The Pluviophile in Me

You’re wondering what a “Pluviophile” is, aren’t you? No worries. It’s not bad. A pluviophile (n) is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. And that’s not just a random opening sentence for this post. It’s part of the subject matter. Let’s carry on, shall we?

But, Dear Reader. before we get started, I just have to say: I don’t know which one of you sent this freezing cold weather down my way, but you can take it back now. Two days of temps in the low 20s is enough. I can’t get my steps in and that’s wreaking havoc on my HSA bonus money. So. Enough already.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days. You’ve been writing in and telling me I’m making a difference. I’m meeting new people who are saying “Hey – you’re that blogger! I love your blog!” and I’ve been pleased to see you are clicking the links I provide – even if my taste in music isn’t all that great! I reached over 12K visits on this site last week and while I may not be as popular as some, I am grateful that you are here with me. I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal anyway, so thank you. Thank you for being here with me on this journey.

As I stated a few posts back, my journey started in 2011 when I made my first post. The process all started when I read a blog by Josh Becker and then started following the likes of Courtney Carver and Adam Baker. And, for Heaven’s sake, let’s not forget Joshua, Ryan and Leo. In 2015 I took a break from writing. To be honest, my life was falling apart and I just didn’t feel like being chipper, if you know what I mean. I felt I didn’t have anything to offer you anyway since I was such a shitshow and therefore, I “disappeared”.

Me, launching my blog in 2011

I reemerged in 2020 as the shitstorm was beginning to dissipate. I found my focus on simplicity to be a bit different than before, though. Life’s experiences had given me several “opportunities” to let go – sometimes with the kicking of legs and gnashing of teeth. While my life was still about keeping material possessions at a minimum, I’d come out of my cocoon with ideas about how to release mental and emotional clutter (which I think adds to the ‘physical’ clutter) and I wanted to share that story.

As I looked over the posts of the last twelve months, I noticed some themes. First, I noticed there was really no theme at all. HA! I just wrote to clear my head. My ‘creepy online diary’ was a saving grace through so many life events – breakups, reunions, more breakups, death of beloved friends, job changes. I also noticed statistical trends (that’s the data analyst in me) and paid attention to the posts that received the most likes, shares, etc. Even when I deleted my personal Facebook account, the numbers grew – proving that the Universe and my friends were on board with what I was doing.

Today’s post isn’t so much about what I have to share, but more about what you can expect from me in 2022. Don’t worry – I’ll still be your foul-mouthed little friend from small-town Missouri, but I think I’ll be less bitter about it. I recently connected with someone from my past and he’s helped me to realize that small-town life isn’t so bad and the collective experiences of both our lives led us to this very moment – which frankly, is quite delightful. Last night I was surrounded by a few of my very favorite humans, talking smack and tasting bourbon…and I was so completely overwhelmed by how loved I felt in that moment that I broke down in tears when I was finally back at home alone. I can’t believe I have come this far in such a relatively short amount of time, but as I’ve said before…I’ve got grit. The last month has given me a huge sense of pride when I think of all I’ve survived the last five years – even when I felt I couldn’t face another day – because I get to stand in the moments now with people who truly love and support me. And while I love the rain…I am so very grateful I made it through the storm.

So, to bring this all around, I just want to tell you what you can expect from me – mostly so you can hold me accountable but also so you can plan ahead. There may be a random post here and there when my brain won’t shut off and those might be completely unrelated to the monthly theme – but we, together, are going to cover (in no particular order…)

Ten Things To Let Go Of In 2022

  1. The Illusion of Control
  2. Fear Of The Future
  3. The Need For “More”
  4. “Clutter” In All Forms
  5. Guilt About Letting Go
  6. “Frogs” You Haven’t Eaten
  7. Bad Money Habits
  8. Toxic Relationships
  9. Saying “Yes” To Everything
  10. Last Year’s Goals

I’m doing this so that I can be more organized with my thoughts and posts but also because I really, really, really (too many reallys?) want to work on my novel. Maybe with a little organization and planning for this blog, I can do just that.

