Me:

Me:

I will write it out.  May not be exactly the plan for you. We are in such different life stages.  But, the ideas may cross over.  I have been struggling about blog topics.  Maybe this could be a two or three part series.

My friend:

Will you start this week or next?

Me:

I am writing on Wednesday’s now.  So, for tomorrow, I could do part one.  Describe and define the problems and then next week start the resolution phase.  If I get inspired before then, I will send you private previews!

My friend:

I will pray for you. Any specifics in prayers?

Me:

I want to let go of what I think my life should have been and embrace what my life is.  I want to let go of actual physical belongings that don’t add to my quality of life but rather cause anxiety and concern.  I want to let things be the way they are without feeling I should “fix” me to make things seem better.

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So, I had a great post going and my computer decided to auto shut down and update Windows. I am going to try to restart.  Pretty sure this will not be a good as all I lost.

Here goes:

Last week I loaded four bags of clothes and hauled them off to the charity shop. I took some things to our daughter.  She kept part and sent part back with me.  I will refill the box and haul it off this week.  I have a couple of boxes loaded in the turtle hull already.  I have another bag almost full of clothes ready to go.

I recorded a thought in my journal the other day. If a ship is sinking, plug the leak to stop the flood then bail like crazy.  I am trying to plug the leak, but by bailing like crazy, I hope to strengthen my resolve to not let the flooding continue.

Why am I obsessed with minimalism? I don’t really know. I just want to have less stuff to clean, store and shuffle through when looking for the stuff I really use.

What is acceptable for storage? This is highly subjective and personal.  Holiday decorations.  I have an artificial tree because it is less mess and easier to put up and take down than a live tree.  I have minimal decorations to go on the tree.  I also like to do a large table center piece using antlers, candles and silk flowers and greenery.  I don’t do outdoor decorations because we live at the end of a very quiet dead end street.  Maybe when the grands get old enough to enjoy such a thing, I will add them.  For Hallowe’en, Valentine’s and Easter, I do a simple table decoration.

What else to store? I have a few extra-large pots and things for bigger gatherings that we no longer host.  I haven’t quite decided to give up on that idea.  Things may expand again someday.  I don’t like the idea of  storing clothes out of season simply because I don’t want to have so many clothes they need to be stored in rotation.  I should be able to put summer things in the back end of the rack and fall things in the front.  I can do that.  My closet’s hanging rod is long enough for that.

I considered getting another shed. My shed was overtaken by a chupacabra (see previous post about a pack rat).  We cleared up big daddy, but I discovered junior has moved in, recently.  I don’t have anything stored in the attic.  I like it that way.  I am physically hindered from accessing things in the attic. (getting too old and arthritic to climb and haul up and down that ladder) My things are in the washroom, the back room closet and in those under the bed storage boxes.  Even as I write this, I am mindful of the things in the boxes I could eliminate.

One of my favorite de-cluttering writers suggests eliminating activities that don’t have adequate rewards to justify the baggage and resources they use. In other words, consider the activities I pursue.  Do I actually enjoy the activity enough to provide space to do the activity and store the items used in the activity?  Do I just do it because I should do something?  Is it something I used to enjoy, but I have lost interest?

Or is it like sewing? I know how to sew.  I am pretty good at it.  I used to sew. My mother loved to sew.  I should want to sew.  Right?  I don’t think I want to sew.  I just want to feel my mother’s presence again.  Sit with her digging through the fabrics and patterns.  Hear the machine whirring as she stitches up a beautiful dress for me to wear.

I would love to have a tiny box with a couple of needles, some basic thread colors, a pair of tiny scissors. Just enough to repair a button or hem.  I have a little more than that.  Not a lot more. But more than I will ever use.  I don’t see myself sewing, again.  Or maybe, after writing this, I see the truth of the thing.  Sewing is something I once enjoyed.  When Mother could no longer sew, I could no longer enjoy it for myself.  Even now, the process gouges too deeply at the wound of losing her.  The big empty place in my life.

I guess I will keep on with my piddling and sorting and hauling off and acquiring. Till someday I latch on to something that doesn’t hurt so much to do.  I didn’t know I was still hurting so much.  I don’t know what I will do with this revelation.

He had to comfort me earlier when the computer went down in the middle of things. He always comes to my rescue when the dragons threaten.  I hear the pounding hooves of his white charger even before I click “publish”…….

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Strange Treasures

From time to time, I consider the following question. If I had to load my earthly possessions in my small car and evacuate, what would my I count as irreplaceable treasure?

