the cold and heat of the storage space to chip away at the pile of boxes and random bags of things I don’t need. Piece by piece, I have lightened my load significantly. I am almost finished. I have only a few boxes left.

So close. Yet so far away.

At first, going up there was fun. Discovering boxes of things I could easily get rid of was thrilling. But now there are few surprises. The boxes that are up there are there because I’ve been putting them off. I know what’s in them. And this is where minimalism and I must get very real with each other.

The box I must face next is plain, average sized, and labeled “baby clothes”.

Minimalism and personal development seem to go hand in hand. Do we choose minimalism because we are ready to start dealing with our emotional inventory? Or does the internal work come with the commitment to minimalism? All I know from my experience so far is that it’s happening at the same time. In committing to dealing with the things from my past – things I don’t need anymore and things I hide from myself – I am committing to deal with the emotions and memories from my past as well. Not an easy task for me.

The baby clothes are mine. My mother saved them for me. I kept them in the past because they reminded me of my fabulous early childhood spent in San Salvador and Naples. I don’t remember but I imagine myself wearing them while scooting around with my parents from place to place where strangers would pinch my cheeks and touch my blond hair. As if holding the fabric would bring all that back to my mind somehow. But there is another reason I still have my old baby clothes.

I kept them in case I had a daughter someday.

Years ago, we tried to have a baby. I’ve always wanted children. Because I worked with kids so much, I reckoned I’d be an awesome mommy. I’ve attended five home births. I’ve studied homeschooling and taught homeschooled children. I’m great with kids, most of my friends have them, my sisters have them, I’m pretty sure it would make my mother’s year if I had them. It’s what women my age do…right?

I didn’t get pregnant. Instead of going through a lot of trouble to “make it happen”, I searched my soul and found something unexpected: I don’t want to have kids. I made the decision (and until my biological clock stops ticking, I continue to make the decision) with eyes wide open. I made it knowing all about the beauty and rewards of being a mother. I made it even though I knew it would disappoint people. I made it because I looked at my life and decided to put everything I could be as a mother into the lives of other women’s children – and into my relationship with my favorite man on the planet.

Getting rid of the box does not mean my decision is final. If I ever change my mind or if Mother Nature has other plans, I can always buy baby clothes. But getting rid of that box feels like a message to the universe. Not a reminder of my regrets but the decision to intentionally disappoint people. The decision to leave a few dreams behind so I can build new ones.

I know I don’t have to get rid of it. I’m not a hardcore minimalist. Not yet. I just don’t want to hide things anymore – things, emotions, or anything else. I don’t want to have things I’m not willing to face. I don’t want a box of beautiful of baby clothes to rot so I can tell my mother I saved them for her someday grandchildren.

Minimalism is not just about things. It’s about facing the past. It’s about facing the future. It’s about getting very real with who we are and what we want out of life. I believe our physical life is a representation of our internal, emotional state. I have a long way to go before I can say I’m a minimalist. But box by box, I’m getting there. I force myself to deal with the things I keep hidden.¬† With each decision to keep or get rid of something, I decide where I’m going and who I want to be.

A box of baby clothes is not just a box. It’s an opportunity to create my journey and move forward. Nothing hidden. No regrets.

Stuff and Love

20130718-112020.jpgAs I lighten my load and explore many negative emotions associated with the process, I’ve learned that sometimes, the joy comes later. That’s the good news for me and for anyone else experimenting with minimalism. The joy isn’t always there right away. Well, not for me anyway. I second guess myself a lot. So this process is not any different…

I’m still working through the stuff I put up in the attic when I first started My Simplicity Quest. It’s a lot of stuff. But every day, I take down a few things and decide to keep them or get rid of them. So far, it’s just that. Making a place for the things I decide to keep and converting my boxes of old pics to digital copies is for later. Next year, probably. I must keep it simple or I will quit. I know because that’s what I’ve done in the past.

Some of the stuff is easy to toss in a box labeled “Donate”. It’s not useful, beautiful, nor does it hold special meaning for me. But other stuff is not so easy. I’m getting better. Taking a picture before I send it on helps.

I used to think I loved some of my stuff. But as I sort through all of my personal possessions (and endeavor to be honest with myself) I learn that it’s not the stuff that I love. It’s the people I associate with them. It’s the memory it represents. It’s the way I use it in my life. Stuff is just a reminder of love. My guitar reminds me that l love music. My dad’s old Dunhill lighter reminds me of his pipe and his cigarettes and the way he liked to smoke them while reading the paper. My dresses remind me that I love to feel girlie.

