|Bugsy the guinea pig|
It has not rained here in some time so I decided to play the odds on the slight chance of thunderstorms and left Bugsy outside in his cage like I have done for several days in the past.
Four in the morning I was awakened by a giant clap of thunder as the sky opened. Bugsy!!!!
I dashed outside in nothing but a nightgown to rescue my buddy from the downpour. He was upset, running circles as the rain blew in around his cage cover. I grabbed him and dived back in the house.
The little guy and I were both soaked to the bone so I grabbed a towel and started drying him off first, apologising to him for playing the odds.
Bugsy is one of those unique creatures that always lets you know where you stand. If he is ticked he will not hesitate to nip or bite depending upon the degree of annoyance. You know what he did this morning? He just relaxed in my lap and let me dry him off. He was actually chuffling in happiness!
I thought about that this morning. He had been dealt an unpleasant situation that could have been avoided but instead of being upset he was happy to be loved and have someone drying him off!
I thought about how I get upset when things don't go my way and Bugsy just humbled me this morning. His philosophy is so simple--if it is unpleasant Just work to get out of it but once things start looking up just a little bit don't worry about the bad or waste time stressing over it. Go on with your life and enjoy being rubbed by the towel.
After getting the pig dried off and in his cage I grabbed another towel and a change of nightgown. Somehow being soaked to the skin didn't matter anymore and who cares if the neighbors got flashed? Bugsy was safe and we were all going to be okay.
The next time something stressful happens I think I want to remember Bugsy's reaction this morning. I think I want to work hard to correct the unpleasantness and just let the rest go. Actually, there are a couple of things in my life now that I can apply that lesson to so I may as well get started.
Amazing what you can learn from a tiny guinea pig.
The bookshelf was moved when I ended up with a chair and ottoman from the gentleman that took the computer desk. I did a little bit of work on his computer and took it in trade. I needed a nice chair for the living room, one that I could move around and this is perfect! I tossed my old queen-sized jersey sheet set over it to blend it into my decor:
The gentleman was very nice and offered me a dresser as well but I have no room or need for that so I declined. This chair was something I had considered locating for in here but I had not even seriously began to look, you know?
One day I hope to locate a white queen or king sheet set to cover them and brighten them up but black will have to do since it is what I had! This place does look a lot better even with just one coat of primer slapped on some of the walls!
It definitely eliminates any need for turning on the light if I wander into the kitchen at night! Now the white reflects the outside light inside so I can actually see!
I may not have reduced the number of things I owned with this day but I definitely improved the usefulness of the items that I do own! This has been a good day as a result!
Rebecca the Greeniac has inspired me with her comments on the proper response to those who not only reject my minimalism but insist that I should relocate or dedicate my life to something else since I am paring down to the bare minimum.
For those who desire that I should relocate from Western Kentucky I shall tell them that Western Kentucky inspires me to be and become more than what I am and to leave my inspiration right now would be heartbreaking.
For those who are concerned with my lack of “stuff” I am going to take a page directly from Rebecca herself and tell her that excess items are smothering and choke my life and creativity; that I need to pare down to the bare essentials in order to better listen to the muse within.
Rebecca, I wanted to take this time to thank you sincerely for your wonderful ideas and encouragement! This is an issue that has plagued me for almost a year now from family and well-meaning friends and knowing that I have a ready response, a true response just fills my heart with peace.
Now that that dilemma is solved I can go on to more important things like writing. :)
I had some wonderful birthday gifts (yesterday was my fifty-third birthday) and cards. I especially wanted to shown you this beautiful wooden pebble. Hebe, who is a calligrapher and letter-cutter has gilded onto it the word 'gesaelig'.
It's a favourite word in our household.
We first came across it when our Dutch friend Carien said our home was 'gezellig'. That's a Dutch word meaning cosy and comfortable and homely, but in a sacred space kind of way - a sanctuary, a kind of retreat. I loved to think that our home might be described like that, so I made it the name of our home: Gezellig.
Then we moved house, and our next home was Godsblessing House. We moved again, and our present house hasn't a name yet, because we haven't agreed on one.
Meanwhile the word gezellig travelled with us - and when Carien saw Godsblessing House, she said that was gezellig too. Next week she will visit the home we live in now for the first time - I'm waiting to see what she says!
Some of us in our tribe feel a sense of identity with the people who lived in England a long time ago - the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons. Their spirituality and culture speaks to us, and we have made a few vague attempts at learning Old English.