So, before we launch into all of this, can I ask you to do me a few favors, please? I have some assignments for you. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get to work.

Assignment 1: Define “F*ck Budget”. We are going to be spending a lot of time talking about our F*ck Budget this year. A F*ck Budget includes anything that requires your time, money, or energy. Please take 15 minutes of your week and watch this TedTalk so that you understand where I’m coming from when I mention your “F*ck Budget”. It’s important.

Assignment 2: Make A Vision Board. Back in August, I started working with a Life Coach and my first assignment was to make a list of all the important things I wanted for my life. That became a ‘Wish List’ and then grew into a vision board. If you don’t know how to create a vision board – or even what that is – here’s a link that explains it. To be clear – it does not have to be fancy or overwhelming. Mine isn’t.

Assignment 3: Watch “I’m Fine, Thanks!” – This is a short one-hour documentary that I watch EVERY YEAR in January. I got a sneak peek during its launch phase in 2011 when I donated to their Kickstarter campaign. Now, it’s on Amazon Prime, YouTube TV, and possibly Apple iTunes. A quick little search located free versions on PlutoTV and Tubi. It may be on other platforms, so if you can find it – please watch it. It will help set the pace for us as we enter this year.

Assignment 4: Send me your ideas. You can put them in the comments below, or post them on my FB page. What do you want to let go of in 2022? Material stuff? Anger? Scarcity mentality? What? I’m all ‘ears’ and I’m here to help. (I’m not a therapist – I’m just a blogger – but I feel like this blog has turned into a place where we can all open up and be real with each other.) Aren’t you tired of the bullshit life has convinced you to put up with? I know I am.

And I feel like I owe you a special THANKS. As much as I loathe social media, y’all are doing a fantastic job getting the word out for me. I really appreciate it and please feel free to continue doing it. Share my posts unabashedly!

As always, I’m leaving you with a song. It’s old and cheesy, and you’re welcome. Have a great week, Dear Reader. I’ll see you over the weekend.

The Law of Personal Accountability

Good morning, Dear Reader. It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks. I think Spring is trying to make a comeback after our freaky little day of snow when soft, but large flakes came barreling out of the sky and planted about a four-inch blanket of whiteness. Of course, it was all gone by three in the afternoon but not before it, I am confident, killed my recently planted sunflowers. This is ironic.

Almost as ironic as writing a blog post about The Law of Personal Accountability after being away from writing for nearly three weeks. I probably should stop committing to a weekly blog post for those to happen. But, here we sit, with a cup of coffee and my trusty little laptop, talking about such things.

Continuing our series on The 22 {Non-Negotiable} Laws of Wellness, we find ourselves on the second of the Universal Laws: The Law of Personal Accountability.

The Law of Personal Accountability states that it is we – you and I – who are responsible for our wellness.

Sure, there is genetics, but those don’t play into things as much as a choice does, especially when we look at the aspects of our life that are harmful or no longer serving us or our Higher Good.

As far as laws go, this one is the single most important one to me. I hate playing the victim card when adversity strikes and quickly (too quickly, maybe?) look for opportunities to take responsibility and learn my lesson so I can move on. I’ll admit to taking on more than my fair share of the responsibility sometimes, but at least I don’t point fingers and say, “All the terrible things that have happened to me are a result of someone else’s actions” all the time. Yes, some have created chaos in my life, and I couldn’t control or foresee the outcome amid those times. But I can at least come out the other side stronger, seeking how I contributed to the situation or choice.

Here is the most basic of areas where we all can take personal responsibility.

1) You are responsible for what you put in your body. This includes food, beverages, recreational adventures, people (Someone has to say it, right?) and what we tend to read, watch, or listen to. I recently committed to eating more healthy, and it’s starting to pay off. I can see it in my skin, feel it in my joints, and slowly but surely, the scale is tipping in my favor. However, yesterday was Saturday, and that means St. George’s Donuts. Just one, right? No. Yesterday I ate two. Two big-ass cinnamon rolls because, well, I had no self-control. I own it. Today, back to shrimp and veggies and lots of water. My point is: Unless you are in federal prison (and maybe even still then….), no one is forcing you to consume shit that’s bad for you.

