Sunday, February 2, 2020

No-Spend February

As I think you know, I have decided to become a minimalist,   But I have realized that - not only does it require a lot of energy to declutter a house you have lived and raised three children in for 32 years -   the actual process requires the spending of a lot of money.

First you need to buy a book on minimalism.  Then you proceed to throw/give/donate away almost everything you have owned or worn for the past 32 years and replace it with minimalist-looking stuff.  Like plants.   Plants comprise the elegant decor in almost every minimalist video and appear to be a must-have in large numbers.  Then, of course, you need the appropriate watering can for said plants.  Then you need to replenish your wardrobe in capsule-like fashion, which means solid-colored clothing from fair trade manufacturers in shades of black, white, and gray.  It’s a good thing that this capsule wardrobe only has about 50 pieces in it because it would be frightfully expensive if not.  Then you need to replace the colorful throw blankets you tossed out from your fair-trade weave basket in your living room with off-white throws only.   And you absolutely need agate bookends and the appropriate books to display between them.  It’s a good thing I happen to love the classics and hardcovers, so I just needed to pick those with the right size, color, and hue.  Except for my W.B. Yeats poetry collection.  It was a softcover and would not do.  I downsized to a small hardcover in black and white.  Fewer poems, but isn’t that what minimalist is all about?   A good thing, too, that my dishes were white and my living room coffee table was shaped like a giant African drum.  Big score there.   And I already employed essential oil diffusers, herbal teas, incense, Himalayan salt lamps, and feng shui elephants in my everyday living.  And, speaking of elephants, I somehow decided that a person like me should then donate more to charity organizations.   You know, the right ones -  so I adopted an orphaned baby elephant.   And then I purchased a keepsake elephant necklace from their website to commemorate the day I adopted Kiombo from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.🐘





The point I am making is that I discovered that I had spent a lot of money on items I was supposed to be detached from.  And I was losing sleep forever planning what I was going to throw out and how I was going to arrange my living space “just so” to prove that I, too, could become clean and minimal.

What WAS I doing?  So I made a pledge to myself that I would have a “No-Spend” February in order to break this cycle of obsessive thought and spending.  

Today is February 2nd and it feels like day 39 of a long and lonesome lent.






Saturday, January 4, 2020

Way Too Late. . .

One of my New Year’s resolutions arrived way too late.

You see, minimalists seem to always use bullet journals (or at least write in journals) and so I pragmatically purchased my very own, and dutifully wrote down my broad objectives for 2020 on New Year’s Day.  One of these seven objectives was written as “Deepen and Expand All Relationships.”   Yes, I was thinking of my husband and children, but I also spent some time thinking about my many friendships:  those I have had since kindergarten, those more newly-made, those I wish to make, and those which I had let go out of negligence.  Sheer negligence.

And then came the terrible news that one of my college housemates had died.  A good, good friend I had somehow lost touch with throughout the years.   A whacky, crazy, fun and joyful presence in my life for so long had disappeared into the maelstrom of raising a family.  And now that beautiful spirit had disappeared from this realm forever; unable to retrieve, undo, circle back upon.

Oh why?

How did I let this happen?  How did WE let this happen?  I worried about attending college reunions - afraid to let others see that I had gained weight and was no longer the attractive young woman of 40 years ago.  I worried about arranging visits at our respective beach houses for the same reason - letting her husband see me in a bathing suit seemed impossible to me.

Oh Ro!

Little did I know that you had divorced, and - from what I learned at your funeral today - had grown into a mature woman exactly like me (minus a few pounds) who loved complementary medicine, spirituality, and interconnectedness.    My God, your funeral was held in the very church - two hours from my home - in which my grandparents were married exactly 99 years ago!  I sat next to a stained glass window dedicated to my great-grandmother!

Yes, we were interconnected and my heart is breaking right now.  

Hold tight to those you love.





Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year's Turn Around: Becoming a Minimalist

I have decided to become a minimalist.

It seems to be the result of a long journey really; a quiet yearning in my soul that was blessed with an "Aha!" moment as I watched a documentary on minimalism. "THIS is what I want!  THIS is what I have been longing for!" I said to myself.  And my "Aha" moment turning into an "Aaaaaaaaaah" moment with a big sigh of relief.

