Friday, April 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes

1) It's been a LONG time since I've done one of these, but I've tried writing several posts in the last few weeks and then I get into too many tangents. Therefore it seemed like a post that is basically tangents was the perfect format for today! I don't have a lot of time at this moment, but hopefully will have a chance to come back and link up properly later.

2) There are things about adulting that I am not a fan of, but today I decided to have seasoned sweet potato waffle fries for breakfast because I wanted to and I found a kombucha that tastes like Dr. Pe.pper. Adulting has its moments!

3) I am getting really excited for this minimalist course that I'm taking. De-cluttering, simplifying, whatever you want to say. This interview (with the person that has designed the course) has a quote that sums it up perfectly:  I want people to know that they were designed to accomplish more significant things than filling a big house with a lot of stuff.

I have to admit that there are times that I have felt like a bit of a failure because how is it that I've been in the "real world" so long and am still so far from some of the trappings that we seem to see as necessary. I know it's ridiculous, but I feel that way sometimes. This whole idea is just freedom not to worry about any of that and define my life by what fits for me.

4) In other news, here's how simplifying worked out for me yesterday. I had a plumber coming over to the house in the morning. First, I did some reading. One book sucked me in, so I read more than I intended to. Then I made myself a nice breakfast, while leisurely watching a show. Then I finally got around to cleaning the house. It took about 40 minutes, including doing my dishes and putting away my laundry (which I use as a way of increasing the amount of movement in my life, so it took me a while as I put things away one at a time and included ducking under a barrier- yes, I'm a huge nerd.) Then my house was cleaner than it used to be after an hour and a half of cleaning, and I made lunch and then went for a walk. I was going to go for an hour, but it was a beautiful day and I couldn't make the argument that my other things on the to do list where THAT important, so I went for 3 instead.

No, my life is not nearly this relaxed all the time, but I'm noticing a few more hours and days where I feel able to make some of those decisions. I know it looks differently when you have a family and especially with kids, but I think extra time for playing with kids instead of dealing with the accumulation of stuff is even more of a benefit.

5) Okay, I really have to hurry now. In case I haven't said it enough on here, BAREFOOT IS AWESOME!! I'm working on doing that more and more outside and I LOVE it. I stick to trails, though. Dirt, mud, rocks are pretty nice. Asphalt is much less exciting.

6) Joining in the Mary, Undoer of Knots novena (starts today if you're interested). I am praying about work and living situations for myself, as well as continued learning to surrender it all and trust in God (need to do a post about everything I've been learning there!), but also for all those feeling alone and not part of a family. Pope Francis had an awesome tweet about that:

To form a family is to be a part of God’s dream, to join him in building a world where no one will feel alone.

I feel like that includes both the most obvious way, but also to form family in community as well. No one, single, divorced, widowed, infertile, and all the other things that can tear down the dreams of the "normal" family is excluded. And even when you do have the stereotypical "ideal" family, we are not immune to loneliness when we don't have that family in community as well.

7) Gotta run! Pretty flowers for your weekend! Have a great one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Gift of the Moment

I've been a little frustrated with myself and some of my past choices. Why didn't I do better? Why do I keep making mistakes? And what do I do about some current problems? It seems so overwhelming at times.

And yet.

I love sentiments like these.  Cliché as they may be, I can get pulled in every time. Whatever mistakes I've made in the past, they are past. Whatever things I've repeatedly made mistakes doing, they don't define me. I do not need to be concerned that I am not yet where I should be. Of course I'm not, it is not the nature of living on this earth to have it all in order and all figured out. It is a journey that starts here and now. Moving forward from here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Taking It Too Far...

I realized today that maybe I'm taking minimalism a little too far.

Okay, I didn't really try to minimize the stuff in my fridge, this just happens to me on a semi regular basis (as those of you on FB already know). Being single, and with food issues, I have to try to plan my meals so that I can use everything up within a few days. I have to try to stick with meats and fruits and vegetables, and if I get too much in advance, I throw a LOT out. I can't afford that. Plus, I eat a lot. Food in my house doesn't stick around long, so I make frequent trips to the grocery store. It's always a good opportunity to take two minutes and clean the refrigerator!

Now, just because people get a little worried when I show them what happens sometimes, here it is after my trip to the store:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

That Day Wherein I Reflect

Admittedly, that title is a little off, because I'm an introvert and reflect on a lot of different days. However, April 5th has become a special wake up call to me to look at where I am and where I am going. (Just like New Year's. And my birthday. Etc.) Most of you have heard it all before, so you can skip if you like.