2) You are responsible for who you allow to drain your energy. I’ve come a long way, Baby, in this area, but I’m still not as vigilant as I’d like to be. Setting boundaries with my time, turning off anything that ‘pings’ at all hours while others attempt to reach me whenever they feel like it, and simply saying “no” to activities with people I don’t even like are just a few of the ways we can protect ourselves from energy vampires. Actual physical boundaries are important, too. “But what if people get mad?” you might ask. Well, then they get mad. Most of the time, when someone gets pissy when you set a boundary, it’s a good indication they were one of the people who continuously tried to cross them. Harsh, I know, but I ain’t wrong. You know this, deep down.

3) You are responsible for your financial well-being. I don’t want to get into the scary tales of low-income workers, low-paying jobs, etc. I understand this is an issue – I lived it, too, remember? What I’m saying is that I always had a choice between saving money and having cable. A ten-dollar bottle of wine purchased once a week is $520 and change. In two years, I could have taken a nice trip to Florida or Vermont. I was burned pretty badly in my last relationship on the financial count, so I’m not going to lie that I may have overcorrected in this area. I’m not stingy, but I’m also not going to pay for more than my share. Nor will I ever let anyone – ever – have access to my finances unless I’m dead. And even then, I’ve worked with my attorney to ensure (as much as possible) that certain people are taken care of and others are kept out of the loop completely.

4) You are responsible for all behavior that contributes to your illness or your well-being. I’ve already touched on food choices (honestly, I haven’t missed wine as much as I’ve missed cinnamon rolls), so let’s say that my choice to clean my house and then veg in front of Netflix on a beautiful spring day was precisely that: My choice. I’m responsible for how I spend my time and with whom I spend it. I’m responsible for what I eat and drink and how much physical activity I do. All our choices either contribute to a healthy, balanced life, or they contradict it. It’s just basic math. One choice, a cinnamon roll (okay, two. Whatever.) on a random Saturday after a month of healthy eating, most likely isn’t going to kill me. But one every day? That might not be so good.

5) You are responsible for your response to stimuli. There used to be this communication model where, essentially, there was a Stimulus and then the Reaction/Respond. But some thought leaders have, in recent years, began to question that. In other words, they invite us to ‘practice the pause’ and take the space between Stimuli and Response and decide how we are going to react. More often than not, that slight pause gives me time to take a breath before I scream, “Fuck it and fuck you!” to allow me to say, instead, “I’d like to take some time to think this over first.” I know, right? Big girl panties and all.

We all know these things. So then, how come we don’t practice it more often? The Law of Personal Accountability isn’t about blaming anyone – even yourself, which I had to learn. No, this Law is more about taking responsibility for our choices and owning the outcome. The Law simply points out that our responses and behaviors, no matter the circumstances, are entirely within our control. I know it doesn’t feel like it at times; I am not in control of the actions of others – but my responses to those actions are absolutely within my control.

My therapist once told me, “You have a high tolerance for bad behavior,” and she was right. We spent a year – yes, an entire year – working on why I was so terrified of saying ‘no’ or standing up for myself. It took me equally as long to unearth why I would continue to allow people to neglect me, treat me like I’m an afterthought, or try to control me with manipulation and scare tactics. As it turns out, it’s deeply rooted in fear, and I work daily to overcome the anxiety that fear creates.

Read that again.

I. Work. Daily.

Me. I am responsible. Not anyone else.

So, dear reader, where are you placing blame? Are you eating one too many cinnamon rolls and then wondering why you can’t seem to nudge the scale backward? Are you a slug (hey, I’m totally a slug – no judgment here) on your days off and then wonder why your joint hurts or you can’t touch your toes from a standing position (Cough). Are you constantly missing deadlines because you are allowing interruptions? Not one of us is perfect, and yet, we can all find ways to improve our own wellness by taking on accountability, right?

