One Bag to Do the Work of Three

IMG_0467

My new canvas bag

As a committed minimalist, I get excited when I find one product that will do the work of two. This bag will do the work of three.

My search for a new bag started when I noticed that my current grocery bag is starting to fray.

IMG_0469

Three amigos: hemp grocery bag, washable backpack, traditional suitcase.

At first, I thought I would just repurpose the backpack to be my new grocery bag, but it is not quite big enough. The hemp bag is plenty big, but it is not washable, which is a bit of a problem when the berries get squished. By getting a bag with a zippered top,

IMG_0468

I can seal my goodies in.

The outside pocket is handy for a wallet, phone and keys. The bag is roomy enough for me to pack most of my clothing, except for a couple bulky sweaters. I have used the bag for grocery shopping, to take my laptop to the library along with my note cards and a snack. It has been used as a project bag, when I took my latest hand-sewing creation with a sewing kit. And I plan to use it as a suitcase next weekend when I go to visit my newly arrived grandson. He came a little early (5 weeks) but is healthy and working to fill out those newborn onesies.

The hemp bag is compostable, and the other two will go to new homes.

Advertisements

Unbalanced Yogi

yoga blance

This is not me, by the way.

I find that yoga is an effective tool in figuring our what aspects of my life I need to be giving attention and effort to. Stiff neck? Yep, that’s me. Not very flexible? Yes, that’s me. Struggling with balance? Me again.

I like that the practice improves my strength and flexibility and balance in my body while giving me clues to how I can improve my life off the mat. I like that the stretching and strengthening poses aid in release of emotions that I stored in my body years ago, when I didn’t know what else to do with them.

Now that I am in a safe and supported place, I can let these old emotions go. Yesterday, as I lay in Savasana, at the end of class, I sobbed with the release of these old emotions.

I have felt lighter and freer since.

Push/Pull

IMG_0442

More spring. These Magnolia blossoms got a little damaged by our on-off-on spring temperatures, but opened up beautifully yesterday.

There is a type of train that is powered by alternating magnetic poles. Opposites repel and push the train a bit, then the polarity is reversed and the train is pulled forward a bit more. Then the polarity is reversed again. These trains can go at very high speeds. Maglev trains

I feel like I am living this process in really slow motion. When I came to live with mom, I was coming to help her out, but mostly I was leaving. I was leaving a career that had become exhausting and leaving a city that felt constricting. That is the repelling part of the polarity. Spending fun time with mom, getting rested, finding my new people are the attracting parts of the polarity.

I am coming to think of this as my sabbatical year. While I am making myself useful around the house, (cleaning out the basement and garage, yardwork on the 3/4 acre lot, accompanying mom when she takes long walks) I am deliberately slowing my pace. I rest when I’m tired. I’m eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, drinking less coffee and wine. I’m doing yoga daily.

I’m trusting in the process of listening to my body and emotions to find what I need to create a joyful life.

Love, rest, meaningful work. Healthy food and a bit of sunshine. These are the things that pull me forward.

Whereby I Note That I am Hoarding

IMG_0441

Goodies mom brought back from her hotel room from her trip last week

Philosophers Tony Robbins, Brian Cain, Jim Rohn, Dale Carnegie and Marcus Aurelius have all noted that we tend to become more like the people we spend the most time with.  Then they caution us to chose our companions wisely.

But the hoarder is my mom! And I live in her house!

You would think that my twenty years of minimalist discipline would keep me on the right track, but I have noted clutter creeping in to my closet. First there was the stack of fabric for future sewing projects. Then there was the ill-fitting, worn clothing that I was saving for yard work. Third, a large stack of books that people have loaned to me, that I have not gotten to yet. And lastly: photos, card stock and drawings that I am planning to turn into greeting cards.

All that stuff for my future self to deal with was kinda stressing me out. So I started dealing with it. I winnowed the sewing projects down to a volume that might actually get done in this calendar year. I got rid of the ill-fitting clothing and kept just one set of yard work clothes. I’m working through the books, and not letting myself get any new titles until these have been read (exception for this month’s book club book: Anne Lamont’s Help, Thanks, Wow!) And I took the time to assemble the paper chaos into greeting cards, which are now ready to be sent at a moment’s notice.

And that bag of goodies mom brought back from her trip? It has gone to the food pantry.

More Signs of Spring

IMG_0439

Under the kitchen window.

We have had several recent visitors to the house. My brother and sister-in-law came for a visit over the weekend and took mom to Crystal Bridges American Museum of Art . I stayed home because son Mike was here on spring break and got his wisdom teeth out on Tuesday. Then we had a couple of days of ice packs and gauze changes every 30 minutes. Today, he felt well enough to take the train to Springfield to visit with friends and on Saturday he has a solo performance: singing and electric guitar at his old haunt Black Sheep Café .

I have revived my former practice of writing down three things I am grateful for each night. Tonight I am grateful for: 1) Son Mike thanked me for my nursing care of him during his recovery (this seems exceptional behavior for a 19 year old.)  2) Now that I no longer have to rush through my days and to-do lists I feel I am a kinder, gentler, more empathetic person.  3) Spring–what can I say? I love everything about Spring, even the rain.

The rhythm of my life these days has a healthier pace. I lean into my work, I rest. Rested, I lean into the work again. As much as I can, I live without a waking alarm, (what a terrible way to start the day….with an alarm!) and I am grateful for both the rest and the work.

