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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Peace and Clearing Snow

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Snow has quietly covered our corner of the world again. Not much. About 6 inches or so. Enough that it required clearing before my husband could drive to his office.

So out we went—he with the snowblower, I with a giant broom—and we cleared. He slowly, methodically cleared one strip of snow after another. I carefully brushed snow from our vehicles, taking joy in each puffing sound as it landed at my feet. Then I moved on to shoveling the front steps and skimming the end of the driveway.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I realized I was at peace. I didn’t mind the work I was doing. Because I had bundled up properly, I wasn’t even cold. I was doing what needed to be done. My husband was outside working with me. The kids were inside. No one was asking me for anything.

Once inside there would be breakfast to make, sons to tend to, things to be cleaned, and deadlines to meet.

Outside this morning there was nothing to worry about but the snow. That singular focus brought more freedom and peace than I ever would have imagined.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Clearing a House Full

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Photo courtesy of my toddler

With our big move coming later this year, my husband and I have already begun looking at our stuff. What do we want to take with us? What don’t we want to take?

Our house is too full right now and neither one of us wants to go into the new house just as cramped. We want to clear things away, save only what we use and love.

We agree we want to get rid of a lot and I am pretty good at being ruthless with my things. The problem for me is that I find it harder to purge with a family.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that it isn’t just me to consider when getting rid of something. Just because I don’t use and love something doesn’t mean they don’t.

The second is that as much as my husband says to get rid of things, he panics when he sees me getting rid of things. Many times he has seen a clothing item that I am donating and he has pulled it back out of the bag and said, “But I like you in this!” One time I tried to get rid of duplicate kitchen tools (ladles and spatulas and such) and he thought it was “okay to have more than one. Besides, they’re small.”

I don’t mean to pick on my husband. He is a wonderful person. And when he is ready to get rid of things, he is pretty darn good at it.

The point is we live in an overstuffed house with a family of four. As much as I would be perfectly happy going room-to-room and purging everyone’s stuff, I think I might make some enemies. So for now, I am going to keep purging the things that I feel are in my domain.

I am reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Her method, dubbed KonMari (a variation of her name), entails decluttering majorly in one fell swoop, category by category, then putting away what’s left, making for a change so profound you are likely to keep your home in good order moving forward.

Last night I KonMaried (can you verb that?) my sweaters, my old office work clothes, and my pants. That filled two bags. This morning, my husband saw those two bags sitting in my closet. His eyes grew wide, his jaw slacked a little.

“What are those?” he asked.

“Things I’m getting rid of. Don’t worry about it,” I said.

“But what if there is something I like in there?”

I gestured around my closet. “There are things you like everywhere. It will be okay.” Then I gently pushed him out of my closet and told him we were doing his closet next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Working Playdate

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A friend and I decided to try something new. We both stay at home with our boys and we both do some work from home. Now that my son is almost four and hers is three, they have quite a bit of energy that makes it tricky to squeeze in phone calls or computer time.

So this morning we tried co-working. I learned about this concept a while back from Jamie Ridler who meets regularly with a friend to work on their own respective businesses around a shared table.

I posed the idea to my friend and she loved it, so we gave it a try. For about an hour-and-a-half, we worked (her on her computer, me on my laptop) while our boys played together. It was fantastic.

She got through her whole to do list, and I got through two chapters of editing. All with minimal interruptions and with the boys in our sights the whole time.

I know there are a lot of moms who work from home, and I am curious to hear how you get it all done. Let me know in the comments.

As for me and my friend, we are thinking of making the working playdate a regular event. We will be trying it again next week.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow, Rain, and Me

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Rain is washing away our blanket of snow. Last week our landscape was smooth with light and shadow playing on the surface. Today it is patchy- wet grass mottled with white slosh in the dull of a gray sky.

Snow makes everything appear cleaner and tidier. Rain washes away debris and leaves a sheen. Yet somehow snow and rain together makes everything feel sludgy.

I am trying not to soak up the sludgy feeling. My mood tends to sponge off the weather and the moods of those around me. So I am practicing saying, “What’s mine is mine. What’s yours is yours.”

Today I wish to feel light, spacious, and heart-full. The weather may do as it wishes.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Feeding the Birds and My Soul

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My grandmother always puts seed out for the birds (and nuts out for the squirrels). As far as I knew, it was just another way she takes care of the earth's creatures. She was a nurse and hospice volunteer for decades. Taking care of people and critters is just what she does.

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A few years ago I hung a feeder from my deck and filled it with seed without much more thought than, "why not feed the birds?"

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I didn't know then that I would become captivated. I didn't know that I would look out my kitchen window first thing every morning to see who was visiting.

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I didn't know how many different colors, sizes, and shapes birds came in. I didn't know that I would keep a camera nearby to see how many varieties I could photograph.

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I didn't know that these little feathered friends would make home feel a little homier and life a little more lively.

Now I know.