As always, I’ll leave you with a song. You might wonder why this song on a post about taking accountability. Me, too, I guess. For some reason this song makes me think of a man who has finally owned his contribution to a breakdown in a relationship while also taking on the responsibility to keep another relationship alive. I don’t know. Maybe I just like it. I never promised to have all the answers.

Another Matter of the Heart

There’s a story I don’t share much. I allude to its content from time to time, but I don’t really go into detail. I don’t go into detail for several reasons such as:

1) Its content is not something by which I want to be defined.

2) After all this time, I try to tell a new story.

3) If I don’t discuss it, it won’t hurt as much.

However, I realize after eight years the subject does define me, to a point. It allows me to not only tell a new story, but to change my entire value system. And, while time does heal pain, the void is never really filled so it doesn’t really matter if I talk about it or not.

Tomorrow marks the eighth year I have lived without my only sibling. A young man with a seven-month old son left the world at the age of 27, suddenly without much warning. The one person I was to tease throughout my entire life. The one with whom I was to discuss matters regarding our parents’ health. The one I would leave my child to if something terrible happened to me first. In just one day I went from being someone’s sister to being an only child. It crippled me emotionally for nearly half a decade.

The details of the ‘old’ story and how this happened are not really necessary here. What does matter, however, is how life’s events are meant to teach us valuable life-altering lessons.

Lessons like…

1) Relationships and family are more important than work.

2) Saving for a rainy day is important.

3) When someone is in need, time is of the essence.

You see, I didn’t get on a plane from Connecticut to Missouri fast enough. I didn’t do it because I was really busy with work…I didn’t have a dime in my savings account…I thought it was a simple stomach ache and that was not important enough for me to fly clear across the country. Between the time I got the “You need to come home” call and the time I actually arrived, my brother had slipped into a place from where he would never come back. I never got to say goodbye. And that haunted me for many, many years.

It also changed me. It changed me in so many ways that I wish I could go back to those people who angered me with their “There is a gift in this tragedy” statement. I would say to them “You were right”. Because, folks, why else must we endure such pain if not for growth?

So, how did this change me? How did I grow?

Nobody’s work is more important than family. I live by this in my job now and promote this value to those I supervise and with whom I work. I also remind my superiors from time to time that family is a priority for me. I’ve quit ‘dream jobs’ to be with my family. It isn’t hard to make decisions when you live your values.

Buying useless crap takes valuable resources away from you. When I lived in New England, I lived in a house I really could not afford and bought items for this house I really, really, really could not afford. So, when I got the call my first thought was “Where the hell am I going to get $900 to fly to Missouri?“. Eight years later, I can tell you with all truth and honesty: I think of that moment whenever I am about to buy something major that would deplete my savings account. It has stopped me many times from buying something I do not need.

Don’t ignore your intuition. When a friend is in need, today is the day to pick up the phone. Today is the day to stop what you are doing and write that note. Not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not ‘not ever’. I knew something was wrong on that Friday. I should have called home that day. Instead, I waited nearly 36 hours for my father to call me…and another 12 hours to arrive at the hospital. I think Facebook is a wonderful place to get information. It is not a wonderful place to show someone how much you care.

What does this have to do with simplicity?

I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Except that this event, along with a few others, led me to my decision to stop working so much, quit buying so much, and take the time to sit on a blanket in the yard watching a storm roll in last night with my son instead of washing dishes.

Every one of my ‘simplicity’ heroes has a similar story. An ‘Ah-Ha’ moment, if you will. What’s your old story and how did it help create a new story? Are you a ‘simplicity-minded’ soul and if so, how did you arrive here? Are you in the midst of your own painful life event that has given you pause? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy weekend!

PS…I’m giving my dear friend and editor time off to deal with her own set of priorities and family issues. If the blog is a complete grammatical mess – I take full responsibility.

