What Goes Around

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I’m having a bit of a crises of conscience.

I can’t help but wonder if I am contributing to the whole stuff deal by having a small space in an antique store. Am I perpetuating the very thing I’m attempting to control or eliminate in my own life? The collection of stuff?

I’d like to think in this whole big drama we call The Stuff Show, that I am on the right side of things. I see myself as a mild and minor protagonist. I am not heroic for saving someone else’s trash and converting it into treasure, I’m simply a cog in the wheel of a much larger machine.

I know that hoarders shop antique stores. But I also know there are people like me who appreciate pieces of furniture and useful items like vintage mixing bowls or an old paint splattered ladder and will purchase items judiciously after careful consideration.

There is so much stuff and most of us are just moving it from here to there. Too much of it is getting moved from here to the dump. Or tossed because the newer better thing has just come on the market.

In my own way I like to feel like I am helping to preserve history. The older I get the simpler I want things and so many of these items I buy and sell have magnificent stories. For instance I love the scarred kitchen table that can go on and on about the peas that have been shelled and corn that has been shucked at its side. It explains that many of its scars are from the slip of a knife off the cutting board or a pot placed on its surface before it was cool. The chair with the sagging seat talks in hushed tones about the many visitors it has had whereas the silver plated hand mirror would never say a thing about the secrets of others.

I don’t for a minute believe I am setting a bad example by repurposing or reselling cast off items. I am not creating a new problem. And I don’t believe I’m adding to one.

Put simply, I find neglected and forgotten items, love them back to health and offer them back out to the world. I am feeding consumerism and that part feels a bit inelegant, but I am not creating a need that doesn’t exist. I cannot control the habits of others. I am suggesting that if you need an item, check an antique store first, or a thrift store, or your own closets and drawers.

In The Stuff Show, I am a minor foot soldier on the team of good intentions. The Generals are the minimalists and the ocean cleaners and the zero wasters. I’m hopeful that we can all work together to create a minimally furnished world of beautifully patinaed treasures.

There’s a Monster in My Closet

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There are days that I feel like the purging will never end. I worry that I will get the house “set” and decide I need to rearrange or pick up a new hobby that brings more stuff in. I wonder what would happen if I just decided to pitch all the CDs. I toy with the idea of emptying one room completely and mindfully putting each thing back in after a ridiculous amount of consideration.

Then I realize I’m just in the middle of this process, not even quite in the middle of the year I’ve allotted myself. All of these things will resolve themselves in time.

Today I dove back into my room. The once sparse and organized closet with a handful of projects is threatening to buckle shelves and blow the doors open with the addition of the crafting supplies of mom’s I somehow I had to have. More project ideas presented themselves to me and now I am left with the task of sorting and storing. Do I purchase organizational boxes, as I have all but vilified, or do I make it work some other way, or do I let most of the stuff go?

In addition to all the closet stuff there are piles of papers on the desk that need filing or shredding; books that need to be reshelved or maybe even released; CDs to be burned; and matted photos that will likely be given away.

I am ready to let go of the photography for photography’s sake which has led me to this little thought spiral crises. If I can so cavalierly toss away photos that I once loved and was happy with, what’s next?

This was my inheritance.

My mother loved to craft and create and she had enough supplies to make something for everyone on the planet. She would create one thing she loved then decide to make 200 more of them and then be disappointed when they didn’t sell. I don’t want to go down that road. Any more.

I don’t want to do those artsy craftsy things I love for money. I will absolutely still accept financial compensation for things I make, but it cannot be why I make things. It was those things she made first that were magical. Each subsequent item was not as special. Maybe it was smaller, with less or more embellishment or somehow skimped on. Maybe it was just that there was now way more than one that it lost its magic. Whatever the case, I think I get it now. When I would make a piece of jewelry for myself it was always the first thing that sold. If I tried to make something for someone else in mind it fell short.

But back to the stuff of this room.

On the floor scattered in no particular pattern are half filled boxes and well-meaning piles that point to some sort of attempt to organize.

