Kindness Shouldn’t be Hard

I am a donator. I really enjoy donating things. Things like clothes, household items, things from the garage. Whatever I think someone else might find usable, I donate. I’ve been known, much to MP’s chagrin, to keep bags in the back of my car for a week or so, until I can get somewhere to drop things off. I donate other things too, like empty soda cans. I recently received a text from the mom of the boys I take all our cans to saying the boys had just purchased their own cow thanks, in part, to my donations.

I LOVE that feeling. Knowing some small amount of effort on my part helped someone else.

When we moved last year I probably made 25+ trips to a local charity that helps kids and has stores in the area I live to resell donated items. If someone had been watching closely I’m pretty sure they could have outfitted an entire apartment.

I come by this love of donating naturally. My Gran used to enjoy spending a whole day at what she would call Goodie Store Shopping. She would take her time looking at items and things people had donated and consider their story and I have a few things from her still that she just picked up and sent my way because they “reminded her of me”. They are treasures to me.

I think I enjoy donating for a few reasons. I like that someone might be able to use something that no longer fits or works for one person but might be the perfect thing for its next owner. I like the idea that maybe someone is looking for that perfect job or outfitting their house for the first time but don’t have enough money to purchase everything brand new so the items I donate lets them create that perfect outfit or room. I like that I am not filling landfills with things that are still usable. And deep down, I like knowing that things are given a second chance at being special.

This week I decided we needed a clean out. I know, huh? We just moved here a year ago and downsized by half, what could I possibly need to clean out? But like many of us know, stuff just starts to accumulate. I had some items in my closet that are now too big, (thanks to the Keto journey MP and I are on. Check out his blog about that here….. ). I also had A LOT of craft supplies that I couldn’t part with when we moved but that I am now realizing I’m not going to use after all. And I had saved a lot of my office supplies when I took my sabbatical earlier this year and now realize that if/when I do go back to work, I won’t want those things any more. So I began the process of filling bags for donating.

One bag, two bags, three bags, more… And I smiled. I love this part.

After filling a few bags, or more, I took them down to my car knowing I’d be out on Monday and planned to drop them off. Their hours are 9-6. I know those from memory. 🙂 I made another bag for a friend who crafts as well but in completely different ways then me and I knew the material would be perfect for her Gnomes.

Then Sunday afternoon I decided to clean out our pantry. (Maybe I’m nesting…MP is getting nervous). Since the Keto thing is going so well, (see MP’s blog above) I decided that all the things in the cupboard could be donated to a local food bank. After all, 5 boxes of pasta, a bunch of stove top stuffing, bags of white rice and some Jiffy mix are no longer on the menu. So I filled another large bag for the back of my car with high hopes of dropping them off Monday too.

So yesterday, on my way to Costco I went the long way around and pulled into the parking lot of my favorite charity. Sadly, a large sign and caution tape said that due to COVID-19 they were only taking donations on Thursdays and Fridays now. I don’t really understand the logic, but away I went deciding to try their other location the next day.

Today, I went to the local food bank whose hours online say they are open daily from 12-4. I arrived at 1pm. After following the signs around to the back of the building, and standing at the back door ringing the bell, twice, I saw the sign that said due to COVID they are only taking donations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Its ok, I was right near another location of the place I went to yesterday. They too were not open for donations today.

Big Sigh** “This should not be this hard, after all, I’m trying to do something good!” Followed by some frustration and if I’m being honest, a few choice words. Not that loudly though.

Again, I don’t understand the reasoning behind not being able to donate at a time when people are really in need. I began to think my efforts were being thwarted and maybe I was just making this more difficult then it needed to be and it could all go in the trash. After all, what good really are a few boxes of pasta and some clothes? My mind replayed the angry drivers, the pissed off people waiting in lines and the overall wound up, stressed out humans I’ve encountered since the onset of COVID has changed how we live. I thought about how Kindness seems to be needed more then ever but is getting lost in the buzz of frustrations and worry.

I paused a minute and remembered I have a choice. I can go back out tomorrow and again on Friday and make the drop offs. I have the time and the ability and the things in those bags will make someone smile or fill an empty tummy. Kindness shouldn’t be hard. It should be about who we are and how we want to impact our world for the better. Like the smile from the masked clerk at Costco who asks how your day is, or the overly zealous Dutch Brothers barista who really does want to know my favorite color. A smile, or a bag off clothes or food is a gift and I don’t want it not being convenient for me to drop off to change my heart about why I give.