April 5th six years ago was the day that my life took a sudden and dramatic turn. I woke up with plans to see a friend and hang out. I did not have any notion that I would make significant changes in my life's direction. The plans fell through, and I had a ridiculous reaction to that, which made me consider why. The "why" was that everything in my life that seemed to be working was no longer working.  My job, my friends, my church were all changing with seasons in life, and those were the things that were holding me where I was. There was a sudden dawning that this may be it... This may be the time to consider moving to Colorado.

Looking back, it doesn't sound that dramatic, but in that moment, it felt a little like the world was shifting on its axis. I figured that I would stay where I was, and in my current job indefinitely. That idea occurred to me and I did a quick job search where I found my new job within about 5 minutes (though of course I didn't know that it was my new job at the time). Five minutes that started me in a whole different and unconsidered direction. Five minutes where I turned from the path that seemed straight for the foreseeable future onto a whole new path and I had no idea where it would lead. I seriously didn't. The things that I have experienced, the personal and professional growth in the last 6 years are something that I never could have conceived of in that 5 minutes.

It hasn't been easy. There are certainly drawbacks to living so far from my family. I miss my friends from back there. Things are not perfect out here. I have no regrets, however, to grabbing hold of the crazy train and jumping on board. I didn't know that day where I would end up. I figured I would pursue the idea until it actually happened, or until it became clear that there was a red light. After greens all the way, here I am. I didn't know that there was an adventurer, a climber, a cyclist, a competitor, an outdoor enthusiast, and a photographer wannabe in me, but it turns out that they are essential to who I am. I'm glad I got a chance to discover that! I didn't know that there was such a drive in me to push beyond the constraints of the boxes imposed by insurance and short-thinking healthcare options. I love how I've developed professionally, and I hope that I can still continue to grow in ways that lead to better movement and real healthcare in my little area of the world and beyond.

I can't guess (nor do I want to!) where life will lead from day to day. I do know that I want to take some time and more formally explore what I want from life. I saw an assignment to write a mission statement, and I will probably try to take that on. It's not something that helps you plan out the details in life, because that's impossible. However, having a clear idea of where you'd like to end up, broadly speaking, helps determine how you deal with the many various things that life brings your way.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

2,016 in 2016: March

I have a rough goal of getting rid of over 2,000 things in my house this year. At the end of last month, I was quite a bit ahead of the pace. This month, I'm behind. Not much purging has happened this month, obviously. I'm not too worried about it. I wanted to use this loose goal as a push to be a little more drastic in purging, but I'm not completely tied to it. I'm at a loss of where to go next with the getting rid of things, so I haven't been doing much right now. I am going to start a 12 week course for the price of a book (more here if you're interested).

Now, let's talk about the downsides of downsizing. I figure if I'm going to talk about how much I love it, I should also be honest about those times where it pinches a bit. So far it's been books and movies. I wasn't sure which book I was in the mood to read, and when I went to the shelves to decide, I was surprised at just how few books I had left. I felt like I should have a much greater choice. Same thing happened this week when I was home sick for a couple of days and wanted to watch movies. I still had plenty of choices, but I wanted more choices. This is the thing that everyone who is reluctant to get rid of stuff talks about. But what if I want that stuff someday?

Want to know what happened? I picked something from what I had. It was the go-to stuff that I usually gravitated towards anyway, even when I had more choices. (And my choices are still ~70 movies and TV shows, I haven't been exactly stringent in my cutbacks.) I have an e-reader, I could have gotten a library book if I needed something new to read. I didn't miss any specific things that I had gotten rid of. Overall, it was a momentary pang that was swiftly gone. Believe me, the freedom of less stuff is far more important to me than fewer choices. I like that it means I am getting better use out of what I have or else utilizing something like the library, rather than having large amounts of extra stuff.

I don't want to say that there is never any regret involved with cutting things out, but it has been so little compared to the satisfaction of having my house become easier and easier to clean, and the things in my house be things that I am actually using rather than things that are just in my way. So far, I still have no regrets, and the pain is so minimal it barely counts.

Now, I'm curious how many more things I will get rid of when the "Uncluttered" course starts. I think it starts in May. Anyone want to join me?

Monday, March 28, 2016


Okay, I can't find it, but I read this fantastic article about joy on Good Friday. In the last few months, at some of the more difficult moments of depression, some that I had talked to were trying to help me "choose happiness". I can no more choose happiness at that point than I can choose flying. Happiness is a feeling, and while depression may be magnifying things, at that moment, being alone and the emptiness in life that results from that were beyond where I could make any choice for happy feelings.