There are also three bookcases that will need to be culled with a strict hand. And my own files that need to be thinned of last year’s papers.

But one thing at a time. One ball of yarn in a bag to go to a friend. A book set aside for another friend. A small pile of photos started for gifting.

As much as I want to complete it all today, tidy up my room and sit down to watch a movie, I know the sweetness and the lessons are in the time.

Oh, I’m still going to watch that movie, the stuff will keep.

 

The Yoga of Stuff

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As I continue to eliminate the unwanted from my life I am constantly rubbing up against the ten tenets of Yoga. I can’t help it, I teach this stuff, I’m immersed in it. Just in case you’re working on your own purge, I thought I would share these gems with you today. Some seem more applicable to purging than others, but on some level they all kind of fit.

I’ll present them all to you simply and in English. Keep in mind that each of these is asking us to first look at how we are treating ourselves in thought, word or deed, then how we are with others. We cannot fully love another – without strings, conditions or barriers – without truly love ourselves. I know, that’s why it’s called a practice.

I’ll also fit them into the Minimalist/Purging framework, although I am certain you will recognize how these may apply more broadly to all of life.

The first five are restraints, those things we practice NOT doing. The second five are observations or those things we DO practice.

Not harming – Seems simple enough. Don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt others. How might you be hurting yourself with stuff (other than tripping over it)? One way may be holding onto items that evoke negative or sad memories. Perhaps just having too much stuff is limiting; there’s a lot more to clean and manage that may be taking time away from what you’d really love to do. Or maybe too much stuff is simply stressing you out, clogging up your energy and creating general malaise.

Not lying or truthfulness – If you were completely honest with yourself would you really hold onto so much?

Not stealing – Obviously don’t take other people’s stuff, we’re trying to unload our own, remember? But what if we’re holding onto things that we’re not using, haven’t used for years, that could be useful to someone else?

Moderation – Be mindful about what you bring into your home, what you purchase, how much you have. Chances are you don’t need more organizational systems for your stuff, you need less stuff.

Non-attachment or non-hoarding – I probably don’t really need to elaborate.

Purity – Here’s an opportunity to visit your intentions with each of your things, especially when you’re considering bringing more things in. I like to equate purity with space and clutter with toxicity.

Contentment – Does your stuff bring you contentment? Hint: If you are constantly looking for things, probably not.

Discipline – This one is two-fold for me. There’s the obvious discipline of not bringing more unnecessary stuff into your home or life, but there’s also the structure to have what is already in your possession organized. A place for everything and the discipline to put it away when you aren’t using it.

Self-study – Watch your reactions to things. If you decide you’re going to clean out your clothes closet, notice what you are attached to and question it. Is it something you hope to fit into one day? Is it encouraging or frustrating? Is it even still in style or appropriate for where you are now? Could someone else benefit by having it?

Surrender – Ultimately, it’s about letting go of attachment. Trusting the process. When you create more physical space it allows room for more to come in. It’s not so much a shirt for a shirt, but more like a shirt for increased creativity or a raise at work or meeting a new special someone. Letting go is not giving up, it’s opening the door to opportunity.

Whether you’re a woo woo energy person or a chemical engineer I trust you know that more space and less stuff is good for you. Maybe these 10 guidelines will help, maybe you can redefine them to better fit your situation.

When you can come at this with compassion for yourself and your stuff it can be a very liberating experience.

 

 

 

 

Sex, Drugs and Lots of Food

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The photo purge continues. It may, in fact, never end. It’s part trip down memory lane and part making up stories of the lives of relatives I have never met.

While the story making up is endlessly entertaining, at least to me, the personal history part is the most informative.

As I look at photos of myself over the past thirty-some years, I notice one thing: I have never really been thin. As an adult, beyond college, I have always carried more weight than was necessary. And more than I wanted.

