Five Things

I think we’ve all had those moments where we lose hope in people. Maybe it’s a click of the news, someone cut you off on the road or poor customer service. What if I had a solution, nay a suggestion, for gaining that hope right back in one swoop. Craigslist.

I know I’ve talked again and again about my experiences with people I’ve met through Craigslist. I could write a book and title it, Strangers Aren’t So Strange : A Craigslist Story. I could fill the pages of the walks of life I’ve met but it would mean nothing if others didn’t experience it too. So here is my suggestion. Pick out five things in your home, things you just no longer use or need, things you could let go of. Log onto Craigslist and post them in the free section for someone who could use them.

Here’s the catch. Arrange to meet and give them the item, once you are contacted by someone. Don’t stick it in front of your door and tell them it will be waiting outside. That misses out on the experience. This is coming from an introvert who has such trouble starting conversation but I’ve found that people don’t care how you reach but that you do reach.

What you will find, what I have come to find, is that people will surprise you. When you give freely you get all the good in that person. They are so happy you didn’t just dump it off at a thrift store and instead allowed someone to have it for free and connected with them.

Every interaction I have, when I post something for free, goes differently each time with one exception. I’m greeted with open and honest kindness. I had a man give me $60 for free clothes for the “good deed” of helping his friend who had no clothes. I’ve had people offer me a place to stay with my RV, say they’re willing to help me move my stuff into the RV, give me a bottle of wine, passed on my blog link, and promoted my business ventures all because I put something up for free, making it easier on their lives to get what they are looking for. It’s a grand thing, giving.

Yesterday I posted some wheat flour for free because I’m going a month without flour and didn’t want the temptation around. When the woman (Laura) showed up she brought me some fresh chopped rosemary from her rosemary bush as a way of saying thank you. And now I have them in bundles hanging up to dry. Never do I expect anything in return and every time people surprise me. I’ve had conversations that went on for five hours, cried with strangers, hugged them and arranged to meet again. People can not only be kind, but they are kind if we give them the opportunity.

So: five things. Grab, post, experience and be surprised by humanity.

 

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One In Many

I’m very easily overwhelmed. I have found, however, a simple method that has allowed me a needed deep breath. It’s but one word, focus. These flowers remind me of such a feeling, for they overwhelmed the forest floor we walked. They line the pathways for what seems like forever. And yet they are just one kind of flower, one focus of golden yellow. They are a reminder to take one thing at a time. Let yourself be immersed in that one thing, for the result is often beautiful when given your full attention. It could be as simple as a cup of tea or cleaning your home, or as complex as the many thoughts, dreams, and aspirations that fill your head.

That’s what I’ve been doing, taking my time focusing on one thing, finishing that and then moving on to the next. The beautiful thing about getting lost in one thing is it tends to take you places you never knew possible, paths you didn’t know were there. Doing so also lets you see the detail that a multi-tasker would miss and the details are the best part. Had your mind been split between trying to tackle so many things would you never get lost. It’s good to get lost, to fall back with the knowledge that you will be caught by that one thing. Swim in it and forget all else, their time will come. No need to rush.

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In This Moment

I don’t know what it is about going back to the single column blog format, though I know not traditional, makes me feel a bit free. It also makes me feel incredibly vulnerable because all the focus then is on the quality of my writing and photos. And I rather like that, because it forces me to give it my everything and be very particular.

In this moment I’m:

Creating a tumblr site for my photos and additional little thoughts. I don’t have a cell phone, so consider it my approach to Instagram. Feel free to follow and if you have a Tumblr, let me know!

Wanting to start incorporating videos and I’m thinking of taking up YouTube. I’d offer tutorials, share compiled videos of outings and adventures, and once we start RVing I’ll share on that as well.

Reading lots of books. I went to the central library yesterday and could barely carry out my 30+ ‘how to’ books. I’m ready to learn lots of new skills, a bit more on RVing and diving into some good stories. If you’re bookish too, you can find me here.