Kindness shouldn’t be hard. We can choose it every day in how we talk to our kids or our spouse, how we treat the clerk at the gas station or our attitude when things don’t fit our schedule perfectly. It can be what makes us different from everyone else in the best possible way.

So, I’ll keep packing bags or boxes and I’ll let them bounce around in the back of my car until somewhere is open that will use them again. And when I do get the chance to drop them off, I’ll pass them along to who ever takes them and smile behind my mask knowing that Kindness isn’t hard.

Thanks for reading. I hope in this time when we seem overwhelmed by the negative, this blog brings a smile to your face. Feel free to leave me your thoughts below.

-rache

Creative Minimalism

As many of you know about a year ago we embarked on a journey towards debt free and a lifestyle of minimalism. It’s taken lots of different directions from the path we thought we had outlined in January of 2019, but all of them have worked for our good. With the recent changes in our culture, our cities and our lives due to COVID-19, I’ve been contemplating our decisions in this new reality. If I had known a year ago what I know today, would I have made the same choices? Or more precisely, how is minimalism effecting how we are living in this time of isolation? These quandaries were voiced recently by my Dad on a Sunday family call with my siblings. He asked how it was different living in a condo then in a home right now. And its a legit question..because it is different.

  1. At the House of Wales I never wondered who else had pushed the elevator buttons.
    Yep. Living in a single family dwelling means that when you arrive at home each night and close the garage door you are in and safe and everything there is yours. In our new space, I pull in, close the garage door, walk across the parking lot, fob into a community door, walk onto a community elevator and push the number four along with the other 40 tenants who live on that floor. I would be untruthful to say that hasn’t cause me a bit of concern. But, no more than checking a mail box, or opening a door at the grocery store. The great part about living in community is that everyone is working together to beat this thing, so people allow others to ride the elevator to their floor alone, smiling when saying “I’ll wait for the next one”. No one is offended if you don’t get on with them but everyone smiles! That knowing smile of hey…you live here too and this sucks, but…isn’t it great to see another human today? I have to say I like it.
  2. There is no place in either of our homes that I am not aware of where MP is.
    This is another truth to minimal living. Neither of our homes have a downstairs. No second floor to go spend time in. No extra bedrooms where one can just go and not be aware of the other person. At the House of Wales I had an art studio that took up half the downstairs and MP had one whole bedroom set up as a gym. They were cool spaces and we enjoyed them. But even as I type, MP is in his office/my craft room/his music room playing drums and I am in our bedroom at our second desk writing this blog. Its working just fine and I like the idea that we can both live full, invigorating lives in half the room we used to have.
  3. This wasn’t the plan.
    When we moved here and I stopped working we didn’t know COVID-19 was on the way. We didn’t know we’d be confined to our homes for weeks at a time. We thought there would still be all this outside living at both our places. And like everyone who is being asked to stay in I know both MP and I wondered what the days would look like. It was one thing to shrink our living with the understanding we both had free roam of the outside world, but what does working, sleeping, living, breathing in 980 square feet look like when neither of us can leave? Its made us inventive. I ask about his meetings for the day and plan my routine around when he might need absolute quiet or when I want to be out of earshot of his conversation. Today I painted, I wrote, I made three cards, I worked out, talked to my daughter and read some inspiring blogs by people I admire. I have dinner in the crock pot and tried my hand at corn bread for the first time in 30 years. (I think its flat, but might still be edible). I don’t feel any more or less confined then I would have with 2000 sq feet and I’m enjoying the challenge of working together to find the space we both need.
  4. MP set up a gym in our garage
    Gyming is a big part of MP’s life and I am finding my way back into it as well. So when we heard all gyms were being closed we had to come up with a new plan. I had been swimming while in Mesa but Boise weather is not as conducive to that form of exercise. So, MP goes down most days, pulls my car out and sets up a ‘gym’. He is really creative and enjoys finding ways to ensure a good work out. My legs and arms are sore even as I type with what some might have thought silly exercise that we did yesterday. But, obviously they worked! Now, do we have a huge weight rack and bench thing… or a treadmill or stationary bike to ride? Nope, we do not. So we get creative! MP has a bike route set up for me/us around the complex that will incorporate just enough hills to get my heart rate up for a cardio work out, while being outside and away from people. I have to wear a rain coat some days, but its better then sitting around all day doing nothing. And I really like that I’m married to a guy that is creative and rather then gripe about what we don’t have, makes a new way for us to stay fit. Is it ideal, maybe not, but we laugh a lot and seem to be just as sweaty after a work out.

