Monthly Archives: May 2012

Life is Beautiful

Every moment is a gift.

I was looking at a couple of different professional photography blogs today and saw people captured in light and time in a way that was flattering, but also in a way that allowed their specific physical quirks and graces to shine. I recall from my own wedding that some of my favorite photos were the least staged or the most wrinkle-filled. My grandmother with Alzheimer’s, her face glowing from excitement, even though she had a hard time remembering who was getting married. My husband’s grandfather, sitting quietly on a bench in the church, observing the festivities in his own stoic way. My brothers and my husband’s best friends, giving him a hard time while they got ready for the ceremony–I can see the mischief in their faces, even today. My closest friends, surrounding me as I got ready, and praying over me. My dad’s expression when he saw me for the first time … and the tears of joy and regret we shared when acknowledging, together, we wished my mother could have lived to see that day.

And then I look back at old family photos. Some are from my family. There’s snapshots of my brothers and I growing up. There’s the snapshots from my parents’ wedding, blurry and overexposed, but still treasured. Some are from other families I don’t know. I bought those photos at an antique store, in bulk, and have sold many of them over the months through my shop. While looking at them, I’ve marveled at the life of this family. Their snowball fights in the late 30s or 40s. Their new cars. Their summer trips across the United States. Their boating outings on the lake. Their photos of men and women in uniform around the era of World War II. It’s amazing. This whole existence, in a box of photos. I’m enchanted and so curious about the people I’ve never met.

The photos don’t tell the hard stories, usually, but sometimes they do. I have a digital photo of my mother that makes me tear up every time I pass by it on my way to find another photo. I have a hard time looking at that photo, one of the last ones I have of her, taken a couple of weeks before she died, but not before her skin saw the yellowing of jaundice brought on by a failing liver. It hurts to see that photo, yet it doesn’t only hurt. It is still a memory of a woman I loved dearly.

Every photo I’ve held on to through the years tells a story. A beautiful story of the lives of my world … my family … my life.

What stories do your photos tell?

I bet they’re beautiful, too.

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Filed under Life

Build Habits

{Photo Credit: Colin Dunn, via Creative Commons}

I am notoriously bad at remembering to take my vitamins, plus the iron makes me queasy if I take it in the morning, so instead of stashing them in the cupboard, I put a cup and my bottle of vitamins on the bedroom dresser, next to my lamp. Now, before I turn off the light, I swallow the vitamin for the day and go to sleep. I rarely forget. I never get queasy. I don’t know if my vitamin consumption habits have definitively helped improve my sleep quality, but I can say this: I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time. I used to wake up every couple of hours, and now I sleep straight through more often than not! I can’t tell you how exciting that is, but I digress.

My point wasn’t to take your vitamin at night to sleep better. My point is any daily task–like taking a vitamin–can be habitualized. I suspect tying the habit to a daily ritual (getting ready for bed) is what worked for me. Every night, I brush my teeth, I get fresh water in my cup, I take my vitamin, and I turn off the light. Then I go to sleep.

This made me wonder: what other simple, but often forgotten, tasks could I or others make habitual? And would tying them to a specific time, location, daily ritual, or other event help me (or them) continue the habit until it becomes second-nature? My guess is YES.

I’m going to keep a look out for those opportunities to hack my lazy brain into a mean, lean,  house-cleaning machine!

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Filed under Home, Life, Organizing, Ponderings, Uncategorized

In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings