5. Quit Lying


This morning, I did some digital purging. Then I started on my clothes again. Another ten percent gone, and the closet is still full. And then I did the bookshelves again, another five percent of those gone. Plus a slew of unread magazines. I now have empty shelf space. How crazy is that?

I’m embarrassed to admit that if it weren’t for the pile of crap in the living room corner waiting to be hauled off to Goodwill/The Bookthing, you’d never know I’d been purging. You certainly wouldn’t be able to tell by looking in my closet or at the shelves. Clearly there is more to do. But. Progress has been made.

You know I have said for years that I want to live in a tiny cabin one day. And that I am frustrated by the amount of stuff in my house; that I don’t want my things to come between me and life; that I’m tired of being owned by possessions. So if you are wondering what this is: this is making my actions line up with my stated priorities. It’s time to either do that, or quit lying to myself about what I want.

2. Truth


These are my children. Aren’t they lovely?

Here’s a thing that should never be done to children: no one should ever try to turn them against their parent. If their parent sucks badly enough, the kids will eventually figure it out themselves.

Here’s another thing that should never be done to children, even after they are grown: their soft white under-belly should never be exposed to others.

People who do those things need to be excised like a cancer.

And here’s a thing about communication: you can’t complain about the lack of it if you delete or ignore it when you get it.

And here’s a thing about passive-aggressiveness: I’m better at it, and I’ve just raised the bar. In public. Because my attempts at direct private communication have not been acknowledged, and I’m calling you out.

1. New Year, New Calendar


New Year, New Calendar, right? The word for the day is Promethean, which can mean creative, defiant, or agonizing. I am often creative, frequently defiant, and my humor usually causes agony for those around me. I guess this is as good a word as any to start the year with. BTW, none of you is surprised that I should choose this particular calendar are you?

Speaking of words, let me just give in to the hype and select a word for the year. Mine will be….joy? I almost want to say “right livelihood” but that’s two words and the end product of right livelihood is joy. Notice I did not say happiness. I haven’t confused those two words in a long time. They mean entirely different things.

I do not have a set of goals to post for this year. I’ve been busy enough that I haven’t actually set out to make the list yet. Besides, I made a list in July for my birthday and have yet to sit down and see how I am progressing. I’m making excuses, aren’t I? Oops.

Ahem. Goals. Ok, so on December 4 I wrote this: WHOA!! What just happened here? And on the 15th, this: Minus 23- Bet You Didn’t See That Coming! I think together, those two posts add up to “quit procrastinating and build the life you want to love.” That’s enough of a goal, I think. Though I should probably…oops, not should. No more should. Though it would make it easier to measure if I wrote an accurate depiction of what some of those vaguer items look like to me.

Also: one in, two out. Like with everything. As in, I bought a new cardigan today that I will most often be wearing as a shirt…and eliminated two other shirts from the closet. Same must happen for books and shoes and craft supplies and…and…and.

Oh, and this, that I have re-posted every year since I wrote it. Because every year, it is still true.

“In 2013 2016, I want to love so wide and so deep that others float peacefully in the sea of me, and so thick that when they rise to walk away, drops of it cling to their skin reminding them that I am waiting with arms and heart wide open.”

Happy New Year, Lovelies.

2015 Recap

No pic for this post. There may be one later, or I may be so busy enjoying my day that I forget to take one. Such is life. But I want to say some things about 2015 before I hit the shower to get ready for 2016. I took the tree down today, you see, and that is always my cue to ponder the year just past. And it has been an amazing year.

There have been accomplishments: graduation, work. The first half of the year was very goal directed for me, a final sprint to the goal I set in November of 2010. I made it. I did THE THING. Go me.

But the second half of the year, in particular the last quarter of the year, has been a time of letting go. With graduation achieved, I let go of the reins. I quit pushing so hard, over-steering. I did less of what I “should” and “ought” to do and even more doing what felt right. Now you know, I don’t even have to say, that what feels right isn’t necessarily the same as what feels good. In this case, some things felt pretty shitty in the moment.

The thing I did, after all that push push push is to stand down and let things be what they wanted and needed to be. My work. My relationships. And this last part is what I have been pondering the most today. When you let relationships be what they want and need to be, interesting things happen. Some end, and in the ending there is goodness called relief. Some alter course, and in that altering, there is goodness called joy. Some speak their truth so loudly that it can no longer be ignored; but hearing a truth you’ve been trying to deny is goodness called release. Some grow deeper and reassert themselves as bedrock in your life and that is goodness called solidity. Some remain, but much smaller than they were, a goodness called freedom. Some new ones develop, goodness called potential.

Sitting here on the last day of 2015, I feel good. No, I feel GREAT. I feel relieved, joyful, released, solid, free, and full of potential. This has not been a bad year. At all. I am neither happy nor sad to see it go. I do not hold the coming year to be either magical or miserable. I hold it to be what it is: a measure of time that I can fill with love and laughter. Or not, as I choose. It will be what I make it, even if, and maybe especially if, I make it so by letting things be what they are moment by moment, in flux.