A Matter of Heart

“We have been told happiness is found in big houses, new cars, fashionable clothing, and full closets. As a result, we spend much of our lives pursuing possessions seeking this promised happiness in them. But fullness of life is not found in the things we possess.”Joshua Becker

May begins with a return to my heart’s calling. April was fun as I, tongue in cheek, shed my inner domestic goddess and became a bit more playful with you. I hope you enjoyed it. No worries, I will attempt to still be witty, but truthfully, I felt a bit distracted. Distracted because all those experiments with closets and cabinets and food choices didn’t really address the real reason I blog. The real reason I write is to help us all understand one basic thing:

We have too much clutter in our lives.

Too much physical clutter. Too much emotional clutter. Too much spiritual clutter. Too much social clutter. It’s distracting.

Just typing the words “too much” gives me the heeby-jeebies. It is all so overwhelming to me sometimes, I admit. When I start to feel suffocated by my clutter, I get centered and come back to my original pursuit: What really matters?

The Answer is People. People really matter. Relationships. Relationships really matter.

For too long, the good life has been defined by overbooked calendars and time commitments that, seemingly, allow us to believe that we are really important to our community and the world as a whole. But I’m telling you…you don’t need a crammed-packed calendar to make that a reality. You are already important to your community and the world as a whole. You’ve just simply defined community and world too broadly.

Trust me on this. Your ‘community’ is that network of friends you keep up with on Facebook…with whom you never really keep in touch. Your ‘whole world’? What about your children? Your spouse? Your parents? Your friend that sticks closer than a brother? Aren’t they really your whole world?

I joked to my husband last night: “No body loves me. My phone hasn’t rang for three whole days and I haven’t gotten a text in 24 hours.” I was joking, of course. People love me…but there are days I wonder if I stopped checking in on social media sites…would anyone wonder where I’d gone?

We should build relationships – not resumes, social networks and definitely not bigger houses for stuff. Relationships. When we focus on relationships and on those we love, lives are changed. Your life. Other’s lives. And change is good.

This week’s challenge:

Pick one person and write a real letter to them. Start out by saying “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I hope to change that…” and go on from there. You will have to buy a postage stamp in order to mail this letter. A postage stamp. You remember those, right?

May Challenge

There is no challenge this month, as this ends the 90-day closet clearing challenge I asked you to start back in March. How did it go?

Food for Thought

Tuesday is trash night at our house and consequently the day I shred papers, empty the garbage cans in each room and clean out the refrigerator. This week I was shoulders-deep in my fridge, reaching into the depths of moldy leftovers when something dawned on me that made me mad as hell.

There I was…cleaning out my refrigerator…throwing away leftovers we didn’t eat…to make room for more leftovers we won’t eat. I felt my jaw tighten and I shook my head as I thought, “So, essentially, I might as well just chuck $5 bills into the garbage can and stop cooking. Isn’t that the same thing as throwing away all this food?”  And…I may have used a not-so-nice adjective before ‘food’ that I’d be embarrassed to say in front of my mom, my son and my pastor.)

Later that day I read this in a NY Times article about Graham Hill:  “The Natural Resources Defense Council reports, for example, that 40 percent of the food Americans buy finds its way into the trash.”

A little bit of research led me to this: While about 1 billion people globally do not have enough to eat, Americans toss out about 40 percent of all U.S.-produced food”. Grrrr.

In that moment, I made a major decision: I’m going to make things simple.

Are you surprised? I mean, this is a blog about how to make life SIMPLE, right?!? Consequently, I’m going to write about this decision over the course of the month because that’s the other point of this creepy online diary.

How am I going to make things simpler?

1)      I’m going to stop cooking. I never liked to cook. I like to bake, but that’s because I like to eat baked goods. But, I don’t like to cook. So, I’m going to stop (or ‘stop-ish’).

2)      Fend for Yourself is on the dinner menu from here on out. My husband is a grown man and wrinkles his nose when I suggest quinoa. “Keen-What?”  I also want to eat a more plant-based diet which also tends to make him exit the kitchen as quickly as possible. So, he will eat what he wants to eat and I will eat what I want to eat. So, I definitely won’t get honorable mention here.