While we were doing that, we found some words that interested us especialy. One was the Old English greeting 'Waes hael' - more comfortably rendered 'Wes hal'. It means 'Be thou whole/well'. The greeting 'Hello' or 'Hallo' derives from it. The words hallowed and holy grow from the same root. The ancient songs and customs of 'Wassail' arise from this greeting which is also a blessing.
For Christmas last year, Hebe gave me a beautiful grey stone into which she had carved the words waes hael. Right now it sits on top of a cupboard in our bedroom, but once Mikey (aged fourteen months and showing every sign of being an Obelix in the making) has stopped hurling rocks, it can safely sit on the stone hearth in the living room, to bless and greet everyone who comes here.
And it was Hebe who found that gesaelig was an Old English word. The central part of the word is 'sael', which you can see at once is really the same as 'soul'. The 'ig' ending is like the German '-ich' (as in lieblich, freundlich, etc) so correlates with the modern English ending '-y' (e.g. friendly, groovy, messy). The 'ge-' beginning indicates an activity of modification, and perhaps best correlates to the modern beginning 'en-'. So gesaelig means something like 'ensouled-ish', or 'made holy'. The g at the beginning and end are not hard. The one at the beginning sounds like a 'y', and the '-ig' at the end sludges like the German '-ich' or the Dutch '-ig'. I know there are proper terms for all these things (prefix and suffix and whatnot) but I can never remember them.
By the time Old English had morphed into Middle English, the word saelig had become 'silly'; meaning 'innocent'. People of simple mind were described as 'silly' because they were seen as God's innocents, not to be held guilty of sin because they lacked the capacity for moral discernment. 'Silly' continued to alter over the years until it simply meant 'foolish', or 'of no account': but once it had meant holy and innocent. To develop from 'holy' to 'innocemt' means that for the Anglo-Saxon people, holiness had a strong flavour of purity - being unsullied. The best expression of this particular sense of purity I know is in Ben Jonson's poem The Triumph Of Charis:
Have you seen but a bright lily grow
Before rude hands have touched it?
Have you marked but the fall o' the snow
Before the soil hath smutched it?
So the word gesaelig is an adjective to describe something that has been infused with a quality of soul that is shining and innocent and bright and pure and clean, at the same time humble and lowly and ordinary. The casual presence of all of God in the world of everyday.
Can you see why I was so pleased with the gift of that beautiful pebble?
My family and friends have watched and wandered as I have thinned down my possessions, listened as I dream of living an even simpler and more mobile life than I am currently able to and several have made a decision.
They have decided that I need to come live with (or around) them.
This wouldn't be quite so bad if they didn't all live in such disparate parts of the country. One friend lives in Ohio, another in Michigan, one lives in Tennessee and various friends and family live in parts of Central Kentucky.
My sister is quite adamant that I need to pick up and buy a house with her in Central Kentucky despite the fact that at present I am perfectly content in Western Kentucky. My other friends and family all seem to agree that I am sufficiently footloose and fancy free enough to come live in their areas (whether they know each other or not).
They all seem to think that with my minimalist attitude that such a relocation would be a pleasure and an adventure for me, that I would enjoy once again living near to friends and family instead of miles and miles away. They seem to think that since I am a minimalist that it would be simple and easy to relocate and this would allow me to use my free time to help do this or care for that.
I journeyed into minimalism because I was lazy, NOT because I wanted to free up my time to work even harder!
I traveled to this area because I wanted to escape Central Kentucky, and my reason for leaving that area is still there!
I love my current living situation and location. I really, really do! While I would like to eventually move into smaller digs and travel some I have absolutely no desire at present to change the town that I currently call home.
Somehow I continually fail to convince certain ones that I like my life. I like my home and I like where I live. I love my town and cherish my free time. I have no current desire to dedicate my life to some cause regardless of how worthwhile.
Just because I can relocate easily, just because I can and frequently do travel to visit certain areas does not mean I want to move there!
How do you tell someone you love (in my case, several people I love) that you have no intention of relocating regardless of how much they pressure you? How do you tell them to drop the subject without being rude and hurting their feelings?
How do you tell someone that you love that despite the fact that you love them you don't want to move in with them or their stuff and you have no desire to move to their hometown and be their neighbor?
How do you tell someone that you really do NOT want to live in their back yard right now?
This is a down side to Minimalism that I honestly never expected. Some think I am poor and would be grateful to move in and use their stuff, others think I should use my time for a "better purpose" while some have completely different reasons for their requests.
