What Kind of Museum Does Your House Hold?

Spring is in the air! Well, more or less. Warm weather, coupled with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Question of the Day, motivated me to open the windows, let in the fresh air, and begin some serious Spring purging.

While taking inventory of what to keep and what to toss, I discovered quite unexpectedly, that I haven’t been living in a Museum to Grief, as Liz suggested, but instead a Museum of Failure. Every broken thing I haven’t gotten repaired is one more thing looming on my To Do List. Every outfit in my closet that doesn’t fit is one more pound I haven’t shed. Every reminder of a life that no longer exists keeps me in a holding pattern of What No Longer Is.

So the time has come to ask myself, why in the hell am I keeping all this shit?

First off, I came to the realization that if something was in need of repair, I was kidding myself that it was ever going to happen. The fact that I had lived without it meant one thing: I didn’t need it. I tossed that failure right into the trash, and, man, it felt good. Larger items got stored for the upcoming Spring Clean Up where, I am quite certain, someone will snatch it up off the curb, repair it, and make it their own.

Moving right along.

My bedroom closet ended up housing an alarming number of clothes waiting patiently to be worn but that no longer fit. It occurred to me that when I look for something to wear, I come face to face with clothes I plan to fit into “one day”. On a daily basis, I am unconsciously reminding myself that I have failed: Failed to lose the weight, failed to fit into something I once wore, failed to reach a goal I set for myself. I needed to accept those clothes weren’t ever going to fit me again and to give them to someone who could use them. And that’s exactly what I did.

Then came time to address the things I have desperately clung on to that simply had to go.

At the top of the list was the terracotta pitcher I received at my bridal shower from someone who meant the world to me. I had convinced myself if I kept that pitcher, I would be able to hang on to the friendship. The truth is, some friendships rely heavily on proximity and this was one of them. I decided to sell it on Varagesale. When the woman who bought it from me held it in her hands as if it were an Academy Award, I knew it had found a good home.

The multicolored chairs I loved so much and where so many important conversations in my life took place were the next to go. They were designed for the life I created while I was married and had no business being in my new home. Not only did they not match anything, they served as a constant reminder that the life I spent cultivating didn’t work out. It pleases me to no end knowing they went to a lovely couple who lost everything they owned in a fire right before Christmas.

The more I purged, the more I wanted to purge! Things that had been haunting me were no longer around and had found homes where they could be appreciated. My Museum of Failure had turned into a House of Great Rewards! I not only felt emotionally rejuvenated, I had some cash to boot.

From now on instead of surrounding myself with things that remind me What Could Have Been or What Might Be or What Isn’t, I am going to start living in a place of What Is.

And, of course, be grateful.

What kind of museum does your house hold?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Word to Guide You

“What’s your word for 2016?” the text message reads.

“Still deciding.” I reply.

“Procrastination?”

I text back an emoji sticking its tongue out. I chuckle as my eyes wander to the fridge where CHOOSE A WORD FOR 2016 has been residing on my To Do list for quite some time. I glance at the calendar. Over a week into 2016. Time to get serious.

What better place to find inspiration than the Internet? Sprinkled all over Facebook are images of words people have chosen to guide them through 2016. Some of my friends have drawn beautiful pictures of their word and pasted them on their Timeline. One of my favorite bloggers, Laura McKowen, even posted a video about her word for 2016.

And here I sit wordless.

The truth is I’ve never really had a word for the year, or at least one that I have consciously chosen. Take last year for example. Selecting a word for the year was the last thing on my mind. My two youngest children had gone to live with their father and I was heartbroken. I was just trying to get by until time healed my wounds or until I was able to accept that life had become what it had become despite my best efforts to make it the life I thought it should be.

Ultimately the Universe chose my word for 2015. It ended up being Survive.

2016 is going to be different. This year I want to chose a word that will point me in the direction toward the life I want to lead, the life I choose to lead. I want my word to inspire me and catapult me to new and awesome places.

Okay, maybe not catapult me but at least shift my focus.

So much of 2015 was spent focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I do have.

Focus

Maybe I should choose that for my word.

Focus is a good word but since it’s something I struggle with in general, I probably shouldn’t set out to spend 365 (well, 356 now) days attempting to incorporate it into my daily life.

