Friday, April 17, 2009

Little bits of progress

I am working on the book today - taking a break at the moment to write this. It goes so SLOWLY! I am hard on myself, and I want the word to flow trippingly from my tongue, and instead I have to stumble and fall and pick myself up and try again, and again, and again, and walk away, and come back in order to make it "right."

Yesterday I went to a workshop on home organization. It was interesting, and I'm glad that I went, because it's always helpful to hear others' perspectives, and to gain perspective of my own clutter (better than some, worse than others, which I think is how it should be). I was glad to find that I felt more or less on top of things as the speaker presented her materials, and when she offered free consultations I was confident in declining. I know what to do, just need time to do it. I did do a little organizing when I got home yesterday, cleaning out two of my three dresser drawers, and organizing my clothing closet a bit (finally solved the shoe dilemma by getting a rack for the bottom of the closet).

I am participating in a monthly Simplicity Circle through our church, and I find it fascinating to hear others' ideas of simplicity. What was a little confusing to me was that for many, it seems, simplicy is equated to a clutter-free lifestyle. I wasn't looking at it that way, but I was in the minority in that regard. I was thinking about how to recapture some of my zest through regaining simplicity; others were approaching it as a ways of simplifying their things. Certainly, there is an overlap, but this has given me pause for thought.

I checked out a ton of simplicity books from the library, and the beauty of the library is that I didn't have to just get the ones that I KNEW were right on target, and I was able to check out big piles of books. One of those is a "Cottage Style" book with the tagline about "living simply" and strangely, even though it's mostly just pretty pictures of cottages covered in flowers with big porches and adirondack chairs, it has me thinking in a new way. As I looked at those pretty cottages, I found them increasingly beautiful. And nothing matched. And their were patterns of all kinds - stripes and florals and plaids and paisleys; there were textures like chenille and wool and wood and paint and stone and pottery. There was even a form of chaos - cups stacked on shelves, open shelving with big bowls all piled up, eclectic art in unexpected places. Formal pieces right next to yard sale treasures. Chipped paint that was unashamedly so. But beautiful things - particularly pretty prints, beautifully shaped pitchers filled with gorgeous flowers, and elegant things, too. Bright colors - these cottages did not have taupe and tan, they had robins egg blue and pumpkin and cobalt and turquoise and sunny yellow and crimson and pastel pink and mossy green.

And I wanted to jump right in. I wanted to sit on a big painted cobalt wicker chair with rose floral cushions and tuck my feet under me and invite the cat up. I wanted to grab a mug off the shelf, grab a blanket, and curl up on an Adirondack to peer out at the garden and drink morning coffee. I wanted to sit around a table with friends and have a potluck with things fresh off the grill.

What I really want? I want this quieter life. For me, the pictures captured a lifestyle that is slower, and THAT is simplicity to me.

Identifying it is important. Now, I must work toward it. Well, I AM working toward it. The garden, home made bread, and our own Adirondack chairs - which DO get used, and regularly - are all part of that.

I only have Tessa in one after-school activity (horseback riding lessons, her greatest joy and passion), and because of this we're able to have her friends over with some regularity. Yesterday, the weather was nice for the first itme in a while, and we stayed at the playground after school until dinner time! I had packed snacks enough to share, and many of us sat on a bench talking while our children played. One family stayed as late as we did, and we ended up getting dinner at Sunfish (fish and chips - and man were they good....I usually avoid fried food but this was worth it) with the dads when they got off work.

And THAT is simplicity. A little bag of snacks - string cheese and pistacios and apples - and not much more, and it was SO relaxing. Tessa and her friends ran all over with no toys and not needing any - drawing with sticks in the dirt of the baseball diamond, doing the monkey bars over and over (sideways this time! now skip bars!), chasing one another, building things out of twigs and sticks.....essentially, a whole lot'a nothing.

I think that the world needs more nothing, and that is what I'm working on. I don't want to give up on the big stuff - oh no, I certainly don't - but I want more of just the simple stuff. Not email and voicemail and trying to connect with everyone, just playing on the playground with whomever is around and loving every minute of it.

I said "no" to a couple of volunteer things recently. I did NOT sign Tessa up for running club. I have unloaded more armloads of stuff from my closet to get rid of it.

I am seeking out the simple. I think that I am finding, in my own way, that the simple is what makes me the very happiest, and that is the most complex thing of all. Being simple is not at all simplistic, either, and takes great creativity and thoughtfulness and perseverence. Some of being simple will even change the world: simply standing up for what is right, without a fuss; or making simple, unprocessed food; or writing a simple letter; or saying a simple prayer; or simply marching for peace or love; or simply picking up a little litter.

Tessa is six. I want to teach her these great, simple joys. In uncertain economic times, we never know what is next, and I certainly know that life is short. I want to teach her simplicity....or perhaps I want to teach her not to lose what she already knows. Perhaps I can learn from her.

Back to the book - no time to proofread this. Here's hoping that I can keep my writing simple and straightforward, because there is great beauty in simplicity!

1 comment:

Health/Life Balance said...

How synchronous - I was writing about clutter today. :)

For me, clutter has a lot to do with simplicity, but not for the aspect of simplifying my belongings by getting rid of clutter. I'm learning that clutter is a way surrounding myself with layers (like armor, and like my excess weight) that protect me. It makes me very vulnerable to get rid of clutter - I noticed (with fascination) as I was cleaning yesterday that I was getting increasingly crabby.

To shed that armor, that clutter, means I need to be more in touch with who I am and what it is that fulfills me. I'm still searching for that. Yes, the clutter also brings chaos, which makes me waste time, which makes things less simple. But that's not my primary goal in focusing on that.

I love the idea of simplicity and think the core of it (for me) is to find out what is really important to me. What things and activities speak to me. Do I love an item? Do I love an activity? Does it have purpose for me? What is really important in the grand scheme of things?

I love listening to the things you have to say, and that they make me think as well.