Jan 29, 2008

Things worth Owning

When you are trying to live right, squashing materialism, I'm finding out that everything you own or want to own gets prioritized.

I realize that now anything in my home get scrutinized for usefulness. With a house this size, there is no way I can keep everything that comes in the door.

We've cut down on dishes, towels, bedding, etc. If we dont have a place for it, or if we dont use it everyday- it cant live here. We dont have the space. But there are a few exceptions.

My China. It's not a full set...mostly just teacups and a soup tureen and a few of the dishes. I use the teacup and little dessert plates in the rare occasion I actually let people in my house! They are about the only family heirloom I'll ever have, so I feel a strong attachment to them.

Musical instruments. We simply love them- and while the only instrument I play wont fit in our house (piano), I love being surrounded by these things.

Art supplies. Because if you dont have them- you cant create. You can, but it's fun to have a good supply of paint, clay, canvas', paper, etc.

Then there are things that are just treasures.

I like to make jewelry from time to time, and the best place to buy really cool beads is at bead shows or Gem faires. We went to one last weekend.

I held strand after strand of beautiful beads in my hands- agates, opals, turquoise, jades, etc. But one strand only won my heart. Sure I would use any of the beads if I got them- but how much do you really need?

I ended up buying a strand of Trade beads that are probably from Ghana, but not really "from" Ghana. These types of beads were used for trade with African tribes for centuries. I found a good article about this here: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/migrations/beads/essay1.html

Now, this, in my opinion is worth owning. Items that have a story. Treaures that make you think, and imagine.

Jan 22, 2008


X-Ray vision, now there's a superpower! I remember being a kid and looking through a stash of my Uncle's old comics (which I should have guarded a little more closely, but anyway); there was an add in the back for "X-Ray Specs." You have probably seen them on some movie or
read about them in the same comic book, but--for those of us who are less enlightened when it comes to superpowers--they were supposed to let you see through walls, doors, and whatever else you can imagine a teenage boy longing to look through. I never got my pair of "X-Ray Specs." Apparently, no one made the magical glasses by my time, but I always wondered if they worked. Go ahead, be a cynic...but I have always held on to the hope that they might work. If I ever find a pair, I will let you know for sure.

About a year ago, I started to have vision issues. I spend a lot of time reading and working at the computer, so my doctor suggested reading glasses. He said that my eyes were getting tired throughout the day and that was affecting my vision for the drive home, which is where I was really noticing the problem. I gave the glasses the good old college try; almost a year. My vision got worse. Finally, I decided to get a second opinion. I met a great new Optometrist and she noticed a few small issues that added up to my vision problem. Two days later, I was sporting new glasses. It seems that the first doctor had decided that I needed reading glasses before he really checked out my eyes. It only took the new doctor a few minutes to realize that he had given me exactly the opposite prescription. I am near-sighted, not far-sighted.

It is wonderful to see the leaves on the trees, It is amazing how much easier it is to drive when you can read the signs. But, I have to admit, the first few days with glasses was a little tough. I picked them up with a friend and put them on to walk out of the office and to the car. I must have tripped five or six times. They made me feel like I was walking on stilts. At first I thought that this doctor screwed up too; then it hit me, maybe this is how I was SUPPOSED to see. Maybe, I had gotten so used to life as usual, that I had forgotten what the world really looked like. Maybe I had never seen the world as it really was, until now.

There is a lot to our journey that I have not shared. Most of it is too personal to be of any interest to anyone other than Carolyn and I, but some things just need time to come out into the world. One such thing, is my crisis of world view.
Until six or seven years ago, I was quite sure of my place in the world. I knew who I was, where I was going, where I belonged. A lot happened to confuse my compass. It was not until last January that I really began looking for North again. I'm still drawing maps and and stumbling around a little, but I have realized a fatal flaw in my thinking that caused me to lose my way. I let someone tell me that I was not good enough and I began to believe it.

I had, at the time, several people in my life that were destructive. They pawned off their issues onto me and told me repeatedly--in word and deed--that I was not who I was supposed to be. They let me know that God didn't like me the way I was and that He expected me to change. They were quick to inform me that most of my personality was not acceptable. It has taken me some time to realize how poisonous and deep-seated these beliefs had become. When I broke off the relationships I had with these people I spent a long time wondering if I would ever be worth anything again.

Tonight I was at a Weight Watchers meeting (yup, I've lost 25.6 pounds!) and the leader repeated something that she had said a dozen times since I began attending. "Beliefs turn into words, words turn into actions, actions turn into habits." I never realized how true that was until tonight. I began to believe that I was bad/evil/etc.. Which I turned into messages about every area of my life. That began to affect how I approached all of life. Finally, I got stuck in the rut.

Last years departure from consumerism shook loose a few of those habits and suddenly, I was having blurry vision. So I called in some help. I decided to get my health back, so I joined Weight Watchers. The meetings gave me a new pair of glasses. Now I see my relationship with food is a symptom of many other arts of my life. It's a little weird, but maybe this is how I am SUPPOSED to look to myself.

The people that filled my head with the wrong beliefs were simply misdiagnosing me. The "problems" they were seeing where not really problems at all. They had not taken the time to find out who I was or what I needed. They gave me the opposite.

