Reading Our Way to Truth

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

 

I read a lot.

I read every day in almost every spare minute throughout the day. Rarely do I read novels. If I am going to spend time on fiction, it has to be of historical or topical significance, it has to challenge or move me, and it can’t be in the least bit predictable. Basically, I want to read what people smarter than me have written. Continue reading “Reading Our Way to Truth”

All Lives Don’t Matter, Including Mine Apparently

(Note: The Warroad Pioneer edited out the man’s name when they published this piece, but I see no need to here.)

If you’re not on the various social media platforms, you may not understand how much our national political conversation has devolved. It’s turned into a rotting, stinking cesspool of hate and vitriol, the likes of which I’ve never experienced anywhere else in my 42 years.

Let me give you an example.

There is a man in Warroad, a Mr. Brad Heddan (whom I’ve never met), who wants me dead. Continue reading “All Lives Don’t Matter, Including Mine Apparently”

The 15th Minimize Minute

Here’s a new task to help simplify our lives and minimizing our households.

Challenge # 15: Tree Time

When it all gets to be too much, go spend time with a tree.

How’d it go:

I’m just starting this challenge, so I’ll recap next week. Over the Mother’s Day weekend, when I would have relished being celebrated for doing a hard and thankless job, I ended up cleaning house, cooking meals and taking care of everyone else like always. It made me grumpy, and when I couldn’t snap out it, I went for a walk in the woods. The forest floor still crackles with dried leaves, and new green shoots are just barely peeking through. I found a piece of fallen birch bark as big as a place mat, so I parked myself on it and leaned back against a cluster of birch trees, breathing, feeling and listening.

The clutter of home and life seems unmanageable at times. I’m frustrated that we have so much “stuff” and how much time and energy caring for all that “stuff” takes away from truly living. I long for simplicity and an easy-to-clean clean home. These weekly challenges are helping, but not quickly enough for my impatient mind. I do need to tackle a comprehensive de-cluttering project, but I also want to work on my impatient mind. The bugs are few, the dew hasn’t arrived, the birds are singing with spring’s gusto. This week (and hopefully beyond) will be about mind-decluttering.

I’m going to spend time with a tree; upwards of twenty minutes a day is my goal.

I remember reading somewhere that trees have a heartbeat. Some scientists have observed trees subtly moving their branches up and down during the night, which is purported to be the tree actively pumping water upwards in a slow version of a “pulse.” I’ve always felt there was silent wisdom in trees and that they’ll subtly communicate with us if we are still and patient. This week won’t be about proving that, but I will enjoy noticing the difference some quiet time with my back against a tree makes to my cluttered mind.

The 14th Minimize Minute

Spring Forward

Here’s a new task to help simplify our lives and minimizing our households.

Challenge # 14 Spring Forward

Very critically go through your winter gear. Pack away and label only that which you need. All the scarves, gloves and other gear that wasn’t touched or is now outgrown can be donated to a good cause.

How’d it go: Living in the North Woods seems to require a lot of gear.  Skates, snowshoes, boots with different cold ratings, snowmobiling suits, helmets, float coats for dangerous ice travel, etc. Some minimalist experts preach not to differentiate and pack items away by season, but that’s simply not possible here.

This task took over our living room for a few days but the actual work, including laundering some of the well-used coats and snow pants, only took two hours. After going through my items, I was able to get rid of one coat and many scarves, hats and several pair of old gloves. For my 5-year old, minimizing is basically just giving away what no longer fits and I don’t give her a choice. She’s sentimental already, so we did say goodbye to the snow gear she’s worn for the last two winters. “Thank you for keeping me warm,” she whispered a tad tearfully as she hugged her favorite purple coat. She had two full boxes of gear ready to go to the next little girl in our neighborhood. My guy is a saver but he also uses what he has. I couldn’t get him to part with more than a couple pairs of old gloves.

Between the adults, we had a large shopping bags full of giveaways. We also threw away many single gloves that have lost their mates over the years. I had saved them long enough; if the match turns up now it will meet the same fate.

All in all, we each have a huge 27-gallon tote packed full that will be stored until late next fall. The sorting and culling also inspired a spree of spring cleaning and I tackled our entry way in-depth that same day. It was a good task.

Paying Heed

Sometimes you have to stop everything and listen to the wisdom of the winds and the wild things and the five-year old’s.

I stood on the top of the kitchen crossbeam, my hands braced on a log rafter, scrubbing the fish-fry grease that had floated, landed, and collected dust for all of last summer’s resort season. The gray water dripped down my wrist and collected in my sweatshirt. With one hand dirty and the other securing my precarious balance, a nose itch or hair in my eye had to be meditated away. “Clean the logs” was my only agenda. With my perch, even thinking wasn’t a wise distraction.