I am not sure how to handle this. Just today I came very close to snapping at my sister because she would not drop the subject and I do not like this sensation. Perhaps it would be easier if she were the only one but she isn't and it is starting to get old rather fast.
After my business was completed I gathered up the pets and headed straight home. My sister is always amazed at how anxious I am to leave that town and just does not understand why I have no desire to dally even if I enjoy myself there.
Honestly, after spending several days at her home I am exhausted from lack of sleep. When I got home yesterday afternoon I managed to stay awake long enough to tell everyone I was home before collapsing into a dreamless sleep.
I am still a bit tired today despite having not done much on my mini-vacation. This really leads me to believe that there is no place quite like home.
One day I plan to have it where I can take my home with me when I visit so that I can sleep better but until then I will just limit my trips to what my constitution can handle without much sleep.
Right now I am recovering from the trip. I have done a little work today but I ended up here at the coffeehouse for my Friday afternoon ritual in an attempt to get back to my daily routine.
When you see me just think of Dorothy Gale, clicking the heels of her ruby slippers as she whispers "There's No Place Like Home."
There's a new man in my life. He doesn't care if I'm thin or fat, he doesn't care if I have a bad hair day, he doesn't care if I have wrinkles or sagging skin or a face without makeup. He doesn't care that I can't cook, he doesn't care if I don't sing as well as I used to, he doesn't care if the quilt I made for him has crooked seams.
I loaded up the critters, grabbed the stuff I was taking to her house along with my laptop and a couple of changes of clothing and headed out after feeding the fish and locking up the place.
One thing I brought was one of my old desktop computers. Yes, I traded one of my pets away to my sister. This particular one has been in my life since 2005, purchased on sale at Wal-Mart and highly upgraded. I use my laptop all of the time now and have the netbook as a spare so I simply do not need to keep all of these computer systems taking up space, especially since they no longer get turned on and used.
My sister had a Wi-Fi adapter that blows away what came pre-installed in this laptop. It will come in handy when I am on the move in areas where the Wi-Fi is spotty and my laptop cannot pick up a signal. It even supports the newer Wireless-N networks so I am pleased with the trade.
It will be strange without that desktop hanging around my home; stranger still because I normally use computer systems until they literally cannot be used any longer but my needs and uses have changed and this one needed a new home.
I am confident that I will always keep some sort of spare computer around in the event of an emergency like a system crash but thanks to laptops they no longer need to take up so much space and can easily be transported with me when I travel.
Sister is delighted at the trade for the new system blows her old one away and will enable her to have a spare system as well. She is excited about that and the fact that Time Warner is offering a wonderful deal on cable Internet service in her area and is now looking forward to the installation date.
I am delighted my pet computer is getting a new home and I have one less thing to keep up with. Life is really good.
What did the angels ask Abraham?
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, "If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."
"Very well," they answered, "do as you say."
So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
They asked him:
a) ”Would it surprise you to know we have never heard the phrase ‘bake some bread’ used in association with the word ‘quick’ before?
b) “Would you like a copy of the Government Ministry of Health leaflet No 317: Five A Day – Why You Shouldn’t Forget The Vegetables?”
c) “That was delicious – may we have the recipe for our forthcoming Say It With Flour cookbook?”
d) "Where is your wife Sarah?"
e) “Where is your wife, Abraham?”
f) “The dry bread and boiled veal with yoghourt and tepid milk was absolutely lovely but will you mind very much if we don’t stay for dessert?”
I would like to tell you that it was easy but frankly I would be lying if I did.
Don't you love the lists that bloggers like myself post, saying today I eliminated this list of things from my life? At times it seems so easy when we put it down in words. Perhaps it is easy for others but today I found it terribly hard. It was hard going through the stuff, hard to decide what to keep and what to toss, hard to consolidate the leavings and just plain hot while I worked!
So today I'm not putting up a list or even a picture. I am just glad that I'm done.
The end result of all of this work is that now I am able to leave my bed unfolded during the day. I folded the full-size futon in half lengthwise to make a narrow but serviceable twin futon pad and placed the head of it in the newly-emptied space.
I can actually walk around in my room now regardless of whether it is day or night. No longer will I have to fold and un-fold my bed for sleeping--this is a boon for this lazy woman!
