November 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
White Friday is the day you stay home and get rid of stuff. It’s a thing, okay? As we all know, it can be pretty daunting to face all the stuff in the closets that you might use some day. So, I’m going to give you a couple tips that I learned from my first official White Friday. With these helpful hints, you can make any day White Friday!
- Sleep really, really late. Seriously – there’s no need to rush.
- Don’t take a shower. It’s a waste of time.
- Find something fun to put on TV in the background, like a movie or a favorite TV show (today’s stars were, Disney Shorts, House MD, and Jessica Jones).
- Devise a plan to systematically purge room-by-room, category-by-category. Then ignore your plan and start wandering around the house randomly pulling stuff out.
- Create “zones.” I didn’t really do this until maybe halfway through, when I realized I didn’t want to take it all to the thrift store. Some zones could be:
a. Thrift Store
b. Used book store (for credit – like 2nd and Charles)
c. Give to so-and-so
d. Give back to Mom since she gave it to me instead of getting rid of it herself
- Text a friend what you’re doing and entice them with free stuff. When they get there, give them half of what you’ve already pulled out, grab some other random stuff for them, make them tea, and talk for an hour or so before graciously carrying all of your junk out to their car.
- Realize it’s 4:30PM and you haven’t eaten lunch yet. Make lunch and sit down for an episode of House.
- THROW AWAY ALL YOUR GROSS OLD FOOD EW.
- If it’s not “oh my gosh my most favorite movie ever,” get rid of it.
- Keep going. Just keep going. Pull out the box you’re terrified of because you don’t know what all you’ve stuffed in there and you think your odds and ends have probably respawned into overdue bills and trinkets you feel guilty getting rid of. Get rid of the trinkets, realize with relief there’s no overdue bills, and trash all the paper stuff. LIVE FREE, MY FRIEND!
- Take a break and go feed everybody’s pets that you’re sitting over the holiday. Soak in the unconditional love they have for the food-giver and feel restored in your spirit.
- Here’s a serious tip: Don’t keep things that aren’t special. If it’s not a functional thing that you use all the time and it isn’t a) one of your grandmother’s paintings b) pillows your mom made from the fabric your sister got in Africa or c) your favorite book that you read every year, then it doesn’t need to take up your space. If you’re going to have stuff, let it be special stuff.
- If you have roommates, remind yourself you can’t get rid of their stuff.
- When you’re done, tidy up. Contain all the trash. Put things in neat piles or boxes or tubs. Even though all of your extraneous stuff is currently sitting in your dining room and making you feel like your house is even MORE cluttered than before, not less, if you make it look nice I promise you’ll feel better.
- Gloat in your victory! Feel free to be just a little bit smug. You deserve it.
November 24, 2015 § 4 Comments
Unused creativity is not benign, it metastasizes. It turns into grief, judgement, sorrow, and shame. We are divine beings and we are by nature creative.” Brene Brown
I am a collector of ideas. I have dozens of half-used notebooks, my hard drive and google drive are full of poetry fragments and story premises, and my phone is starting to fill up with song clips. I LOVE ideas, and I love their potential. Having a very inflated view of my own greatness, I treasure each idea like it could be the next bestseller or the next chart-topper. Of course, once I start trying to actually get that idea on paper, and take it from idea to art, and it’s not that brilliant diamond I was hoping…well, there’s just not a point then, right? Quality over quantity? Hence the legions of half-baked ideas who lie orphaned in my wake, squeaking out “Please sir, I want some more,” to my distracted mind that’s already obsessed with the Next Great Thing.
Poor little ideas.
Quality vs quantity is a false dichotomy though, isn’t it? Because it occludes that other, more true aphorism: Practice makes Perfect. I never practiced much for music lessons growing up. I feel like I need to go back and apologize to my music teachers. I had enough natural talent to make marginal improvements each week without spending more than five minutes in practice. But when I was in college, I took lessons in drum kit, and I discovered something really revolutionary: the more I practiced, the better I got.
What the what?!
I finally discovered that actually doing a thing – even when you know you’re not doing such an awesome job at it – helps you get better at the thing.
Clearly, I am really great at coming up with ideas.
Someone shared the above Brene Brown quote with me a few months ago. I hadn’t written much, prose, poetry, or music, in a long time, and when I sat down to try to work out an idea, my frustration at my lack of utter brilliance drove me away from the table and to some less risky activity. Like Netflix. When I heard that quote – the notion that creativity metastasizes – ouch, it hit a little too close and went a little too deep.
The same person who shared the quote with me gave me this suggestion: sit down at the piano and play just for fun. Don’t aim to compose a masterpiece. Write just for the enjoyment of writing, not for a bestseller. Forget the product and enjoy the process.
The strangest thing happened…when I stopped trying to create a finished product and just created for the sheer fun of it, I actually started creating things. AND having fun. (And watching less Netflix.)
So what does this all have to do with my first NaNoWriMo? First, in case you don’t know what NaNoWriMo, it’s National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel in the month of November. Crazy, right?! Who could turn out anything good of that volume in a month? That’s kind of the point. It’s to kick the butts into gear of people like me, who will languish over a sentence until it drips with golden honey and never get beyond a paragraph. It’s to write your crap draft, but dammit it’s a whole draft, you did it, congratulations! Now you can go back and fix it. It’s kind of a brilliant idea, I think.
I’ve been aware of NaNoWriMo for a while but never had the guts (or the freedom?) to take part. This year, working on a writing project over google drive with my long-distance bestie (over at Write Where You Are) made me realize that yeah, I actually can write things beyond the first paragraph. So as we decided to make a push on our draft in November, I had the crazy desire to add another draft on top of that and finally develop one of my orphaned ideas.
