Living In The Moment

Good morning, Dear Reader! I stepped out of my home this morning and did not immediately start sweating, so I’m going to call that a win in the Ozarks weather department.

I’m also doing something new today. I’m putting that link to your song right here – front and center. Please take a moment to listen and then read on…

I recently took possession of a tiny 964-square-foot home (Rented, not purchased; I have enough commitment issues. I just won’t buy a home in this market). I currently have a sofa, a folding table as a desk, and a bed for my kiddo. Some would freak out in this environment, but I’ve been here numerous times throughout my life – sometimes on purpose (like now) and sometimes not. There wasn’t much to do last night but read and hang out with my kiddo learning all about Scratch and a new game he was making. Halfway between “Mom, you should play it” and “Blah, blah, this gamer that and that gamer this”…I realized how distracted I’ve been over the last six months. Actually, frenzied is a much better word to describe the previous year. I learned so much about my son with nothing to compete for my attention.

First and foremost, I realized how incredibly talented he is. For the first time, I also noticed how his beautiful grey-blue eyes sparkle when he is fully engaged in conversation. I kind of teared up a little. Okay. A lot. {Ahem}.

Genius at work.

I used to be so good at knowing when I was not living in the moment. I could take a break from multi-tasking. I could step away for a few hours and take a walk near the lake. What happened to those times? What had happened that I was so ‘busy’ that I was missing out?

Name it, really. Too much television. Too many commitments. Too much work. Too much house. Too many people. Too much…too much… too much…

Living in the moment is difficult at first. It may seem unproductive or even a waste of time. But there is so much for us to gain when we stay present and remain in the moment with ourselves and those we love. My fella and I went out to dinner recently – I even put on a dress and eyeshadow. I mean, it was swanky. We sat across the table from one another and actually talked. I asked him silly questions. “Who was your favorite teacher and why?” and “Out of all the jobs you’ve held over the last 35 years, what was your favorite?” Things he has probably told me a dozen times, but I was too busy to listen. We sat there, fully present, in each other’s company. It had been for-freakin’-ever since we did that. And, of course, that kind of intimacy usually leads to even better stuff (wink, wink), so I highly recommend it. I give the night five stars. Would do it again. 

Living in the moment opens up our hearts to new experiences. It’s easy to become engrossed in the mundane, but living in the moment is available to us anytime. I’ve driven through my city thousands of times with my brain on autopilot. Still, yesterday I decided to live in the moment and be totally aware of my surroundings. With the radio off and my brain engaged, I noticed the most beautiful oak tree. I don’t think I’ve seen that tree before, although I’ve driven past it every day since my son started kindergarten. In fact, if it hadn’t been so enormous, I would have sworn it was just planted because I could not remember ever seeing it in my life. And it was beautiful.

Living in the moment helps us to know what is really going on. Ever had an argument with your spouse and danced around an issue to the point of total exhaustion? When I have “discussions” with my guy, he often talks, and I think about how to respond even before the words get out of his mouth. Taking a breath and truly living in the moment allows us to truly ‘hear’ what is being said amidst those uncomfortable times. It will enable us to hear beyond the words and see into a person’s heart. If we do this and stay present, we can usually listen to what isn’t being said: I’m hurt; I don’t feel respected; I need time alone; I need you to hug me. Those are all vulnerable statements, especially when anger and sarcasm come more easily. But being fully present and vowing to stay in the moment during those tough conversations can keep both parties calm and collected for the most part. I’ve been working on how to stay present during times like these. Learning to respond rather than react takes work. I know I can sometimes contribute to someone else’s pain – and I’m learning to acknowledge that when it happens – but I’m not responsible for their feelings. I can respond in love, with kindness, without owning their anger. This is a difficult transition for me – the fixer and the fighter – but it is worth growing out of old patterns. Some people are worth a better version of you. 

Living in the moment is a gift. The more we allow ourselves to remain in the present moment, the more we honor those we love. When we give people our full attention, we receive so much clarity, and they receive so much love that new realities come to life. What better gift than to give honor and respect to those in our presence?