I really didn't get rid of one specific thing. Instead I went through papers and boxes and stuff and just thinned out. Duplicates were tossed along with things that were no longer needed. Newspapers that had been kept whole because of the article on the front page were stripped of the keepsake article and tossed.
Ancient bank records and bills were also added to the pile along with a lot of memories that were no longer important to me.
All of my books are now consolidated upon one wooden bookshelf in my living room, and three binders containing junk were discarded along with the mountain of junk. I even eliminated the phone book that I never use!
Slowly this place is starting to shape up but each new elimination session gets more and more difficult. I am honestly not sure how much lower I can go. One complete shelf is filled with blankets that will be needed and used this winter while the other shelf still has a few things that I haven't been ready to let go of yet.
I think of one lady I heard of somewhere who just called Goodwill and had them come and pack up everything when she decided to pursue minimalism. I don't think I could do that!
I think of the gentlemen who can keep their most important things in a single backpack, ready to leave at a moment's notice. I don't know if I can do that either.
I think of the empty shelf sitting in my hallway ready for me to carry outside to the building and I wonder if I should just place it in my packrat daughter's room instead. She has a lot of stuff.
I think of the few outdoor items I tossed today, the pictures that were illegible, the papers that were obsolete and the silly stories I penned as a young child.
I think of the books that I used to save because of a page or two--a recipe or a note, tossed now except for those few scraps of paper.
I think of how clean and open the floor looks in the living room and throughout the house now, and compare it to the years when maneuvering anywhere in my home was a chore.
I think of the dining room of a dear friend, one side of which was covered in a pile of Large storage totes two and three deep. I think that if I had the money she spent on those totes alone I could pay my bills and live easily for a month.
I think of all of the totes I own, all of the crates and Banker's Boxes--of the time I was worried I may overflow the apartment dumpster with all of my discards.
I think of the storage building I used to rent and of the routine shifting of things back and forth between that rented space and my home.
I think that I may not be ready to downsize into 500 square feet yet but I can at least see some progress!
I'm tired guys. I'm tired and I really really need a shower. Thank goodness I'm alone tonight cause I'm sure I really stink!
So with that I shall close, place the shelf in dear Daughter's room for when she returns, wash up and head to bed.
If anyone has any suggestions that would make the next round any easier I would greatly appreciate them!
... this is the face I see.
I love this face.
I love this man.
I wish you could know him too.
He is a person of great humility and generosity. He is cheerful and kind, and willing to serve others. When things go wrong, he is always the first to say sorry and make amends, and to look for where the responsibility has been his rather than blaming it on others.
He loves the Earth, loves its beauty and wonder and variety. He likes nothing better than to go out into our garden and see how the vegetables he planted are coming along.
He is friendly and shy both at the same time; interested in people and loving to hear about their lives and what makes them tick; but sometimes overwhelmed and needing privacy and solitude. No day is complete without spending an hour or two with his nose in a book to restore his soul.
He makes me happy. I trust him completely. When he is beside me I can feel my soul drawing strength from his.
When he blows his nose it sounds like an elephant trumpeting. It is really impressive. He can do woodwork with proper joints so the things don't fall apart.
He is very frugal and careful with money, but he is the first to help others along and share everything he has with them; the frugality stops with himself - with everyone else he is so generous.
He is funny and gentle and loving and hardworking. He's sensitive and practical and responsible.
He is the kind of man other people turn to when they are in trouble. He is full of enthusiasm and encouragement, quick to celebrate the achievements of other people and enjoy their success.
My life is blessed by his companionship. Everything is easier and happier because we are together.
I bless the day he married me. I am so proud of him, so happy with him; I love him so very much.
I am enjoying my holiday from writing so much!
On a normal day I either start with chores and correspondence or start straight in to writing, finally getting out of bed about half-past eight, half-past nine, half-past ten – ish – to have a bowl of muesli and a cup of herb tea. Then I think and write and think and write and, if I’m working hard, by four in the afternoon I feel like a used-up husk, slightly querulous and impossible to please, over-tired and stuck for a way to wind down. I eat whatever’s in the house those days – brown bread, maybe hummus or tinned fish, salad, whatever. It’s a happy life but very focused on output. When the evening comes I water the vegetable garden, chill out with the rest of the household, chatting and watching TV, cooking supper – maybe vegetable bean sludge and cous-cous or pasta with courgettes and snow peas and herbs from the garden.
But today I am on holiday. Pause for a smile.
