Monday, February 16, 2015

Zen and the Art of Packing Up Every Piece of Crap You Own: Part Three- The Seven Deadly Sins of Stuff

I guess I finally reached that critical mass.

In the mad fury to get everything together, my packing method soon resorted to "dump and sort later." I kind of think that's the way Congress operates: everything starts out with good intentions, we really will get a lot done this year... then near the end---- just dump everything and say you'll deal with it later.

I guess I finally reached the point where I had just had it with boxes. Some of the boxes I had barely gone through, but I just threw them away. I've got far too much stuff.

Here is what I see as the Seven Deadly Sins of Stuff---and hopefully I'll be set free from them this year.

 These are things moving has taught me that I need to let go of... both physically and metaphorically

1 -- Greed: Do I really NEED all that stuff. And why, oh why did I go to a consignment shop the other day looking for MORE stuff? Seriously.

2-- Sloth: Time to finally get cracking and get this stuff organized. Oh hey, what's happening on Facebook...

3-- Pride: Do we have stuff so that other people will see our stuff? I confess, I had a moment of "do I really want people to see this old couch? I need a new one" instead of--- this is the best couch ever. As long as it stays reasonably clean, don't ditch it!

4--Envy: I have a friend whose house is always in perfect order. Perfect. I have no idea how she does it. I want people to see me as this organized person. But to be honest, I'm kind of a mess.

5--Wrath: I usually get kind of pissed off at myself for "how did you let the place get to be this cluttered?" And then sometimes I throw things. Not usually. But sometimes. Esp. when the internet is out.

6--Gluttony: I guess any type of over indulgence can be seen as gluttony. I'm tired of the stuff. I'm tired of apartments looking like an all you can eat buffet of stuff.

7-- Lust: Okay, I can't make this one work. I have a picture of Johnny Depp on my desk. Can that count for something?

Anyone else had experience with these seven deadly sins of stuff? I never realized how much they were around me until I tried to move everything.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Over 40 and Single on Valentine's Day....No problem

I always feel I have to write some kind of post about my singleness on the day reserved for lovers. Or I feel the need to launch I to a tirade about men and what ( fill in your choice of insult here) they are. or maybe just make snarky comments about the greeting card industry, the floral industry , and how it is all a big conspiracy to get us to spend money.

But I won't. 

See, despite the fact that I haven't had a decent date since the Clinton administration, I still like valentines day. I am not sure when this took hold.  Decided instead of thinking of all the disastrous. Valentines days I had ( one boyfriend's "present " to me was a message on my answering machine of him imitating ALF and wishing me a happy Valentines day. I was not impressed.)

Instead Im thinking of those days when you bought the 36 pack of car to give to everyone in the class, and everyone got one---- even the kid who smelled funny and the guy who had boogers. that one day, we were reminded that we were Valentines before it got to be such a loaded word,  There was fun and, at the time I grew up, an innocence about it,

I like to think of Valentines day like that,  The point is to show as many people as possible that they are special. doesn't matter if they are friends or strangers.

so, this Valentines day, I will happily meet up with my writing group, spend some to eat a coffee shops working on my final book in a you g adult series... And I will return home to clean house for my parents upcoming visit. 

that is a good Valentines Day. why? Because I am loved, I have a home and a job.  I have a family and friends. I have a Messiah.  

love---- not the steamy, kind--- is around us everywhere, in simple things and unexpected places. I am going to look for it on Saturday. I will report what I find.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Moving Tips No One Ever Tells You About: Zen and the Art of Packing Up Every Piece of Crap You Own-- Part Two

"Now, pay close attention," My dad said, as if about to impart some long-awaited secret. "Be sure to write on the outside of the box what you put inside."

Um.. well, of course, I thought. Didn't he have any confidence in me? That should be obvious. And it is. But I've discovered something:

No matter how clearly you label the box, what is on the outside is no where near what is on the inside.

Packing up all the crap I own made me realize some tips that movers never tell you---or at least, tips I had never considered before.

