The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

A Thought For The Weekend

pleas

 

All too often we feel guilty for relaxing and taking pleasure in doing nothing.  If you have read Eat, Pray, Love you are familiar with the Italian phrase “Dolce far niente” which translates to “The sweetness of doing nothing.”  This weekend I will be “puddling” around my house.  It’s supposed to warm up here, but I really just want to make soup and read and catch up on some sleep and if the mood strikes I might take a walk, but I very much like the idea of not having an agenda or a plan.  No doubt I’ll attempt to bust a challenge or two, but my time will not be measured or scripted. I don’t have to be anywhere by a specific time, I don’t have to work anyone else’s schedule into mine, I’m just going to “be” and see how tomorrow unfolds.  It’s not about being antisocial, I may very well go out at some point tomorrow, but I’m going to move at my pace, for my pleasure and if I spend the day curled up in my favourite chair with a blanket and some chai then that is the way the day was meant to be.  I am not going to dwell on the things I could’ve or would’ve or should’ve done.  I’m just going to be.

For those of us with a lot of commitments and responsibilities this can be near impossible, but if you get the opportunity I encourage you to revel in doing nothing for a bit.

– the Goddess

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I Only Have So Many Spoons

When I first heard this expression I was confused, but then it was explained to me and  I immediately understood.  For those of us who lean more towards  the introverted end of the spectrum, going out, being social, and being around other people can be taxing.  It’s not unpleasant or  painful, but while many people are energized by being social, and going to parties and just being out and about I can actually feel my batteries draining.  I’ve had nights where I’ll go out with friends and at the end of the evening they are considering checking out an after party and I am desperate for solitude and calm.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy social gatherings and on occasion I have experienced the desire to have an evening continue into the wee hours if the company and the conversation are engaging, but I do require more solitude than some.  Last night I worked late and then I did some late night Christmas shopping and I was about to head to midnight madness at IKEA when I realized I had run out of spoons.  I have a finite amount of social energy and when it is tapped out I have to recharge. I’ve had two weeks of holiday parties, work events, and evenings out and other than the pretty violent food poisoning I experienced earlier this week I’ve enjoyed myself and enjoyed catching up with friends, but last night I hit a wall.  I was pushing a cart through Walmart and found myself seriously considering yelling at people to get out of my way or to wake the freak up as they meandered around the store aimlessly pushing their carts in one direction while looking in another.  Thankfully I recognized that it wasn’t them, it was me who was having an issue. I may never understand why people wander around Walmart if they apparently don’t need anything, but it’s inappropriate for me to berate them for this behaviour so I wheeled my purchases to the check out.  IKEA was next on my list and I was seconds away when I had to admit that if I actually parked and went in I was going to be so overwhelmed that there might be tears.

The majority of people are extroverts, they thrive in social gatherings and feed off the energy of others in a good way.  Years ago I was travelling with a friend and we were talking about what we would do on a particular day and after each thing we discussed doing she would say “and then what are we going to do?”.  I honestly thought she was joking, but I soon realized that she craved being social and meeting new people and bumbling about the city and to her my need to be alone and quiet for stretches of time was simply alien.  When I relaxed a bit and opted to “go with the flow” and let her plan more of our activities I did have fun, but when we got to our hotel each night I was exhausted and went right to sleep and left her to watch tv or wander around the hotel and I would wake up very early and try to snag some quiet time before she flipped on the tv and started the day.

With the holidays it can be almost impossible to hold out some personal time and I find it difficult when people simply don’t understand that my need to be alone is not a personal slight to them, but rather a basic need for me like sleeping or eating. I try to be good about it, and I try to recognize that just as their need to be more social is foreign to me , my need for quiet is foreign to them, but sometimes I have to be clear that I am not attending an event because I just can’t.  Oftentimes  I “polite” myself into doing things because it’s the right thing to do and they attended my party so I should go to theirs or I had to cancel on them last time so even though a week is crazy busy I will try to slot in one more dinner or outing, but I’m recognizing more and more that I need to take better care of myself and mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact mental health may impinge on my physical health, by increasing stress, affecting blood pressure or causing me to eat more in an attempt to self soothe.

If you are like me I encourage you to find the right balance of social and personal time and to not feel bullied or overwhelmed by those who simply don’t get that you’re different.  For the rest I hope that if you can’t understand us that you can at least respect our needs and recognize that we do want to see you and have fun with you, it just might need to be delayed so we can gather up our spoons.

– the Goddess

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Shhhh, I’m Meditating

Challenge 25 is create a meditation space.  And here it is!