I wish that I had "X-Ray Specs" that could let me look right inside myself and see what's right or wrong, but I'll have to peel away the layers one at a time to find the truth. It will take a bit, but hey...that's life. At least I know this, Jesus loves me and I'm worth something.

Oh yeah, and I look darn good in glasses ;))

Jan 15, 2008

A True Test of my...well, everything.

How do you make me crazy? Stick me in the dark in a cramped house with three hyper active children.

The Friday before last, I went to a birthday party at my friends house. I left the house in a whirlwind- a complete mess. The house was TRASHED. We'd come back from NJ a few days before and I vowed I'd clean it up on the weekend. And while leaving for this party, I had this sense of foreboding....the piles, oh, the piles....what if for some reason I couldn't clean up?

Well, the wind was blowing and it was raining like mad already, but I wasn't going to miss Jacks Birthday party....he was turning 2 after all!!

During the party, my friends lights flickered a little and it was getting NASTY out, so, we headed out earlier that we would hae normally.

I was aware as I got the kids in the car that this was no normal storm- not for California at least. The wind was so strong, it was hard to drive and branches were flying everywhere. I'd dropped Wyatt off at his friends house and on the way to get him, I noticed alot of downed trees.

When I'd gotten to my friends house to pick up Wyatt, she was on the phone, her power was out. "We have to get to the schoolhouse....one of the sheds is damaged by the wind."

If you'll remember, my friends and I run a preschool co-op at a historical school house in town. Last year we bought sheds to store all our supplies it.

We came to the school house but had to enter from another way because a tree was down and took out a power poll. All my friends came at once a we saw that our sheds weren't damaged....they were GONE. And our supplies scattered everywhere. What a disaster. We did the best we could to salvage everythig despite the continuing danger of the wind and rain and craziness.

I tried to head home- which usually takes 10 minutes- but this was an hour. I sat on the road in line behind a huge downed tree while they cut it away to clear the road.

When I got home, Matt was home to my surprise. Even his office, an hour away had no power.

So, I kept the kids in the car and tried to go to my moms house- she has a lot of natural light and less big trees. But, nope. A power power poll blocked her road and there was no getting past it. So, home we went.

The first night was fine...even fun.

The next night was ok, but getting boring.

The next 4 nights? THEY SUCKED.

My house was even more of an utter disaster and my brain was shot. My son couldn't go back to school...no power, no heat, no phones....and everyone was crabby and depressed.

I began to freak out. "I hate this house. I wish a tree would have fallen on it." I think I said this about 100 times. I really wished it would just go away. It was dark, dirty, cramped and awful...at least when the power was out.

I could not muster the strength to be positive ad just do what I could to make the most of the situation. It just wasn't in me.

I'm not saying the house isn't totally at fault. Despite our ordering of priorities and simplification mission, we are still bulging at the seams. This house is not only small, it's poorly planned. We believe with some remodeling it will improve GREATLY. And I think we are ready to start thinking about that more seriously.

But I'm pretty disappointed as what a crappy job I did dealing with the power outage. I was like a kid....whiny and irrational. It really got me wondering if there is ANYTHING I can handle? Anything at all where I don't act like a total spoiled brat? Sheesh.

Now, with electricity functioning again, I'm trying to appreciate things like lights (which I really missed the most) and refrigeration. And hopefully next time, I'll do better.

I have to add that last Friday (a week after the original outage and storm), I got the house in order and had some friends over for tea. It was nice to see some control on my part finally. After they left, I went ot pick up Wyatt from school. Upon arriving home I realized something was funny at home....what was wrong? THE POWER WAS OUT. I lost it. I called all my friends and they were out also. Everyone was livid with the power company. I mean, give me a break, we'd only had it on for a couple days! We'd had enough!

Then, my friend who's husband is a volunteer fire fighter called. It turned out the outage happened because a worker was further repairing some lines, but was electrocuted- thus the outage. He was killed.

Suddenly my dark house was a solemn reminder of what was really important. My threatened freezer full of food wasn't much to complain about.

Jan 5, 2008


A year has past and we find ourselves in a very different place from last January. It has been an interesting and challenging journey. We have made some changes, gained some ground, lost a little and ultimately found out that the "best" life is going to take a very long time to find. But, isn't the search really the point?
So as we have looked back over the past twelve months and turned to look twelve months into the future, we have made a decision. Last year was a period of tearing down; we stripped off as much as we could from our lives, we looked for way to reduce our posesions, reduce our needs, reduce our desires. It was a good and neccessary process. We were able to see how desperatley attached to stuff we had become, we found out that we could live a better and less fettered life with less stuff.
This year needs to be a year of rebuilding. We have taken off so much of ourselves that we are often unsure of who we really are. So this year, that's the point. We are going to find ourselves. We are going to begin building the life we want.
So here is our commitment for 2008...
This year, we will strive to:
1.) Identify what our true passions are
2.) Focus our attention on living passionately
3.) Solidify our core beliefs about God, People, the Earth, Life, and Our Purpose
4.) Begin to make all of our decisions based upon the above
5.) Share our journey with all who are interested
2008 will be a year of Passion.