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All posts for the month December, 2009

Things we keep, things we let go

Published December 30, 2009 by livinggraciously

I am taking the last few days of 2009 very easy.  Relaxing, resting, hibernating.  That feels right.

I’m also wandering around the house, looking at what’s here and contemplating changes to make things work more smoothly.  There will be some rearranging, some discarding, some things purchased to better organize.  It’s nice to take time to think about these things instead of just jumping in willy-nilly.

It’s also imperative that I don’t succumb to the urge to rush in and change everything, putting living to the side while I concentrate on an artificial emergency.

You see, I’m really very good at the slash-and-burn part of such projects.  It’s maintenance and daily living that challenges me.  So I could easily burn this whole project out in two very successful weeks, making myself sick or getting myself far behind on other things in the process and then have it all collapse.

That kind of behavior?  One of the things I need to let go.  In this race, I’ve always wanted to be the hare.  It’s time to be the tortoise.  Slow and steady is what’s needed for a year-long exercise.  Of course, this means I have to figure out how much is enough and how much is too much.  Ferrett and I have a fair number of projects we want to accomplish this year,  but it’s also important to us to have time for each other and time for our friends.   2009 was a stressful year where we felt dragged in a thousand directions.  There were a lot of uncontrollable factors that contributed to that stress, but we can do a better job of planning and anticipating this year.  Unanticipated challenges will undoubtedly come up, but we’re looking to decrease the stress level this year.

More about the year’s projects and schedule later.  But the challenges are many and varied.  In the meantime, back to relaxing.

A very good quote on balance

Published December 27, 2009 by livinggraciously

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them–work, family, health, friends, and spirit–and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls–family, health, friends, and spirit–are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” — Brian G. Dyson, speaking at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement address in September 1996. Dyson was then Coca-Cola Enterprises president and CEO.

Defining and refining

Published December 27, 2009 by livinggraciously

Before the new year starts and this project actually commences, I want to explain my intentions for it.

Gracious living does not require a change of decor or the purchase of a lot of fancy equipment.  A person can live graciously in the suburbs or the city or a cabin in the woods.

Gracious living, in my mind, is about living with one’s senses awake.  It’s about creating and tasting and touching and hearing and seeing things that are beautiful and worth the time and energy they require.  It’s about facing whatever life throws at me with a positive and determined attitude.  It’s about being at peace and in a state of grace.

A very wise man named Scott Nearing once wrote that “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”  I’ve always applied those words to possessions and belongings, being content with what you’ve got.  Just recently it’s occurred to me that it can be applied in two other ways:

The first is still possession-oriented.  It’s taking time to evaluate the things around me and actually decide if they are things that I want.  If I don’t want them, and they are not useful, why are they still cluttering up my life?  I own far too much stuff, so much that it owns me.  I spent some time last year shedding stuff, but there is still more that could go.  Paring my life down to the things that I want will mean that there is someplace for those wanted things to reside, and that I will be able to see them and enjoy them more.  So further decluttering is in order, not just as a matter of cleaning but as a matter of appreciating.

The second is internal. ” Wanting what I have” means accepting the things that come into my life and looking upon them with an attitude of grace.  Instead of being impatient with work, wanting what I have means being grateful for it.  The busyness of a life filled with friends is a blessing, and being present to the moment is the best blessing I can offer them in return for their love.  Wanting what I have is recognizing the grace in each moment.

I am not expecting the coming year to turn me into some sort of super woman of perfection.  Instead, I am looking for it to be a year in which I feel that my time is well spent and I am proud of my accomplishments.  I want my home to be a place of grace and peace, welcoming.  I want to feel that I have learned new skills and given of myself.

A project for 2010

Published December 26, 2009 by livinggraciously

At 52 years of age, I am mostly satisfied with my life.  I have a wonderful husband, lovely children, and the best friends in the world.  I am self-employed, which gives me a lot of flexibility in my schedule.  I have a small but comfortable home in a pleasant neighborhood.

It makes wanting to change things in my life seem rather petty.

But there are things that I could be doing better.  We eat too much take out, and it always seems that we are pulled in a thousand directions at once.  There are personal goals for improvement that I want to make.

To put them into a single desire, I wish to live more graciously.

I’m not looking to live in some sort of Martha Stewart perfection (so relax, hon).  It’s not a matter of living in sterile cleanliness, nor of rigid scheduling.  Trying those in the past has been a failure.  This is about living deliberately.  Making decisions about the use of my time and resources that stop allowing them to slip through my fingers in ways that leave me dissatisfied.   So days when I decide that all I want to do is lie back in a chair and read all day will still be allowed, but noodling around on computer games because I’m too tired to get up and go to bed is right out.

I do not expect to be perfect at this.  I expect that I will get lost in the weeds along the way and experience frustration and embarrassment.  I expect that I will be ashamed of myself at times.  Mostly I think I will learn a lot about myself.  And that’s the best that a person can ask for in the 53rd year of her life.

I am starting a couple days early mostly to get used to WordPress and put down  my goals.  I am not going to spend the last few days of 2009 stridently cleaning so as to clear the path for 2010.  2010 will have to accept me with my 52 years of bad habits and clutter.  The year and I will grow together.

Stay tuned.

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