Tag Archives: simplify

Making Room for Joy

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December is a great time of year to purge. Out with the old, as they say! I’m a huge fan of simplifying, decluttering, and downsizing. As we prepped to move from Florida to Colorado, I was able to donate a lot of what had become “junk” to me. That’s not to say it was really junk, just that it had been relegated to the junk drawer, the storage closet, or under the bed. That move was unique in that I threw out, donated, or gave away about 80% of our stuff. A few items here and there have been replaced, but for the most part I still have far less than I used to. That feels really good!

For the past nine months I’ve been living in my parents’ house, so there’s a section of the basement housing boxes I’ve not needed to unpack (kitchen stuff, some books, crafty items, etc.). What I’m finding is that I’m not missing a lot of what is still packed away. In fact, I’m looking forward to throwing out, donating, and giving away quite a bit more of it.

I’ve said before, though perhaps not here, that I’m not very sentimental. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not cold-hearted and lacking the tenderness that comes with reliving fond memories. What I mean is that I rarely… very rarely… purchase a souvenir when I take a trip. I didn’t save all the drawings, papers, and projects my kids made over the years. I don’t save the cards and letters I receive, with very few exceptions. I don’t have any of the boys’ baby clothes or my wedding dress. What I do have is plenty of photographs of some of those things, digitally stored on my hard drive or archived (on acid-free paper, of course) in a few scrapbooks, and even more memories tucked away in nifty little boxes in my mind. Looking at a photo of a drawing Brian Jr. did when he was 3 floods my mind with thoughts of him from the day I gave birth until now. Seeing a picture of Jordan playing with one of his favorite toys as a kid has the same effect. And looking through the photographs of Brian and I throughout our marriage brings back those days like they were yesterday. So, I suppose you can say I’m actually quite sentimental, just not a clutter-bug! I have some trinkets and mementos of times gone by, things I like to keep around to recall the past, but if I had to give them away or they were suddenly gone, that would be okay.

Christmas is a time for traditions, and I guess the Lawsons had a tradition of simplifying the holiday. I probably make more trips to Goodwill during December than any other month. Since the kids were tiny little things, we gave them no more than three gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning. Their stockings had silly little gifts tucked inside, but were by no means extravagant. Now, because they are guys and guys’ toys get pricier as they age, it’s usually one gift. Thankfully, they are both very appreciative for their one gift and don’t look dejected if there isn’t a mountain of gifts under the tree. This year the boys and I are actually celebrating Christmas a month late, so there won’t even be a tree! But there will be togetherness and that’s even better.

This December I’m sure I’ll purge some of my material belongings, but I am also planning to declutter my mind and free up some space for more joy. I want to throw away regret and the last little bits of bitterness that are hanging around gathering dust. I’m also going to toss anger. Sometimes I put that in the recycling bin and nobody needs that in a new form! I think I’ll also trash jealousy, spite, and critical thoughts. I’ll happily donate compassion and kindness, patience, and understanding to those who need some. I have more than enough to spare. Giving away smiles and good wishes seems like a good idea too. That should give me a lot more places in my life to store up happiness, good memories, positive thoughts, and joy.

Making Extra Room = Joy

Broken Computers & Brake Lights

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While not a rose, a magnolia is worth stopping for too!

Today I was kind of smacked (gently) in the face with the word “rush.” Nope, not the band and not the feeling of euphoria. It was the feeling of hurrying, dashing about, getting a move on. You know the feeling I’m talking about.

The first time it hit me today was when I was on a call with a customer, trying to help her with some techie stuff, when what it boiled down to was this: she was overwhelmed with her life. It felt like there was too much going on and she was being pulled in too many directions. And then, of course, her computer died. Our phones, our computers, our tablets – they are our brains. Thank goodness for them, of course, because without them we really might screech to a halt and not know where we were going or what we were supposed to be doing. I ended up just listening to her and reassuring her that everyone feels rushed and sometimes you have to give attention to some things and let other things go. The techie stuff we’ll deal with later.

The second time the word rush came to mind was when I was driving home and it seemed like I hit every light and I also noticed that I was a little heavy on the pedal. Okay, I’m typically a little heavy on the pedal, but when you see a police car coming at you, you suddenly remember there are these little things called speed limits. I eased up on the gas and let the car slow down a bit… and then I hit another red light. Ugh! Red lights can be very irritating, don’t you think?