But of course I don't quite know how to do this with four adults currently living under one roof - a roof Drip Dry and I have lived under for over 32 years.  We and our children have acquired a lot of stuff in those 32 years and it all seems to be screaming to be released from overstuffed closets.  The same desire came over me around the same time last year and I quietly trimmed down my wardrobe to an acceptable non-working level.  I weeded out some of my humongous book collection which used to be the pride of my heart.   I threw out some old sheets and towesl and I boxed up some extra vases and endless sets of Waterford salt and pepper shakers.   I even started to rebox my grandmother's china which was sitting in our basement - untouched since we moved into the house all those years ago.  But then I stopped.  Half way through.   Lost my energy.   Got sick.   Really sick.   And never picked it up again.

Until. . .

Until the Christmas season snuck up on me once more and my family wouldn't allow me to leave town for the duration.   Nor would they allow me to stick my head under a pillow and sleep it away.  So I devoted my hate of Christmas over-decorating-over-eating-over-buying-and-over-stuffing to purging the junk from the drawers and closets.  "Aaaaaaaaaaaah!"

And now it's time to experience the cathartic relief from writing once more, but I'm not sure how to go about it.   I purchased a simple little black journal that I envision a minimalist using and I also pulled out this slim little laptop the Drip Dry bought for me last Christmas and has only been used once a month for paying bills.   Both my pen and my keyboard are poised and we shall see which one wins.






Monday, September 2, 2019

Summer: Good Riddance




I haven’t spoken of Exit 25 in quite a while.   The fact is that something has happened to squelch my love of this town and this house.  The further fact is that something happened to squelch my love of summer.

Heat.  And lung disease.   And nausea and stomach issues.  And fatigue.  And sweat.  And anxiety.  And sun sensitivity.

Last summer I was all about tree hugging and forest bathing and swimming pools.  This summer I was instead about pulmonary rehab and toilets.

So here I sit at the “shore” saying good bye to a summer I could just as well lived without.   I walked the half block to the beach and stuck my toes in the sand this morning just to say I did it.   Once.   And now I watch the crowds leave in a mass exodus and think to myself.   “Good Riddance!”





Sunday, April 28, 2019

Identity Theft Strikes Again

Easter Sunday.

A day to bring out new bonnets, handbags, and shoes.   A day to wear dainty pinks, yellows,and  greens.  The day, of all days, to attend church, for though we can no longer boast of a 5th Avenue Easter Parade, attendance at church is the closest thing we humans have to showing off our finery.

Everyone, that is, except me.

Now why I did not choose to stay at home on this particular Sunday is a mystery to me.  I should have stayed cocooned in my bed as I had on many a prior Sunday throughout the past three months.  I was still recovering from those strange anemias after all.  I think, perhaps, that I was thinking of the reason for the season, but that was clearly not enough.   You see, if I were going to church this going needed to be preceded by taking a shower.  And if I needed to spend my allotted three minutes in a tepid shower, this needed to be followed by a minimum of 30 minutes recovering in bed.   As a result, I ran short of preparation time in the clothing department. And no amount of time was going to help me in the mirror department.  I hastily dressed in a black and white outfit that I didn't feel comfortable in, but it was the last one I had tried on when the music stopped playing in the "musical outfits" game.

I had clearly forgotten where I was going to attend church on that fine Easter Sunday.  I had chosen to attend Mass with my husband - not at my own parish church -  but at a local monastery affiliated with an enormously expensive all-boys prep school.  "No one will know me there," I thought. No one will see me with my prednisone chipmunk cheeks, my curly, dried-out hair, and half-closed swollen eyelids.  And while that may be true on any given Sunday, no so on Easter Sunday.  Not so.  For the church was filled with alumni and parents of students of that enormously expensive school:  Men and boys alike in their ubiquitous blue blazers.  Skinny mothers in their Lily Pulitzer and Vineyard Vine clothes.  My own brothers had attended that school when growing up.  So many people I know have children who now attend that school.  Why did I ever think I was going to be anonymous?

But in actuality, I was indeed anonymous.  No one DID know me, but I certainly knew them.  The sad fact is that two separate women who I used to see quite often in my afore-titled role as "Church Lady" looked right at me, did not recognize me, and left me smiling at them like some sort of fool who greets total strangers on Easter Sunday.

