A couple of posts back I quoted a saying about gratefulness. I have seen this quote, or something of similar wording, many places in recent months. Gratefulness has become a new way of life somewhat for many, and I think that's great. But I sometimes wonder What took us so long? With Independence Day on the horizon, we as Americans have so much to be thankful for. You might say what is that? I'm so glad you asked.
For one thing, I'm grateful to be free. Now, some may say we're not really free, because we have to obey laws and pay taxes. But when I remind myself that those unpleasant duties protect our freedoms and way of life, I realize they truly are necessary evils. I mean, why do we have to drive 55 when 80 would get us there much faster, right? Our taxes pay for many communal things and, even though I'm sure a lot of it goes to "pork" as they say, I'll just keep paying and enjoying the well-maintained roads, amazing infrastructure of this great land, and all those wonderful politicians who provide us with such ample subjects for heated discussion.
Another thing this great nation provides: Opportunity. Now, opportunity is just that...the opportunity, or chance, to move ahead, be better, be rewarded for hard work, live out your dreams. I know circumstances for some even in this country are dire but we all know stories of those who have worked with tireless hope to pull themselves out of the pit into the dream that awaits them if they work hard enough, believe hard enough, and dream big enough. Thirdly, and perhaps the most important thing we enjoy as Americans is safety. I'll be the first to say that sometimes our judicial system fails people. The crazies and haters are out there, and people are killed in the streets for no reason and justice might never be served on the perpetrators. People go to jail for crimes they didn't commit; people are accused of things they didn't do; people are slandered every day of every month of every decade and never recover from the hate of others. Unfortunately, social injustice is alive in America.
But, if we're all honest with ourselves, we have to admit that this nation is the best of the best. We take so many things for granted. If you've ever wondered if capitalism has failed its people and socialism would be a better fit, just read Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. It tells what her family endured as they lived behind the Iron Curtain after WWII, how she was fortunate enough to escape to America during that time, and the agony of not seeing her family for 40 years. It was an eye opener for me to read a true story of what folks really went through with the invasion of communism into East Germany and the infiltration of socialism where they had very few choices about pretty much anything in their lives. Socialism might seem like a fair way to live, but it limits the freedom to dream, to move forward to hope for more. It not only limits hope, I would venture to say that it just might completely destroy it. Hope stirs the soul and drives you forward. Hope is life-giving and, in fact, life itself.
So the attitude of gratitude transfers into our daily lives as a noble and satisfying way to live. If we want to buy steak and cannot afford it, we are grateful for the hamburger that fills our plate and it tastes just as good. If we're grateful for the old comfy sofa we sit on every night, we don't always pine for something new and better and the latest style. If we're grateful for the four-room house we have, the 12-room house loses its luster a little bit (besides, you have to clean that monster!). If we're truly grateful for the family and friends we enjoy every day and the satisfaction of giving to others and make that our number one priority, all the material things that we long for somehow miraculously fall away, and what we have becomes enough.
I have not always been such a grateful person. Back in the day when I was quite young and a whole lot more stupid, I pined for more...the pretty car, the bigger house, lots of great clothes, the larger diamond...all the things that fade in their lure over time. I still love nice things, but I've learned to appreciate the true necessities of life...a safe place to lay my head at night, food (whatever that might be!) on the table, good health, and love and friendship. I also thank God every single day for running hot water! During the few times I've been without it in my life, I cringed at what my great great grandmothers had to endure while raising their families. On my many trips to Honduras, I marveled at what little those folks have. Most don't have running water, let alone running HOT water. One day a friend visited and, as she washed dishes at the kitchen sink, she tried to ask me in what little English she could speak to please turn off the hot water, it was burning her hands! They clean and bathe in cold water, and take chances every day that the water they drink will not be filled with parasites.
We take so many things for granted.
To live in a country where we can be or achieve pretty much anything is a dream. But to remember that we don't necessarily need everything we can dream up is a lesson that has to be learned over the years as you grow in wisdom and experiences and a lesson that ushers in the gratefulness of which I speak. I've had the big house, the newest cars, and latest of pretty much everything. Right now I have a tiny house, a capsule wardrobe, an 8-year-old car that gets me around just fine, and a very curated collection of some favorite things. I have everything I need...maybe not every little thing I want, but every thing I need.
And I call it very fittingly...my Happy Place.
Happy 4th of July next week, and remember to be grateful!
The simple act of gardening with their mama is a joy in itself. Kids learn that gardening is not so simple though...it takes hard work to grow food. They say if kids help grow their own food, they'll eat more veggies. I noticed after baby girl had carried around the bell pepper in her supergirl cape for awhile, she had taken a big bite out of it! She was gonna at least try something she helped grow!
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
Happy June to all, and happy summer! It has arrived in Georgia with all its 95-degree fury. Just when I was getting used to the 75-degree glorious days of late spring, -- bamm! -- I find myself sweating profusely, and even my sunscreen runs into my eyes with a personal fury of its own -- ouch! I've heard it said that we southern ladies don't sweat, we glisten. But I say call it like it is, sweating hard and fast like any man is what we do (not that I'm proud of it, though). And that's because we work just as hard like a boss, right?! Even my lawn guy tapped on the door to say he wouldn't be mowing this week because he didn't want to leave my yard a dust bowl! Or maybe he was just hotter than a firecracker and was sick and tired of working in a sauna and needed a break. Needless to say, everyone is praying for rain around most parts of Georgia.