But then my Iris, in her five-year-old exuberance about bird nests and first dandelions and pretty rocks from the gravel road, came running loudly into the cabin. Continue reading “Paying Heed”

On Rabbit Holes and Doing Hard Things

Dreams and memories have been hitting me with a rushing force lately. Wounded animals, babies, difficult physical feats like mountain climbing and surviving barrages of gun fire. I wake with every sleep cycle, adjust my pillow and press-on, back into my dark world of wonder.

But every few weeks something calls me up and out of bed, and I’ll wander the house until I realize the moon is full and my eyes needed to rest in it, my shoulders needed to square-off with it, the soul batteries needed its quiet recharge. That is all. I’m usually free to then return to sleep, but other times I sit down to my journal and a cup of tea no matter the sleeping house.

Soon when it calls, it’ll be warm enough to step outside in my robe, put bare feet on the ground in those small hours and breathe deeply for a few minutes. God is in those breaths. God is in that grounding. God was the call that brought me up and out to gaze in wonder at my minuteness.

I’ve been making my life awfully hard lately, the moon tells me.

A memory from over twenty-five years ago returned with clarity and force last week. Someone once of great importance to me asked what I truly wanted out of life. I had reached that baffling teenage place where happiness had long-since become a mystery and the typical youthful distractions and pleasures suddenly seemed shallow and pointless. Many of us resist this knowing and push headlong into a life that celebrates those and only those pursuits, but I choose to tumble into the question, the discomfort, the not knowing.

“I just want to be satisfied,” I had answered in all my teenage wisdom and angst. “I just want to be satisfied.”

What one does to chase an ill-defined concept like life-satisfaction can be akin to following the rabbit hole. For certain I spent my fair amount of time chasing pleasure pursuits, but I always returned to the philosophical search. Now, it seems, I never leave it. It is my current rabbit hole. Most of my questions remain. Most of my dissatisfaction boils over. Still I press on, now with an urgency that only raising a child can bring. I feel this desperate urgency to shape up my life and Self so as not to pass my angst and dissatisfaction on to her.

It is exhausting.

Most of it is probably pointless.

The moon gently winks at me, as if I’ve stumbled upon some fresh wisdom in that exhaustion.

I stopped drinking water after dinner, which has helped with the poor sleep I whined about last column, but I did not cut out sugar and carbs completely.

I did not do what I said I was going to do. I do not have glory to report.

I make life harder or easier with every choice I make, and my mom’s chocolate chip blonde brownies make me pause completely in their decadent earthly pleasure.

Still, I’ll press-on. Finding something that works for me is my specialty. This place, this Angle works for me. This relationship, this love with this man works for me. This proximity to parents and all that comes with it works for me.

But a lot of other pieces of life are not working for me. And I squirrel about putting my focus on whichever one feels the most painful at the moment. Rarely do I set goals. Rarely do I make a plan. And then, uncomfortable dreams and distant memories have to be enlisted to bring me back into focus. Wisdom whorls its way into my life like the life-marks that decorate an ancient tree. Oh, that I would listen to the trees.

The sun rises and whites out the moon. The birds sing me into distraction from 4:30 on. The never-ending responsibilities of home and child call. Resort spring cleaning begins. Other duties crop up as they tend to do: the park, the county and school board meetings coming to The Angle, graduation, the coming summer events, and of course the call to write is never not present.

Now I also have a new and more pressing focus, which I’ll write about in the coming weeks.

It never ends.

Until it does.

So, I guess I choose the rabbit hole. I choose the endless chase. I choose the hard things because there is where I will grow. I choose the dissatisfaction the spurs me to act until I find what works for me. I choose God in the quiet moon and whatever She can teach me. Everyday I choose.

And as the wisest woman once said, “Sweetheart, you can’t do it wrong.”

 

The 13th Minimize Minute

Sevens High

Here’s a new task to help simplify our lives and minimizing our households.

Challenge #13 Sevens High

Get rid of 1 thing on Monday, two on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, and so on until you’re getting rid of seven things on Sunday. It will be a grand total of 28 items. You can also play the game for a whole month, or even a year if you’re so inclined. Just get rid!

How’d it go: This was an easy way to get of a few things that probably would have sat around until I got to that specific category or closet. I can also see how it would be a good way to ease into minimizing for someone who is a saver. Once I started, I didn’t want to limit myself to the daily numbers, but I stuck to the plan and took pictures to document. It turned out to be kind of fun. I gave several of the items away to other people, some to the thrift store and some went to The Angle’s recycling center where people often “shop”. I think I’ll do this again next week too.

Monday – 1 sewing machine

Tuesday – 2 pairs of flip flops with 10-12 sets of interchangeable accessories

Wednesday – 3 winter scarves

Thursday – 4 hair brushes/combs

Friday – 5 books

Saturday – 6 DVD’s

Sunday – 7 handbags