I wasn’t running late, so I’m not sure why I was in such a hurry. Truth be told, I’m rarely late, and late in my book means at the appointed time. On time means 15 or 20 minutes before the scheduled hour. And early, well, there’s really no such thing. You are just more on time! Anyway, back to this rushing… we can discuss my personality quirks another time. I was bothered by my need to get here and there so fast, bothered to such a degree that I’m compelled to share it with you! I was bothered enough that I changed my way of thinking and driving the next time I got in the car.

Easing out of the driveway, I stayed closer to the speed limit all the way to my destination. At the red lights I just stopped and looked around. There are interesting people in other cars!! I tend to wear blinders when I drive. There have been times people who know me have been frantically waving and even honking at me, just to say hello, but in my little world I’m thinking, “Don’t look at the crazy people…don’t look at the crazy people…” Hmm, that kind of falls under the heading of personality quirk too.

On my slower-than-normal drive I also noticed there are things to look at besides cars and people. There are parks, shopping centers, neighborhoods, the beautiful sky, advertisements, lovely trees and plants, etc. You have to take off your blinders to spot some of these! I arrived at my destination right on time, and very calm.

Technology is wonderful and cars that go over the speed limit are great too, I think. But every now and then, stop to smell the proverbial roses (and maybe some real ones too). Turn off the computer and maybe put the phone on silent and spend a few minutes doing nothing. Relish the time.

A Ponderous Pace = Joy

Pen and Ink

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This evening I sat down with a cup of Tranquil Dream tea, a clean sheet of paper, and my quill. Before I left Florida I promised a dear friend that we would be pen pals and share hand-written letters. I’m quick to embrace technology and love instant connections via email and text message. There is another part of me, though, that remembers the excitement of opening the mailbox and seeing something in it just for me, a card or letter with a message inside. Today the mailbox is usually filled with nothing but junk, except on special occasions. That’s kind of sad, really. When you think about the gift we have of living each day, isn’t every single moment a special occasion? I wonder how much happier we would be if we occasionally took a pen and paper and used them to share our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and adventures? Then those words would be sealed in an envelope and we would have to wait with anticipation for the recipient to receive them. Maybe that sense of expectancy would make us enjoy each day a little more.

I used to write letters fairly regularly, despite having avenues of instant communication at my fingertips. There is something calming to me about writing words down on paper, letting the ink flow. It’s becoming a lost art. I love the uniqueness of handwriting. I love the elegance of beautifully penned letters…the actual letters, whether in hastily written script or carefully written calligraphy. Each is lovely in its own way.

Life is filled with things to keep us busy, distracted, and hurried. I’m ready to deliberately slow down sometimes. I want to appreciate what is around me, really strive to find joy in every little thing. Tonight that came in the form of spending half an hour writing a letter and then another few minutes watercoloring flowers onto it. I tucked it into an envelope and it gives me joy to think that in a few days…maybe more…my precious friend will open her mailbox and there will be something nestled among bills and ads that is designed to bring a smile to her face and give her the opportunity to slow down as she reads the words I’ve written. Then, when she has some time, I know she will return the favor and the wonderful cycle of communication between two souls will continue.

Hand-written Letters = Joy

Feeling Rooted

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It’s amazing what cancer does that you really don’t expect. I used to be able to read for hours on end and enjoy it. Now I can only read a few paragraphs at a time, but my mind has no focus so I often have to read things repeatedly to comprehend them. Brian has the same problem – he has been given many books over the last few weeks but reading is often more taxing than trying to walk from the couch to the bathroom.

I used to be able to plan meals and organize a list. For some reason I cannot do that now. Some of it may be due to Brian’s changes in appetite. He might be hungry for one thing at 3:00, but by 4:00 he has no desire for it. I think most of it is that my mind is not able to think ahead much more than an hour at a time.

With the help of my parents I have been packing our things. Brian and I have moved so many times that I could probably pack up everything while blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. This time around is so different. Tangible things seem so pointless. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to leave everything behind and go live on the side of a mountain with nothing but the clothes on my back. I have just looked at some of our things lately and realized they have very little importance in the grand scheme of things.

I do have have one thing I’m weirdly attached to. It’s an 8’x10′ area rug. We bought it in 2007 to cover some ugly white tile in the dining room of our old house. I insisted we bring it to the condo and I never even considered letting it go in the yard sale with our other things. I’m not exactly sure why me, a person so unattached to stuff, who doesn’t even buy souvenirs on vacation, needs a big ol’ area rug. Maybe I just want something to help me feel rooted, something under my feet that is familiar and says “home.”