We waited in until the organic veggie box from Riverford had been delivered, then it was time for Hebe to go down to the stonemasonry and earn her living for the day, so I walked along with her. First we took some stuff into Silverhill to the charity shop – we’ve been thinning out possessions again – then wandered down the hill towards the sea.
We parted at the pedestrian crossing amid the complicated jumble of shops just up from the shore: there are not many upmarket or large shops in Hastings and St Leonards, because we are not rich enough to buy their wares, so instead we have any number of odd little eateries and greengrocers, butchers and bakers and pharmacists and flea markets and hardware shops, places you can get keys cut or buy rugs or jewellery or second-hand furniture. Down by the sea where Hebe’s and my ways parted quite a number of the shops belong to Muslims now, because the mosque is located there in Mercatoria and it has developed slowly into a quarter favoured by the Arabs and Africans and Eastern Europeans who belong to the Islamic faith. I stopped at a greengrocer for a big bag of Kent cherries – they’re late this year, only just now in the shops where usually they are ready in June. We’ve had a long, cold Spring.
As I walked to the bottom of the hill, the wind was whipping my hair all over the place so I could hardly see. I stopped by an alleyway to sort it out, causing consternation to a seagull trying to fly along between the houses in a wind tunnel – pausing so as not to crash into me, the air currents flung him everywhere and it took all his strength to hover and stay on course.
Tucking my hair firmly into my T-shirt to anchor it, I carried on down to the sea road, where Plenty is just round the corner. They stock all the hippy foods. Wholemeal bread and proper sea-salt, marinated tofu and locally grown vegetables, muesli and nuts and brown rice and herb teas in packets that that describe the contents not as teabags but tea temples! The lady who runs Plenty wants to make it like the provisions stores of the Wild West – a place you can find all you need in one small shop.
I bought some of the bright white sea-salt that always stays slightly damp – it has more minerals and trace elements in – and some pot-scourers made from recycled plastics, some Marigold bouillon mix, a birthday card to give Alison on Sunday, and a small punnet of fresh raspberries – they are delicious just now.
When I came out of Plenty I had to cross the road. That’s hard in the wind. Traffic seems to come from everywhere and my hair kept blowing across my eyes, and the pounding surf and the wind’s own sound made it difficult to hear the cars. Drivers are typically impatient and arrogant, with an unquestioning belief that they are more important than pedestrians. I personally see the sense in taking responsibility for my own safety, but I wish they did not drive so fast and were not so quick on the horn. Crossing the road leaves me feeling ruffled and harassed and slightly afraid.
Once over I could walk all the way along the edge of the sea to where I was headed next: the little fish stalls with the local catch down at The Stade, among the net huts opposite the Tamarisk Steps at Rock-a-Nore. Two or three miles’ walk alongside the pounding waves of a Quaker-grey sea skeined with lacy white spume and flinging spray beige with stirred-up sand. Mischievous and wild the wind played the long ropes against the metal flagpoles like a musical instrument, while the red hazard flags flapped and fluttered frantically hoisted up high.
There are building works down at the Angling Club, generating in me a faint sense of foreboding: please no more concrete, no more amusements, no more buildings to separate the people from the sea. Our souls need the sparkle of the sunlight on the ocean, they do not need one-armed bandits or fruit machines giving prizes of shudderous nylon stuffed animals in improbable colours; garish hellholes full of blasting music with no windows to let in the light and the air.
On the small island in the middle of the lake for the pleasure boats, its own choppy little sea today, seagulls huddled together sleeping out the rough weather.
At the fishmarket I looked for dressed crab… found some at £7.25 each (no thanks)… and some at £4.25 each (yes, okay); then went to catch the bus home. I just missed the 100 but arrived at the bus stop at the same time as the 20a, bought a day ticket and rode to the station where I transferred onto the No 26, which noses its way through the muddle of badly parked delivery vehicles up the hill from the sea, then detours round by St Johns on its way to Silverhill. As we pass its red-brick Byzantine style turrets and semi-tended garden, I like the novelty of feeling: ‘That’s our church!’ It’s lovely being a church member instead of a pastor.
When I got home, I picked some broad beans, lemon balm and a sprig of rosemary from the garden, and steamed the beans just a minute or two to have with the crab… followed by the raspberries… followed by a cup of rosemary and lemon balm tea – light and fragrant and aromatic; good for the heart and the circulation generally. While the tea brewed I nipped back into the garden to take a photograph of the Compassion rose growing by the wall, to show you.
Such a scrumptious lunch. Such a happy morning.