    So, did we know when we sold our house and opted for this minimal way of living we’d be in lock down in this smaller space? No we did not. Would it have changed my mind if I had known? No way. I’m not missing anything except our kids and their kids and a bigger house, more debt and more stuff wouldn’t have made one bit of difference in that missing. I do know, for sure, that when I see those kids of mine and their babies, I’m not going to wish I was hugging them in a bigger kitchen. I just going to hold them close, take in every bit of them, look into their eyes, push their hair aside and kiss their faces. And no amount of square footage or stuff would make that any sweeter then its going to be.

    Until next time, stay safe and well.

    -rache


5 Things I’ve learned about Me in the first 60 Days

For 30 years I have been sure about my role. Who I was. I’ve not worked all of that time but even when I took time off to raise my babies or switched positions, I still knew who I was. I was her/his mom, his wife, their boss, the manager, Nana. I had not anticipated my identity being unclear. Who Am I without a title? Or a paycheck?

Maybe a better question and one I have been spending a considerable amount of time contemplating is…Who Do I Want To Be? What an amazing opportunity to be able to ask this question at this point in my life. I believe so many of us get on a path long before we know who we are or want to be, but more because the college placement test said we had an aptitude for, fill in the blank. Or like me, a physician sees something in a young women, working in a lumber yard, and hires her to run his private office. Fast forward 25 years and I’m running groups of surgeons, never really having thought too much about if I liked what I was doing; it was just what I did.

Now, two months into this new life of not working, I’m wondering what I want to do when I grow up, or more precisely, Who I want to be. And I’m learning some really valuable things about myself that I am not sure I would have learned until much later, if ever, without this time of healing and regrouping.

I need to be Creative
The first thing I am learning or maybe just becoming more aware of than ever before is that I need to create. It is part of my core. Without the ability to be creative I lose my ability to be creative. Its a circle for me. The more creative I am the more creative my brain can and wants to be and I have to feed that need. It is healthy and allows and provides great joy in my life. I did some travel recently and thought I could just not create during that time. That I would be ok not doing anything creative. Whether it be painting, paper crafting, knitting or macrame, I thought I could just go without for a bit. I was wrong. Without that creative stimuli I am not thinking creatively. I find myself blank as I try to consider new projects that I should be seeing options for. My brain is wired to create and not doing so alters what I can see as possibilities for everything. So this week, with a friend’s generous offer to borrow her craft box, I painted. And was reminded how much I love it! I found myself smiling as I filled water bowls and laid out paint and canvas. Creativity is part of who I am and I need to make sure it stays as one of my top priorities.

I need to Give Back
Another thing I’m learning is that while I am enjoying the opportunity to focus on me, getting healthy and strong again, I can’t do that for 8 hours a day…or more. I have found a quiet rhythm to my mornings that I am enjoying. It includes some quiet reading, yoga, a workout that varies based on how I feel on any given day, a study that is pointing me towards my purpose and meditation. It also includes meal planning, shopping and prep which I really enjoy and some other little household tasks. But as I approach the 8 week mark, I am understanding that I am not going to be ok living days on end focused only on myself.

With that in mind, I have volunteered to help out locally. I need to give something back. I don’t need to own anything and I don’t want to manage any one, I just want to interact with people, have a purpose and feel like I’m doing something good. I’ll find a niche, but for now a few hours each week volunteering is just fun and really fulfilling.

You really can wash your Hair every other day
Ok, this one may sound a little silly but I’ve just always been afraid to try not washing my hair daily. Even when it was long, it got washed and blow dried every day. I was always worried that if I tried it and it looked awful, I’d still have to go to work and well..have a bad hair day. So, with the encouragement of my stylist and no ‘work’ to show up looking bad for, I tried it. And what do you know…its really can work! I might be the last person on the planet to get it, but I’d say BIG life lesson learned. More so in broader terms though, of being willing to try new things or things I’ve been too afraid to try before.