I continue to scroll through Facebook searching for inspiration.

Inspiration is a good one but a little open ended.

Abundance, Grace, Forgiveness, Truth 

These are also good words but none of them resonate with me enough to commit to putting them into practice for an entire year.

I come across Laura McKowen and Build again.

Build is a good one but I just got out of survival mode so I’m probably not ready to build anything just yet.

Love, Happiness, Faith , Purpose 

With so many possibilities to choose from, I instantly become overwhelmed and it’s clear to me why this task remains on my To Do List.

I take a deep breath. I assure myself it’s all good. I close my eyes. A word pops in my mind and I realize it has been the word I have been telling myself over and over again lately.

GRATEFUL.

That’s it!

Grateful

That’s my Guiding Word for 2016.

I want to feel grateful this year. I want to be grateful.

Grateful for Every.Single.Thing.

I want to be grateful for all the blessings in my life, both past and present, and show thanks for both.

I want to be grateful for all that I have instead of wishing I had something different.

I want to be grateful for whatever comes my way and instead of second guessing it, embrace it.

I want being grateful to be where I begin.

I want to be grateful right here and now.

So I am consciously choosing to be grateful throughout 2016.

Because Grateful is where I need to be.

 

What’s your Guiding Word for 2016?

 

 

 

In the Blink of an Eye

Back to school

Today marked the day of three of the most dreaded words in the English language: Summer Is Over. Back to school went many of the children across the state of Missouri, including mine. I proudly plastered photo collages of my children all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As unbelievable as it seems, my baby is in high school. High school. It doesn’t seem possible and yet the reality is undeniable. It seems like just yesterday the tiny faces in those pictures were looking up at me and now all of my children tower over me. It went by in a heartbeat. A millisecond. In the blink of an eye.

Twenty-one years ago, when I first became a mother, I was living in northern California in a small town near Napa. Once a month, there was a Tea Dance at the Community Center. The young and old would co-mingle for an afternoon of refreshments and ballroom dancing. It was delightful! My very best friend Mimi (we met at a Lamaze childbirth class; she had her daughter shortly after I had my son) and I took our newborns to one of these Tea Dances. I can remember sitting in the lobby, breastfeeding our little babies, two timid first time mothers trying to navigate our way through unfamiliar territory. Two elderly ladies came over to us. They smiled knowingly, women who had been there, done that, but long ago put those tee shirts away. They heralded experience and were anxious to share with us things that were good to know.

Much of the advice bestowed upon new mothers is the kind which suggests doing things a certain way. Make sure they sleep on their tummy, don’t let them have the bottle in the crib. But these veteran mothers had a different message. It was simple and to the point. Mimi and I didn’t completely buy into it at that particular moment in time. In fact, it may have seemed a little far fetched. But from where we are standing now, it all makes perfect sense.

Mimi and Me

Melle and Mimi All Those Years Ago

They told us to enjoy every single minute. That was their advice. Enjoy it all because it would go by quickly, before we even realized itthey assured us. They promised us that in no time at all, we would be standing where they were, giving new mothers the very same words of wisdom.

I’ve never forgotten that because it DID go by fast. I never expected it to, never believed it was possible. In a blink of an eye, my babies grew up. Now when a baby announcement pops up on Facebook, the first thing I always tell new mothers after “Congratulations” is “Enjoy every minute!”  I savored every moment just as I promised those ladies I would all those years ago at the Tea Dance. I’m so grateful to them for pointing out such an important part of being mother: It goes by fast. Enjoy!


Curiosity…well, there’s that.

I see you

I have a propensity for curiosity. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. We’re not talking about the kind of curiosity where the girl in the scary movie goes investigating the noise she heard while home alone babysitting two sleeping children. It’s the kind of curiosity where maybe there’s a line, and maybe you’ve crossed it.

Now at the end of the day, one could argue that we live in a curious society. Reality shows, for example, have us boldly delving into the abyss of strangers’ lives where we clearly have no business going.

And yet we’re begging for more.

