When we got home from a baseball game around 11:00 last night, I got out of the car and looked up.
It was so clear and peaceful at that time of night. I tried to pick out a couple of constellations, but mostly I just marveled at the beauty.
"You don't get this in the big city," I remarked to my husband.
While we lack a lot of the conveniences of living in a bigger city, there's something to be said for the enjoyment of the simple pleasures.
I felt the same way when I got up this morning. I grabbed my journal, kindle, cup of coffee and headed out to the porch. My dog Lady joined me, and we just hung out.
We live across the street from the high school football field and music bellowed from the press box as female athletes walked over from their lifting workout to do their cardio.
Again, it was peaceful to sit outside and not have to do or be anywhere in particular. People drove by. Some waved while others focused on heading to work.
I appreciate living in a town where even if people don't know each other, they still give a friendly wave. It's like saying, "I see you as an amazing person and I hope you have a wonderful day."
At least that's what runs through my head briefly when I wave.
Going for a walk was next on my agenda. I always listen to a podcast when I'm walking, and today I chose Jeff Sanders' 5AM Miracle. It was all about procrastination, which I appreciated because I do that A LOT.
During my walk, I also went by the football practice field, and the high school team was having camp. As I listened to the head coach, I was reminded how much I have always appreciated his attention to detail, his calm demeanor, and his motivating words. He's the type of person you know who is not only shaping football players but also young men.
As my walk came near its end, I decided to do a walking meditation for the last 10 minutes. If you've never done something like that, I highly recommend it. I don't think I can adequately describe the sense of calm that comes from the beauty around you as you empty your thoughts.
And now here I am, sitting down to put my thoughts into some semblance to convey that life is precious and full of beautiful moments. We don't always have to be on the go. We don't always need to be checking off items on the to-do list. Sometimes we need to just be.
There are some people who say that you can't go home again, and there are others who say you can. I'm in the latter camp.
I love it when I can make a visit to my hometown. Sure, I haven't lived there in 16 years, and I don't know nearly as many people anymore, but I still like going home. In fact, I've often told my husband that if we ever had an opportunity to move back, I would do it in a heartbeat. That's how much I love where I grew up.
Today I got to go to the cousins' lunch.
What is this? I'm so glad you asked!
My mom, her siblings, and area cousins get together on the third Tuesday of each month for lunch. They eat somewhere within an hour of everyone so no one has to drive very far. As an educator, I don't often get to attend the monthly lunch due to the school year, but I do get to go a couple of times during the summer. So, I was thrilled when I found out that we would be dining in my hometown of Nebraska City this time.
We ate lunch at Table Creek which is a restaurant that is on one of the golf courses. We had a table of 13 of us. I liked the fact that my nephew, his girlfriend, and their one-year-old son (my great nephew) joined us. So, in my family we had four generations in attendance. I also got to visit with a couple of my aunts and uncles. I just think it's cool how they get together every month, and whoever can make it comes. Then before they leave they decide where they are going to eat the next month.
One of my aunts had pictures of my great aunt and great uncle, and great grandma. They sure brought back memories. When I was growing up, we would visit my great grandma on Thursday nights and she always had food out for us to eat. Even though we already had supper, she would insist that we have something to eat. We're talking makings for sandwiches, plenty of Cheetos and chips, and assorted sweets.
These monthly lunches are a beloved family tradition. Every once in awhile one of us from my generation is able to join in, and I'm hoping when we all retire that we will continue what has been started.
After we all went our separate ways, I drove around town to look at familiar businesses still in operation, places that had been revived from the rubble, and new commerce. As I left I made one more stop on my way home, Union Orchard. It's the only locally owned orchard left and so I always stop there to pick up preserves and, of course, apple cider donuts. I can't come home without splurging on this guilty pleasure!
There's so much to love about being able to go home again. There is certainly the nostalgia, but it's amazing to see the progress and changes as well. For me, Nebraska City will always be home.
I'm in the process of reading Joshua Becker's book The More of Less, and I get more and more excited about implementing some of his ideas.
Becker's journey into minimalism began on Memorial Day 2009, when he was cleaning the garage while his then five-year-old son was waiting to play with him. As the day continued and he wasn't even close to being done, he kept watching his son playing in the backyard by himself. Becker repeatedly told his son that he would be able to play with him soon, and yet his cleaning task seemed to be growing bigger.
One of Becker's neighbors, an older woman, spotted him as she was outside tending her flowers. She commented to him that her daughter once told her that she didn't need all her stuff. She went on to tell him that her daughter was a minimalist. Becker became curious and his family's journey into minimalism began.