Living in the moment takes practice. I don’t expect you to get it right away. But today, I ask that you do one task and entirely give it 100% of your attention. Last night, I was listening to my son explain some game I’ll never understand. I’ve watched him lean over his tablet for over a year and never really paid much attention to what he was doing. I realized how much I have missed and how incredibly talented and creative this little human is. I was in awe of him. When was the last time you were in awe of someone?

None of us are perfect, and we live in a busy world. But I encourage you to simplify your life. Take each day as it comes. The present moment can be extraordinary and lead to much you never expected. Try it and report back. I’m eager to hear about your experiences.

PS…If this post was the answer to all your prayers (insert “scoff”), share it with others on social media. Please and thank you.

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.

Sharing the Love…

As my editor, Kathryn, looks over several of my newest blog posts, I decided to share some inspirational pieces with you.  I made a promise to my readers that I would stay on track this year and I want to keep the momentum. If you ever wondered how I got started in this new lifestyle and developed this mindset, then I want to introduce you to some of my favorite people!

Grab some hot cocoa, a cup of coffee, or a nice steaming cup of tea.  Settle in.  Relax.  (How can I?  I’m so damn busy?!?!)  Just do it, already.  It’s important to take a deep breath, rest, and restore your soul.  Start now.  And start reading about some of these amazing lives…

Becoming Minimalist by Joshua Becker.  I will sound like a complete cult follower and a possible weirdo by admitting this out loud about a man I have never met but JOSH BECKER changed my life.  If I didn’t love to write so much and share my battle with materialism with the world, I’d simply just redirect to you Josh’s blog every week.  No one says it better than Becker.

Simple Mom by Tsh Oxenreider:  You don’t have to be a mom to enjoy what Tsh has to say about living a simple life.  She’s an easy read and her ideas are a breeze to carry out.  I picked up her book, Organized Simplicity, at the library (I don’t buy books anymore 🙂 because, well, that takes up space).

Get Simplifized by Dan and Vanessa Hayes:  More of any organizational blog than living the life blog, but they have some excellent tips.  My favorite, and definitely on my wish list, is to build a ‘home office shed’ for both myself and my husband since we both work at home.  That would free up two rooms in our house, or help us realize maybe we could even downsize more (Although, my house payment is less than $620 a month…so I’m pleased with the space and payment.  It might be hard to find something better).

The Complete Guide To Imperfect Homemaking by Kelly Oribine.  I started following Kelly on another blog but since the birth of her 6th (5th??  7th?? ) child she’s only able to maintain one blog now (What???  Really, Kelly.  Get on the ball. 🙂 ) so I’m left to catch up with her on Imperfect Homemaking.  That’s okay.  I love her simple style and love that she manages to raise that many children on one income.  She rocks.

365 Less Things by Colleen Madsen.  Like me, Colleen had no intention in starting some big self-improvement project, nor did she set out to change the world.  Well, she’d done both.  Her practical application to reducing clutter is easy to follow and über easy to implement!

Organised Castle by Fairy.  Just starting her journey into the world of blogging, I can totally related to the challenge of finding simplicity but also finding time to share the message.  She links to several awesome like-minded souls (and even mentions me!!) so check her out.

Finding Contentment – Thoughts on the Downsized Life by Donald Miller.  Some people believe that amassing possessions and debt is the key to being more happy but Donald is not one of them.  He’s not totally convinced that downsizing will make anyone happier, but he does believe that it is a huge component.

I believe when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.  I was at the end of my rope.  I was completely unhappy, stressed out, and felt like I had no free time at all.  I stumbled across this blog one night, and the rest is history.  I hope to be part of the community of people changing the lives of others with my story.  Enjoy that cup of coffee!