I need a balance of Alone Time and Together time
I’m discovering that I am not very comfortable doing things alone. I grew up in a large family, so alone time was a rarity and as an adult I have worked in places surrounded by people. In all my jobs I usually had a lunch buddy and then had my family when I got home. For years I had close friends who I planned most outings with ensuring I rarely did activities alone. And if given a choice, I’ll usually pass on an activity even if I really wanted to do it, if I have to do it by myself. As I look back, I can even see one promising job that left me alone for hours on end every day. I was so discouraged by the atmosphere I left after only 8 weeks.

So, part of my experience of growth that is becoming clear is learning to be bold and brave enough to do more things by myself. And for me, that is not a understatement. Sometimes I have to literally tell myself, out loud, to be brave. Not for things like going to the grocery store, but to know that for a majority of days I need to actively seek out and find activities to fill my time and much of that time might mean doing things alone since my husband is still working.

I’m learning though. I have found multiple activities that I have now marked on my calendar to do weekly that I enjoy immensely. One is listening to a musical group that get together for a jam session weekly. I stumbled onto it one day and have made it part of my routine to go listen. I’m engaging with a new group of friends who have a similar schedule as mine and I’m looking for new things to try including a jewelry making day. Ironically, I am also learning that while I enjoying doing activities with others I also enjoy some down or quiet time. I used to have it on my commute to and from work. An hour or so to just listen to music, pray, and be with my own thoughts. Finding the perfect balance is the key and I’m enjoying the process and finding new activities and friends along the way.

I really Enjoy Yoga
Yoga has always been a bit intimidating to me. All those crazy poses, held by lithe, long haired beauties all smiling while toning and being fit. I imagined them easily sliding between each pose never needing to pause or give themselves space to just be still. But, with the encouragement of my daughter and with my decision to do what it takes to get healthy, I committed to 30 days of at home Yoga. And while I have not turned into that lithe and toned 30 year old yet, I feel so much better. I enjoy that time in the morning allowing my body to stretch and learn itself and its boundaries. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress I’ve made in a short time and I know I feel better on the days I do it. I’ve even started using Yoga for specific needs if I wake up with hip or back pain. I’d say the practice of Yoga will be one of those things I do for the rest of my life. What a cool age to try something new and love it!

I still wake up every day amazed that I get to be here doing what I am doing, or not doing. And while I never want to be patronizing, this whole learning yourself at 51 is hard work. Learning who I am and more importantly, who I want to be is an amazing, sometimes tear-filled and often surprising journey.

If you’re like me, we sometimes look forward to retirement thinking how nice it will be to have nothing to do. And I get it. With the schedule and race so many of us run it can be an amazing thought. And can even be something we choose to do, nothing that is, for a while. But the last thing I’m learning quickly, mostly because this life transition happened without a lot of heads up, is how important it is that we discover who we are and the things that bring us meaning, joy and purpose because day after day of nothing to do can be as taxing on ones soul as being overwhelmed. We are made to have purpose and live our best life. I am enjoying the journey of self discovery, even if its sometimes uncomfortable, to know a better me, the person I really want and am supposed to be.

While this is not a complete list of what I’ve learned so far, it is the top few things that were most surprising to this point. I have a hunch this list will continue to grow as I live out this adventure. What are you learning about yourself that is surprising you? I’d be interested to know if you’ve discovered things about yourself that you didn’t realize before and how you’re incorporating those things into your life.

Until next time…

-rache


The Leaving

I gave my notice through email because I had been waiting for a call back for days
So…I sent my resignation letter through email and didn’t like doing it that way one bit
But it was time.

Three days later, with no acknowledgment of having received it, I sent it again asking if it had been received
(Looking back, I should have sent it with a return receipt, I know)
The next day I got the following email with its one word answer

“Received”

And then they went silent for the next two weeks
No emails
No exit strategy discussions
No questions
Just silence from their corporate office half way across the US

And….I was confirmed
This is the company that I couldn’t quite figure out for the six months I was there
Why don’t people answer my questions or emails?
Why are all the processes set up as if to make things more difficult then they need to be?