1. Do you really need all that crap?

I've become convinced that I have much more than any single person should have. It's an embarrassment of riches, a wonderful blessing that I am both thankful for and mortified by when there are so many people in the world who have so little. Each time I move, I debate just getting rid of everything, and starting anew. I could sleep on an air mattress while I save money adding piece by piece to my home. And I almost do it.

Then I remember the sentimental pieces I have: my grandmother's rocking chair, the first bedroom suite my parents bought, the tin knight in armor a friend gave me for my 30th birthday... and I start packing again.

Keep what you want, but be sure you keep what you love. Clutter hinders creativity.

2. Whatever you put on the outside of the box will never be what's inside the box.

Because at the end you play, "hey, I have some space in this box, let's throw in hangers, washcloths, cat toys, bedroom slippers, knickknacks and basically anything that can fit in this narrow space. Then I open it up and it's like a buffet of madness.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help

I like to fancy myself an independent person. Asking for help was a big deal to me, and I'm thankful for R who helped me haul some things away and E and C who gave me boxes, and some extra help.  C is even keeping one of my sentimental items that almost got lost in the shuffle.  But I should have asked for more help, because----

4. You will be (fill in the blank) sick, lost, on deadline, with sick kids, out of town, car broken, etc. the days leading up to or the day of the move.

I tend to be a pack rat, and I'm thankful that I had at least started to get rid of some clutter, but the week before I had bronchitis and a sinus infection (though thankfully escaped the flu this year)--and of course, that has a domino effect because I couldn't get work stuff done because I was sick, yada, yada, yada.

Just plan for Murphy's law.

5. Be afraid to ask for help.

This may seem to contradict what is before, but hear me out. Asking someone to help you move is not like asking them for a ride to the airport. In fact, other than asking a friend for a body organ or carrying a baby for someone, there's very little that can be more miserable than moving.

My point is--- your friends aren't moving professionals, and you shouldn't expect them to be. Likewise, be aware that, if they fall and get hurt, they won't get workman's comp.

6. Be aware of what places will and will not move.
My movers wouldn't move anything flammable. No problem, I thought.
But then I realized, that includes hairspray. Nailpolish remover.

They wouldn't move any toxic substances. No problem I thought.
Then I realized, that includes household cleaners. (and in some cases, my cook books)

So what may not be obvious to you at first should be evaluated.  (Imho, if you can at all afford it, hire someone to move you. It's like ripping off a Band-aid. Do it quickly.)

7. Your new home will be chaos for a while. Just accept it.

Everything will not be organized. Don't expect it to be. Take it one day at a time.

8. Put all your boxes in one room.

If you have a guest room, or office, or room that you will not be using on a daily basis, put as many boxes as possible in there. That way, you can gradually remove one box at a time while you live your life, and you're only walking through boxes in one room of the house.

9. Your cat will view this as both the ninth circle of hell and the best playground ever.
At the same time.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Zen and the Art of Packing Every Piece of Crap You Own ( part one)

Waiting sucks.
As much as I tell myself it is a spiritual exercise-- and I honestly believe that it is-- that doesn't make it any easier. 
I have returned to this blog after a long hiatus.  I was working through some personal issues and realized, that the more time I spent on this blog, the less time I spent on my novel writing,
I was waiting, my life was stuck in second gear, I tried to make changes, but circumstances never lined up. But now, thank God, things are moving now, and I am convinced it had unfolded in God's timing. 
In short, I am in a new city. 
At 43.
starting over.
and I couldn't be happier.
 I am now in beautiful Wilmington, Nc, on the coast. Being from the mountains, I love the novelty of being able to go to the beach every weekend, 
Packing up all my things has made me realize how I need to take stock... What to take and what to leave behind, not just stuff, but thoughts, ideas, misconceptions. I need to embrace truth and become introspective. Letting the things a out myself that I don't like of that are unhealthy peel away and dissolve behind me.

I have learned that moving and packing is a metaphor for pretty much anything you want it to be a metaphor for... 