Oddly, this is a revelation. I mean, I kind of knew I wasn’t my ideal weight, but what surprises me the most is this: Since somewhere in my twenties, until this very moment that my fingers are striking these letters to make these sentences, I have been trying to get back to ‘that weight’. What weight? I made it all up. Somewhere in my memory I have constructed the perfect sized adult me. She’s about a size 8, not too thin, but not heavy. She’s athletic-ish, maybe she dances or hikes a lot. Her clothes are awesome, pretty simple but well-fitting and not boxy and concealing. Her movements are smooth, her way easy. And she is a figment of my imagination.

I may as well be making up stories about the photos of me.

There is a girl, about 14, that is very thin with legs that appear long and lithe, but that was clearly a growth spurt and before she understood what was really happening at home. Before she started eating her feelings and building her protective coating of fat.

This is not to blame my parents, but I kinda blame my parents.

At 15 I decided I was obese, about 130 lbs. – actually probably my perfect weight, maybe even a little thin for my age and body structure now – and I wanted to go to Weight Watchers. My mother agreed immediately. At least that’s how I remember it.

When I was combing my memories a number of years ago I pinned this whole unhealthy obsession with food and diets on my father. He liked thin women, it was known. So I was going to do that, get thin. I’d get his attention and love that way. (He did not, not love me, he was just one of those dads that preferred alcohol to emotion. Or daughters). Then after processing that, and resenting him for a few years, a light bulb went off. Wait a minute, I thought… Why did my mother agree so quickly to Weight Watchers? (I was the youngest one there, by the way, and the only one who could not drive herself.) It occurred to me that she could have questioned my motives or told me I was perfect the way I was. Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? But she just packed me into the car and sent me in with enough cash to cover the meeting fee each week.

There’s way too much neurosis on everyone’s part to tease that riddle apart here, but suffice it to say that some damaging seeds were planted that got watered with unrelenting rains a year later when our family unit began to dissolve in angry and quiet ways.

The blame crown was now hers to wear for a while. But it really wasn’t her fault either.

My father, just out of reach emotionally, treated my mother like a doormat. He was condescending and rude at best, verbally abusive at worst. He never hit her, instead he withheld, brooded and shot the house full of threat without saying a word. There was never any reason to fear him, yet we all understood we were to be worried.

In the years between Weight Watchers and going off to college my mother surreptitiously planned her escape. She had been hiding a few meaningful things at a neighbor’s house, squirreled away some money and not so elegantly taken up with a friend’s husband. All the adults seemed to know. I was confused but understood what was at work on some level.

Aside from the affair thing I had encouraged her to leave my father.

At this point my weight was normal. Not healthy necessarily. For a while there I subsisted on an apple and a pint of milk a day. Period. Until grandma came for Christmas and baked her way into my heart and back onto my thighs.

I had firmly researched and implemented all sorts of self-inflicting shaming practices. I was not as thin as my mother and if my parent’s relationship was falling apart, then why should I bother becoming that perfect specimen of thinness? Crazy, right? But somehow this must be the thinking that coalesced and dropped even more seeds into my already tattered psyche.

I left for school when I was 19, opting for community college for that first year so I could continue to spend time with my boyfriend who was a year behind me. Even so, we opted for different universities that would cause us to be apart. He went south to the tidewater area of Virginia, I went one state further to East Carolina University.

As my tires crossed from Virginia into North Carolina I somehow knew I would never go home again. Not to any home I had known.

I immediately pledged a sorority. It was a calculated move – instant friends and a plethora of parties. Distraction became my medication. Food, alcohol, a few other unsavory, but very fun at the time, substances and sex all kept me even somehow.

Then mom came to visit and announced she was marrying her friend’s husband.

After that I gradually lost interest in the school part of school and engaged fully in extracurricular fun. I did play a few intramural sports, miniature golf (I know) and soccer, but otherwise the fun was centered around dark hours.

There’s so much more between then and now, but it seems this period defined so much of what would follow.

The weight and the desire to control everything around me didn’t fully manifest until I moved home from school and had to ask permission to stay somewhere with my mother or father. It was at this time I concluded that I was the only one who could take care of me and so I did. I stayed with my mother for less than a month, felt like a stranger in someone else’s house – because it was someone else’s house – and moved in with a new friend.