Here we are, a week left of the month, and I’m at 33,000 words. And let me tell you, it has been painful to type out those rough, imperfect, and awkward sentences just to get my thoughts on paper. A very painful, helpful process. Practicing.
But Practice makes Perfect – or, if we can please drop the alliteration, Practice makes Better.
November 23, 2015 § 3 Comments
I’m terrified of crowds. Well, not cognitively terrified – I know it’s highly unlikely I’ll get trampled or squished – but I do get a tension and anxiety in crowded places that grows, and grows, in pitch and intensity. Think of the Joker’s theme in the Dark Knight. That’s kind of what it’s like, until I really can’t breathe unless I get out in the open or find a good wall I can plaster myself to.
For this reason, I don’t go out in public on Black Friday, if I can help it. Once, my mom and sister and I went to see a movie on Black Friday – at the mall. I’m scarred for life.
Lately I’ve been frustrated by the amount of stuff that is eking out of every cranny of the small apartment I share with two girls and two cats. I’m afraid I inherited my grandfather’s “This might be useful, I should keep it” gene.
Like, “I should keep this bass guitar, because someday I might get it fixed.”
Or, “These 15 extra mugs are perfectly good. I should keep them.”
I’m not a hoarder. A couple times a year I try really hard to get rid of stuff. But there’s always more stuff to get rid of.
I’ve found the question I ask myself shouldn’t be, “What can I get rid of?” but rather, “What’s absolutely necessary?”, and then chuck (or give away) everything that isn’t.
I’ve halved my wardrobe with this question. But there’s still lots of this and that and thingamabobs shoved into closets and the back of cabinets and I THINK THE CROWDS ARE DRIVING ME INSANE.
Whew, sorry – I didn’t see that coming.
Let me try to bring this full circle. This Friday, instead of participating in the national holiday of Black Friday, I’m going to start my own tradition: White Friday. As in, Clean Slate Friday. I’m declaring war on Stuff. I’ll keep what’s precious or necessary, but everything else gets the chopping block.*
I’ll try to share the aftermath of the battle on Saturday.
Will you join me in the war, and participate in White Friday?
*Note: Cats are both precious and necessary, so they won’t be going anywhere
November 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
One fine suit of armor
Of selective care.
Protect your heart
From the softish parts,
From love’s wear and tear.
For if you’ve been minding
With too much kinding
And empathy finding
You’ll see that within
Your heart’s spread too thin.
With such a disease
You can’t live at ease.
October 12, 2015 § 2 Comments
Can you smell it? Do you feel it? The damp, 80-degree air – ah yes, my friends, this is fall!
Actually, this is Alabama. But it WILL eventually feel like fall every day here, sometime in November perhaps. In the meantime we get cool mornings and hot days, and one or two “sneak peak” days each week. While we may not yet have the physical reality of autumn, we can definitely claim the spirit of it.
My BFF over at Write Where You Are has written an Autumn Bucket List and challenges others to do the same, because “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” (F. Scott Fitzgerald). I love lists so, why not?
- Spend more time outside – either on my lovely porch or hiking some of the numerous parks of the Tree City
- Make a lot of soup
- Winterize my porch garden
- Write a novel or two – I’m doing NaNoWriMo and being somewhat over ambitious by attempting my own (first) novel while also collaborating on another with a friend.
- Learn to draw. Or, learn to draw more well (weller?).
- Re-learn the habit of seeking the Lord daily
- Start a really hipster band with a friend
- Enjoy Jesus
Honestly, I think that’s good for now.
September 3, 2015 § 1 Comment
This year I’ve taken up a new hobby: trying not to kill plants. I’ve learned a lot, like how root health can make or break the life of a plant.
My God’s been teaching me a lot about roots, actually, in this season of my life. How vital they are, how important. Beautiful foliage will uglify and wither without healthy roots. But a plant with a good root system is hard to kill.
Sometimes I ask, Lord, why don’t you give me flowers? Spring rain? Warm weather? I feel like I’m in a winter desert. Arctic tundra. Wasteland (or so it seems). I feel like I’m a feeble gray twig. What am I worth without green leaves and flowers – you understand, of course, that I’m metaphoring.
And he answers: you need good roots. I’m working on your roots. He says that if I trust in him, I will be like a tree planted by a river – my roots will be fed and healthy even in a drought. I won’t have to be anxious, because with good roots, I’ll stay green, I’ll even bear fruit, no matter the circumstances.
August 31, 2015 § 8 Comments
I am a relatively quiet person. I say relatively because when I think of a Quiet Person I always think of my grandfather, who could go hours in your company without saying a word, and who spoke so softly (and so compellingly) that you had to lean in to catch the gravity of his words.
This is not the first time I’ve been driven to write about being a quiet person, or of Daddy Earl as the epitome of the Quiet Person. Several months ago I wrote a (yes, slightly bitter) post about the difficulties of being an introvert in conversations. In recent reflection, I think maybe I have put too much of the onus of my quietness (quietude?) on the bold. Because, yeah, I’m timid. I hold back my ideas and divulge them at a decibel too low to be heard by anybody other than the person next to me, or the person who has kindly tuned into my frequency.
Would it help me if the talkers and the bold asked me for my thoughts and ideas? Definitely. Is that their responsibility? No.
It’s my responsibility to speak up if I feel I have something worthy to contribute. The problem is, sometimes I just don’t know how. It seems too monumental an effort to speak loudly enough to be heard over the talkers, to be seen among the tall people.
My ideas might get rejected, y’know?
I have boundless ideas but they’re not always good ones. So, just in case, I’ll hold back. Someone else will have a good idea.
Surely I’m not the only one with this struggle. Will you speak up about it?