The job turned out to be totally different then what they told me when I took it
But it was exactly what I needed to make the change

And so…. I left corporate America
I think for good

I plan to take a year off
Really think about what I’d like to do
No more management
No more trying to tell people who have an MD or a PHD behind their name what to do

And here is the blessing and really what made this choice even optional….
We’ve been preparing for this for months
Years really
And didn’t even know it
Well, not specifically anyway

We became debt free earlier this year and since then we have been saving 90% of my paycheck and donating the other 10%
So we already know how to live on the Cowboys salary

We downsized our living space and our ‘things’ and started living a minimalistic lifestyle almost a year ago
There will not be big adjustments to make there either

I don’t know a lot of people my age, 51, who get an opportunity like this
I feel so blessed and excited and hopeful

Not everyday has been blissful while making this decision
One day I was so overcome by fear as my inner voice started to wonder what the hell I was doing…that I had to pull my car over

“If there is a recession, you’ll never work again”
“You’re too old, you’ll never be hired again”
“You’re going to ruin all your retirement plans”
“All you know is the medical field, you’ll never get into something else”
“You’re so selfish, broken, unable ……..”

I realized it was fear talking to me
None of those things were real, none of those things were true
And once I acknowledged that fear, and where it was coming from, I found a beautiful peace wash over me
A feeling I’ve gone back to whenever I start to feel anxious since then

And, so I jumped.
I left the job one week ago
Its was really hard to not be able to pass off the tasks in a professional way
To at least talk someone through where different projects are at or things to be watchful for
Actually, talk to anyone at all
I did not do the transition like I’d have liked to
But that wasn’t my choice
I wish them well

This week I have started a list of things I want to do with this time
I want to look back at it and know I shook this gift for all it was worth
I want to get fit and healthy again, read daily, mediate, worship, incorporate yoga into my weekly workouts, send notes weekly to those I love, journal, walk, swim, create
I have so many plans
and I’m so excited for this adventure.

One last note….
I know there is something I can’t even imagine coming
I’ve felt it for a while now and for the first time in my life I’m totally ok waiting to see what that is….
I’m not looking yet
I’m not trying to figure out what it might be or how it will work
I am not going to create it
I’m just going to work on me and wait to see what God has waiting for me
Because…its going to be great!

I plan to write more about leaving Corporate America too, but for now….I can hardly wait for this next Grand Adventure!

My “I Want” Exercise

I was listening to a podcast earlier this week and the presenter asked the question, “What do you want?” In this context he was asking the listener to actually list out on paper things they wanted. I thought about it while I drove and decided to take the challenge, so this week I wrote out a list of things I ‘want’.

I started every sentence with the words “I want…” and just wrote until I felt like there wasn’t much else to say.

This was one of those experiments where I decided not to think too hard about what I was writing, to not judge myself, to write whatever I thought and to not edit along the way. Just write. Much like Julia Cameron’s suggestion when doing “Morning Pages ” from her book The Artists Way.

Julia asks people to hand write their thoughts first thing in the morning each day. She suggests at least three pages of free flowing, non-edited conscious stream of thought on a page. I look forward to the time when I can start most days with this journaling habit. For now, I used this technique for my “I want…” list.

At the end of my 4-5 minutes of typing, it was almost surreal to reread what I had typed. My list lacked things like a new car, or the latest Coach cross-body bag. It didn’t have a trip listed or new clothes. There were no household items or dreams of meeting someone specific.

Instead my list consisted of a lot of non-tangibles. Things like peace, time with my grand babies, quiet mornings and big holiday meals with my family topped my wants. As I read down through what I had just let myself write, I saw that the things I want most in life aren’t things at all. They have to do with heart and love and people. And about who I want to become.

This would not always have been the case. There was definitely a time in my life where my list would have looked much different. I am a recovering purse addict, so Coach bags used to be my want all the time! (At one point in time I had over 50 purses!) And I’m not saying I’ll never want or buy something just for fun again. But my list fleshed out the things that are most important to me.

In his blog, Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker writes “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value by removing everything that distracts us from it.”

We have definitely minimized our life by downsizing, being intentional about purchases and how we spend our time and it was evident to me that my want list is full of the things I really do want most… people that I love, things that I enjoy doing and time focused on becoming the me I was destined to be.