Identity theft had stuck again.

Image, then, my utter agony as I glanced at those around me - dolled up and prepped out to the ultimate max as I sat in my black and white polka dots.  Yes, sat;  for I did not possess strength enough to even stand up at the required times.  Oh how I plotted and planned my exit strategy in case I happened to run into another acquaintance on the way out.  I sent my husband for the getaway car and left the building before the first line of "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today" was out of the cantor's mouth.

How far I had come from the true reason for the day. . .





Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What Kind of Idiot?




I just want to tell you that things have not been going as planned lately. It seems that the cosmos has things in store for me that I wouldn't have chosen for myself.

Let me reassure you that I don't have blue hair (currently) but I do have a hair story.  Silly me thought that I could go and pick up my prescriptions before getting my hair colored the other day.  Plus the appointment was at 1:30.  Dicey time for me.  Approaching the daily melt down when I need to be near my bed. I was sitting in the chair, hair full of dye when it descended:  The Walking Dead Wipeout.   I ended up begging the receptionist to go and rip my hairdresser back from her lunch break to wash that wicked stuff out of my hair.  No cut.  No blow-dry. Said yes to the purchase of yet-another no-frizz product.  Like an idiot, I emptied the contents of my wallet, gave it to her, and walked out of that salon.

Idiot.

I have a plant story too.  I have been fascinated with forest bathing and wanted to bring some more plants into my home.   Now plants are about the only thing you can't order online, although I have ordered live bamboo sticks from Amazon.  (And in retrospect I guess I could have called 1-800-FLOWERS and sent a plant to myself.)  But instead I thought, "What kind of idiot can't drive to the adjacent town and go into a green house, pick out a plant and leave?"


What kind of idiot?

 Guess.

I was such a mess in that hot, humid greenhouse I wanted to die. I snatched up a plant so quickly, I don't know its name, whether it needs sun or shade, or how much to water it.  I just know it's green and will exude all sorts of good things into my air.

And I have a tree story too. . .

And a pool story. . .

OH, how is it that I have to readjust my life once again?  Is it truly possible that I can't even do the little things anymore?


Someone bring me back from this!







Friday, July 20, 2018

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind




In contrast to my last post, I've had a glorious few days.  (We won't talk about the absolute misery which descended in between and caused me to swear that I would not make any more social engagements because I would never again gather the strength to leave the house as long as I am lucky enough to live.  I've gotten over that.)

The point is, that I believe I have discovered a few things.

In my book when I speak about Buddhist philosophy, I mention that part of its very core is the acceptance that life is like the wind and can blow us from here to there at any time.

How true.  How true.

In fact, I think I've learned that my life can be directly connected to the weather.  Not quite a tenet of Buddha, but maybe a universal truth for me.  When I first became ill with Sjogren's, one of the most unsettling signs was that my exposed skin would turn bright red within 30 seconds of being in the sun.  Not only that, but exposure to the sun - even when swaddled in SPF clothing - would make me feel ill and more fatigued.  That seems to have changed a bit.   I went swimming yesterday without my long-sleeved bathing shirt and sat in the late afternoon sun for a good 30 minutes without redness or rash.  I'll take it!

On flip side. . .

My body doesn't seem to be able to handle the absolute heat anymore. I was outside in the humidity at a graduation party last weekend and sat - like a fool - with sweat dripping from the rim of my head; using the fancy cocktail napkins to wipe my brow and causing my forehead to turn a bright Penn State blue without my knowledge. (Oh, how I wished that the wind had come along and blown me somewhere else at that moment!) The only way I finally cooled down was in the cold shower after my return home, and  I was completely wiped out for two days following.

And then the wind blew in these last three days of absolutely spectacular weather, accompanied by some other postive happenings in my life.   I began a regimen of prednisone which rids me of my joint and muscle pain; I had the chance to spend time with different friends both in the restorative goodness of  the forest and in a swimming pool; I have prayed alone in the contemplative quiet of an empty gothic church; taken a revitalizing nap with acupuncture needles in my body, and I have switched to a lovely pair of bamboo pajamas. 

Is it any wonder I've decided that life for me is good once again?

The wind, my friends.

The answer to my life just may be blowin' in the wind.