purging and doing without

I love purging.  Not the kind that comes out of my stomach through my mouth–that kind freaks me out.  I love the kind of purging that involves getting rid of stuff.  Lots of it.  Bagloads to the thrift store donation door.

I go through purging spells a few times a year, and each time, I wonder the same things:

“Where on EARTH did this come from?”

and “Why on EARTH did I buy THAT?”

Post-purge, I always promise myself wholeheartedly that I will never make the same mistake again.  You know, that *so* enjoyable mistake of impulsively buying that perfect, just-what-I-have-been-looking-for, clearance-item thing in the heat of the moment.  The mistake of forgetting what I can do without.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten better with each purge. I think.

So here I am, for the umpteenth time since moving into this little house (that has been too often packed to the gills with stuff), and am reminded again about what I love most: simplicity.  I love having the minimum amount of stuff.  And yes, this includes clothes, toys, art supplies, and food in the cupboard. It includes bath toys, old mementos, toiletries, and other doodads.  So far it does not include old motorcycle parts or rusty paint cans, but that’s a story for another day.

It feels amazingly good to know exactly what I have and why I have it. I love how creatively Mia plays with just a few quality toys and how quiet it is around here without batteries. I love not having too many options for clothes to wear or meals to make.  I love the feeling of open, uncluttered space and having just a small collection of photographs and books. Simplicity keeps things…well, simple.

Simplicity reminds me of how good it feels to *not* have an emotional attachment stuff.  It took me a long time to figure this out; it took me some time to learn that spending money or having stuff does not equate happiness. What makes me truly happy is filling my emotional cup with the good stuff: the stuff I wouldn’t give up for all the stuff in the world.  Stuff like love, satisfying my curiosity, keeping peace. Best of all, simplicity gives me a manageable life. As long as no one is teething or otherwise needing my full attention, I can get my house from disaster to squeaky clean in under two hours.  But even though everything seems pretty manageable under this system of simplicity, however, I still haven’t figured out how to conquer that ever- growing laundry heap.

Any post about purging would be incomplete without giving props to my friend, Alisha.  On a cold winter night three years ago, she came to my house and did something that changed my life forever: she helped me clean out my clutter! Several carloads to the thrift store donation door later, my house went from hopelessly cluttered to clean and organized.  Alisha taught me how to manage my stuff and how to keep it from piling up and for the first time ever, I actually wanted to BE in my house rather than run away from it.  (And for those of you who might be wondering, YES, Alisha is available for hire and can help you with your clutter, too!)

My house has been decluttered ever since that cold winter night, and I fully intend to keep it that way. With some purging along the way, of course.

Mama Mia spa night and rant about Godiva

Mama Mia date night, complete with a visit to the (pretend, at-home) nail salon, hair salon, and homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries…

(which, if I may say so myself, are WAY better than the overpriced chocolate-dipped strawberries we had at Godiva at the Mall of America on Saturday night. They were TEN dollars for SIX of them, and they were pretty flavorless and unripe to boot.  We made thirteen of these, using plump, ripe, organic berries with organic dark chocolate and it was a flavor explosion–and only about $3 for all of it).

I love our new Mama Mia date night ritual. It’s such a special way to reconnect with my biggest girl and to wrap up the weekend in preparation for the week ahead.

the homemade ones

if you look closely, you will see Anna’s tiny hand reaching up onto the table.  She gets very jealous when I pay attention to Mia and has a hard time with Mama Mia dates.

here is Mia looking out at the squirrels eating the food she put out there for them (unrelated to our date, but I thought it was a sweet picture so I posted it).

Happy Monday to all of you!

my friend rusty, a flattened-out staple

I haven’t had a tetanus shot since I was 15.  That would be roughly 17 years ago.

Two nights ago, I went out to put something in the mailbox and stepped on a rusty little thing sticking straight up out of my front porch.  At first, my imagination told me that someone planted it there for me to step on and give me tetanus–to teach me a lesson about keeping up on my shots.

