Less is More-The Art of Letting Go

In the last five years I have had to let go of so much “stuff” in my life, both materially and emotionally. We went from living in a 2200 square foot home, to first a 900 square foot apartment, and currently an 1100 square foot condo. If there is one thing I have definitely noticed in our many times of moving, that is how much “stuff” we manage to accumulate in a relatively short period of time.

Now, I love to craft with paper,  therefore, the closet for which I designated  my “craft storage”, is always bursting at the seams. I save tons of scrap pieces of paper in case I may need them in some future project. I have purged several times but, alas, it has become an endless cycle of getting more and then getting rid of some.  Needless to say, I am always having to purge. Also, when I am trying to decide what to give away or toss out, I struggle with the voice in my head telling me to keep something because I “may need that one day”. That day really never comes. I just have an inherrent weakness for pretty paper.

My mom had a thing for empty boxes. Whether it was a shoe box, or postal delivery box or even those flat boxes that a case of soft drinks used to be sold in, would inevitably be saved,  just in case she needed a box that size in the future. I would find empty boxes of all sizes everywhere in her house. We laugh about this now, but, I started thinking of how those empty boxes can represent why we keep things in the first place. I think, we have many “empty spaces” inside our hearts and minds that searches for things to fill it. Holding on to “stuff” can be comforting when growing older. Even if we never use them anymore, knowing we still have them, gives us a kind of stability of sorts. But really all it does is keep us bound. Hanging on to things we no longer need or use, can bring clutter and sometimes chaos into our lives.

Now, I am not speaking of memorabilia or keepsake items. I make cute boxes myself to keep those in. (Shameless plug for my paper crafting business) I am thinking of clothes that no longer fit, a set of old pots shoved into the back of a shelf, old newspapers or paperback books that you have already read twice. Things I had to purge from my own kitchen because of the lack of space to store them, are a set of glass bowls, utensils I never used but kept in case I wanted to use them some day, pans in duplicate sizes and drinking glasses, and coffee mugs from every kind of gift-giving, prize-winning event. I had to let go of clothes that I kept for that magical day I would fit into them again. I assessed our coat closet and seriously wondered why I had a coat for every possible weather event. I donated a big heap to a coat drive our church was having.

As I began to let go of all the material stuff in my life, I noticed that it made a difference in how I was feeling on the inside. The empty spaces I thought I was filling with stuff I possessed, was now being filled with a satisfaction of knowing someone else might enjoy and even value those things that once belonged to me. I don’t miss anything I have given away, and in fact, I barely remember them. Having less does not mean I lack anything. It in fact, feels like I have so much more. My life feels less cluttered and a little more orderly. Oh, and let’s not forget, I also have a lot more space.:)



Comfort Foods

So yesterday, after church,  my husband and I went to get some groceries and a hot dog at Costco. I know, it is definitely not a healthy choice, but, who can resist a meal for a buck fifty, right? I guess I just appreciate the fact that though the cost of living continually rises, the cost of a hot dog at Costco has not budged since my children were little babes. When I’m munching on my hot dog, I cannot help but think of our family of seven gathering around the Costco picnic table enjoying a meal for ten dollars…….good times. In fact, I could not help but notice the many families sitting around those same tables sharing pizza or a hot dog, laughing and enjoying being together on a Sunday afternoon. It just seems so ordinary and normal in a world full of chaos and abnormalities. It actually felt, well, comforting.

Anyway, we trekked our way through the store, our bellies now full of a giant hot dog, and actually checked out with only two, yes two things. The cashier even complimented our discipline. But though my hot dog satisfied my hunger, and brought back comforting memories, it was now giving me heartburn and discomforting indigestion. I think, that is a common consequence of comfort food. But, we do find it hard to resist sometimes. Let’s imagine chocolate, or a nice bowl of hot soup on a cold rainy day, or maybe a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with a hot buttery roll on the side, or………ice cream……yes,let’s talk ice cream.