Like most, I have photographs. I have two small trunks full of old mementos. The trunks themselves are heirlooms.  Then, there are my books.  I have a lot I would not pack. But, I have previously shared comments about the ones I would try to save.

I have a large pottery jar and an ostrich egg. There is a glass tray of sea shells.  An old flour barrel has some dolls and toys.

I do have a few pieces of furniture I would like to somehow stuff in there. They wouldn’t fit in my car.  So in my imaginings, I allow him to place them in the truck.  One piece is a credenza.  It is full of glassware collected from both grandmothers, my mother and my own purchases.

Three jewelry boxes should go in the pile. For themselves as well as for the odds and ends in them.

My kitchen cabinets are an entirely separate problem. The collection of dishes, pots, pans, casseroles is two lifetimes of work.  My mother’s and my acquisitions are interwoven behind those birch panels.

I am resisting getting up from my writing to wander the house and see what I am missing in my description.

Just today, I pulled from my shelves a small assortment of vinyl LP albums. These are the melodies I would put on the turntable on sultry summer afternoons.  Exotic, dramatic orchestral performances by Mancini or Mantovani.  What does this collection of music my mother acquired reveal about her?

Many of the tunes familiar from old movies that were broadcast on our little television that got two channels, NBC and CBS, until I was a freshman in high school and mother got an antenna booster than allowed us to get ABC, too.

Those albums would go in there someplace. Though I don’t have a turntable to play them anymore, I would rather not leave them behind.

I have had to let go of so many people and so many ideas and dreams for one reason or another. My treasures, strange though they may seem to onlookers, help me feel a connection with my ancestors.  Perhaps my strange treasures will help my descendants feel a connection with them also.  And with me.

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Time On My Hands

This past weekend, I had time on my hands. I spent most of Saturday sitting in a deer stand and part of Sunday afternoon, too.

It was raining Saturday. The woods in the rain are lovely to experience.  The rush and patter of the rain.  The whoosh of the wind.  The dance of the trees and swirling of light over raindrops.  The noisy quiet of nature.

I spent time trying to focus the vision. I know one thing for certain.  I am a home keeper at heart.  Everything seems to come back to home.  I love to travel.  But home is my vocation.  I expend a great deal of energy and thought on my home.  Trying to figure out how to make it better.  How to make it stay cleaner.  How to make it more comfortable and user friendly.  How to make it kid-friendly, both crawler size kids and grown, married size kids.

If I move this over there and rearrange this closet. If I get rid of this and try to find something like that?  So it goes with me.  Drives him crazy.  I don’t mean to make him nuts with all my moving and changing.  Sometimes I get things situated and think it will work and it doesn’t.  Or something changes.  Or it doesn’t fit the way I thought it would.

I do the same in my deer stand. I have three chairs in each of my stands.  Each chair serves a different purpose.  It took me a bit to work out the best arrangement. I like to be comfortable.  It is a long time sitting.

But the reward of the confined space in the open woods is great.  I have to sit still and let my mind be my occupation.  I take my journal and write page after page of gibberish.  But, amid all the static, I hear that voice telling me this is the way.  I see the light for the next step.  The fog clears from the vision for a moment and I have a chance to make a note on my pages before it is shrouded again.  But, this time I am not in despair.  I have captured a glimpse of the vision on paper.  I have words I can refer to when I get unsure again of the next step.

Take the broom and sweep. Put away the paraphernalia let over from the past days’ adventures.  Clean the fish tank.  Pull a few weeds.  Cook a good pot of tortilla soup.  Get the coffee pot ready for the morning.  Figure out what tomorrow’s chores will be. Decide what closet needs attention.  Another page in my life has been written.  Today was a good one.  A good one preceded by good ones.

I just realized I am doing what my mother and her mother always did.  My mother’s sisters do the same thing, too.  That constant moving and rearranging in our homes.  And so the family connection flows.

I love hunting season. One of the main reasons is the time to unravel my mind.  And let Him show me wonders of his world.  And have time with him adventuring in the mud and rain.

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Haunted

You know what haunts me?  Images of white gloves and pearls, white patent Mary Janes with lace trimmed socks turned down at the ankle.  Mother used to dress me in them.

I scroll through Pinterest and view all the fashion.  I even wear a lot of the types of things I see.  But, I remember a time before I reached my teens when Mother tried to dress me as a young girl once dressed.

