Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mental Margarita for October 1, 2008

This is the first time I've lived somewhere that has a recognizable fall. It's not as vivid as back east, but there is a crispness in the morning, a softer (and later) sunrise, and beautiful shocks of red and gold on the trees here and there. The fruits and veggies at the farmers' market are becoming more hearty. I'm making soup again (besides gazpacho, which holds no appeal right now). And one of my favorite signs of fall: Halloween decorations.

As I've posted about recently, I'm also feeling a change in the schedule. Even though we're moving toward the holiday season, I personally am feeling the lightness that comes after a busy summer, and after the slew of September birthdays in our community.

I look forward to snuggling in, to lighting candles (no fireplace) and sipping tea or cocoa. I'm anticipating weekends with not one thing scheduled.

And I'm looking forward to distinctly Seattle fall experiences. One thing I heard about was Indian drumming at the mouth of a local stream to welcome the salmon back. Gotta find the orchard and the cider house. Pick pumpkins from the field.

And stay warm.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Releasing Activities

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I used to speak on the topic of Decluttering Life, and trimming the schedule was an integral part of that. I’m so glad I reminded myself of that valuable lesson, because this week, I needed the reminder!

One of the many blessings in moving away from our home of 35 years is that all of the sudden, my schedule was shockingly light. Delightfully open. It was almost like being on vacation. I’ve always had a busy life, requiring rigorous schedule management. I suppose I took a perverse pride in how busy I was, as if degree of busy-ness equaled relative importance in the world. Anyone relate to that? (While going through old keepsakes in our move, I even found a daily planner I had in high school. High school! It was full, too. I guess I knew even then that trying to keep it all in my head was a recipe for disaster.)

Anyhoo, we’ve been Seattleites now for seven months (as long as we’ve lived anywhere in the last three years) and we’ve reconnected with old friends, made new ones, had visitors, and this month is birthday celebration season in our house. We are busy. Oh yeah, and there’s work.

It doesn’t matter that the majority of the extra-curricular activities are fun. It’s still a hella full schedule.

Swinging the schedule pendulum from the uber-full direction to the uber-light direction has allowed me to get a true reading on what I need. My new center is quite a bit further to the light side than it ever was in Phoenix. So when it started eking back in the full direction, I started getting cranky. I’m glad I haven’t gotten sick. (Sometimes when I don’t slow down, my body forces me to.)

The point that I am winding my way toward is this: Do you know what your center of balance is? If you have kids, or say “yes” too often, you may not even have a true sense of what you need. It’s too easy to get pulled a lot of directions, especially where family is concerned.

And it is utterly useless to compare yourself to other people. If you do this, I have some very wise words for you. Ready? Listen closely: CUT IT OUT! Comparing yourself to others only makes you feel less than and possibly guilty. They don’t have your life – so why should yours look like theirs?

This week, I really encourage you to get in touch with what your center of balance looks like. What do you need? What would your calendar look like? How about down time with nothing scheduled? What would feed you?

Because if you don’t know what balance means in your life, you won’t have it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Releasing People

I used to do a talk on Decluttering Life. Decluttering paper, decluttering stuff, decluttering the schedule, and even decluttering people. On that topic, we talked about releasing the energy vampires, the ones who suck you dry and don’t give anything in return. I had done a pretty good job of walking my talk, and could honestly say that I no longer had any vampires in my life.

When we announced we were leaving Phoenix to go on our adventure, I had a friend get upset with me for saying I would miss my house but not saying I would miss my friends. I didn’t say it because I honestly expected to keep all my friends, no matter where I was.


Moving away from most of the people in our lives was the hardest part of this adventure. Some of them stopped writing or calling or replying to my messages. It seemed out of sight really was out of mind. Actually losing friends was shocking to me. I was truly – naively – expecting that we would stay in touch with everyone and they would stay in touch with us. (In my defense, I had never moved away from Phoenix before. Yet I knew that people who did move away didn’t always stay connected, even good friends. Bottom line: I just didn’t give it a lot of thought. Just had expectations.)

I did grieve the loss of those folks. But time and distance has given me perspective. You’ve probably seen that email that comes around now and again about some people staying in your life for a reason, some just staying for a season, and so on. It’s corny, but in my opinion, utterly true.

Although I never intended to consciously “declutter” anyone from my life, that’s how it worked out. Some relationships simply don’t survive distance. The ones I lost weren’t energy vampires. But you know what? I’m really OK with letting them go. Just like with stuff, letting go of the old makes way for the new.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mental Margarita for September 11, 2008

If you read the Mental Margarita message this week, you'll already know that I'm in a kind of philosophical place right now. No, that's not right. I don't mean to undermine my own message, which I kind of just did. I think the major theme of my writings in the MMs and in this blog has been that of simplifying life, and implied in that is the ability to be present to the simple things, the little moments that make life rich.

All we ever have access to is the very moment we're in. So remembering a friend who has passed, and reflecting on the anniversary of 9/11, are both ways of reminding ourselves what's really important. Kind of theme of this blog, although a new angle this week.

The new images on my site this week all exemplify the being present to life's little moments. Simply watching the graceful undulations of kelp in the current, or noticing the patterns as the rain starts to fall, and the lovely effect when it's done. Or watching the shadows dance on the petals of a flower. (If you missed these images, please go to: fotos de karina: new)

And although photojournalism is not my strength, I kind of like this series I did on our jam-making with Shelley. I was going for a look like what you'd see in the magazine Real Simple. Please check out the post below.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Blackberry Tribute to my friend Shelley

Two weekends ago, our friend Shelley Davis came up to teach us how to make jam. She had proposed the idea in June when I showed her our blossom-laden bushes. We harvested 16 cups of berries, and made a lovely, tangy jam.

This past weekend, Shelley died in a tragic accident. There simply are not the words. What I can say is that I am so grateful for the time we had, for the gift she was and continues to be, and for this delicious jam I will enjoy in honor of my friend.