Trip to Madison Wisconsin

IMG_0424

Lake Monona at sunset.

Last weekend I drove about 5.5 hours north to Madison Wisconsin. My daughter took a job at Epic Software last summer and I went to see her. After she got off work and rode the bus home (she has decided to live car-free for now) we walked around her neighborhood admiring the architecture and the two large lakes downtown.

We walked to a restaurant in her neighborhood for dinner and window shopped on our walk home.

Saturday we had planned to visit Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin home, but there were no tickets available. Just down the road from Taliesin is The House on the Rock, so we went there. It was a minimalist’s nightmare. See for yourself here: The House on the Rock . The original home, which was completed in the 60’s was cool and charming and had beautiful views onto the surrounding valley. After that, the owner just added a bunch of “eclectic” junky collections. Many of the items for display in the multiple buildings are twins to the junk I have just recently removed from our basement. It was dirty, dark and overwhelming.

After that waste of time, we had dinner and went back to her apartment, avoiding the many college-aged revelers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. There, I worked on several sewing projects for her: hemmed her shower curtain, replaced the buttons on her wool coat and fixed a shirt that had torn at the sleeve.

Sunday, she gave me a tour of her employer’s campus. Epic Software has a large (640 acres or so) campus with dozens of themed buildings. Here the buildings were light-filled and decorated with humor and creative artwork.

IMG_0426

This charming fellow lives in the building that houses my daughter’s office.

We made mini-Quiches for dinner and I wrapped up the sewing projects while she went to rugby practice Sunday evening. I was a delightful weekend. When I go back, I will make sure we can get the Taliesin tickets.

IMG_0434

My daughter made this origami lotus flower for me. So cool!

[If you are a person who follows me via Facebook, be aware that after this post I am deleting my Facebook account. If you would still like to see my blog posts, you can look them up here: Small House, Big Life . If you wish to get them in your email box, go here: Small House, Big Life (follow) and fill in your email address.]

Thanks faithful readers for your interest and support!

Spring Happiness

IMG_0423

This pretty scene is right outside our kitchen door.

Spring has arrived here in Missouri and there are so many reasons to rejoice. First, due to the warmer weather, I have finally gotten out of the basement and been able to work in the yard. We have crocus blooming and the daffodils and iris shoots are up.

Mom and I are having some heated discussions about what is best for the yard. I have the minimal esthetic preference and her choices for the past 20 years have reflected what is the least work and the most frugal.  We can usually find some common ground, but there is lots of arguing before we get there. I have been bagging up leaf litter and twenty years of downed branches and am preparing to plant grass seed and some trees.

I have finally moved into a rested place, so fewer naps and sometimes I spontaneously wake a 6am, ready to start the day.

My dreams have improved too. For months it was night after night of decluttering and brown recluse spiders and cleaning human messes (hospice residual.) Recently I had a dream where a hummingbird lead me where I needed to go–a garden full of eclectic and healing plants and then a human party in the meadow.

Ready for that dream to happen in real life.

Weekend Seminar

IMG_0416

Beautiful California Redwoods

Last weekend I attended a seminar at the beautiful 1440 Multiversity facility in California. The program was on Self and self and intended to help participants discover and incorporate their shadow self aspects.

The presenters of the seminar: Justin Hilton, Ann Randolph and Alanis Morrissette (yes, that Alanis Morrissette) were smart and wise and funny and knowledgeable about the topics presented. The exercises were powerful and effective.

In between the programs of challenging emotional work there was time for yoga and walks in the forest and a soak in the hot tub. The chef-prepared food was delicious and fresh with choices for almost any palate. I shared a hostel-style room with five other program attendees.

This seminar and restorative support were exactly what I needed at this moment. I am so glad that I took the time to go.

My People and Purpose Revisited

plastic-ocean-2

The world has many enduring, difficult to solve problems. Poverty, violent conflict, racism, illness. I believe climate change and destruction of the environment are “your hair is on fire” type of emergencies. The window to reverse global warming is short and closing quickly. If we don’t fix that problem, we will not have time to work on the others.

Now that I am getting rested, I have energy to devote to healing our planet. As I do, I solve the problem of finding my people. That is where they are too. I have found my people at the local Friend’s Society Meeting (Thanks, Lou!), at the Sierra Club, at my Mindful Book club, where last night we discussed ways to shrink our carbon footprint (yes, minimalism is an excellent method.)

If protecting the environment is a cause that you would like to invest your energy in as well, I have a couple of recommendations. This book: Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer.

And this organization: https://www.plasticbank.org/

We are an intelligent, creative species and I have hope that we can turn this around. Now, I am putting my feet into that hope.

Drawing Class

IMG_0383

Two turnips and a head of garlic

I have completed the colored pencil botanical drawing class. I actually missed two of the five classes: one while babysitting my granddaughter and one due to a death in the family.

Each of these drawings took about three hours to complete. I feel like they are “okay” and that I could improve a lot if I took time to draw regularly. Which isn’t going to happen because the process isn’t fun for me. And why spend three hours of your life on a mediocre drawing, if it isn’t fun?

IMG_0393

magnolia leaves

IMG_0394

crocuses

The crocus drawing was hampered by the fact that my $40 set of colored pencils had no purple!

I have decided to stick with the sewing, as I find it far more satisfying.