The coping mechanisms I had employed during college were still readily available and close at hand. I am fortunate to not have an addictive personality (whatever that truly means) so I never held onto any of the panaceas for long. Except food. I struggled forever to control food. Always failing, it seemed. Sometimes winning, but not for a sustained period of time.

The food struggle continues, but it has been channeled in a healthier way, through education. But it’s still at the top of my brain almost always.

I am not unhappy in my current state. There is some tension between where I am and where I would like to be, but the chasm is small and there is very little stress in that tension. And now with this new information that there’s not really an ideal me to return to, I can relax and realize that as I am is just fine, maybe even perfect. This does not mean I will not continue to engage in healthy practices or even push a little harder, but that fantasy ideal?

It’s gone.

Gizmo A-Go-Go

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In an effort to purge my belongs and streamline processes I find myself in the midst of an embarrassing conundrum. I am hoarding appliances.

It’s not all my fault, but most of it is.

Sitting in various rooms of my house are:

KITCHEN

  • Spiralizer in the box – I went a little zoodle happy for a while, but apparently I’ve moved through that phase.
  • Instant Pot – I bought one for my brother so he returned the favor. It’s awesome – I’ve heard – but I’ve only used it once.

GARAGE

  • BlendTec – my brother just sent this to me for my birthday, I mean just and I’m super excited to use it.

GUEST ROOM

  • Electric teapot – I purchased it for my mother for Christmas but was never able to give it to her.

MASTER BEDROOM

  • Sonicare Toothbrush – to be fair, it’s replacing one that became possessed a few months back.

BACK PATIO

  • Composter – Not technically an appliance, but kind of. I couldn’t wait to get one to put all my cast offs from juicing (another appliance, but a few years old and oft used) and summer salad making. Oh, and, coffee, yet it sits unassembled on the patio dining table.

It’s a problem. I am hoping that I can integrate each of these items into their proper places and perhaps discard some things lurking under forgotten counters to maintain some sort of stuff balance, but that remains to be seen.

Did I mention the external CD drive still in the box on my desk?

We are planning a kitchen remodel for this year so there will be a huge purge. And there will also be a tad more cabinet space that I vow not to fill just because it’s there.

I can’t make any promises for Larry though. He seems to have an allergic reaction to empty space in cabinets or on counters, any flat surface really. Maybe by then he will have purged his two spaces and crossed over to the bliss of organization side.

Stay tuned.

 

Watching Grass Grow

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A side effect of not being constantly engaged in social media is the time to stare into my backyard. It may seem like a misuse of time to you, but I can assure you it is paramount to my overall well-being.

I have three favorite perches in my home: The glass and bamboo patio table right under the ceiling fan on the back porch; the Pier 1 wicker saucer chair we’ve had forever with the charmingly rusted foot stool (now table) beside it, also on the patio; and one corner of my exceptionally comfy sofa. All three of them face the back yard.

Can I tell you about it, again?

This yard will never be in a home and garden magazine, but that doesn’t seem to dissuade the squirrels, doves, cardinals or lizards from visiting frequently. The bees and butterflies are undeterred when the orange tree or flowers start blooming. And what I can only suspect is a citrus rat – (since squirrels are not nocturnal) scurrying up the fence when the light comes on and the dogs go out – seems perfectly at home scavenging for fallen oranges..

I have a rubber tree that has not had the benefit of nature’s hard freeze to help stunt its growth. It’s over 30 feet tall now. A bay tree that seemed to have died, proved us wrong when we cut it down by sprouting 5 baby trees. Now all over 15 feet tall. And many other overgrown, bright green hiding places for various Florida fauna.

There are a few palm trees in the yards behind mine and when it’s windy it sounds like it’s raining.

There are strategically placed wind chimes around the patio and a few naked, out in the weather, that add to the music of the raining palms.

There’s just enough space between the trees and the fence to provide a never ending play of light and shadow when the slightest breeze blows.

