Saturday, December 18, 2021

Christmas Magic

It was just a few weeks until Christmas and I could hardly wait.

We had moved into our beautiful new house, and I had my very own bedroom.  No more sharing with my annoying younger brother.

Mom was busy decorating and getting ready for the holiday.  I’m not sure I had ever seen her so happy.  She finally met someone who treated her well and even liked us kids too. 

Buzz was a kind man, quiet and gentle with a warm smile.  Walking in with his dusty work boots, exhausted from work, he was never too tired to pick me up and give me a huge bear hug.

We were living a life I could never have imagined.  There was so much food in the house we had to put another refrigerator on the back porch.  We didn’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the night because we couldn’t pay the rent.  Life was very good.

“You are not going to start another project this close to Christmas” I heard my mom telling Buzz.

He was always working on something.  He built a new patio with a rock garden for mom in the summer and a mini playhouse for me and my brother.

Despite her protests, he began working.  

It was unusual for him to be doing it inside, but it was winter, so I didn’t think much of it. 

Mom was beside herself with the mess.  She had worked so hard to clean and decorate the house.  He had even pushed the Christmas tree off into the corner.

I was surprised and confused when I came home from school and saw that he was actually tearing down the living room wall. 

He and mom almost never argued but this was different.  There were pieces of wood and sheet rock everywhere.  I was happy I had a room to go to where I could stay away from it all.

As the days passed, mom accepted that this was going to happen whether she liked it or not. 

Just a couple of days until Christmas now and I was more excited than ever.  This was our first Christmas in the new house.

Behind the canvas tarps, Buzz worked away, he looked like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

He even enlisted my brother to help with his “secret project”.

I was a little jealous that I wasn’t included but I kept myself busy playing with my dolls and reading in my room.

Finally, it was Christmas eve.  I knew this year would be special, but I had no idea how much. 

After dinner, mom sent me and my brother to our rooms.  “We have something to do before Santa comes, so you have to stay there until we tell you to come out” she instructed “and no peeking” she nodded to my brother.

Presents, it must be our presents we both thought. 

When she opened the door, she told me to close my eyes.  Gently guiding me, we walked into the front room. 

What I saw when I opened my eyes was the most beautiful fireplace I had ever seen.  

That is what Buzz had been working on.  Whoever had lived there before had covered up the fireplace with a wall.

It looked like something out of a fairy tale – the fire was glowing with twinkles of light reflecting on the hearth.

Under the tree were two boxes, one for me and one for my brother. 

We didn’t usually get to open any gifts before Christmas morning, so this was another unexpected surprise. 

My box was not wrapped, so it was easy to just open the top.  As I did, up popped the most beautiful little gray kitten in the world.  I immediately began to cry, as I carefully lifted her out of the box.

“Is she really for me?” I asked in disbelief, petting her gently. "I think I'll call her Thumbelina because she's so tiny" I said.

My brother grinned at me and began opening his package.  It was a toolbox with real tools to build things, he was thrilled.

Mom smiled and watched quietly as we laughed and played.

Buzz reached down from his rocking chair and lifted me, still holding the kitten, into his lap.

It was truly a magical Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Greatest Love

I have known such great love in this lifetime.  So much and in so many ways I can barely count.

There is the love I have as a mother for my beautiful daughters and precious grandchildren.

Incredible romantic love with many – from the very first to the one who has my heart forever.

Deep love of music and dancing from a family who taught me to have fun.

Eternal love of learning and growing.

True love and appreciation to have seen so many amazing places in this world.

The love I found in expressing myself in words.

Love of the beauty I see in kind people.

The greatest of all is at last, feeling true self love.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

How I Went from Downsizing to Minimalism

I began my downsizing journey many years ago.  I found that it is more of an ongoing process than an event.  Even though there were many events within the process, it was always focused around the removal of things.  All of those cherished possessions that were taking up all of my time and space.

Each time I moved, I got rid of as many unwanted and unneeded things as possible.  But always, within a short amount of time, they would creep back in.  Gifts from family, purchases that I really didn’t need, items I thought were too sentimental to part with, etc.  All of it, just stuff.

Very little of it actually enhanced my life or well-being. 

Most of these things were relics of a life that I no longer live.  Their purpose has been served and yet I still hang on.  Somehow there is an anxiety about letting go of these things that feels like a loss.  That is when I started thinking about what that means in my life today.  Am I willing to stay shackled to the past because I refuse to release these things?

I started reading more about minimalism and how it is much more of a mindset than a physical activity.  Decluttering and organizing are ways to manage your belongings but it doesn’t help to improve your inner environment.

For me, looking at a clean, sparsely decorated room feels peaceful.  Now it was time to take this to a new level.  I wanted that feeling in all areas of my life, not just my home.  I wanted to feel that way with work, my relationships, social interactions – everything.

Downsizing:  To reduce or decrease in size.
Minimalism:  A style or technique that is characterized by simplicity.

When I looked at the definitions of downsizing and minimalism, the word that jumped out at me was Simplicity.  That is what I am after.  It doesn’t have to be small; it just has to be simple.

I have been slowly inching toward being more deliberate in how I live my life.  Evaluating what brings purpose and joy to me right now and what does not.  

I’ve had to reassess what I truly value and what the cost is to keep it. 

Henry David Thoreau said - "the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it".

Now, in my 60s, life is more precious than ever and I want to make the most out of this amazing time in my life.

As with most new things, I am starting small and taking it easy.  I don’t need to rush; I want to be thoughtful about this new lifestyle.

I am noticing that the more changes I make the better I feel and the better I feel the more changes I’m ready to make.  I love how it all works together.

Something as simple as turning off the notifications on my email feels like a victory.

Every day I am on the lookout for another area to simplify.  Is it a plant that needs repotting or a shelf that has gotten too cluttered?  Whatever it is, I just take care of it.

All the little things add up to the big things in your life.  It doesn’t matter how much you have as long as you have room for what really matters.
Have you downsized but still feel there is more to be done?  Is Minimalism something you would try?  Share your stories and join the conversation.