Life on Purpose…

When we live fully in the moment there is an aliveness that comes easily.- Madisyn Taylor

 Have you ever fed a hungry baby while watching television, only to look down to see them looking up at you with this intense gleam in their eyes?  I have, many times.  I’ve looked down at Lil’ E when I’m feeding him his bottle, usually during a commercial break, and seen “a look” in his eyes as he stares up at me.  It’s a look that reeks of distain…as if he’s thinking “Hey, I’m paying attention to what I’m doing.  How about returning the favor?”

Such went the morning activities.  Today I was engrossed in a television interview with Amazon CEO.  I looked down for a brief moment to make sure my baby was still awake and all of a sudden a wave of conviction passed through me like a rocket.  What I was doing was wrong and I knew it.  I was not living in the moment. I was multi-tasking.  I was feeding the baby with my hands, watching television with my eyes and ears, and thinking about the day ahead with my mind.  While that may seem pretty productive to some, to me it was pretty clear:  I was missing out.

I turned off the television, took a deep breath, and looked down.  A smile came across his face.  His breath slowed slightly and he looked into my eyes with such love and admiration I wondered how a little human could be so smart.  He totally understands what is truly important and I, the adult, was missing it.

Living in the moment is difficult at first.  It may seem unproductive, or even, a waste of time.  But there is so much for us to gain when we actually stay present and remain in the moment with ourselves, and with those we love.

Living in the moment opens up our hearts and souls to new experiences.  It’s easy to become engrossed in work or play that we love…but living in the moment is available to us at any step and at any time.  I’ve driven down my street thousands of times with my brain on autopilot, but yesterday I decided to live in the moment and be totally aware of my surroundings.  With the radio off and my brain engaged, I noticed the most beautiful maple tree – aglow with the incredible colors of autumn.  I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that tree before.  In fact, if it hadn’t been so incredibly large I would have sworn it was just planted because I, for the life of me, could not remember ever seeing it.  And it was beautiful.  It was one of God’s most amazing piece of work…and I had been missing it.

Living in the moment helps us to know what is really going on.  Ever had an argument with your spouse and danced around an issue to the point of total exhaustion?  In my house those kinds of ‘discussions’ are usually centered on him talking – and me thinking of how I’m going to respond even before the words get out of his mouth.  Taking a breath and truly living in the moment allows us to truly ‘hear’ what is really being said in the midst of those uncomfortable times.  It allows us to hear beyond the words and to see into the heart of a person.  If we do this and stay present, we can usually hear what isn’t being said at all:  I’m hurt; I don’t feel respected; I need time alone; I need you to hug me.  Those are all difficult statements to say, especially when anger and sarcasm come more easily.  But being fully present and vowing to stay in the moment during those difficult conversations can (and will!) keep both parties calm and collected for the most part.

Living in the moment is a gift.  We’ve all heard the old cliché: “Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present”.  I always thought that statement to be a bit cheesy, yet, this morning while feeding my little guy, I realized just how true this statement is.  The more we allow ourselves to remain in the present moment, the more we honor those we love.  When we give them our full attention we receive so much clarity and they receive so much love, that new realities come to life.  What better gift than to give honor and respect to those in our presence?

Living in the moment takes practice.  I don’t expect you to get it right away.  But today I ask that you do one task and fully give it 100% of your attention.  For me it was making Lil’ E’s bottles.  I’ve been making his bottles now for over a month and did you know that unless I mix it for a longer period of time, there are little clumps of formula that don’t dissolve?  Yeah, me neither.  Living in the moment and giving my full attention to the task allowed me to realize that the formula needs to be mixed longer to dissolve better.  For you, it could be driving down your street (no radio, no cell phone and for God’s sake…no texting.)  Just you and the road.  I bet you notice something that before would have gone unnoticed.  Or, how about having a conversation with your child today and stopping everything you are doing to face her and truly listen to what she is saying?  You might be surprised by how much she opens up – and you might even see a look of appreciation for the attention you have chosen to give.

None of us are perfect, and we live in a busy world.  But if the purpose of my writings are to encourage you to simplify your life and take each day as it comes, then I would be wrong to not tell you how cool the present moment can truly be.  So, try it and report back…I’m eager to hear about your experiences.