3)     I’ll ‘outsource’ if necessary. Just because I practice rational minimalism doesn’t mean I don’t believe in outsourcing activities that can simplify your life. I know those things cost money – but this isn’t a blog about a cheapskate lifestyle. Practicing mindful-consumerism and living a more simplified lifestyle can save you money – but that’s only a byproduct of living this life. I will outsource something that will “give me” more time.

4)      I’m going raw. Yep…maybe not 100% but I’m making some changes. And I’m getting help in the process from two of the most beautiful women in the world: Grace – The Nude Foodie and Meg – Feed Me, Darling. (Both are on Pinterest, by the way. What?  You thought I’d get through an entire blog post without mentioning ‘Pinterest’. Silly, Reader.)

5)      Finally…just when you thought it couldn’t get any more Spartan…Grace is going to help declutter my kitchen and give you some tips as well. I’ve done this several times before, but I still feel like my kitchen is a cesspool of collective clutter. It’s the one room of the house that continues to bug the crapola out of me.

So…stay tuned, lovelies, and keep reading. I’ll let you know if anyone dies.

Announcing the April Challenge:

Find two small appliances you think you can live without. like your microwave or (GASP!) a coffee maker. Take them to your storage closet. Don’t use them for ONE MONTH. Use only one favorite knife this month. And lastly…vow to not cook for at least ONE NIGHT each week. Outsource it or eat something simple and easy. Can’t wait to hear!

March Challenge Review:

How did you with the March challenge?  I realized I had a tote of ‘winter clothes’ in the shed I didn’t even unpack this year. I was just ‘post baby’ and still wearing maternity pants when the season started (Hey, don’t hate on me. Those things are COMFY!). I didn’t even open it. Just took the entire tote to Goodwill. I hope there wasn’t something uber cute in there. How about YOU??  How did you do?

My March Challenge Results

Do You Need More Storage or Less Stuff?

Denise’s Notes: This week’s post is reblogged from Unclutterer. Deb Lee originally posted this on Tuesday and I know it will certainly resonate with some of you in light of what I’ve been writing about for the last few weeks. It definitely goes along with my tongue-in-cheek comments about all the organization tips on Pinterest. You don’t have to organize what you don’t own. 

Raise your hand if you think you need more storage space in your home. Anyone think that if they just had more storage areas, their home would be easier to maintain? Sometimes I wish my home had more closets, especially a dedicated linen closet. But, I’ve found a way around that and, honestly, I don’t need a separate space to keep towels and sheets, which means it’s probably more of a want and not a need.

Of course, if you live in a small home, your storage options may be limited. You’ll likely have to use tried-and-true techniques (maximize vertical space, use under bed storage, hooks, armoires, etc.) and take advantage of creative solutions, like using multi-purpose furniture or hiding things in plain sight. You might even come up with some unconventional ways to keep your stuff, like using a car or minivan (that isn’t needed for transportation) as storage space.

In a recent blog post over at Extraordinary Observations, Storing Private Stuff in Public Space, the author started giving this some thought. He reasoned that it would be very convenient (the vehicle would be parked close to his home) and when he crunched the numbers, he found that it would be a cost effective option, too.

… street parking (public space) is used to store automobiles (privately owned things) for little to no cost (it would cost me $35 per year for a residential permit in my neighborhood). Using a van for storage would cost significantly less money than renting a space at one of those self storage warehouses, and it would be a lot more convenient.

It’s an interesting notion and it seems to make sense from a monetary standpoint. For anyone seriously considering this as a solution, another question comes to mind. Why not reduce your stash so that the car isn’t needed for storage? You wouldn’t have to worry about the types of things you could store in your vehicle (since it’s not temperature controlled) nor would you have to be concerned about someone stealing it. With one less spot to maintain, you’d also have less work to do, fewer decisions to make, and more time to focus on other things. And, you’d have the option of selling or donating your car, both of which come with financial benefits.