I stumbled upon something that my be of interest to those who wish to simplify and minimize the things they own for everyday projects.
In times past when I wanted to clean my carpet I have always rented a shampooer and scrubbed the daylights out of my carpet. After it dried my carpet still didn't seem as clean and fresh-smelling as I would like in places.
I stumbled upon a tip about mopping your carpet with ammonia water then vacuuming your carpet once again after it dried.
I tried that last night. To my amazement I had to change my water more than once and it was still getting stuff out of my carpet when I quit. I was just experimenting (and didn't want to stay up all night) so I gave the worst area a good scrubbing, went over the rest of the carpets twice in a quick manner and left it be until this morning when I ran the vacuum again.
I am very pleased and surprised with the results. My carpets actually smell better than they did after the last time I shampooed them (amazingly). I honestly didn't expect that.
Mopping a carpet is a way of simplifying your life because no longer do you have to buy or rent a carpet shampooer. It doesn't really take that long to mop it and the carpets dry pretty fast if you don't get them really wet.
You use no electricity, save wear and tear on yourself because you don't have to drag around a heavy machine, save money on expensive carpet cleaners and don't have to use any electricity for the process.
If you have a carpet check out the links and explore whether this method is for you. I am honestly thinking that if I do this on a regular basis that I won't rent another carpet cleaner again--and for me that is a really nice thought!
Have a nice day!
They do say that when you give birth to your first baby, your brain descends into your bottom and you never get it back. I have to admit the evidence for this observation is compelling.
I am finding a certain go-with-the-flow approach is useful in prompting my middle-aged forgettory. I can rarely remember the right words for anything, but I can usually retrieve something with the right number of syllables – the same shape and sound of word – so I go for that and it generally gets me there in the end. Or somewhere approximately near.
For instance, on the Cambridge train from London which I take to visit my mother (getting off at Audley End because she lives in Saffron Walden – aren’t English place names lovely?) coming out of London you can pick up the train at… er… now, what is it called? Something that sounds like Lavender Hole… Lavenham High… Damn… it’s on the Victoria line … er… oh, the first one past Liverpool Street… um – Aha! Tottenham Hale! D’you know I did actually have to google a tube map to track that down.
And right now the cat needs to go to the vet, just for her routine thingummies. I hate taking cats to the vet basically because they don’t want to go, but I did get as far as buying a cat-carrier. Now I’m finding excuses until it just happens to be Tony the Badger’s holiday and hoping he won’t mind taking her – it’s only at the end of our road. But my nephew is a vet, and he told me that you can get one of those drop-stuff-on-the-back-of-its-neck medications and it will fix worms as well as fleas – neat! So I want that stuff; but it can be got only on prescription, so we have to take her in to the vet. My nephew said there are two kinds and I must get one and not the other. One is called Strontium 90 or something, and the other one is called something like Firm Line or Tight Grip or Stranglehold or Tough Stand – but I can’t remember exactly what or which one it is I’m supposed to be getting. But I do remember you definitely must get one and not the other.
I thought this was all because I am growing old. I shall be 53 next week and that’s old, right? But I took heart last Sunday.
I go (now) to a very liturgical kind of church – incense and robes and signs of the cross and statues of the saints – fab! My daughter Grace usually attends chapel in the little village of Pett some miles from her home (because that’s where we all used to go), but sometimes she comes with me to St John the Evangelist which is only at the end of her road and is such a loving and welcoming church community. She came to St John’s last Sunday, bringing my grandson fully armed with snacks and Very Quiet Toys. Her best friend Donna came too, bringing her two little girls. We had a good time. When it came to the Gospel procession I abducted my grandson and took him down to the back where he could watch them process down with the golden cross shining in the morning sunlight and the candles and robes, and the thurible swinging sending the fragrant smoke curling up through the sunbeams, the red and gold book of the gospel held high by the priest with her long grey hair and her green and golden robes, everything so full of beauty and wonder and mystery.
Well my grandson (his first birthday was at the end of May) thought this was cool but then he wanted to play. I’ve not been going to St Johns all that long, so this was the first time I discovered that the Frogs have a niche tucked away in the corner behind the pillars there, with books and toys and drawing things, a statue of St Joseph with the baby Jesus, and pictures of Jesus with animals, and beanbags and child size chairs. So we went there.
This kept my grandson happy for a little while, but then he wanted to explore and headed off crawling fast towards the congregation. Uh-oh!
