Clutter And Me

It usually begins in a quiet moment with my eyes surveying my castle, and suddenly, like an itch with an overwhelming urge to scratch, I get this strong feeling—I have to clean, get rid of clutter, get rid of stuff NOW!  I usually start slow by subtracting a few things from my mantel, kitchen table or coffee table. This is the warm up part of de-cluttering. I gather steam and move on to the junk door, my clothes closet or my crafting storage. This morning I was compelled to organize my yarn and crochet thread and to store them in the same spot. I have a shitload of yarn! This is very obvious when I can see it all together. I pick up a lot at the thrift store, and just recently I figured out that if I buy a bag I can take out what I want and give the rest of the yarn bag back to the cashier to re-donate. This is a small step for me to cut back on what I bring home. After all who needs 3 balls of yarn the color of vomit green? Apparently I do!

The amount of clothes and the number of shoes I have is embarrassing. So now my thinking is   is, “If I die and my possessions need to be sorted and gotten rid of will my relatives think it is obscene how many shoes or clothes I had. Will they think I may have been a little weird?”. Sure that both of these questions would be answered with a resounding yes, last weekend I set out to purge my closet by 50%. Bags and bags of clothes and boxes of shoes, purses and hangers left my house and were donated to the thrift store. The number of hangers was testimony to my addiction to always having the perfect clothes for every occasion. I don’t have “casket” clothes anymore, but I am going to be cremated so why should I care? 

I survived without going to the thrift store for over a year during the pandemic. I had enough yarn, crochet thread and craft supplies to keep me busy for the entire year. I lived in sweats and comfortable clothes during the pandemic. Just when I was feeling good that I had conquered my need to have more and more, the stores began to open up. Once I set foot in the thrift stores again, I was off and running on my path of consumption. I was disappointed in myself because I thought I was resolved to live simply and frugally. I needed to remember what I had learned during the pandemic, and my mindset needed to be enough is enough —or wait for another pandemic to make up my mind for me.

 So what did I learn during the pandemic? I learned there is a real difference between need and want. I need food, water, shelter and human contact, but I don’t have “to dress the part” even though I want to. I lived fashionably with my “pandemic clothes”, using just one tenth of my usual wardrobe. Walks and long talks with my friends filled my “social calendar” and my heart and soul. All the “stuff” I had couldn’t protect me from a deadly virus or from myself. All the things in my life didn’t stop my worry about those I loved. I was thankful that I was able to crochet my way through Covid because of my yarn stash, but I barely made a dent in my mountain of yarn that was in danger of an avalanche. I’ve decided my clutter is the rubble caused by my life falling apart. The falling apart is what needed to happen for me to create my post pandemic life. A life without excessive consumption and clutter.

Scam Likely

                                      Scam Likely 

My phone gives me a warning “Scam Likely” when an unknown number or a number tagged as a solicitor rings in. When I see this message I end the call. I like this feature because it saves me from aggravating calls I don’t want and protects me from clever scammers that hope I can be duped.  Why don’t we have phone messages that warn us when we are about to say or do something stupid or dangerous like “ Shut up”  or “Get the hell out of here.”? How about being able to scan a person and get a message about their integrity, like “Lie Likely” or “Trustworthy”?  Avoiding negative consequences with the help of a smart phone which is smarter than I am seems pretty cool, but would I listen?

Remember how your parents didn’t know anything? It seems experience may be the best teacher, but we can ignore our parents experiences because we know “ It won’t happen to me.”. If we have learned Option A  brings the same negative result over and over, then it seems logical we would choose a different option next time. Not so fast! We humans are rarely logical.  If our phone tells us to “Shut up.”, but we are sure the world and our spouse needs to hear what we have to say, we may override the phone warning. We could  think “This time it will be different.”, or “I have to prove I am right”. When I remember to ask myself  “Why am I talking?”, I find I have less to say, and fewer words to eat. It sure would be nice to get a text message reminding me to think before I open my mouth.