Then I got it together and realized it was  a flattened-out staple from a UPS package; that’s just the spot where the packages get placed.  Maybe the UPS guy wanted to give me a taste of my own medicine.

I am terrified of shots.  I don’t take them and I don’t give them to my kids.  I don’t trust the people who administer them.  It feels wrong and goes against everything my gut tells me to do.

(Ok, I have actually read everything I can find about vaccinations and my decision is based on this, too, and not just paranoid delusions.  Ironically, tetanus is the one shot I do believe is important and really *have* been meaning to get one…)

So when I stepped on a rusty metal object, you can imagine how my mind started racing.  And questioning.  And freaking out.  Not just about tetanus, but the devastation about possibly having no choice but to have a stranger inject my body with a mysterious serum.

While I panicked and squeezed out as much blood as my foot would allow, Alan casually went to the computer and started shopping for crashed motorcycles. I was furious. Shouldn’t he be panicking right alongside his tetanus-stricken bride?

He calmly reminded me that he has stepped on three rusty nails in recent years, is also behind on his tetanus shots, and is still alive and kicking. Ok, I thought. I suppose it’s possible I might survive.

The next morning,we all went to Northwest Family Physicians in Crystal and saw a nurse practitioner.

Rather than empathizing with my pain (I could hardly step on my foot), I got the old “walking BAREFOOT outside, were we?”

and “WHY haven’t you kept up-to-date with your shots?”

and the kicker, “are your CHILDREN up to date with their shots?”

…as if she has never heard of a barefoot walking, behind-on-her-tetanus-shots, doesn’t-vaccinate-her-children kind of mom.

She wasn’t much help, so I went home and called a family friend who is a wonderful and nonjudgmental doctor (whom I suppose I could have called right away instead of seeing Nurse High-Horse).

Turns out, having had three tetanus shots in my life, even though I am behind, I probably still have some antibody protection–at least enough to protect from such a small wound.  I was so low-risk for tetanus that I was not even a candidate for the antitoxin injection–the tetanus cure that you get if you are thrown from a four-wheeler and scraped over the ground for 30 yards.

And getting the shot now would have no effect on the potential tetanus in my foot.  So I didn’t get the shot, and I didn’t take the antibiotics.

I kept the wound clean with hydrogen peroxide and treated it to a warm Epsom salt soak with essential oils of Thyme, Eucalyptus, and Lavender.  I took some Arnica and rubbed the soles of my feet with Myrtle oil and went to bed.

My foot is ten times better today, with no signs of infection or tetanus.

Thank goodness.

Now if I could only muster the courage to get that tetanus shot…

how I love those fat rolls, blond curls, and bright eyes

I’ve nothing much to say today, except that I love my darling children and I love photographing them (especially with my new lens!)

Not that the photos I took today are exceptional or anything.

They’re not.

But I love them, anyway, because of those chubby legs, those bright blue-green eyes, those blond curls, that fleeting moment I would like to hold on to forever…

…and the reminder that we probably eat a little too much ice cream.

I hope you found time today to enjoy your little fleeting moments, too.

my new lens

My newest little toy is a Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 AF lens for my Nikon D90 camera.

It is a teeny little thing, which, at first glance, seems like it wouldn’t do much of anything.  After reading up on photography in the last weeks, I’ve gathered that everyone from amateur to pro loves this lens.

I am so glad I bought this little thing, because I couldn’t be happier with it.  It lets in a ton of light, focuses quickly and clearly (as long as you hold it still!), and takes far better closeups and portraits than my 18-105 lens.

I was amazed by the amount of detail I could capture and how close I could get to the tree below and have it be in perfect focus–another thing my other lens could not do.

I’ve been reading and watching all the YouTube videos I have time for, learning about photography and lighting and little tricks of the trade. I am amazed and humbled by what I’ve found, and kicking myself a little bit for not focusing on photography when I was working on my art degree. I love taking pictures and I love that it’s something I can easily fit into my otherwise busy life.