Watching videos on quilt making and am excited to soon make my first quilt. I’m planning out my pieces and now have the gist of how to do it, thanks to a video from the library. Also excited to get my first free advanced screening tickets to About Time.

Considering how I want to incorporate podcasting back into the blog. I have some ideas. I decided to drop Simplifying Sunday, though I loved writing them, because I didn’t like being constrained to a specified day.

Making all sorts of things for my soon-to-be shop. Though I’m wondering if I’m shop material. I love to make stuff. I love to share my skills with others because I don’t know otherwise. But I don’t like the marketing and pressure of ‘pretty’ packing that comes with having a shop. It’s why I’m going back to pondering YouTubing and doing tutorials there. It may just be my calling. For now, I’m going to try both out and see what sticks.

Listening to the rain. It’s pouring right now. The balcony door is open and it’s just such a beautiful sound to write to.

Researching freelance writing and seeing how I can get into the field.

What are you up to today?

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A Manifesto Worth Loving

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You don’t always get just what you need right when you need it, but I did. I recently started listening to Tim Minchin, an Aussie comedian. And yesterday Matt sent me this video. In the video, Tim, upon receiving an honorary degree, gave a moving speech sharing his nine life lessons. I’ve watched the video three times now and I feel that it makes for a great manifesto for life. Please consider giving it a gander or the added value to the below would be lost (the speech starts at the beginning and ends at minute 11:53).

The nine life lessons being:

  1. You don’t have to have a dream. Instead try, “passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals.” – Focus on now, on what’s in front of you, and give it everything you’ve got.
  2. Don’t seek happiness. Instead, “keep busy and aim to make someone else happy.”
  3. Remember it’s all luck. Doing so will make you more humble, compassionate and empathetic.
  4. Exercise. (and eat well) Your body is your vehicle, fuel it right.
  5. Be hard on your opinions. Examine them, constantly. “Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges.”
  6. Be a teacher. Everyone can be a teacher. Share your knowledge. Holding it in deprives you and others of so many gifts.
  7. Define yourself by what you love, not by what you oppose.
  8. Respect people with less power than you.
  9. Don’t rush. You don’t need to already know what you’ll do with the rest of your life. Let life unfold. Fill it. Learn as much as you can. There is a quote that I’ve been wanting to share and here is my opportunity. It’s about time and it was said by Damien Echols, a boy (now man) who was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit (and has since been released). He said,

The thing I like most about time is that it’s not real. It’s all in the head. There is no such thing as the past. It exists only in the memory. There is no such thing as the future. It exists only in our imagination. If our watches were truly accurate, the only thing they would ever say is now.

Without boring you with my thoughts on each point and how they struck me and made me reflect, I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t share such wise words. I hope they help you as much as they did I.

I will say, if I could add one thing it would be…

When all possible, forget about money. I currently don’t bring any money into our household. I’m not incapable of doing so. I have two degrees and have built lots of skills over the years. However, it’s taken me this year and a half, since leaving my last job, to disassociate my thoughts from money. Your purpose, your worth, is not in a piece of paper that only has value because we give it. Which means we can easily take that value back. And while I’m working on some shop items now, I’m taking my time with it, making sure I love and enjoy every piece and every moment. I haven’t perfected the disassociation of money and I don’t mean complete disassociation because we have to pay the bills, even if they are few. Today I felt another bit of saddness for not ‘contributing’ and by contributing, I sadly thought only of money. And my husband said the thing he always does, “are you happy?’ Without hesitation, I said yes. We go through this maybe once every couple of months since I left that job and stay home but that time between months has grown, which means I’m starting to let go of my mind’s value of money and just live. And that makes me happy.