Doves often take to the exposed patio for a lover’s promenade.

And ferns play host to untold numbers of winged and multi-legged critters.

There’s a dish with water on the table that sits on the dove’s patio. Throughout the day any number of birds can be found sipping the water or taking a quick bath. Occasionally I’ll catch a squirrel taking a drink. And most recently I’ve spied a few lizards and even a yellow jacket quenching their thirst when it seemed it would never rain again.

But the enchantment doesn’t end with the back of the house. The front yard holds its own charms.

A towering live oak tree that serves as a condominium for no less than three squirrel families. A magnolia tree that blooms on and off all year, it seems, dropping leaves … always.

IMG_7620And Elma. Remember Elma? Our struggling winged elm tree that was transplanted from the back yard to the front? It was dire there for a while. No rain and searing heat took their toll. We were convinced she just wasn’t going to make it. Her leaves turned brown and eventually fell off, her tiniest branches eventually snapped with the gentlest breeze and even some of her sturdier branches yielded to pressure from water. The plan was to toss her into the yard recycling pile, we just didn’t get around to it. Thankfully!

I’m happy to report that the recent rains, lots and lots of watering, some encouraging words and a little petting have proved successful. Elma lives!

There’s a metaphor in there about being transplanted or transformation or rebirth, but I’ll let you create your own story about that.

It’s nearly dusk, it’s time to move to the saucer chair and catch the late show.

For Now

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When I committed to the year-long purge in January, I truly just wanted to lighten up, get rid of stuff. I felt bogged down by things. I couldn’t find what I needed or remember where I put something because there was just too much. I knew I’d come up against obstacles like time and urgency, that I would resist and that organizing one space would require nearly every other space to become disorganized for a time.

I agreed with myself that I would trust the process and not abandon it. Turns out abandonment is part of the process, but only for a short time.

I find myself in that space of complete disarray. One room (three if you count the two bathrooms) is neat and clean without anything “extra” in it. The rest of the house is in organizational flux. Boxes have been pulled in from the garage to go through and purge in the living room. My room has been the repository of all things mom, along with the I’m-just-not-sure-where-to-put-this-so-it-will-go-here stuff. For now. The guest room bed is covered in old family photos waiting patiently to be organized, the kitchen is in constant use and various stages of purging and we will not be addressing the dining room here today. That is the work space of Larry and a complete health hazard.

Back to that tiny little sentence above: For now. I’m against it.

There are some instances when you have to do something just for the moment, but when it’s announced, “I’ll just put this here for now,” I know there is a deeper pathology at work. Even if I’m the one announcing it. It means, this thing that I’m placing here does not yet have a home, so I’m gonna lay it here while I think about that. Then forget about it.

We are working hard at finding homes for everything we’ve decided to keep. It is much easier for me to let go of things than it is Larry. He’s afflicted with that I-may-need-this-some-day gene. I prefer to pass things along I am no longer using, sometimes to people I know, often to a charity store. But sometimes I hold on too.

Something happens when you take possession of a thing. It becomes yours. And because it’s yours it now has value, but it’s just a thing. Even that 3 carat diamond ring is just a thing (not mine, don’t have one). The value is financial and emotional. The monetary value slides up and down depending on the emotional attachment.

Let’s take Grandma’s set of dishes that we use every Thanksgiving and Christmas, that she used on special occasions. They’re fine china we’ve been told, even says so on the bottom. They’re priceless, clearly. But in actuality, with the missing gravy boat and lid to the soup tureen the set is only worth about $50. At the most. It feels insulting. It’s the emotional grab. In truth if I were shopping for dishes I wouldn’t even consider these, they’re not my style. But when I use them they feel special.

This is the process. Each item is to be considered. This is where I am. I have culled the items that hold no sway – clothes, books I’ve read, unused greeting cards, Rubbermaid food containers and various other items, now I’m down to necessity and heritage.

Letting go of the things does not mean I am letting go of the memories or even tradition. Truly if I had 15 minutes to grab whatever was meaningful to me and get out of my home, after my pets it would be my computer, camera and artwork done by family members.

