Posts Tagged "challenge"

Free

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Free

A couple of years ago I looked around my house and didn’t like what I saw. Don’t get me wrong, my house is comfortable, nice even. It’s somewhat color coordinated. It just no longer reflected me.

There was just too much stuff. Too many tchotchkes on the tables. Too many art and office supplies crammed in the drawers and closets. Too many unused kitchen utensils and tools sitting in the pantry and garage. Too many books lining the shelves. I was tired of moving stuff from one location to another. I was tired of dusting and rearranging and rearranging some more. I realized I just wanted less stuff.

I decided the first step was to stop the bleed. If I could eat it, wear it, use it for work, or needed it to replace something that was actually useful, then and only then did I buy it. Otherwise, I left the stuff in the stores for some other shopper. A Kindle for Christmas ended my need to purchase books. Less stuff coming in felt good.

Next, it was time to actually get rid of things.

I’ve never been a pack rat. I’ve had several yard sales over the years. I regularly give away or donate items that have outlived their usefulness. If it’s ripped, torn, or stained to the point of tackiness, it’s gone. If it’s broken beyond repair, it’s in the trash. If I no longer need it and someone else can use it, it’s theirs. You won’t find me on an episode of Hoarders anytime soon.

But with this newfound desire to par down to the bone, to winnow out every item I could winnow out, I had a lot of work to do.

At first it was easy. I hit my closet and pulled out clothes that no longer fit or flattered and items I just no longer wore. I went through the drawers in my kitchen. Did I really need three coffee scoops? No. Did I really need two can openers? No. The leftover glitter and glue, colored papers, and scraps of yarn that my children used to fashion crafts when they were young? Those were out too.

Except for a few photos and doodads that truly meant something to me, the tchotchkes that cluttered my table tops were removed. As each holiday rolled around, I scrutinized the decorations I had purchased over the years and only kept ones that truly delighted me. The next year I got rid of even more.

Then it got more difficult. The children’s artwork, photos from 24 years of marriage, scrapbooks and memorabilia; what do you do with those? Essays saved from high school, old yearbooks, the dollhouse my mother and grandmother painstakingly decorated for me; was I just to toss these out too? For me, these were not easy questions to answer.

I’d like to tell you that my house is perfectly neat, tidy, and organized. I’d like to tell you that there is no clutter, no junk, no unused items, but that would be a lie. What I can tell you is this; it’s a process. The point is to have a space in which my family and I can relax and work. The point is to surround ourselves only with things that we find useful and beautiful and soothing.

I’m getting there. My commitment ebbs and flows and that’s fine. I go for a few weeks just living in my space, just being. This is followed by a couple weeks of tough scrutiny and the release of more things I no longer need. I’m looking for my sweet spot. That place where I have exactly what I need and not one item more.

Yes, I realize the sweet spot is elusive.

But here’s the bottom line. With each item that leaves I feel lighter, more free. As I clear my house of the things I don’t want, I find there is more room for what I do want. And that has been the point all along.

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The Whispers

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The Whispers

One of my greatest strengths is my persistence. I will stick with something long after most people have given up and called it a day. The more dire the situation and the greater the challenge, the more likely you are to see me eyeball deep in it sludging my way through. Because of this, I’ve been able to accomplish things that don’t always seem plausible. I’m a good team member. If you give me a task, you can be sure of two things: it will done and it will be done well.

On the flip side, this persistence sometimes causes me problems. At times I can be like a pit bull that won’t loosen it’s bite even when being bludgeoned. I too often don’t know when to let go. I have sacrificed time and attention to my spouse, my kids, and myself for work both paid and volunteer. I’ve given way too much energy and continued to do things that were no longer beneficial.

Oprah says, “I say the universe speaks to us always first in whispers…If you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped up side the head. You don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick up side your head. If you don’t pay attention to that, the brick wall falls down.”

I will bet you can guess that I kind of suck at hearing the whispers. Seriously, a brick wall falling down on me is just a mere inconvenience. Once I’m on task, it takes something akin to a nuclear holocaust to get me to loosen my grip just enough so that you might, and I do mean might, be able to drag me away.

The Big Guy was somewhat kind to me for a number of years, but after years of whispering in my year and carefully nudging me in the direction I needed to head to no avail, His kind and gentle ways became a thing of the past. With no other option, I’ve been called on the carpet in a series of what any good Southerner would define as “come to Jesus moments” and forced to face the reality of my life.

Maybe I’m not as bright as some people. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m stubborn.The bottom line is that I’ve been put “through it.” Over the past several years, bombs have gone off, walls have fallen, and I’ve had no choice but to deal with the rubble and chaos. I had to loosen my death grip.

I was forced to question every single relationship. I fought for those I love, I changed the dynamics of others, and I let people go. I was forced to look at every single thing I do. I quit a job and a sold a business. I restructured the way I spend my time.

It has been tough. But as I look back over the weeks, months, years, I see a different me. Well, not so much a different me. It’s more like I see the real me. The layers of ick that stuck to me for so long have been forced off and what is left is closer to who I really am. The walls, the armor, the veneer that I had in place has been worn down. I like to think it’s mostly gone, but I know I still have a lot of work to do.

I’m going to hold onto some of that persistence. It will come in handy when I’m facing a deadline or running a race. It’ll be a huge asset when I settle on my mission. I’m just going to be sure that as I trip into my future, I listen. Not to other people and not to that incessant voice in my head, but to the whispers. The quiet place where God speaks to me..

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