Chair Orange

Ok that’s my big comfy chair in my living room and all I really did was move some clutter away from it and kick the cat out of it, but it is now my Meditation Space.  I looked all around my house for a place I could put some cushions, I debated removing all the furniture, including the bed from the guest room and making a meditation room, I even considered setting up a spot in my garden, but I realized that none of these were going to entice me to meditate as they were either too far removed from my daily life or they just weren’t going to be that comfortable.  So the big comfy chair it is.

I bought this chair when I started my Master’s program and I decided that for once in my life I would have a place that was mine and fit me perfectly and would be a great place to read for school.  It turned out it was a superb spot for napping, but I also didn’t know I had a sleep disorder which explains a lot.  When I bought the chair I was living with my father and I cleared with him that he would be home when it was delivered.  I got a panicked phone call on delivery day because the chair dwarfed our couch.  For the record the chair is big, but the couch was really a love seat.

Eventually I think I will buy an ottoman for maximum meditation comfort so I can focus on my breathing and not how much comfier I would be if my feet were up, but this is minor and not in the budget right now.  For now I’m going to work on incorporating meditation into my week, possibly into every day and having a comfy spot to practice is the first step.

– the Goddess

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Four Sleeping Bags

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” 

Wendell Berry

Today I worked on my house.  I usually have somewhere to go, some place to be on the weekend, but today I made no plans so that I could work around the house.  I’ve been trying to get organized for a while, but most days it seems like such a Herculean task that I become defeated before I begin and I wander off in search of something, frankly anything, to distract me.  I’ve dabbled as a professional organizer and so I know that it’s not about the stuff, but rather the sentiment, the feelings tied to the stuff that makes it so difficult to toss things out.  When I’m helping people sort through their own things I can see that it’s irrational, I can see that they need to let go and I can talk them through the process and remind them that the chachkies that they hold so dear are just things and while they might have been gifts from someone special they are not that person and one doesn’t need to keep every single trinket that a loved one once bestowed upon them.  I can help people work through the sense of loss and I can explain to them that they will feel better not only emotionally, but also physically, if they reduce the amount of clutter and confusion in their personal space, but like the cobbler’s daughter who has no shoes, when it comes to my own home and my own treasures I find it near impossible to let things go.

I have a small clay sculpture of a fisherman in my curio cabinet.  I honestly don’t remember where it came from although my father had it in his living room and he kept trying to give it to me and I kept trying to give it back because I’m not a fan of folk art and I thought it was horrible.  My father said that it was mine, possibly bought years ago when I visited him in Halifax when he worked out there after my parent’s divorce.  My friends call me “The Memory”, but this piece was obviously not significant enough to me to even remember the story behind it, but my father was sure that it was mine or at least bought for me.  It’s chipped and a there is a piece of the base glued back on and the glue has yellowed and stands out against the cream coloured finish of the clay and if I had tossed it out the day before my father died I’d never have thought about it again, but now it sits in my curio cabinet and I can’t bear to part with it because it was my father’s and he wanted me to have it.  Thankfully it’s relatively small and I can put it in the cabinet and not think about it too hard, but I do struggle with the fact that I can’t bear to part with something that I don’t particularly like because of the great sentiment attached.

I have made some progress.  I sorted through my books and I got rid of a lot of them, I clipped the articles I wanted and recycled over a hundred magazines I had squirreled away, I donated garbage bags of clothes and linens, and just today I weeded through my videos and now in the age of Netflix I can part with many of the more popular titles that were taking up room on my shelf with the knowledge that I can access them any time I want.  I’m getting there, and let’s be clear my house was never going to be featured on an episode of Hoarders, but I do have a basement and an “office” that I don’t let strangers see. In my basement I have a lot of craft supplies that I’m working my way through, I have a few things I’m storing for my mom like card tables and chairs, a dinette set and a large dog crate, and I have a ceiling fan, new in the box, that my father had bought and I am keeping it in case it can be used at my next home and none of these are particularly sentimental they are just sort of there, and eventually they will be used or gotten rid of.  But there are four sleeping bags that have moved with me three times without ever being unfurled.  One of them I bought for my back packing trip to Europe, but the other three are part of a set of four that were bought by my parents probably thirty years ago.  I’m not sure where the fourth bag is, possibly my brother has it or it was lost along the way, but I’ve had the other three bags in my possession for twenty odd years.  They are those big, old sleeping bags, with the heavy nylon outer shell and the plaid flannel lining.  They are so warm that they are almost impractical for most camping trips and unlike most of the lightweight, easy to roll and store bags of today they are so thick that when rolled they have the circumference and depth of a stack of three tires from a compact car.  I’ve kept them so long because I have this fantasy that one day I will go camping again.  I will go camping and pee in the woods and I will have the time of my life.  This is what I tell myself every time I see them on the shelves in my basement.  But it’s a lie.  I hate camping. I hate peeing in the woods. I hate mosquitoes and I’m terrified to carry things in my car that require fuel like camping stoves and lanterns.  I like running water, air conditioning in the summer and most of all I can’t breathe properly at night without electricity so even without all of my other misgivings about camping, it’s  not something I can do.