On that very same Sunday afternoon, after the heartburn had subsided and memories of the giant hot dog was long forgotten, I turned to my husband and said, “I feel like having some ice cream”, to which he replied, “me too”. So, we quickly got in the car before we could come to our senses, and drove off to locate the closest Baskin Robbins, while smacking our lips and salivating as we anticipated the 31 flavors we could choose from. An ice cream cone would have been quite satisfying, but, nooooooooo…….I went for the ginormous banana split with chocolate, pineapple, and whipped cream topped with crunchy walnuts. It was comforting just to look at it. I, for reasons I cannot explain, ate the entire thing before we even got home.

I guess I needed a lot of comforting yesterday. I cannot explain why food can and often will have such power over us. We turn to it when we are sad, we celebrate with it when we are happy, and we often crave it for no valid reason at all. As a woman, I can say, that if we crave it, whether it is chocolate, or a hot, just baked, buttery roll, we must have it. Men need to understand this.

Times have certainly changed for many families that used to gather around the dining table and communicate with each other surrounded by home cooked meals. It has become a challenge for everyone to have the time to eat together, let alone for moms who have to work outside the home to prepare those home cooked meals. The dining table seems to be more a catch-all for school books, or paperwork, etc., and eating is often done on the sofa watching T.V. I am guilty of that.

But there is still hope for families and all of us who crave the comfort of food. Even if it’s not around our own dining tables. There will always be the Costco hot dog and let’s not forget ice cream, lots of ice cream and chocolate.

Share your comfort food in the comments, I would love to hear from you. And also, click the subscribe button in the side bar of this post. Thank you.




Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Time. We have wall clocks, bedside clocks, wristwatches and a plethora of ways we use to “tell” time. Time let’s us know when to get up, when to go to bed, when we need to eat, and it will inevitably and mercilessly let us know that after 24 hours we are officially a day older. Now, if you are still in the prime of your life, you may not notice the ticking of a clock. In fact, clocks, or watches if you will, have become very sophisticated and appealing to the younger generation. We now have “smart watches” that do so much more than tell us the time. You can check your email, google something on the internet and answer your phone on that little thing strapped to your wrist. My 11-year-old grandson called me the other day and proudly proclaimed he was doing so from his watch. I asked him what time it was, and he didn’t know.

Remember the old-fashioned alarm clocks that almost gave you a heart attack when it went off. Well, now your smart phone can gently awake you with soothing music of your choice. My dad loved collecting watches and clocks. I’m not sure why, but now that he is no longer with us, I have been blessed to inherit some of those watches. I really love this pocket watch that has a picture of both he and my mom taped inside.  I cherish the fact that this belonged to him and it was one of his favorite watches. When I hold it in my hand, time pauses for a moment so I can remember my dad. He also loved this wall clock where every hour was chirped by a different bird. We came to recognize what time it was by the sound of a certain bird. That clock is still up on my mom’s wall.

I suppose it does not matter how we tell time. After all, no matter where you are from, we all have the very same 24 hours we call a day. It does not matter how we tell time, but it does very much matter, what we do with it. Some of us, will rise very early to begin our day and make “good” use of our time. Some of us are up most of the night and perhaps get a later start. Either way, we can choose how to manage the time given to us in a day. I am guilty of “wasting” time on some days. It is only because I choose to do absolutely nothing with my time. I just want to do, well, nothing.

Time. What we choose to do or not do with our time on this earth has never been more critical to living out our lives. Recent events in our chaotic world……hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and mass shootings, to name a few…..can give us a feeling that we perhaps may be coming to the end of time. But in the wake of these catastrophic events, I say we just allow time to alert us to do what we can to make this world a better place. We can choose to take the time to love more, serve more and care more about people.

Time. We cannot speed it up or slow it down. The rhythmic sound of a clock ticking is just a reminder that it is out of our control. The only thing we can control is what we do with each second and minute and hour we have. Time is not an enemy, it is on the contrary a gift. We have been given a gift of time. I love that truth. Sometimes, 24 hours is just not enough time to accomplish all we want to do, especially when at least 8 of it is to allow our bodies to rest.

But, God, in his divine wisdom, created and gave us a 24 hour period called a day. If we have not learned how to make this enough, well, we need to try a little harder, because, well, we all know that time can fly, and flying equals fast.