It was a fun assignment to participate in. I would highly recommend it. Just remember, let yourself write whatever comes to mind. There are no wrong answers. Don’t edit and don’t judge yourself. Just let yourself be free to write.

Once you have your list, chase those things. Create the story of your life that highlights all the things you love most. That’s what I plan to do with my list. Chase and work for all the things that I want.

Everyone’s list is going to look different. That is a beautiful part of this exercise. Just like minimalism or any thing in life, each of us will have our own interpretation of how this will look. There is no right and there is no wrong. There is just you and what is important to you.

Try it and let me know what you learn about yourself. Until then, choose things that make you happy!

~rache

Pecked to Death…by a Duck

Do not let yourself be surrounded by people who will peck you to death like a duck. If you allow yourself to be around people and they show you who they are and you refuse to believe it, they will each time they enter into your space, take a little piece of your soul. By the end of your encounter with them you are less then who you were meant to be. -Maya Angelo

I used to find myself in these types of ‘relationships’. People in my life, that after spending any amount of time with them, always left me drained, sometimes angry and all too often frustrated at the time I had given to a relationship that somehow left me… less.

Sometimes those people were my closest friends, or a family member, making saying no to their invite of time together incredibly hard. And yet, each time I was with them, I came away with a little less of my soul.

I would find myself replaying the conversation, wondering if I had somehow fed into how I felt. Maybe I had helped create the storm. But as I have aged, and hopefully gotten a little wiser, I have begun to realize that there were some people in my life, that took much more from me then they ever gave back, sometimes at the cost of who I was meant to be.

No one else could be blamed for me feeling that way. There was no person “making” me feel those feelings. As Maya stated, they had shown me who they were over and over and yet I continued to give them space in my life and my heart.

Minimalism doesn’t just have to do with the clutter of stuff. It can be about things, people, time, energy and head space. And sometimes the hardest things to ‘downsize’ are the cluttered relationships we find ourselves in. We know they aren’t healthy for us. We know the person can’t be trusted so we spend our time with them guarding our words and our stories. We leave feeling diminished, sad and hurt, having hoped this time would be different. We have memories of how things used to be and a dream that person might return.

Evaluating all the aspects of your life can be challenging. Much more difficult then deciding to minimize your closet or your kitchen gadgets, minimizing time spent with a long time friend because they are not good for your soul, can take effort and can be heart wrenching. “Unfriending” a family member can create lasting ripples. Saying no to the invite for coffee can be sad and create anger in others.

So, here is what I have learned about minimalism as it pertains to the clutter in some relationships. The people I want to have in my life build me up. They hold my hand when I cry or when I’m scared or on a roller coaster ride! When I see their name come up on my cell, I smile as I answer and I feel blessed and loved when they choose to spend their precious time with me. I leave time with them feeling as if I have learned, grown and given equally back to the friendship I have received.

We all have limited hours. I want mine to be filled with the people and the things I love. Not things that just fill space or have little meaning. And I definitely don’t want things or people in my life who in the end, make me less that I was destined to be.

I am so grateful to have my best friend as my husband, grown children that I adore as adults, friends that make time for me on a rainy Saturday afternoon and family that has stood by me and made me feel more loved than I ever dreamed possible. These are those that at the end of the day, always feed my soul. Sadly, I have lost some people along the way. And while I sometimes remember the good times and wish things had been different, I want to be all I was intended to be. My whole soul intact, living my best life every day.

Let me know what you think about minimalism as it pertains to relationships or share a story of one that you enjoy and helps you be who you were destined to be.

Thanks for reading.

~rache

Grateful

When the dust starts to settle the view becomes crystal clear. I’m not going to fib …the last few months have been a whirl wind.

A new job, a sold house, a move, downsizing and the wonder filled news of a new grand baby. Whew… that was quite a run.

The ironic part is, I don’t think its quite over. We’ll see, but for now things have settled a bit and it feels like it would be a good time to just sit back quietly for a minute and be grateful.

Gratitude. Taking a moment or many moments in a row to just reflect on life and all the things that have gone so well. From the deck of our new place, as the sun starts to peek over the foothills my heart fills with love and peace and gratitude for so many things.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary recently and I was reminded of how grateful I am that he is in my life and even more so that we are sharing this life together. All the cliche’s seem…well cliche’ but what a gift to be married to someone you respect, someone who challenges you and the one who will forever be the best friend. We laugh together and still talk for hours every week. We share idea’s and thoughts and this journey to who knows where! And, there is no one else on the planet I’d rather do that with.