357/362/2015 Today I…


Got mud on my hiking boots for the first time in I can’t remember when.
Met new people.
Screamed with delight.
Laughed with joy.
Squirmed with pleasure.
Toured downtown Gettysburg.
Made a decision.
It was a damned good day.

355/362/2015 Merry Christmas!


So, a friend asked me this morning how my experience of this day has changed since my relationship with the church has changed. That give me a pause.

I had to be truthful and say that there is less joy on this particular day, but also less stress. There is more contemplation. And more spreading of the spirit of generosity throughout the year. I don’t wait for a “reason” to be good and generous anymore. I try to love people because they need loving instead of “because it’s Christmas,” and I do that all year long.

Let me elaborate: I used to try to make Christmas perfect and I used to feel like a failure every year. Most years, I ended up crying. The schism between what I told myself I should do and what any human could do was just too extreme. Trying to take care of everyone’s emotional and material health while refusing to admit that Christmas is just a very fucking hard day for me personally was too much. I won’t go into the backstory of why that is: if you are a long time reader you already know, and if you aren’t, I’ve moved beyond it so it’s no longer pertinent to rehash. The point is that I now move through this entire holiday season (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s) at an emotional pace that works for me. I take care of myself mentally, and I have greatly lowered my expectations of myself and those around me. Amazingly enough, I’m not the only one to benefit: the people around me are also happier and less stressed.

Well, most of them. As for the rest…they did a great deal to contribute to that sense of guilt and failure that had come to mark my holiday. And I am pretty sure they still think I am a Christmas failure and should feel guilty. But this year, I gave myself the gift of declaring bullshit on that. This year, I don’t care what they think. This year, I asked myself if I would let a stranger treat me this way, and this year, I finally said “No.” Merry Christmas, and 364 other days of the year, to me.

354/362/2015 Channeling Scarlett O’Hara


You know, where she says “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again!”? Yeah, that one. Now, I admit that maybe 15-20% of this bounty arrived in a holiday basket. For which I am very grateful, do not misunderstand.

But if you have been following along in my brain lately, you know I have been doing a lot of thinking about stuff and the amount of guilt my possessions often represent for me. I’ve been downsizing, divesting, decluttering. De-guilting. For all that we hear about living within one’s means, I am trying to figure out (still) how to live within my SPACE. I’m good on means. F’real.

This picture is not just a picture of my pantry. It’s a picture of too much. That’s why looking at the kitchen after I finished re-arranging was so evocative for me. It absolutely represented how I see my things now. My things are taking up valuable space, space I need to live. I feel trapped in here. Not in my house– in my stuff.

I need to keep chanting what I have said before: “There is enough. There is always enough. As long as I am not greedy, there is enough of everything for everybody.” I don’t need to live anymore as if someone is going to tell me I have to burn half of my possessions. I deserve more freedom than that.

It’s a fact that I just went through my clothes, books, and craft supplies. It’s a fact that I need to do it again, preferably today. And then I need to spend the next 37 weeks not going to the grocery store, because that smaller, taller shelf–it cannot stay there forever. It prohibits unfettered access to my coffee pot.

345/362/2015 Minus 23- Bet You Didn’t See That Coming!


So, yesterday someone said, “What are your hopes and dreams?” I had to pause. For a gal who spends so much time in her own head, I was surprised that it took me so long to come up with an answer. Which was lengthy. But in the end, not that shocking, because I keep exploring the same themes. That is to say, I recognized myself yet again in my answers.

To do worthy work. To have my children know that they are loved. To read both deeply and widely. To pour myself into a good man (or two). To live in a tiny cabin in the woods. To write. To have chickens, and goats, and a dog.

To be love. No typo.

To be kind.

To die well.

To feel safe.

To feel competent.

(and then because I am an inveterate smart-ass who too often uses humor to diffuse heaviness) To find the actual best crabcake in Maryland.

Simple. What I am saying here, what I always say in different words is: I want to live a simple life, with fewer things and more joy. So this morning, I looked at all my bookshelves and pulled out some stuff I knew I would never make time to read, plus some duplicates. And I put a couple of unopened puzzles in the box for Goodwill. And I am thinking that I am not done for the day. I think that my actual goal for the day is the elimination of a bookcase. And maybe some craft supplies that I will never use. And possibly a few more items of clothing. Because I can’t live simply in this much visual clutter, and I’ve been screaming simplicity to myself for a very long time.

Somehow, I’ve managed to get to a place where all the options I have for what to do/read/wear feel like pressure in my chest. All these options feel like guilt. Oh. That last sentence surprised me. Was not expecting that. Sometimes my truth just reaches out and bops me on the head.