Is the myth of the memory more important than the freedom and space of letting it go? Is being bogged down by DVDs, old letters, family heirlooms more grounding and nurturing than wide open space in which to be creative and light?

I’m getting to it, the right balance for me. For now.

 

 

Purge Surge

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The hubs and I went on a little road trip. It was just on the other side of 24 hours and a little over two hours away. But it created space. Head space and physical distance.

It’s true that wherever you go there you are, but just a short jaunt away for an overnight can dramatically shift perspective. You take your issues, prejudices, preferences and attitude with you, but not all your stuff. And stuff is something we’ve been working on greatly reducing.

Well, I have.

My husband flirts with hoarding, he calls it collecting, but tomato, tomahto I say. I keep him and his accumulation of stuff contained to the dining room and most of the garage. I have put up curtains on the opening to the dining room so I can close them and pretend there’s something magical behind them rather than the glut of books and paper that actually are. I also insist on parking in the garage so that keeps the clutter somewhat in check there.

But lately these two spaces seem to be overwhelming him, swallowing him. What was once his safe haven has become the bane of his existence.

Somehow, some where between home, the west coast of Florida and back home again he began to see what I was seeing and everything shifted.

We have a few antique spaces between us. He deals mostly in paper, I lean toward dark, primitive wood and creamy white things. I have one shelf in the garage where I keep “back stock”, he has those other two rooms. And sometimes things slip into the living room or a box is placed in the guest room “just for now.”

By the time we got home he couldn’t wait to tear through the garage and box things up for Good Will, recycle cardboard that seems to be breeding and drop well-intentioned craft project supplies off at the nearby artist studio. So far he has filled our enormous recycle bin (you could easily fit three bodies in there), a good portion of the trash can and dispersed a car load of things to new and grateful recipients.

And suddenly I can breathe better, he has more energy and those rooms seem a tiny bit brighter.

The trick, of course, is maintenance. Not bringing more in, not holding onto things just in case. Part of his shift in perspective is due to yoga. Not so much the postures, although he does do those, but more the philosophy that I’ve been sharing with him – in particular the Yamas and Niyamas – kind of the ten commandments of yoga.

There are pages and pages and pages that could be filled with the wisdom of these 10 tenets, but for now, I’ll share just the one that seemed to cause his head to tilt in that dog-just-heard-a-whistle-no-one-else-can-hear kind of way.

Asteya – non-stealing. It means exactly what it sounds like, don’t take other people’s stuff, but it has more meat on it than that. We steal time from others by being perpetually late (it’s not just how you are, unless how you are is rude, and I bet you’re not really). We steal joy from others by complaining or casting aspersions on their happy news. We steal the spotlight or thunder from others by sharing their news to others before they have a chance. We steal peace from others by talking incessantly, gossiping or intentionally creating conflict. Read: drama.

You get the picture.

In addition, when we take things we don’t really need and when we hold onto things because we might need them one day, we are robbing others of the opportunity to use what we’re squirreling away. There is a saxophone sitting in my garage and it has been there for 17 years. It has been unplayed for over thirty. Surely some young kid could totally benefit from a used or donated instrument.

It may have been that last statement that pushed the purge into action. Hoarder, pack rat or squirrel, whatever he is, above all else he is kind and he cares about the joy and artistry of others. I’m sure the sax will find its way to a new appreciative owner.

It’s just day one of the big push, but it is impressive and it is inspiring me back into action.

 

 

White Space

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I have become a bit obsessed with stuff.

The mountain of papers, journals and other bits of detritus left behind by my mother has me wondering what compels people to keep what they do.

Both my husband and I have spaces in antique shops. His is full of books, lots and lots of books, as well as cool old ads and a few chatchkes. Mine is the result of some of my mother’s stuff. Nothing really of much value, but I couldn’t just toss it. In truth, most of her things ended up staying in her apartment for her neighbor or at a thrift store close to her home. What was left that didn’t occupy a sweet spot in my history went to the antique store.