There’s a story in William Bennett’s Book of Virtues for Children about a little boy who never uses the Please that resides in his mouth. The Please decides to escape from the brother who never uses him and run over to the brother who does use his Please. That’s what I feel about my Curiosity. She pries my mouth open whenever she pleases and asks whatever she is dying to know….

 It’s no wonder curiosity killed the cat.

Kitten trying to get at a goldfish

I have always been a curious soul. If something doesn’t make sense, I like to get to the bottom of it.

Facebook_logo

So when Facebook came along, I couldn’t wait to discover what had happened to all those people I knew Way Back When. Did they get married and live Happily Ever After? Were they successful in their careers? What kind of lives were they living? Did all their dreams come true? Each new friend request that popped up meant an exciting new adventure of discovery was about to begin!

And as with most everything, one thing led to another and each friend led to another and so on and so on and so on…

Well, it turns out you can make a living out of “Getting to the Bottom of What People Are Up to Since the Last Time You Saw Them.” I just haven’t figured out a way to get paid for it.

But it has a price and oh, will it cost you.

It will cost you memories you once cherished.

It will cost you redefining  what you believe you knew Way Back When.

All because things don’t always turn out how you perceived they would and sometimes that’s a really big bummer.

He puts the wedding ring on herFor example, I momentarily (we can define that later) got REALLY hung up on why a friend of mine from childhood didn’t marry the man I was certain (as I’m sure many others were as well) she was destined to. They SO seemed like they were heading straight toward Happily Ever After. When I clicked on photos and saw a different man standing next to her at the altar I was perplexed. How did this happen exactly? What went wrong?

Why? Why? Why?

So I did what any person located in my predicament would do. … I kind of creeped on her Facebook page a bit searching for clues to this unimaginable mystery. C’mon, you know you’ve been there, done that, got the Creeper McGee tee shirt. Deny it all you want but I know.

But there were no explanations to be found.

No indication whatsoever of why she married someone completely different! I briefly toyed around with the idea of asking her in a roundabout way what happened to Happily Ever After but quickly came to terms with the fact that there was no tactful way to accomplish this. In a moment of complete insanity, I contemplated asking her point blank what the hell happened but figured the response I would get would probably come in the form of being un-friended.

So I just left it.

More or less.

I mean with 900 plus friends on Facebook there is plenty to choose from as far as creeping* goes.

young woman in computer lab

So my creeper escapades on Facebook basically led me to the following conclusions:

  • people I thought would DEFINITELY march down the aisle and walk straight into the Land of Happily Ever After either a) didn’t or b) ended up getting divorced just like I did
  • complete fly-by the-seat-of-their-name-brand-pants idiots ended up getting better jobs than I did because of WHO they knew instead of WHAT they knew, and, yes, this REALLY pisses me off
  • good friends I should have keep in better touch with, I didn’t, but instead of feeling guilty about it I can at least like their posts and wish them Happy Birthday and occasionally post a memory on their wall
  • people I suspected were gay, are
  • some people who seemed really cool Way Back When ended up being Super Staunch Republicans and I had unfriend them because of their Super Scary Political posts
  • some people didn’t really deserve the lots in life they got and that really sucks
  • some of my ex-boyfriends ended up being exactly where I never wanted to be and I am SO grateful we didn’t end up together
  • some of my ex-boyfriends married REALLY beautiful girls and look REALLY happy in their  profile pictures and I have to admit this sometimes makes me feel REALLY (ugh!) jealous
  • some of the girls who weren’t so nice to me in school and who I friended only to see if they failed miserably in life turned out to have similar Parenting Perils and we ended up having a lot in common in the Raising Kids Department which, in the end, makes all the ugly snarkiness on both our parts disappear (LIKE!)
  • sometimes, people FINALLY got what they deserved and although I know smirking at this revelation requires me to ante up to the Karmic Tollbooth, I secretly think it’s worth it 😉
  • some friends I would LOVE to reconnect with have never materialized on Facebook (or perhaps more accurately, I am not savvy enough to locate them) and this makes me sad
  • Some people who said they were going to do something or said they were going to be something ARE and that’s REALLY awesome and inspiring

The bottom line is, things didn’t turn out the way I thought they would for a lot of people I knew Way Back When. Just as my own did, their story veered off the course it was set for and went in a totally unforeseen new direction.