I had some lovely outfits she purchased.  Even more lovely things she sewed for me.  As I go along in my day to day life, I feel some frustration at myself for not meeting the standards set by the past.

Search Pinterest for 1950s.  See how women were dressed to go the grocery store.  See how women dressed to work in an office.  See how women dressed period.  I realize “things” have changed.  My question is why?  Couldn’t I adjust my own standard?  Couldn’t I dress in prettier, more lady like clothes?

Of course I could.  But, even this weekend I succumbed to the “boyfriend” jeans with a rip in them.  Topped with a bright oversize tee shirt.  But, I wore cute sandals and layers of bracelets.  Does that count?

I troll the resale shops for dresses.  I have a collection of dresses I can wear around the house.  But, I don’t wear them much.  Again, I ask myself why?

I suppose by the time I work my day job, change to work out and do my chores, then shower, it is time to put on jammies.

I struggle inside with the need to be practical in my dress for my clerical job in a high-security Texas prison and my need to turn out properly.

In my next life, I want to have a job that I can dress the way I want.  I want to dress to make Mother proud.  I do wear a dress, hose and heels for Sunday morning worship service.

I wonder if my angel baby remembers how much I anguished over the fashion faux pas she insisted on making by wearing flannel shirts in May.  I finally asked her why she insisted and she simply said it was freezing cold in her high school classes and flannel shirts were just right to keep warm and to haul around outside of the building.  I let it rest.

Looking back, I should have taken her to buy a stylish jacket to wear.  But, my girl is probably laughing at my even thinking about it now!  Oh, well.  Such is the way of hauntings.  They make me recall a different time and place.  I still insist that formality of dress might bring back formality of behavior.  Maybe people would be kinder and gentler, if the idea of being a lady or a gentleman was revived.

Manners, protocol, etiquette, proper grooming, standards of dress.  They may seem shallow and old fashioned.  But, the outward reflects the inward.  The inward reflects the outward.  It boils down to respect.  Self-respect and self-esteem.  Respect for others, too.  My appearance makes a difference.

The best thing I have to wear is a smile.  The best accessory a kind and encouraging word.  I hope I show love and compassion whether I am wearing orthopedic shoes and an oversize tee shirt or my best dress with heels, hose and pearls.  But, that haunted feeling insists I would do it so much better in a skirt and heels!

Disclaimer:  all of my girls (daughter, daughter-in-law, niece) have a wonderful fashion sense and personal style.  Moreover they have such tremendous compassion and scope of mind, I marvel at their magnificent capacity to love.  I only speak to my own self and my own ambitions.

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Another Long Weekend

Summer is kicking off wet, wild and dangerous in Texas this year.  Weeks of heavy rain have saturated the ground and filled every low spot.  Things are running over now.  There are deaths being reported and dozens of raging water videos and photos circulating the web.

Regardless of the weather threat, we were blessed to have my niece and her lovely family with us for two nights.  We enjoy their visits for many reasons.  He gets to visit with our dynamic and comical nephew-in-law.  I get to visit with my “first child”.  I was sixteen and still at home when my brother had his daughter.  I spent many days tending her the first few years of her life.

Her four year old is a charming pistol.  She is so smart! She tries to work every situation to her advantage.  Often with success.  She and I are always measuring each other up for the next challenge.  I love her and see in her so much potential to contribute to the world at large with her sharp wit and bright mind.

Baby sister is a lovely doll!  She displays a stubborn temper occasionally.  But, that does not detract from the spell she has bound over him.  He melts when she is with him.  The two of them seem to have that special chemistry with each other.  Even though he only sees her every few months, she takes to him each time.

We ate and visited and ate and visited.  We napped some, too.  After they left, I wanted to cry over this empty house.

This morning, he and I had a leisurely start.  Finally, he mentioned something about a fishing trip before the rain returns.  I loaded up as fast as I could.

We had a great adventure!  We saw several alligators, including a small one that chased his top water lure over and over.  He was careful to not let it latch hold.  I got one good strike.  We didn’t land anything.  We also saw several extra-large turtles and one extra tiny one.

Oddly, no one was at the sand bar.  There were very few boaters out at all.  I guess the flood reports and rain threats kept everyone home.  We road down to where the forks of the rivers meet.  The Angelina runs into the Neches.  The boiling Neches did make me a bit nervous.  He asked if I was afraid.  I nodded yes.  He laughed reminding me we were in a boat!  We only barely passed over into the current before turning back to the less turbulent Angelina.