To furnish these spaces we often attend estate sales and sometimes garage sales. I can tell a lot about the owners of these collections of things. What’s important to them, what fads they succumbed to, how old they likely are, where in the world they have been and of course their personal taste.

And I often wonder why they kept what they did. And why they bought it or how they got it.

What makes our stuff so important to us?

Every antique store I have been in has been stuffed to the rafters with memories left behind. Yet we are still manufacturing stuff at an alarming rate. Furniture is no longer meant to last longer than the trend that created it. Appliances and technology have built in obsolescence. There is no restaurant without a to-go option that usually requires materials that never bio-degrade. And everything needs accessories now.

It’s all just too much stuff.

Part of this year was to be about counting my things and releasing what I didn’t need or no longer used. I was hoping to get to a sort of baseline of things. X number of shirts and shoes, the perfect amount and blend of furniture, only books that are used for reference or are waiting to be read, nothing other than holiday decorations in storage. And even those are to be pared.

I don’t know that I’m truly up to the task. It all just makes me so tired.

My intentions are solid, but my resolve waivers from time to time. Part of the process I guess. I hope.

I don’t want to leave behind cryptic notes and journals filled with repetitive and never resolved thoughts, but I’m afraid I’ve already failed on the journal task.

When I travel abroad, I often stay in Airbnb apartments. Recently I rented a tiny two bedroom flat in Madrid. It was done entirely in Ikea with the exception of the rustic wood doors that covered the French doors. Everything was white with clean lines. There were maybe 8 “things” that served no real purpose, otherwise a small sofa, a tiny table and two chairs, a TV stand, a lamp. That was kind of it. It may sound more like a cell than an apartment but to me it was refreshing.

It was breathing space. Room to think. It helped tremendously that I was six time zones away from my stuff and the projects that await me, but it was also a glimmer into the way things could kinda-sorta be. To not have that tug that I should be doing something or something else other than what I’m doing. Just this. Just space.

Now whenever I am confronted by a box, or a pile of papers or even the garage (THE GARAGE!) I close my eyes and let my mind rest on all that clean, white, simple space.

It helps. The work continues.

No Sweat

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I was once ridiculed for admitting my favor and love of a particular gas station. “Why a gas station?” you may wonder as my finger-pointing friend did. What’s so great about a gas station that you openly admit you love it? A gas station?

If you must know, it is a brand of gas stations, not just one, and that brand is Racetrac. As an often lone female traveler I appreciate how their pumps are lit up like an operating theater at all hours. Their bathrooms are nearly always immaculate and they have a bank of fountain drink options – from the sickening sweet, unrealistic color variety to freshly brewed tea and coffee – to please the pickiest of fountain drink connoisseurs. Their employees are generally well trained and personable. Oh, and, the newest locations have self-serve frozen yogurt, so…

I am sharing this with you because I now find myself compelled to profess my ardor for yet another unsung hero: deodorant.

Let me explain. I, like many of my friends, have been searching for that perfect natural alternative to the paraben and aluminum based mega-brands. I don’t mind sweating, but I’m not too fond of stinking and nearly every natural brand has left me wilting like 10 day old kale within hours.

I have many friends who make their own everything, from soaps and lip balms to lotions and deodorant. And I’ve tried them all. I love supporting my friends and buying local and organic, but let’s be honest, not stinking by noon trumps being a virtuous friend.

Enter Native. While recently down the rabbit hole known as Facebook, I stumbled up on a blog (the likes of which I have not been able to find since) that rated 5 natural deodorants for women. I read the whole thing then went with their number one pick: Native.

I clicked the link to the Native site and selected the three pack for $30, free shipping.

I know this sounds like an ad, product endorsement, and I guess it is, but I am so happy with this stick of lavender rose joy that I can’t stop sharing it. As someone on the menopause spectrum living in middle Florida, the search and the struggle is real.

Try it or don’t, I felt it my civic duty to share. I think you’ll be very pleased. Let me know if you order it and how much you love it.