I headed him off at the pass and took him back to where the massive stone font is. It has its own little place up some steps, and the paschal candle is there, colourful stained glass windows and a painted roof: a lot to look at. My grandson was interested in the steps, because he is practicing, always practicing, climbing the stairs right now, and remembering ‘feet first!’ on the way down – head first is not so good on a flight of stairs, and we have managed to persuade him of this.
So we did that for a while, then Grace came over bringing her friend’s little girl, and we went back to the Frogs’ corner, which is where we were when they all returned from the Swamp. They go there taking a special children’s Bible after the first bit of the liturgy, leaving a candle burning on the altar to remind us in Big Church that though some of us may be worshipping out of sight down in the Swamp, they are still part of us.
The Frogs had not met my grandson or Donna’s little girls before, and as they looked a bit shocked to find their corner invaded, I felt introductions were in order. ‘This is Minnie,’ I said, ‘and this is Grace: and do you know, Grace is my little girl! Can you believe it?’
The Frog in question looked interested but not incredulous. So I gestured to my grandson and continued: ‘And this is –’
And do you think I could remember his name?
Fortunately Grace thought this was hilarious. Just like his mother and his aunts before him, my grandson Mikey is not the world’s most assiduous sleeper, and wakes up many times in the night for a cuddle and a feed. Grace said that the night before, after the third time she got up to feed him, she could no longer remember if he was a boy or a girl.
So it isn’t just me, is it?
We had such a lovely evening, with delicious food from the superlative Gurkha Palace.
And my son-in-law had been wanting to show us the film Baraka. The word 'baraka' means 'blessing' or 'breath/essence of life'. It's a Sufi word.
The film is breath-taking - so beautiful, profound, spell-binding, sometimes very sad, sometimes uplifting, enchanting. It's like God wandering round the Earth to see what's happening and what human beings have made of it.
An amazing film.
There are lots and lots of clips of it on YouTube, but though they can give you a taster they don't really do it justice on my little netbook and are not as good quality as the proper film. I wish I'd seen it on a big screen at the cinema.
Instead of waiting and taking care of all of them (and worrying) I scheduled the payments today. Now they are all taken care of and the money is scheduled to be transferred.
Having the Wal Mart card paid automatically has really helped my peace of mind but I am not quite ready to schedule other automatic payments yet. This is a step in that direction, however.
When I authorized the two payments I felt an instant relief. Just that simple act of getting them over with has helped my mood immensely today.
I like that.
While I was able to fall asleep easily enough I awakened early this morning my eyes looked upon the shelf that holds so many of my worldly possessions. After a moment's thought I pulled one box off of the shelf and looked within.
Before I stopped I had eliminated three boxes full of stuff out of my life and pulled out an old monitor that will be Freecycled as well. One box full ended up tossed with the remainder ready to be posted on a combination of Freecycle, the local online classified network VCI.net and eBay.
After all of this I considered treating myself to a sausage biscuit at McDonald's but then thought about that book and actually changed my mind so here I sit nibbling on a Toaster Struedel as opposed to the McD Sausage biscuit I would have normally headed out for, drinking water instead of an orange juice.
This book like the Happy Minimalist before it boasts very few pages--70 to be exact. However it packs so much food for thought in those 70 simple pages it is astounding.
Some things he espouses like the one-month rule I cannot use for a lot of my things like the seasonal items I must keep (kerosene heaters aren't cheap) but he raised an excellent point about keeping things around. I was amused by his comments aimed toward just getting rid of the stuff--even if you have to burn it!
He touched upon having a 30-day waiting list for things before you purchase, discussing how having more things just makes us more miserable because we can only keep up with about 150 things in our head. He was not shy about asking you to look around and in your stuff for things you were toting around that you had not used in ages!
Recently I had went through my laptop bag to lighten it -- he is definitely correct about how easy it is to accumulate and carry stuff around without thinking of it. I cringe as I look at the purse sitting at my feet--I need to look inside of it as well!
If you get the opportunity to snag this book and read it, I encourage you to do so. The book is not very long so you don't have to worry about it being a long read. However not only does it contain information about him and his minimalist ideas but also links and information about other minimalist greats such as Leo Babauta and others.
Everett's book is a great foundation work on the minimalist life containing links and locations filled with additional information if you want to learn even more. Grab a copy and give him a chance to say his piece--you won't regret it!
