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Showing posts from February, 2022

The Lottery Question

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What would you do if money were no object?  What would you do if you won the lottery and could do anything at all? Maybe you say, "I'd buy a cottage on the beach," or "I'd travel around the world."  And those are wonderful ideas.  You could easily fill up your days relaxing by the ocean or exploring exotic locales.  But what happens after you've done that for a while?  When you're used to that and maybe a little bored with it?  What would you want to do if money wasn't an issue? Maybe it's more useful to ask who you would become if money were not a concern.  What kind of life would you choose? A few lucky people would answer, "I'd choose my current career and activities, but I'd still want to live in my cottage at the beach." But this answer is rare.  Most people don't seem to be in love with their careers, but they don't know what else they'd really love to pursue.  They're desperately searching for their p

The Freedom of Minimalism

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Author, photographer, and entrepreneur Pierre Monnerville has made the interesting observation that emptiness requires us to either face or lose ourselves.  A blank space on our calendar or on our wall forces us to look within ourselves and figure out what to do with that space.  Quiet forces us to think and perhaps deal with a problem or a choice. Most of us don't let ourselves get into the situation where we have such an opening.  We fill every time slot, and if we don't have a specific appointment we turn to social media or the news or a game to while away those moments.  We fill every wall, and if we don't own something that looks "right" in a given spot, we buy something just to cover the space.  We surround ourselves with voices and sounds – from radio, TV, playlists, audio books, podcasts, you name it.  We seem profoundly uncomfortable not just with loud mechanical noises like traffic or construction, but with naturally occurring sounds like the wind in th

A Lesson in Gratitude

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may have picked up on the fact that my husband Jon is a veteran teacher of 6th graders.  These last couple of years, with Zoom meetings and online classes, then half-day on-campus sessions with half the class at a time, and now "normal" school with masking and other COVID protocols in place, have been frustrating, but have also inspired Jon and other teachers to be even more flexible and creative in their work.  Jon is happy to have students in front of him for now, but conscientiously plans for the possibility of renewed stay-at-home schooling. Recently, on the 100th day of classes for this school year, Jon's principal encouraged all of the teachers to celebrate, since the value and privilege of actually being in class has been made clear to everyone.  Jon's idea for this, as a language arts teacher, was to have his students list 100 people and things for which they are most thankful. Jon told me he was inspired

Never Be Afraid to Try

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When I was a little child, I ran with joy when I felt like it.  I skipped.  I climbed trees.  I jumped from rocks.  I paddled with confidence in the shallow end of the pool, my father nearby. I never knew I wasn't athletic, or agile, or fast until a P.E. (physical education) teacher told me.  Even other kids didn't bother with whether I was fast or not when we were playing tag or hide and seek.  It was just fun, and I moved easily in my body.  But in 5th grade I couldn't meet the President's Physical Fitness requirements in school.  Never mind that I was more than a year younger than my classmates, so should really have been held to a lower standard.  It didn't matter, because everything changed anyway.  I no longer moved with joy.  I had started comparing and rating myself against others , and learned that I was lacking. I know some children receive this outside assessment about themselves when they are younger than I was.  They aren't performing at the expecte

What the World Needs Now

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An October 2021 article on time.com , entitled "Why Everyone is So Rude Right Now," reported several incidents of assault on restaurant workers, a bus driver, and a flight attendant when clients were asked to wear a mask or control their language or behavior.  Stores, restaurants, clinics, and even lawyers are experiencing ruder clients.  Hospitals report increases in violence and racism toward their staff.  Flight attendants, for whom rude clients are no novelty, are dealing with mayhem.  (FAA fines for unruly behavior set a new record in 2021 .) I guess I expected that having been prevented from mingling with other humans for most of 2020, people would greet the return of social activity with smiles, hugs, and good fellowship.  But I've seen it myself – many people seem less friendly and more impatient than before.  I hear more foul language, and opinions are expressed with more venom. Psychologists explain that the long separation has made social interactions more diff

More Time to Love

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Owning something is about commitment. After all, it's not just the cost in money that we pay when we buy something.  A purchase implies a commitment to clean, repair, and store an item.  The item has to be maintained so you can keep using it.  This applies to clothing, kitchen items, tools, and furniture, and all the way up to cars and houses.  Each item we add increases the time, money, and energy we must devote to caring for our stuff.  If we're rich enough to own more things than we can personally give our attention to, then we hire assistants – auto mechanics, repair people, gardeners, housekeepers, accountants, lawyers, and more. I suppose it's what keeps our economy going – not just the purchasing but the resource extraction and production, manufacturing and shipping, advertising and retailing, and on to the maintenance and finally the disposal of all the things.  It's ceaseless and all-consuming. And it doesn't just consume natural resources.  All of those pu

On the Shoulders of Giants

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The father of one of my husband's 6th grade students was elected to our county Board of Supervisors last November.  He's a very successful businessman and also active with several community and philanthropic groups in our area.  I've met him – he seems intelligent and friendly.  I've heard him referred to as "a self-made man." "Self-made."  What do we mean by that? Usually the implication is that whatever success the man (or woman) has achieved is entirely due to his or her own efforts.  We believe that they "started with nothing" and have accomplished great things because of their own intelligence, talent, and hard work. I applaud successful people, but no one is self-made.  Not even the multi-millionaire from a poor working class background who started his business in his parents' garage. First of all, that person had parents, or at least one parent, who provided shelter, food, and basic medical care.  Even if that person was raised i

How to Let Go of Sentimental Keepsakes

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Letting go of sentimental items is certainly the most challenging decluttering task.  Please don't tackle it until you've done the easier stuff .  Reduce the number of items in your kitchen, bathrooms, junk drawers, coat closet, tool shed, game cupboard, wardrobe, and bookcase .  By that time, you will have built up your "decluttering muscles" and refined your process of decision-making . Let me give you an example of the process I went through when I pared down a number of meaningful keepsakes while making what I kept easier to enjoy whenever I choose. My grandmother wrote me approximately once every month or two from the time I was about ten years old until several months before she passed away in 2005.  That's more than 30 years' worth of letters!  There were many I did not keep after I wrote a reply, but I still had several dozen when she died. This correspondence was a lovely thing that Grandma did, and I knew, for all of those decades, that even though w