There is so much that I'm learning from Becker's book, and I'm really hooked right now into the chapter on living an intentional life. Even though I'm still a newbie in the process of minimalism (it is forever a process, mind you, as is everything in life), this one is resonating with me. There are three areas where Becker is challenging me: donate stuff, donate money, and donate time.
First, donate stuff. Every month or so, I go through the clothes in my closet and dresser to see what I don't wear that I can donate. I also do the same thing with common areas in the house and the kitchen. If we aren't using it, someone else should get use out of it.
I've also stopped saying to myself, "I should keep this just in case." If I haven't used it, then it's ridiculous for me to keep it for someday, especially when someone else could use it NOW.
Second, donate money. I was shocked when Becker said that in the United States, we donate maybe 2-3% of what we make. Then I did the math and realized that I donate 2.5%. Yikes! That was humbling to discover.
I have some debt that I need to pay off, and so I'm not going to beat myself up over what I'm donating at this point in my life. However, I'm going to continue to donate to causes I'm passionate about that I have researched and I trust that the money is going to who it is intended to assist. Before donating, make sure that a bulk of your donation isn't going toward someone's salary or administrative costs.
Third, donate time. This is the one that I don't do on a consistent basis. It's really hit and miss for me. I have often thought about volunteering at an assisted living center in a bigger community that is within 10 minutes of where I live. I'm not sure what has stopped me in the past. Maybe I don't think I have the time they might require. That's just me limiting myself.
My goal in the next week is to go to the center and complete a volunteer application. Sometimes we need a kick in the butt to get going in the direction we know we want to head. Or, in this case, putting it in writing for others to see.
Whatever the case may be, all of us have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others, even one person. As Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
It's time to let go and give.
I have too much stuff.
I took 20 minutes this afternoon to go through my clothes, books, and kitchen to see what I could get rid of, and this is what I collected:
*1 bag of clothes and two pairs of shoes
*3 serving bowls
Every 30 days I go through my clothes to see what else I can donate. If I haven't worn it, then it goes. I skip clothes I wear for the school year and concentrate on only summer items. If I haven't worn them by now, then I'm not going to.
I am down to a relatively small number of books on one portable bookshelf. I still have some counseling books that I used for my grad classes though. I'm only holding on to them so I can see if they are worth anything on Amazon. I definitely need to get that done so I can get rid of them one way or another. All they are doing now is collecting dust.
With books, I figure if I haven't read them yet, I'm not going to. The ones I have kept are the ones I will more than likely read again or loan out. I also have some reading material on my kindle.
And, in the kitchen, I'm feeling really good about keeping only what I use. The only hesitation is with coffee cups. For some reason, I have an obsession with coffee cups. Some of them have sentimental value and others I have gotten on trips as souvenirs. While I know I can only use one cup at a time, I can't seem to part with them. Plus, I have been justifying their existence since the kitchen now has a coffee theme.
What I'm finding is even though I have a huge load of stuff to take to my mom's non-profit store this weekend, I still have too much stuff. I'm getting rid of a lot of purses and bags, but I still have seven of them to use between school, the gym, and in different seasons. I should only have one bag, and yet, I'm not quite ready to part with the rest of them yet.
There are other things that I know I need to get rid of, but I also realize that freeing myself of all the excess is a process. I'm taking my time to get it done right. That's what it's all about for me.
What can you possibly get done in two minutes?
There are many times I have a few minutes here and there and I don't think there's anything constructive I can really do. So, I end up scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and waste time rather than making time work for me.
Once I started thinking about it, there are so many things I can get done in two minutes to make my life easier, less cluttered, and add joy.
1. Go through the mail.
2. Take a bag of recycling out to the recycling can.
3. Water the plants and flowers.
4. Fold a load of clothes.
5. Read through the headlines of The Week.
6. Trash the emails I don't need.
7. Archive the emails I want to read later.
8. Respond to an email.
9. Give a treat to my dog, cat, and/or guinea pig.
10. Refill the water pitcher.
11. Write out a grocery list.
12. Clear off my desk.
13. Wipe down the kitchen counters.
14. Tweet, put a picture on Instagram, or post a status on Facebook.
15. Load or unload the dishwasher.
16. Pick a room and tidy it.
17. Send a positive text to make someone's day.
18. Say a prayer.
19. Pick a shelf or drawer and get rid of stuff I don't use or need.
20. Floss my teeth.
I could continue this list, but it has already taken me more than two minutes to write. So, you'll have to excuse me now so I can go get something done...in two minutes.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.