While you are doing that I think I shall start listing this stuff on Freecycle. You know, if I had embraced the Minimalist path years ago I could have saved a fortune in Banker's Boxes and
“Your days are your life in miniature. As you live your hours, so you create your years. As you live your days, so you craft your life. What you do today is actually creating your future. The words you speak, the thoughts you think, the food you eat and the actions you take are defining your destiny - shaping who you are becoming and what your life will stand for. Small choices lead to giant consequences over time. There’s no such thing as an unimportant day.” - Experience Life Magazine July/August 2010.
We’ve all heard it - “You are what you eat.” The proteins, fat, carbs, minerals, vitamins, fiber, etc., are all “building blocks” for the body. Whether these blocks are constructed wisely and build a foundation for health, or whether these blocks are constructed haphazardly with inferior materials and result in disease, fatigue, and body system malfunctions is always our choice. Of course, the problem with those choices is that they have to be made every single day, several times a day. You can’t just make a decision to eat healthier once and for all and expect everything to be smooth sailing from there on out. It’s not some kind of decision like what college to attend or whether to have kids or not - something that’s a done deal, decision made, case closed. It keeps coming back and back, every meal, every bite. It’s a decision that has to be made, remade, over and over and over.
The quote above from an article in Experience Life Magazine was really thought-provoking for me, for it takes the adage “You are what you eat” and expands it to encompass every decision of how you spend every second of your entire life. We are not just physical beings, and while we are creating building blocks that affect our health, we are simultaneously creating building blocks that involve our spiritual selves, emotional selves, mental selves - basically the wholeness of our souls and bodies. Every choice we make contributes to the structures that we call ourselves and the lives we will end up with.
That’s not to say everything runs in a perfectly straight line and can never allow for mistakes. Thank goodness there are second chances, changes of heart, do-overs, and such. We can undo some of the damage our choices have done to us, our bodies and souls and relationships. But in the end, our decisions and experiences are part of the whole package. They can be improved upon and repaired, but they can never be deleted. Yesterday makes us who we are today, and today makes us who we will be tomorrow, and the cycle is always in motion.
Those who know me are aware that I have written my own obituary. I will be 56 in September and I realize that I have more of the sand on the bottom of the hourglass than at the top. The process of creating and updating one’s obituary results in mortality staring one in the face. Each time I think about my obituary, I have to reevaluate my life anew. What do I want the final portrait to be? What is my legacy? What good changes have I brought to the world? I’ve heard so many people say that we miss the Big Picture in life, but what makes up the Big Picture? The tiny small pixels. Small pixels that on their own look meaningless and unimportant, but when put together finally reveal the complete portrait of a life.
You may want to join me in adopting this motto that I have selected to start each remaining day in my still-evolving life: “Small choices lead to giant consequences over time. There’s no such thing as an unimportant day.”
As an avid book reader I am wondering if there is a way to reduce the amount I feel that I "have" to read.
Is that even simplifying or is that just going to extremes?
The fact is that I love to read. Books are an incredible enjoyment to me but there are times when I feel I may lose out because I haven't read something.
I also feel lost when I am not connected to the Internet all of the time and I would like to rid myself of that sensation.
Perhaps the two are connected somehow? The feeling that I will miss out if I don't devour information endlessly?
I don't know, but it is something that I want to consider. It is one thing to reduce and simplify the stuff in your life but if you are filling up parts of your world with other unimportant things should we not work to simplify them as well?
I would love some opinions on this. Any opinions, actually. This thought really needs some clarifying.
We are used to each other now, and have all learned to say 'Miaoowwww' in a creaky, querulous tone: none of us can match her when it comes to purring.
I've mentioned a bit of progress here and there but overall I didn't feel it was a huge amount to brag about but today I am astounded at the progress I have actually made! Previously it felt like I was simply rearranging the stuff I have but today I can see that I am truly making a reduction in the things I possess!
After eliminating the sugar tub, then taking that tub to liberate the even larger rice tub, I realized that there was a huge amount of unused space in my pantry.
Since the goal is to have all of my non-refrigerated food to reside in this pantry I began work moving some things in there to fill the empty space.
The pantry is filled again but there is amazing progress! No longer do I have large tubs of food sitting beside my refrigerator:
|From A Journey to Simplicity|
Instead that huge area is empty space now between my stove and refrigerator! The giant rice tub (the bottom one) is greatly reduced and is now in a container half that size, now located within my pantry.
The pantry doesn't look much different now:
|From A Journey to Simplicity|