I started my packing organized, I was not going to carry any unnecessary thing with me, I was going to pack like a squirrel on Adderall,  I was going to have a completely clean slate. 
then I got bronchitis, And a sinus infection. 
That  organization soon turned into "dump everything into a box and go." After the movers had taken the big stuff, I had to stay behind for another week...  Had missed too much of my work while I was sick, and the leisurely two week notice I was working of ended up being one week of sick leave and nine days of cramming everything possible Into the other,  I left stuff at my apartment I thought I would need. I slept on the floor on a yoga mat with the bare essentials. I loved it. Although my back ached, it reminded me of a Maya Angelou quote I have hanging in my apartment: " We need much less than we think we need."

And I found out how much less when I tried to cram everything I into my small Toyota and join the rest of my belongings on the coast. there was on,u enough room for me to safely see out the windows and for me to sit down.  I felt like I was strapped into Apollo 11, surrounded by things but having very little legroom, 
Time to blast off.
Time to rediscover myself.
time to find a new shore and a new world.
time for a new adventure..

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Little Things that Actually Aren't so Little

Many people I know have been practicing days of Thanksgiving by listing the things they are thankful for—I have enjoyed seeing these proclamations on Facebook and other social network sites. It’s a great reminder that, despite all our complaints about the (Insert whatever is frustrating you here) we have a pretty cushy existence compared to most places in the world.

But today, I thought I’d try something different. I’m thankful for the BIG things, of course! The things we all realize: family, freedom, food, health, faith (for me, this means Christ as my Savior) and so on…I think we all are. There is a book that says, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

I disagree. I say the big stuff is made up of small stuff…and I wanted to try something different this Thanksgiving. I am definitely thankful for the BIG stuff (but you all knew that already) so I’m going to mention some of the small stuff. The tiny, everyday blessings that really aren’t so tiny. Things I don’t even think about that, well, maybe I should think about.

So here are ten “minor “things (that really aren’t that minor) I’m thankful for:

1. Going to the bathroom.

I know, that sounds silly, but until you have a friend on dialysis, or a relative with a blocked colon, you realize this is one of those things that happens every day that you never think about until something goes wrong.

2. Pajama days

I maintain that having a day to spend in your pajamas is one of the great simple pleasures of life. We don’t think about it because 1—we take for granted that we HAVE pajamas, 2—we take for granted that we can (generally) afford to have at least one morning a week in relative safety where we can do that.

3. A church on every corner.

A friend of mine from up North laughed at all the hundreds and hundreds of churches in Rocky Mount—especially the “storefront” ones with names like “Temple of the Power House of Christ’s Holy Spirit.” Now, I can’t speak for what all these folks believe theologically, nor can I speak for any of the storefront worship centers of other faiths, but while he found all this variety laughable, I thought it was fascinating. We forget in many countries, not only is there no religious freedom, but differences/ dissention within denominations is met with much more than some bad press and heated exchanges at annual conferences. And to display your affiliation in bold letters in the front window? Not possible in some areas.

4. My big-butt can o’ change.

Which in itself is more money than most people have in some countries. Maybe I need to give that change to a charity.

5. Spiders

Until you are surrounded by the Eastern North Carolina Mosquitoes of Summer (that always deserved to be capitalized) you really appreciate any critter who makes mosquitoes a part of its everyday diet. Heck, I’ll even throw bats and frogs in there as well.

6. Breathing

Two of my closest friends have cystic fibrosis, a horrible disease that, until I met K and T, I knew very little about. One of my friends said it was like trying to breathe through a straw in a room full of cotton. Many with CF have to have lung transplants, and because that is still a relatively uncommon procedure (as compared to kidney or liver transplants), the NIH doesn’t dedicate as much money (or maybe any) to lung transplant research. If you are looking for a worthy charity this year, I suggest

7. Better living through chemistry

All Prozac jokes aside, I take it for granted that when I have a massive headache, I can have an Advil, or if I have a cold, I can take some vitamin C. Even herbal remedies are available (or easily shipped ) . Even as recently as the 60s, treatment options for several conditions were limited, and it’s only been in the past 20 years that we’ve really gotten a grip on what is going on in relation to how the brain works, and thus giving new insight into brain injury, brain tumors, autism, mental health and a host of other conditions. Check it out at

8. That God cares about the little things.

Seriously, the fact that God is even aware that I am doing this silly little list astounds and humbles me.