I have so much to learn; I’m glad I have a lifetime left to do it!

Mama Mia ice-cream date

We started a tradition of Sunday evening Mama Mia dates, where Mia and I spend an hour or two together, just us.

Tonight we had ice cream on the front porch and painted with acrylic paints. We laughed about silly things and chatted about nothing…the way things used to be *all* the time about 13 months and 4 days ago!

I hope to keep this up forever and ever.

My dates with Mia are pretty special to me. I think they’re pretty special to her, too.  I hope this tradition will keep our lines of communication open  as she grows and finds independence.  I hope these Mama Mia date nights will leave some shiny deposits in the memory bank, too.

And of course, when Anna is old enough to care, I will do the same for her.

Oh, how I love that happy face!

two-surprise tuesday and getting out of my funk

We’ve kept up with out Two-Surprise Tuesday tradition and Mia is wild about it.  I haven’t been taking photos of it lately (to try to stay in the moment and not annoy Mia) but couldn’t resist the itch to do it today.  Today was the first day in two weeks that I have felt truly happy and I wanted to celebrate and capture a few sweet moments on camera.

Mia gets a bunch of surprises on Tuesdays–not just two.  She likes the name “Two-Surprise Tuesday” because it is catchy, so we’re keeping it that way.

Mia loves simple pleasures.  Her surprises can really be anything; as long as I say it’s a surprise it is super exciting to her.

Today she had:

hot cereal in the crock pot

a rainy day

hot chai tea

a picnic lunch in the kitchen (sandwiches in plastic baggies)

an impromptu meeting with daddy over lunch

a date with daddy and Anna at daddy’s work while mom went to her shrink

new pens, tape, paper and staples from Target

She loved it.

Mmmmm…..Oregon chai with whole milk,

from a straw, always…

lunch that was “supposed” to be outside, but the rain changed that…

and a surprise for Anna and me: Mia transformed into a llama.

Today I felt like myself again, after a couple of weeks of processing old garbage and going through what I call an emotional illness.  The waters inside me have calmed and I feel at peace.  Until next time, anyway.  Things like this come and go, and sometimes I need bad times to remind me of how good things really are in the good times.

I have an amazing therapist.  I am so grateful to have her as a guide, especially in hard times.  If any of you ever want a referral, let me know and I will gladly oblige.

does it ever get easier?

For most of my life I have been waiting for things to get easier.  When I was a kid, I was sure that by the time I was an old fart in my thirties I’d be a pro at this.  I was certain that I would be super smart and know “everything”.  I believed that I would be complete.

Well, I was wrong.

Life hasn’t gotten easier.  In fact, it seems like it’s gotten harder.  Much, much harder.

My cat drives me nuts, my neighbors yell all day long, my hair is too thick on one side and too thin on the other.  I don’t know how to deal with difficult people.  I have almost no tolerance to stress.  I don’t know how to let go of pains from my past. And my expectations of myself are unreachable.

Perhaps I’ve lost the optimism I once had; perhaps my youthful naivete is all used up.  Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic or I am too moody to see clearly due to lack of sleep and endless laundry.  Perhaps life is just hard and I have to accept that I will never be that old fart who knows everything.

As much as I love my life most days and appreciate its simple gifts, there are days like today where I wish I could close my eyes and be lifted away into some other dimension–a place where I don’t have to deal with changing sheets or vacuuming or difficult relationships.  A place where old hurts are forgotten. A place where someone takes care of ME all day. A place where I can sleep.

I am not a fan of complaining and negative thinking–it can really put a kink in life and waste it away. I believe in taking charge of how we perceive our lives and making the best with what we have.  I believe in finding a way to do my hair that works for both the thick and thin side. But sometimes I think venting is good for the soul.  And this was my vent.

Thanks for listening.