As I've been settling in to my little cottage, I've been doing quite the paring down and "getting rid of," and I must say it feels pretty good. But just as I was admiring the order and simplicity of living with less, we cleaned out a 10 x 30 storage unit and, yep, you guessed it, a whole new slew of "stuff" that I forgot I had came my way and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it all. Those blogs about having a "keep" pile, a "throwaway pile," and a "giveaway" pile sound so good, but it's easier said than done for me. I might decide to give something away, only to retrieve it from that pile and place it in the "keep," because, who knows, I just might need it one day. But here's the thing...if you only have 895 square feet, there isn't a whole lot of room to store stuff -- well, really no room to store, just room for everyday stuff and that's a squeeze itself. So what to do? I switch it back from keep to giveaway, and my mind is once again free of the thing that has tried so hard to find a permanent residence with me. I hope in the future to not wanna hold on to "things" so tightly. After all, things are just...things.
Why is it so hard to let go of "stuff"? I've been thinking about that a lot lately, as I've sorted through not only my stuff, but items my mother left behind when she passed away that I've not yet been able to part with. We hang onto stuff out of nostalgia, for one thing. I think for me that's the biggest reason I don't wanna let go. To that item is attached a memory, good or bad, that has somehow tried to make itself a part of my psyche and, to let it go, would be like letting something go that defines me. As I said before, we also hold on to things because we think we just might need it one day. Who knows, we just might need an extra can opener or shoehorn or 9x9 baking pan one day, even though we have three of each. And do you really think you'll ever use those curtains you've had since 1990? I mean, dusty rose and mauve are making a comeback, so they say. I seriously doubt I'll ever want mauve curtains again in my lifetime. So in the future, as I embrace "living with less," I hope to learn the fine art of not holding onto things so tightly. Hold onto people, memories, and experiences, but NOT THINGS!
In trying to purge, we did something that I truly hate and dreaded with all that was within me: We had a garage sale! I got over garage sales back in the early 2000's when we had a sale so big that I vowed never to do it again. I knew it was one way to get rid of stuff and put a little cash in my pocket...money I didn't have and I am not in the practice of giving up extra cash! But, once again I succumbed to its pull, and it proved to be a good way indeed of thinning out the inventory created by the emptying of the storage unit. This stuff had been in storage for going on three years and some of it I had seriously forgotten I had (don't you dare judge!). I mean, this is a fine example of my inability in recent years to let things go. I had this white glossy Siamese cat that I painted in a pottery class back in the seventies (very mid-century). My mother, for some reason unbeknownst to me, loved that cat and kept it until her death in 2014. Of course, since it was my artwork, I inherited it and have tried my best to incorporate it into my decor and honor something in the keeping of that cat (what, I do not know). But the kitty went to a new home this week. A lady from a local junk store scooped her up like a hot commodity and I'm sure by now she's living in a new home making someone very happy with her cool green eyes. Bye-bye, kitty. Hope you're still here at the turn of the next century...just not living at my house. Well, I won't be here either but that's a whole other story.
Little by little I'm taking on small projects that I can do myself here at the "cottage." I recently painted the wood floor in my tiny master closet and it looks so fresh! It was a test run for the possible painting later of the hardwoods in the entire house. I know, I know, I might be a nut even considering painting these 60+year-old oak floors but I love painted floors and they are SO cottage-y. So this is a trial to see if I can live with painted floors. I am enjoying dreaming about how to make this little place mine-all-mine without having to consider re-sale anytime soon or maybe ever. Such a wonderful feeling to have stability and so much fun to do what I like instead of decorating for the buyers to be!
I hope you, my faithful readers, will understand the few and far-between posts I've been able to upload recently.The last few years have been really hard, and some of the changes I've had to make have been as hard as letting go of the aforementioned items. So the last month has been a time of settling in, resting, recuperating, and the beginnings of a healing process that has been a long time in coming. Sometimes taking time away from everything you've known to push forward for what you know is best is equally as hard and comes with it's own set of new challenges. But if it's necessary, then it hopefully proves down the road to be an overdue exercise in healing and self-care. For me, that is exactly what buying this little house has been. It's been a refuge, a place to renew my health and invest in body, soul, and spirit. And it's a lot like its new owner... a bit older, a bit creaky, and full of quirks.
Now, excuse me while I go sniff the bottle of 10-year-old Red Door cologne my mom left behind. You're never too old to need your mama's comfort and, for that reason, I may never let that treasure go.
Painting of the Hardwood Floor in Closet...
Such a simple thing, but made all the difference :)
I've added a couple more pieces to the tiny living room...my wicker bench I found in storage and a much-needed book shelf. It's trial and error, placing and re-placing things to get the just right arrangement that doesn't feel cluttered. Also, family pictures and momentos and ALWAYS fresh flowers make it instantly feel like home!
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
- Maya Angelou
Posted by CC
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