“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” ~Stephen Covey
I’ve been the recipient lately of an unusually (for me) large amount of positive feedback, and this has done wonders for my mood and my self-confidence over the last few months. However, this has also provided an opportunity for me to really observe how I react to feedback from other people, and I’ve discovered something very interesting.
Shopping for Christmas presents has become ever more challenging as I have gotten older and an increasing number of people on my gift list already have everything that they really want and need. This tends to make the season more stressful than delightful as I struggle to find gifts that are more than just clutter.
This past week, I found several posts that take a look at ways to simplify and declutter Christmas, and there were a number of great ideas within these posts for gifts that will not add to clutter, as well as suggestions for reducing the clutter of Christmas decorations and for what to do with gifts that we receive that just add to our own clutter.
I tend to be a bit hard on myself. (OK, OK, I tend to be a lot hard on myself, but that’s beside the point for this post.) One of the things that I’ve found myself often criticizing myself for recently is the diversity of creative ideas and projects that I am engaged in.
I write. I make jewelry in an ever-increasing number of styles, techniques, and materials. I crochet several very different kinds of items. I make a number of homemade versions of cleaners and bath and body products. I am re-engaging with woodworking. I’m playing with ideas for re-using and upcycling various materials that would otherwise be waste. I cook in more creative and less recipe-dependent ways all the time. And I’m constantly investigating new possibilities for creative work, like polymer clay, basket weaving, and metal working.
Talk about scattered! How can I ever expect to become any good at any of these if I am dabbling at them all? (At least, that’s what my inner critic keeps saying to me …)
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris
I am nothing if not a practical person. In fact, I’m often practical to a fault. And yes, there is such a thing. As I’ve been working through this process of releasing the weight of excess “stuff,” I’ve been realizing how often I convince myself to purchase or keep things because they are practical, not because I truly love them. These leaves me surrounded by things that leave me vaguely dissatisfied, but that function just well enough that I can’t justify replacing them.
I allow my “practicality” to squash my love for beauty in all its various forms time and again. The irony is that my “practicality” usually comes into play by urging me to select an option that is less expensive than the one I truly love, but because I’m never quite happy with the result, it usually winds up costing me more in the long run than if I had selected what I truly wanted.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann
I have found myself reflecting more and more about how much excess weight I carry through life. It’s not body fat that’s troubling me (although I do have some of that I could afford to lose too); it’s the weight of too much “stuff” that has increasingly come to feel like a burden. It’s not just a physical burden of things that I have to make space for and take care of, it’s also a mental and emotional weight from the clutter and the responsibility for it all.
I’m running my link love post a little early this week to collect resources for helping out the Hurricane Sandy victims. While many of the resources I found and have listed below focus heavily on the U.S. east coast, please don’t forget that Sandy also did a great deal of damage in the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti where many still had not recovered from the earthquake in 2010.
The resources I list here are by no means comprehensive. Many religious organizations (like Christian denominations) have their own relief funds that could also benefit from additional donations at this time and may be a great choice for people who belong to those organizations, although those are not mentioned in the lists that I found.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” ~Helen Keller
I have koi ponds in my back yard that I inherited from the former owner. This past weekend brought our first freezing weather, so I had to take the first step of starting to prepare the ponds for winter weather by bringing the tropical plants that normally live in the pond inside to live in big plastic tubs of water for the winter. As part of this process of transferring the plants indoors, I drag them out of the water to let them drain, cut them back, trim away the excess roots extending out the sides of the pots, and clean out dead leaves, algae, and other debris from the surface of the pots.
As I was doing this for one of the biggest of the plants, I discovered an area on the surface of the pea gravel in the pot that was shiny. A little investigation revealed that this was a small frog that had taken refuge in the dead leaves that had collected at the base of the plant stalks.