In a big, fat cheesy way, it’s all about love.

Yep. I went there.

(Don’t you love how you start out with an idea about what you want to write and then when you begin it grows into something else? It’s like some strange magic. It only happens when I get to the page and put it out there.)

I had a different title for this article: “Take a Picture. Say Goodbye. Let it go. “I was going to write about finding a picture of a an old backpack. How it made me happy to see it instead of sad. I had details to share about how my identity was wrapped up in that bag and all the happy memories I associate with it. The difficultly of letting it go because it was falling apart after years of use. The joy in knowing that I made the right decision.

But I guess my heart needed to know why I felt that sadness and why I felt that joy. My head and my hands gave me the answer through the process of writing. It’s about the love. Not the stuff.

Thanks for traveling with me along this path. I am quite the corny companion. But if you’ve read any of my other posts, you already know that. And you are still here. I think that’s awesome. Cheers to you and the love you find on your journey…

The Closet Countdown: Day 2

20130702-220937.jpgAs I reflect on the day, Slush in hand, I feel…peaceful, content, happy…

A rare cool front made a welcomed appearance in what is shaping up to be another brutal summer. Went for another walk/run. Spent a peaceful morning with my favorite man on the planet and a strong cup of coffee. I wore the same tank top from yesterday and thanks to the cool weather, I think it will make it another day. I ditched the leggings from yesterday and added an athletic skort for my slow run.

My black top (polyester/spandex blend) from yesterday went well with the skort and to prevent snags while doing various projects, I wore an old Starbucks apron. It’s a great, sturdy canvas and I choose it over my grandmother’s more delicate, pretty aprons almost every day. What a great way to preserve clothes.

On a podcast about minimalism, I heard a seasoned minimalist traveler say he would put his clothes on the shower floor to keep them fresh between washings. “Just stomp on them a bit while using soap/shampoo, give them a rinse, and hang them to dry.” I tried it about a year ago and found that my clothes did not dry very quickly. Earlier this year, I read a travel blog about how to hand wash. They said to roll the clothes in a towel and squish it. Then hang it to dry. That seemed to do the trick when I tried it and my clothes dried much faster. (please forgive me for not including links, I do not remember the sources at all)

So today, after a lot of hard work and sweat, I let my clothes take a shower with me. I’m trying to keep it simple so I just stomped, rinsed, rolled, and hung them to dry.

It’s only the second day of The Closet Countdown. The adventure in minimalism is still new and beautiful. I won’t promise that will post every day but I promise to try.

Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words. May you find something useful for your journey.  Cheers!

The Closet Countdown: Day 1

20130701-142756.jpgIt has begun. The Closet Countdown is on. Wow. Feels like I’m about to embark on a great journey. I have no idea if this will work. Just like all my experiments in minimalism – I don’t care. I crave simplicity. I love the adventure. I love the excitement of a new project. I love the perception that I am possibly freeing up some time and brain space in an otherwise cluttered life. I love learning new things about myself – positive and negative.

20130701-131748.jpgTo give myself a fresh start, I washed my clothes and wore some of the “unchosen” items around the house yesterday. Since I’ve been preparing for this for over a week, I didn’t sort anything. I just made sure I had everything on the list, snapped a pic, and then hung out with friends over some chips and a mean crock pot of queso. No “ickyness”. Just peace.

For my morning walk/run (the first since a 10K in April…) I wore leggings, and a tank top. When I got back to the house, I wasn’t really sweaty so I put my tank top aside to wear tomorrow. As I considered what to wear for the day, I found myself thinking about the week ahead because I don’t want to get something dirty that I might want to wear in a couple of days. I’m already becoming conservative in my choices. I won’t be able to put off doing laundry very often. Especially if I’m going to start running again. I kept the leggings, added a solid, black shirt, my sarong (pictured above draped over the closet rod to the right of my clothes), and some sandals. So far so good.

To continue my battle with perfectionism, I decided to make a chart by hand. Perhaps someday I’ll get on the machine (my computer) and make a prettier one. For today, I just wanted something to help me keep track of my choices and how long I’ve been doing it. I tacked it near my closet and I’ll cross off days as they go by.

20130701-144619.jpgThank you for stopping by. It fills my heart with joy that you read my words. Cheers to you and I’ll keep you posted!