Intuition or those weird feelings telling us something is wrong are the “text”messages we get from our sub-conscious. Sometimes I talk myself out of seemingly “irrational” feelings because  I don’t trust myself. If I can’t point to an experience that backs up what I am feeling, should I ignore a feeling based on intuition?  When I say I am getting bad or good vibes, this is what I am talking about. What I have learned is that it is better for me to listen to my intuition. The cold, hard facts may not tell the whole story. The truth may lie in the realm of emotions and sensing, more than in the facts. If all the arrows point West, the best decision could be to go East. We’re often told to make a list of the pros and cons when we are making a big decision, but I’ve found for me these lists are less important that asking myself “How do I feel about a choice? Do I feel at peace with this choice?” Even when I know one path may be harder than the other, I may choose the harder path because it feels right. Still it would be nice, if my smart phone could give me GPS directions so I would know I am going in the right direction in my life. But what fun is that, if joy comes from being lost?

The World Is Flat

                                                               Missey’s Poppy 

      June 18, 2021

I’m at the end of the world.”, my Mother says. She is in late stage dementia so can’t explain herself, but she seemed to be saying she was far away, at the edge of the world and didn’t feel connected with others. For centuries, the perception was the world is flat, and defined by boundaries and edges, which when crossed led to oblivion. Literally and figuratively, walking off the edge of the world was considered a real possibility. In the world of dementia, my Mother may understand more than me who stubbornly clings to  “reality”.

What are the ties that bind humans to each other? A person with dementia is untied from their memories.  “I remember” becomes “I don’t remember.” Without memory we can’t recognize others, and I suspect we can’t recognize ourselves.  If we have no history, no “this is how I got here”, how do we know who the hell we are? These thoughts are more than mental gymnastics for me.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about history and “what” history and “whose”history we remember. For example, our history or memory of slavery is vastly different depending on the color of our skin.  If we erase certain historical events aren’t we erasing parts of our nation’s collective memories? Don’t we risk breaking our connections to each other and to ourselves?

We “remember” January 6 differently. To some, it was just a normal day with tourists visiting the Capital, and to others it was an insurrection. We humans are very skilled at seeing what we want to see and disregarding the rest. Denial can erase the truth from our minds, but it doesn’t make it go away. My Mother may not remember that I am her daughter, but I am still her daughter. If we can’t agree on history and even the events of January 6th, what chance do we have of remembering how democracy works?  Maybe the world IS flat….

RSVP: to respond to an invitation, or in French: respondez s’il vous plait.  Everything sounds better in French, doesn’t it? It seems a simple thing, you receive an invitation, a request to be present or participate, are you planning to attend? Please RSVP.  Of course, we humans are not always very good at keeping it simple. Do I want to go to Snarky Susan’s Christmas party? Should I go even if I don’t want to because the party would be good for meeting new business clients? If I don’t want to go what excuse can I give? Or worst of all, I didn’t even get an invitation to the most important party of the year, I can’t RSVP because nobody loves me and I am terminally unpopular.

Johnny, a first grader,  is not asked to RSVP to first grade. He is expected to answer “present” when his name is called. When you have major surgery scheduled, the surgeon does not send an invitation and ask you to RSVP.  You best be present and ready for the surgery. In fact, many medical or dental offices expect you to cancel at least 24 hours before your appointment, or you may end up with a cancellation penalty. If your boss says the meeting is mandatory, he or she is not asking you to RSVP.  Be present or risk being asked to not be present permanently.

The wording on social invitations, like weddings, usually says  “We request the honor of your presence at…. Please RSVP by this date.” So it is the “ honor of your presence” that the RSVP answers. How often do we think our presence is an honor? Or that someone is honoring us by their presence? We are devastated by betrayal from our loved ones, and we say in effect “ … but you RSVP’d and you said you would be present for me and now you are not.” I like the sound of “ the honor of your presence”. How do I show honor to someone? I think it means showing up, and being present for another. As in: “to regard or treat (someone) with respect and admiration, to show admiration for someone or (something) in a public way, or to do what is required by a promise or a contract, or the center point of the upper half of an armorial escutcheon.”  ( Wait!  Scratch that last definition,  because I don’t have a clue what it means.)  So the bride and groom are requesting the honor of our presence so they can honor the presence of each other..  When we are truly present and honoring each other, we have sent a RSVP to accept the invitation to love.

If we are paying attention, life extends many invitations to each of us and we have many opportunities to RSVP, to accept or decline. We can accept the invitations that help us to be our best selves and decline those which encourage us to be less than. Sometimes invitations are sent several times and we may RSVP a different response at different times in our lives. Will you be present and honor your life? Please RSVP.