The sleeping bags were bought by my parents.  They were bought when my parents still functioned as a unit.  There were four of us and four sleeping bags and we went camping a few times at Bass Lake Campground.  I remember my mother and I sleeping in our van which had a bench seat that made into a bed of sorts. I remember my father pumping the green Coleman stove and making us breakfast. I remember the ring he made on the top of the blue Coleman lantern when he momentarily forgot about the heat it generated, and he sat a foam coffee cup on it.  I remember swimming in Bass Lake, and I remember laughing with my mother when we decided to give ourselves “mud treatments” and smeared ourselves all over with the mud from the bottom of the lake.  When my parents divorced it was a good thing. They were unhappy, my brother and I were unhappy, the unit no longer functioned as it should, and changes had to be made. It wasn’t a happy time, but it was a necessary change that was long coming.  I never really had any illusions that my parents would reconcile.  My parents” relationship was a mystery to me, and by the time I was old enough to understand them as a couple and not just my parents they had grown so far apart that it was hard to imagine that they ever had anything in common, but I know that my parents loved each other with an intensity that most people only dream of. It only occurred to me a few months ago that my attachment to the sleeping bags was sentimental.  It didn’t occur to me that they represented a kinder, gentler time when I was a little kid and my parents were invincible creatures who could perform magic and cure all ills with a campfire and a bag of marshmallows.  I’ve promised the sleeping bags to a friend of mine for her sister’s trailer and if that falls through I will soon pack them up for Goodwill.  I have pictures and stories and fond remembrances of that time and I’m finally ready to free up that shelf space.

– the Goddess

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Out, Damn’d Clutter! Out, I Say!

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  On Saturday I had people over.  My living room, dining room and kitchen looked decent.  My bedroom and basement were suddenly bombarded with “stuff”.

I’m a wee bit of a hoarder.  Not in the hardcore, 20 years of unread newspapers stacked in my living room kind of way, but when I see things on sale that I really like or really want, I stock up.  I don’t even shop that often, but I’m really good at finding sales when I do.  I’ve always been of the more is more sensibility when it comes to things like craft supplies, toiletries, and canned goods, but in the last few years I’ve actually cut back.  You probably wouldn’t notice if you saw my house, but honestly, I’m better than I was.

When my dad died most of his 1400sq ft condo ended up in my 1400sq ft house and I already had my own crap.  I became further buried in treasures that I didn’t really want, but I didn’t have the heart to get rid of including clothing, records, hand tools and literature from his work.  Some days I wonder if I keep it just in case he might need it. . .

Right now my main floor is clear and clean and I feel calm when I walk through.  Then I go to bed and stumble through the laundry baskets, the papers, the books, the exercise equipment and the various bits and bobs that have collected there over the years and I feel defeated.  I have clothes that fit, but I don’t wear, I have books that I want to read, but haven’t, I have my bed and a guest bed, and without exaggeration I have 20 sets of sheets and then there are the towels.  I love buying towels.  Last year I was on a quest to find a giant beach towel that would go around me when I’m at the gym.  I found some nice ones in Florida, so I bought 4 of them.  Then I found some here at Walmart so I bought two more.  I also have pairs of standard bath towels in almost every colour and a few extra to boot.  And I can’t get rid of them – they are “good” towels after all!

I dabble as an organizer and with other people’s stuff I can see the problems, find unique solutions and help them purge the stuff that was weighing them down, but with my own stuff it’s just not that easy.  In the last couple of years I have actually gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  I held a media swap and invited friends to bring CD’s, books and DVD’s to trade and whatever wasn’t taken I donated.  I have taken carloads of stuff to the Goodwill, I have shredded old bills and yet there are days when I just can’t see the difference.

I’m starting to pack my house to move and so whether I like it or not a lot of stuff is on it’s way out and not into my next home.  I really want to live in a minimalist home.  Not in a crazy one pair of pants and a Murphy bed kind of way, but definitely surrounded by less stuff that I have to think about, worry about and maintain.

Clutter causes stress, stress causes weight gain end of discussion. (http://weightloss.about.com/od/eatsmart/a/aa060806a.htm)

– the Goddess

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