I’m grateful for change and for the beautiful places I get to enjoy living. I never dreamed this would be my life. Just a girl from a very small town in Oregon, living a dream she didn’t even know she had. Oh the adventure we’re on.

I could list the things my heart is grateful for today and none of it would be a surprise:

Kids and their kids. I’m so proud of all of them and how hard they work and how well they love. Its a great blessing to like your adult children.

Hope for the future and a contentment that I have rarely known in my life. Being loved and loving. People in my life who pour in to me simply because they love me.

Sunrises and sunsets. Breakfast with new friends and lunch with old ones. Giggles of the young and deep sighs of contentment as those around me age. And the knowledge that this life is a grand adventure that I am blessed to be on.

Oh what a life. I am incredibly grateful.

What have you noticed lately that you’re grateful for? I look forward to hearing your gratitude’s.

~rache

Kayaks

Since the very first time I met him I have known that MP enjoys the outdoors, specifically camping, hiking and kayaking.
One of our first over-nighters was a run to Stanley where we spent both mornings on the water and both evenings near the camp fire.

We’ve kayaked all the local ponds and many of the lakes and he once went to Glacier park with a friend and spent a couple days on the icy water there. We’ve had lots of good talks in them, one pretty good argument and lots of memories of the stillness of mornings as the sun started over snow capped mountains.

Once, on a cold May morning I dumped my kayak in a icy cold lake in northern Idaho and MP still gives me grief about that now and again. Man was I cold.

We’ve taken great adventures and made great memories in those kayaks.

Part of downsizing has been having to make choices about what we are keeping and what we are parting with. MP has blogged about our journey at MiddleAgeMark.com too, but all along we have both had to make decisions about what is important to us.

We decided the kayaks needed to be sold about a month ago. They were taking up a lot of room in the storage unit which we had agreed to get rid of by months end and last weekend we spent most of a day cleaning it out and making decisions about the rest of what was in it. The kayaks were bulky and took up too much room and we hadn’t used them in two seasons.

With plans to spend as much time as possible in our baby house in Mesa and lots of our future summers in Florida on a catamaran, it seemed like time to let the kayaks go. So MP posted them and they sold within days.

Just another of our adventures in downsizing and minimizing. MP said the guy who bought them had plans for he and his wife to use them locally. Kayaks should be used, often. I’m glad they will be in the water again soon, and I’m also glad we aren’t storing them any longer. Sometimes the hardest part is just making a decision. After that, acting on it comes easily.

Next weekend we will finish cleaning out the storage unit and cancel it. That is going to feel amazing and also mean that that part of the journey is finished. It means the process of moving is officially over.

Bring on the next adventure.

~rache

Old Photo’s and Echoing Dreams

On occasion I write more along the lines of poetic journaling then as an informational blog post. Below is one of my experiences in downsizing our home and the emotional balancing act of choosing what to keep and why.

The large 16×20 photo looks like something out of a 1970’s Home and Gardens magazine. Each child posed perfectly by the unseen photographer. Her in a pale-yellow dress, long hair down her back and a large matching bow atop her head.

His dark hair a contrast to everything light about her. His eyes ebony and his smile a little unsure. These two children loved each other deeply already. Him just 10 months and her almost 5 they had been together for all but the first 4 days of his life.

“How would you like to get a brother today?” the lady on the other end of the phone asked. I’ll never forget that call. So much hope. So many adventures. Such unforeseen heartache.

The photo had been in the garage atop a pile of other things for two weeks. What to do with a photo like that?

Keep it? For what? Who else would want it? No one. Throw it away? Oh Lord, what would our mother say?

I saw it each time I came home from work and each morning as I left. It made my heart hurt a little every time. What am I supposed to do with that big, outdated photo of two kids who haven’t spoken in years?

“You are no longer those children” my heart realized one afternoon. “And that is why you ache at the thought of throwing it away”.

How nice it would be to be those two kids again, loving each other. Playing together. Each liking who the other was.

But that time is past now. And while the memory is sweet, the photo is faded and the two children portrayed no longer exist.