There is a slough that runs into the Angelina from the area between the two rivers.  The Neches is overflowing into the slough and running flood water into the Angelina above the forks.  We road into the slough just to see it.

Thing is, the water is supposed to be still rising.  The floods north of here will run through in the coming days.  Already there are trees toppled into the river and debris piled up in new places.  When the water returns to normal levels, things will be different.  One positive of the high water is evidence of sand bars developing.  They have been non-existent for a while. The Angelina will form long vanilla cream bars of semi-course sand.  Luxurious to lie on and watch the boats go by or the children splash about the shallow edges.

Half my life ago memories were made I still take out and admire from time to time.  Memories of young men and young women and young children playing, laughing, loving life.  We were young and strong and fearless.

Things did not go as I imagined them to go.  Things changed for our family and our friends.

One thing I have come to understand.  Those golden times of our lives are transient.  I look back and see periods of time when everything is remembered as wonderful, though we certainly had problems just as today.

My best example is of my mother.  I imagine she had about 10 years of her 59 short ones where life was as is should be.  She had married my father and he had not yet succumbed to his illness.  But, just like my husband, you would not know the hidden parts of her struggle.

She continued to live, live, live! She did not let illness, hers or his, get in the way of what she wanted her life to be like.  She was never bitter or ill humored.  Yes. Privately I held her when she broke down.  One time it was too much for me.  I didn’t know what to do. It was a time when she really faced that she was close to leaving us.  That is all she cared about.  She hated to leave us alone without her.  She knew the pain and struggle we would have to face without her support and courage.  She knew the joys and triumphs we would achieve without her participation and celebration.

Several times this weekend, I could feel her here with me.  How she would love her now grown grandchildren bringing their loves to see her!  But, I cooked a pot of pinto beans and they were pleased.  As I sit here this evening, I know she is pleased as well.

Summer has again returned.  I have closed the windows on the porch to allow the air conditioning to flow in and cool things.  I do sometimes wish he would let me feed coons again.  Over the fence, away from the dog.

But, he is stronger than even she was and I will not change his mind about that issue.  I do not even try.  He takes me to see the alligators and the flooding water and does not let me allow fear to best me.

Confidence.  They both push me to be confident.  It was one trait my mother insisted I develop and he picked up beside her and continues to this day.  Pushing me to be confident.  My daughter has taken up the task to assist him in her stead.

Golden times are often transient.  But, if I will allow it, the golden times will continue to transition.  One era fades and the next emerges.  I must not wallow in pity or stagnate in the past.  Embrace today.  Embrace the flood of orchids pouring into my life.  Let them surround me with lovely fragrance and move on into the realm of memory.  The next lovely flow of petals will arrive soon enough.  Take in the loveliness of the present bouquets and on brief occasion ponder the past bouquets with gratitude.  Be ever ready to receive the gift of raining orchids.

Sometimes orchids have bumpy hides and live in murky waters.  A wondrous creature to behold……this one is kind of cute, too.

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Yes.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I read many posts on Facebook.  Honoring mothers living and remembering those passed.

My own is gone.  His is gone as well.  Yes.  There are many moments I wonder how different my life would be had they still been here.  I miss them.  I love them.  I long to see them.

But, I direct my focus to my children.  To being a mother.  Both of them are amazing people.  They live incredible lives and create positive relationships with the people around them.  I am proud of them and love them more than I can sometimes contain.  So much love fills me it pours from my eyes in liquid form.

I always pushed them to never be afraid.  To be cautious and careful and sensible, but never afraid.  They are living out their dreams.  No.  Life is not perfect for any of us, but they take hold and run with the opportunities presented.

I am so very grateful for my parenting partner.  He is still my hero.  When we met, I was confused and afraid.  He fought his way through the barriers I had created around me and took hold of my heart.  I still keep barriers up around myself.  I still think I have hidden things.  But, on occasion, he makes a comment or something and I realize, he sees through the mask I wear.

He knows the hidden things.  The struggles, the disappointments, the pain.  He does not let me dwell on the negative things.  When I am “off-stage”, I tend to be depressed and discouraged.  He knows this and watches carefully to take action if I drift too close to the edge.  How many times has he pulled me back from despair that overwhelms me?

He has been father and mother to me these many years.  Poor fella!  Yes, I miss my mother.  Yes, I miss his mother.  Yes, I adore our children more than I can express.  Yes, I am grateful to Him for giving me him to be my strength, my courage, my champion, my guardian.

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