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Writing On The Web

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About six months back I made the decision to approach writing on the web a bit differently, and it’s paid off. I used to be consumed by the rush of the world and quick to hit publish but now, now I treat every word as precious as a flower because here is what I’ve realized:

  • What you say and do on the web is permanent, even if deleted. A given, I know.
  • Some things just need to sit, stew, and stay with you. Last week I wrote 3-4 posts. I let them sit. I didn’t think about them after leaving. I just wrote and left my words there in draft format. I came back later with fresh eyes and found that was all I needed, to write. Those posts weren’t mean, or even too personal, just things I needed to say to myself. A couple days ago I typed up a reply, to a comment on another blog that saddened me. I didn’t hit send but instead left the apartment and came back later in the day to delete my unpublished comment.
  • Negative posts and comments get us no where. Come from a place of positivity, always. That doesn’t mean compromising honesty.
  • When feeling defensive, step away. Sometimes I slip up. The other day I felt the need to explain myself further and left some kind replies doing so. But I remembered another thing I learned, and that’s that, it’s okay to be misunderstood. It’s rare to be fully understood but as long as you understand your decisions and words, that’s what’s most important.
  • Inaction speaks just as loud as action. Telling people what you don’t do is unnecessary. Not doing it is telling enough. Stick with what you do, allow all energy and passion to flow into that.

Doing these things has really calmed me, made my communication with others more from the heart. It’s also made me more considerate of time, making sure that I’m remembering someone is taking the time to read my post or reply, so I ask myself, am I valuing their and my time? It’s taught me patience. It’s just been a beautiful thing and a humbling experience, giving me a new perspective on the web as a whole.

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Overthinking

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As always, another great week filled with happy things. Lots of time watching Hermione roll around on blankets outside, noticing moss on a rock that makes it look like planet Earth, played lots of Solitaire, won the book Countown: Our Last Hope for a Future on Earth? on Goodreads (I’m excited to read it), saw tons of purple cacti, emptied out my wallet and found a gift card to Petsmart – turns out it had $27 on it – so we got the cats some treats, made lots of slow cooker meals, and dropped off a bunch more stuff at Savers.

And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging. I realized I think too often about it, where that energy could be used on other things. I’ve been spending so much energy (she says after re-recording one podcast 10 times) on trying to make it right, or thinking how to try to make it ‘right’ instead of just sharing, even if it only benefits me. Because, looking back, there were some posts I wrote that didn’t have me in mind at all and I think that’s a shame, since it’s my space but that’s my fault. So I’ve decided to make some changes. Some will be slow changes but changes nonetheless. The end goal is to not overthink this thing, to share what’s on my mind even if it isn’t a catchy title or cohesive concept.

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My Shrinking Wardrobe

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Of all the many things we’ve downsized, donated and sold, my wardrobe has hit the bricks quite a few times. I’ve never really had a big wardrobe but more and more, I’ve come to realize how little I want to be associated with what I wear and more in what I have to offer. A while back I made a donation of 92 pieces of clothing to a woman who lost all her stuff. About a month after that I decided to downsize my wardrobe by 50%, to what it looks like above. And just the other day I read this amazing article about a woman who wore the same outfit for a year. In it she elegantly discusses why and what she learned. She discusses image, feminism, and minimalism. I related very much to everything that she said and so I visited my wardrobe again and what is pictured above is now halved, to roughly 25 hangers and two drawers.

My goals:

  • To have solely what makes me happy and only what I use because I firmly believe that anything that is unused must go (No point in storage, saving for later, when it can be used by someone now.)
  • To not let wardrobe overpower the content that is me but to still feel good in what I wear, to find a nice balance.
  • To connect – I want to be down to the essentials but to connect with those essentials and so I’m working on sewing my own pieces of clothing the way I want them. I want every item to count.

So far it’s done wonders for my life. It’s saved me time in doing laundry, picking out an outfit, opened up more white space in my home and saved money.

It’s reduced worry, worry of what will people think if I wear the same thing in a week? What about when I take photos and share them on the blog and they’re the same outfit? Gasp! I’ve realized how menial it all is and let go of worry and freed my mind.

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