Though the benefits of living with less are clear, going through the process is not always straightforward or easy, especially when you have to let go of things that you’re emotionally attached to. When faced with the task of uncluttering and downsizing, it’s important to remain focused on the positive outcomes of reducing the number of things you own (particularly if you don’t use or want them). Keep in mind that you can also handpick who receives certain items which can help put your mind at ease. Of course, simplifying doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything. You’re simply prioritizing and carefully selecting which items you will bring the most value to your life.

Ultimately, anyone going through this process will need to answer this question: Will a storage unit (of any type) be a regular and permanent part of your life, or would you prefer to find a way to live well with less?

National Day of Unplugging

Maybe I’m getting off easy this week by not having to rush to get a blog ready – although I already wrote (and Kathryn already edited –Thank you, Kathryn) a pretty kick-butt blog post. BUT…you will have to wait until next week because I’m celebrating National Day of Unplugging this weekend.

I will, unfortunately, have to leave my cell phone on because it’s my only personal phone line, but I promise to not text or cruise over to Facebook or Pinterest. Gosh…what will I do with my time?

IUNPLUG

Oh, who am I kidding? You know I’ll declutter something 🙂 What will you do?

You still have a few hours to read these great posts about why occasional unplugging is good:

Why I Quit Facebook

Disconnect Your Life

Going Dark: National Day of Unplugging 2013

 

 

 

A Life in Focus

Husband and I got our family photos taken this weekend.  It was so fun, since we have not had any photos since our 2010 wedding.  We dressed simply, we acted like ourselves, and we enjoyed each others company in the midst of the Missouri fields.  This relates substantially to what I’m about to tell you, because Life is a lot like photography.  In order to be a great photographer, one must realize that every focal point is an opportunity to capture something memorable; to see beauty in all things.  Each photo, whether of a field of purple flowers, a flock of colorful birds, or a snapshot of a homeless man under a bridge, can contribute to a point.

So, I’ve been thinking. (I know, you are probably extremely shocked by this fact.  Some days I wish I could be one of those people who could shut off my brain and watch a football game…) I recently read a great book which helped me evaluate my core values.  Studying management and leadership for the past seven years has given me a lot of opportunity to consider ‘core values’ as they relate to my work, but I never really considered mine in an organic sense.  Maybe ‘ambition’, ‘power’, ‘wealth’, ‘control’, and ‘progress’ would have been the words I would have used if you asked me to define my core values.  I mean, if I examined my life – I certainly could not disagree that those core values drove me to where I am today.  Except, this time, I was more gentle with myself…I prayed and sought the Truth in finding who I really am.  What I found surprised me.

I learned I am happiest when my activities and my actions center around the following:

  • Abundance
  • Fairness/Justice
  • Relationships
  • Learning

But the most surprising and the most predominant of all:  Contribution

Contribution.  Wow. I never really considered that I have always desired to make a contribution until I went through this study.  But, while others sought wealth, fame, or prestige…I simply wanted my actions to contribute to the betterment of the greater good.  In other words, I want to make sure when I die the headstone reads more than just my name, date of birth, and date of death.  I want to make a difference.

This means I and my lifestyle need to change (or improve…whichever….)  and that includes this blog.  I am seeking a more focused initiative – in life and in all that I do – so I can get to the root of my true happiess – the values I hold dear to my core.  My main areas of focus for the upcoming year include:

  • A simple lifestyle:  Not just the ‘En Vogue minimalism’, but a true commitment to simplicity.  This, I think, will help me to find my Source of peace and contentment.
  • Paying close attention to income/expenses.  The goal is to narrow the gap between the two (as it currently stands, expenses are winning)
  • Health and Abundance.  This means reducing my dependence on anything that does not contribute to being healthy and having true abundance (not always financial, by the way).

In relation, I’m hoping these focused areas will also make a contribution to YOU, my reader.  Each post has got to come back to one or all of those three points, or it’s just a creepy online diary.  I want this blog to contribute to making my life, my relationships, my community, and my world a better place but I also want it to contribute to YOUR life, YOUR relationships, YOUR community, and making YOUR world a better place.

So, welcome to “My Still Life”.  Grab some coffee or a nice cup of tea.  Snuggle up…and join me.

Best,

DJ