The ache remains after having thrown the photo away. But it had never really been about the picture. It was always about the loss of each to the other and the shattered dreams of the people they had hoped they would be.

The Rules of Dis-engagement

The very best thing we did as a couple in the process of downsizing was to talk about it before it began. I think it was the vital piece of making this process successful.

MP and I agreed that we wouldn’t give input on what the other chose to keep unless asked. If there was something that held value to one or the other of us, it stayed and needed no explanation. That was a great way to start the process because I knew there would be no pressure from him and no need for me to try to make him understand my choices. And it didn’t leave either of us with feelings of resentment for having been ‘made’ to get rid of things. I would highly recommend that agreement if you’re thinking about downsizing. It takes trust that you’re both on the same page but it alleviates a lot of stress if you can make that commitment to each other.

After we talked, one of the first things we did was rent a small storage unit as a place for the few unknowns to go, like the kayaks. We went through closets and donated clothes that were either out of date or didn’t fit or we no longer liked. I took 20 purses to the Idaho Youth ranch along with 15 pairs of heals I hadn’t worn in years. MP took shirts still in their dry cleaner bags and slacks that had more pleats in the front than a curtain. We took kitchen gadgets and stacks of dinnerware. Somehow I had ended up with 25 champagne glasses…I mean I love a good mimosa, but that is A LOT of champagne glasses.

Then….we had a garage sale. And the deal was, whatever didn’t sell went straight to donation. It motivated us to sell so we didn’t have to haul it!

I’m not going to say it was all easy. I let items go for penny’s on the dollar and for a numbers girl, that can be a tough pill to swallow. But I knew items were going to someone who wanted them or would use them. I had to let go of my emotional attachment to some items that quite frankly, I just liked.

We sold all of our furniture except our bed, my art desk and MP’s work desk. We sold some items that were bought specifically for the house to the new buyer and then we donated some more.

Up until then, it hadn’t been too hard.

The real emotions came when I had to make decisions about sentimental items. My grandmothers china, items made by my kids. Photos.

I did a lot of reading during that time. I found some great articles online about emotional attachments to things and how to live smaller. One of my favorite podcasts about minimalism is The Minimalists and they have a blog that I have mentioned before specifically about sentimental items that really gave me some clarity. My other favorite blog regarding FIRE and downsizing is Middleagemark.com. He has a great perspective on the same journey. 😉

And I made decisions relatively slowly. I rarely decided the very first time I picked precious items up or looked at the really important things. I would spend a few hours or sometimes a few days deciding what stayed and what got donated. I would often pick up the items and hold them in my hands, remembering who gave them to me or a memory of its use. I used Marie Kondo’s approach and thanked each item for the gifts it had given me. And I reminded myself that I was not getting rid of the person or the memories. Just things. I would always have the memories and events with those I love. I even took pictures of a few items.

And then, I let a lot of things go.

Sometimes I drove home very quietly.

And that’s ok.

I knew I was doing the right thing when I had decided to keep an item my grandmother had made for me when I was 6 or 7. I took it to our new place and planned to store it in my closet. I sent her a photo of it, thinking it would be a fun memory for her too. Sadly, at 94, she doesn’t remember it. I was only going to keep it to honor her, when in reality, honoring her is in my heart, not in a wall hanging she doesn’t remember making. It was a good lesson about why we keep things. I donated it so another young girl could have a Holly Hobby on her wall.  Gran will like that when I tell her even if she doesn’t remember making it.

I won’t go into everything we donated or kept, but I will say I opened three boxes I have hauled around for 30 years only to find my report cards from 3rd grade and some hand turkeys I had made around the same age. Sigh…  what a waste of space, time and energy.

Our journey may not be your journey. You may have kept things I didn’t or visa versa. Each person has to be ok with their decisions. I am. I have no regret. I don’t remember people less because I don’t have things they gave me or pictures of them. My love for them is not diminished. Just the stuff that filled my closets and corners.

So, talk to your other before you start and lay the ground rules. Then, just start. Do the easy stuff first and remember there is no right or wrong. Everyone gets to do this their own way. And that means you too.

What is your story of letting sentimental items go? Maybe you’re still working on the smaller stuff. That’s great! I hope these thoughts help you through the process.

Let’s talk again soon.

~rache