9. Milk coming out my nose

Remember in fourth grade when you laughed so hard at lunchtime that milk came out your nose? I mean, it hurt like blue blazes, but it touched upon what I think is one of the greatest gifts God gives us that we fail to recognize: laughter. And not just laughter, but unrestrained, guffawing until you start crying, laughing until you throw up type of mirth.

If you have not laughed this hard in a while, then by all means, let this thanksgiving be the time to do so. (well, maybe not the throwing up part)

I’ve been blessed that I have a family with an exceptional sense of humor. Case in point, I once left a voice mail message for my mom, and , out of force of habit from leaving messages from work all day, I told her this message was from Dawn Wilson. Her response?

“Thank God you specified Dawn Wilson, because I would have confused you with all the other daughters I have named Dawn.” Touche.

I have no brothers, but we used to joke about an imaginary brother named Wilson. Then we wait to see if anyone picks up that his name would be Wilson Wilson.

And while this may not get in the “milk coming out the nose category”—here’s my favorite LOL cat vs. a printer. Wait for it. It’s worth it.

10. The flip switch

I know a few physicians who dedicate their time to treating patients in third world countries, and mention that they have to carefully schedule surgeries for “the three hours that the hospital has power.”

I turn on the light switch, I turn my key in the ignition, I boot up my PC, I Netflix the latest Dr. Who episode, I dial from my cell phone and ---unless something has gone wrong—I have a reasonable expectation that something is going to happen 98 percent of the time. This predictability often causes me to take things like this for granted. So that concludes my list of little things that aren’t so little.

Anyone want to share any of yours? Pleace them in the comments below.

I’d like to close with this prayer of general Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Summer of GATSBY-- No. 8 ---The best Great Gatsby Book Covers from Complex Art and Design

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:

Reminder: Prize drawing is June 30!!!! for Gatsby-inspired homemade bookmarks. Check the link above for details.

The Best Great Gatsby Book Covers

I'll confess, I'm not one who was overtaken by the complexity, blah, blah, blah of the iconic blue Great Gatsby cover (I'll bet dollars to donuts that's the cover of the one you read in high school.) But maybe it was because it took me a while to see the face in it. Still even longer to see the reclining nudes in the pupils (I'll also bet dollars to donuts the Buncombe County School Board didn't know those were there).

But I came across this article. My vote for the top covers? Well, my faves didn't make the list. (Though I do like numbers 11 and 12--but only because you can't see Gatsby's face. Let the reader fill in with their imaginations.)
Look at the faves for Complex Art and Design and my faves found on the net.

My three faves:

(as you can see, I come from the school of thought that less is more. Note how the black and white make the green really pop.)

From hfour. We don't talk a lot about
the car, and I don't think that there's
really even a good description of the car
in the book. But I love this. Understated.
Also remember: this is the last thing
Myrtle sees....
From Not a
typo, that's the name. Why?
Understated. Classic. Emphasizes
the green.
From Neil commonplace book
I like this one, too. Esp. the title
type face. I can still see
Robert Redford in that, though.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

SUMMER of Gatsby-- No. 7 -- The Great Gatsby video game: We may never leave the house again.

Welcome old sport!

Welcome to all things Great Gatsby: chances to explore, chances to learn, and chances to win.

What's all this about? Read the intro to Summer of Gatsby here...

Whether you've read TGG in high school and are revisiting it or rediscovering it for the first time, enjoy our discussion. And warning--HEREIN BE SPOILERS!

And check my last post for a chance to WIN free Gatsby-inspired bookmarks.

So pull up a chair, and get a glass of bootleg hooch (we're still mixing some in the bathtub) and we'll get going:

Retro 80s style Great Gatsby Video Game

Sure, there are ones with more sophisticated graphics, more detailed storylines, but do they feature Nick Carraway with ninja moves busting flappers and drunks with his cap? 

I bleepin' love this video game....
Here's a link to the game