In my heart, I always make a distinction, that instead I choose joy. My problem was that I couldn't articulate the reason that I felt they were different. I've tried to explain it here before, but not sure that I've really gotten it. The dictionary basically defines "joy" as "happiness", so why would one be okay and the other not? I can only give you what is my own subjective take on it, and the article was what helped me to be able to give words to this thought.

To me, joy is an attitude. It is not denying the pain, or fear, or grief that is present in your life at that moment. Like Mary at the foot of the Cross, this is not okay and it is okay to mourn, to weep, to feel the pain that is inherent when something in your life is broken and objectively not the way that things should be. However, the author of the article pointed out that Mary did so with hope, knowing that this was not the end. That, to me, is joy. In the midst of brokenness, acknowledging that this moment has meaning and value. Of knowing that there is hope for a better tomorrow, in this world or the next. Of holding on to the knowledge that this, too, has an end, and that because of Christ there is new life waiting on the other side of whatever our suffering is. I would add, beyond choosing hope, it is also choosing gratitude. To be thankful, on some level, for what is good in the midst of suffering, though it does not make the pain go away.

And of course, when the new day dawns, and Christ is risen and our suffering is a memory, then we also embrace the happiness that comes along with that.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Joy in Surrender

It's Holy Week! It seems like Ash Wednesday was just the other week, and Lent itself has been kind of a blur. How is my Lent going? I admit that I have failed on some level with everything that I have attempted for Lent. I honestly don't care. That probably is coming off wrong, but it's true. I don't care. Grace is not dependent on my perfection, but His. Grace in my life is not about being perfect so that He can come and dwell in my perfection, but turning to Him in my emptiness and brokenness so that He can fill it with His perfection and healing.

These last couple of weeks of Lent, the call to joy has not gone away, but I have been feeling a strong call to surrender. I admit that in the loneliness and depression of the last several months, there has been some bitterness. I honestly don't always want to surrender. However, I can't fully participate in joy if I don't surrender it all. There have been numerous things lately coming up to remind me of that (ok, God, I hear You!)  To find joy in Him there has to be surrender to whatever He is allowing in life, to His will in that moment.

I have definitely found joy in the reminder that in all my failures during Lent and even before, grace is not dependent on me, but Him. There have been at least a couple of Masses that have been a terrible struggle to get through. Far from receiving comfort, it was the last place that I wanted to be and I couldn't wait to get out. But the joy is that the grace of the Mass transcends whatever my crazy emotions are for the day. There is joy in accepting those emotions, those failures and recognizing that I can't do one, single thing without Him. Anything in these last few years where I have found myself able to live in the moment, move forward, try to live life to the best of my ability, I can't do one single bit of that without grace. The depression and emotional and spiritual fatigue of these last months has helped me see that, if nothing else. And there is joy in understanding that on a deeper level. It's all grace, it's not me.

In the last few days, the joy has been on a little different level. I don't know why, nor do I much care, but the shadow suddenly lifted. In depression there are good days and bad days, but there is always a shadow. For the last 4 days, the shadow was suddenly gone and I feel like me again. It was a joy to be in Mass this week and to be entering into the holiest time of the year. It is a joy to feel like I can reach out again to people around me. It was a joy to simply get on the bike at the gym and ride as hard as I could because being alive is grand. It is a joy to realize the amazing grace that God has been pouring into my life when it didn't feel like it. I don't know if this is a short term thing or long term, but at the moment I don't much care. I just want to soak it up for however long it lasts.

In the ongoing Scriptural dialogue, here is the psalm from the Magnificat last night (psalm 20) speaking directly to my thoughts and feelings right now:

May the Lord answer in time of trial;
may the name of Jacob's God protect you.

May he send you help from his shrine
and give you support from Zion.
May he remember all your offerings
and receive your sacrifice with favor.

May he give you your heart's desire
and fulfill every one of your plans.
May we ring out our joy at your victory
and rejoice in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all of your prayers.

I am sure now that the Lord
will give victory to the anointed,
will reply from his holy heaven 
with the mighty victory of his hand.

Some trust in chariots or horses, 
but we in the name of the Lord.
They will collapse and fall, 
but we shall hold and stand firm.

Give victory to the king, O Lord,
give answer on the day we call.

Tell me, how is your Lent going? Is there anything in particular that I can be praying for for you during this Holy Week? Prayer buddy, I will be continuing to pray for you this week, as well!