And at the end of the day, that’s ok.

Perhaps those same people are creeping on MY Facebook page wondering why I didn’t become this or that, how come I didn’t stay married or, let’s be honest, why on earth I am STILL living in the Midwest when everyone knows you can take the girl out of California but nothing on earth can take the California out of the girl.

So, when you’ve finally logged off  Facebook, maybe you have to Byron Katie it back to you and realize you probably didn’t turn out the way you thought you would either.

And that’s ok too.

Byron Katie

*For my mom, the definition of creeping courtesy of urbandictionary.com:

creeping
Following what is going on in someone’s life by watching their status messages on Instant Messengers such as MSN, and their updates to their social networking profiles on websites like Facebook or MySpace. Akin to stalking in the real world, but usually done to people who are your friends that would normally share this information with you, however you’re just too busy to keep up conversation with them.
I see you’ve got a new cat, dumped your girlfriend, moved to a new apartment, had a fight with your sister, and your goldfish died. Yes, it’s true, I’ve been creeping you, just been so busy with finals that I haven’t had a chance to call or write until now.

The Sticky Trap Scenario

When we moved into our new house, we had a bit of a spider situation that needed to be addressed. Because our house had been vacant for over a year, the spiders apparently felt free to move in and take over. Brown Recluse spiders are not uncommon in this neck of the woods and I was no stranger to them. I called a pest control service, and as an extra precaution, set out some sticky traps that I got at the Dreaded Wal-Mart.

Prominently displayed on the package of the sticky traps was a picture of a snake as well as spiders and other vermin. Although I shivered at the thought, I laughed at the picture of the snake, thinking it a ridiculous notion such a thing could happen on a rectangular piece of cardboard with adhesive on it.

As with anything one thinks improbable, typically an opportunity to prove otherwise presents itself. My opportunity came while preparing for a garage sale. Things that go into garage sales generally reside in places unvisited for lengths of time. My stuff was in the downstairs storage room below the car port. It hadn’t been left unattended completely. Intermittently I would venture down there to retrieve something such as holiday decorations, a stray DVD or a forgotten piece of furniture. On several occasions I had gone down there in flip-flops desperately trying to locate a missing photograph or the likes.

On Friday morning when I set out to organize for my garage sale, the only thing on my mind was determination. I had the day off work and the sale was scheduled for the next morning with no time to waste in between. I was on a mission and enlisted the help of two of my bestest friends, Tammy and Stacy. (One has to insert words such as “bestest” when referring to friends helping with such things as garage sales). I warned them there could be Brown Recluse spiders and advised them to avoid the sticky traps as they were hard to remove from shoes.

I went solo to get started, rushed as usual, wanting things to get done so when I flipped up the plastic shelves, it took me a moment – ever so brief – to realize what I was holding in my hands.

A sticky trap…

Stacy later posted on Facebook “Heard a scream from Melle Richardson like I have never heard come out of another human being. Tammy and I were fairly certain a dead body had been found or a limb had been amputated. Thank goodness it was “just” a snake.”

Actually it was”just” two snakes. Two snakes stuck to the sticky trap. Just like in the picture from the sticky trap wrapper that I found to be a ridiculous notion. According to Tammy (who launched into BEST FRIEND EVER status by going down and dealing with the snakes) one was still alive!  (Spoiler alert: Photo below!)

The three of us weren’t that interested in making money at the garage sale once we realized snakes were involved  but our choices were limited. Signs had been hung up. There was an ad in the newspaper. It had been announced on Facebook. People were coming at 7

“We should have had the Hemlock!”

o’clock the next morning and the stuff needed to be brought up to the car part so it could be priced and prominently displayed. Stat!

So we donned our big girl pants and our gloves. Stacy, pregnant to boot, offered to get the boxes on the top but not the bottom (launching her to BEST PREGNANT FRIEND EVER status). Tammy assured me we could tackle any more snakes we might encounter and I believed her.

We survived without any further ado with snakes.

Later, I spent some of our garage sale profits on more traps and lined the storage room floor with them. It’s my feeling if there were two snakes, the rest of their family is probably plotting their revenge.

But that’s just me.