Sunday, January 27, 2013

Living Here Right Now

Reading in bed...wonder who he takes that after??
Looking out the window of our hotel at the Atlanta skyline, I said to my son, who was lying on the bed reading a comic book, "How would you like to live here, in a big city like this?"

"Duh, Mama," he replied, not looking up from the page. "We are living here, we're living here right now."

It was a reminder to be in the moment. And I loved it.

Now I sit down, having found the words to write about my trip, which was a wonderful time between friends and visiting an amazing shop, The Phoenix and Dragon. (

The trip was an example of my financial philosophy, 'Live simply, but live as though money is no object.'  My friend Debby, my son Eric and I stayed at the Embassy Suites in Buckhead, an amazing hotel that I can't say enough good things about. The indoor pool and jacuzzi alone made it worth every penny.

The view from our doorway...not too shabby!!!
But The Phoenix and Dragon was the main purpose for our trip, and like the Embassy Suites, it did not disappoint. We spent over an hour strolling about, looking at all sorts of merchandise, books, and other items that represent a large variety of everything from spiritual beliefs to holistic health practices. I was delighted when I saw my friend and fellow artist Damaris ( come into the shop, which host a line of her products.

Damaris' product line includes these 7 day candles featuring her own artwork!
Later that evening, while Debby left to visit with her son, my friend Tracy, who I've not seen since my son was a baby, came to visit us at the hotel. We'd been enjoying the indoor pool and were just heading back upstairs when they arrived. It was a wonderful reunion; she was amazed to how my son had grown, and I was amazed to see how her daughter had transformed from a little girl to a young woman.

At Phoenix and Dragon the next day!
Our reunion lasted late into the evening, where we were joined by Debby and her son and had a wonderful time talking and socializing while the kids watched television and drew pictures. Seeing old friends has a way of rekindling in me so many dreams and ideas that daily life can somehow work under the rug. I always feel inspired when I spend time with like-minded people I've known for ages. That evening was a true blessing as old friendships were strengthened and new connections were formed.

The next day, we visited Phoenix and Dragon one last time before heading out. It was great to see my Atlanta friends again. I was excited to learn of the High Museum's coming exhibit of the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I've already made plans to return during my upcoming February long weekend and take in this exhibit.

The kids amusing themselves while the moms shop...again!!
Coming home through Athens, we enjoyed lunch at The Daily Groceries Co-Op and took a stroll to a nearby independently-owned bookstore. I love Athens, always have. There is something to be said for a town that can support such a wonderful place as The Daily Groceries. (  I think I just might like to spend more time in a town like that. Maybe even live there, one day.

But not today. Today, I live here and must focus on this time, this present, this now. Now I am buying a house. I'm not buying clothes for a year, which means when I want something new, I have to make it. I'm going vegetarian again, or rather attempting to, and I'm getting ready to train for my level II Reiki certification. I'm helping my son with homework and exploring the new interests he's developing. I'm planting hundreds of flowering bulbs donated by Jackson-Perkins to our community garden and launching a line of gratitude-based greeting cards, featuring my own art and quotes/poetry.

I'm enjoying living here, right now.... very very much.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Every Moment

I went to be last night full of enthusiasm for writing about the weekend my son and I spent in Atlanta and Athens. We visited an awesome shop, saw some friends we've not seen in years, ate some amazing foods, and had an all-out fabulous time. I went to bed last night exhausted, but on cloud nine. I had so much to say; I was going to let it marinate while I slept and write about it this morning.

Then I woke up to the tragic news of the sudden death of a friend and former co-worker. She was my age; we were birthday buddies, with our special days only 3 days apart. As co-workers years ago, we'd been very close. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, and often saw her with her husband and son out and about it shops and restaurants. She was beautiful inside and out, a radiant spirit whose eyes always shone with a geniune happiness to see you.

I'm just rocked by this tragic, terrible news. Nothing I can say in this post could summarize how unpredicatable and seemingly unfair life can often be. Not knowing what to say would be an understatement; this is one of those times when words simply fail. It's a time of action, support, care and concern for those closest to her - parents, husband, son. I face today with the knowledge that every moment genuinely is precious.

This is not just a trite saying; it's a fact. We hear those words so often, yet we still manage to waste time; hold grudges; hurt others; be afraid; stay in stasis; accept the status quo; tell ourselves we can't live the lives we want; that our dreams are too far out of reach.

Or that we have time. That the infamous 'one day' is actually coming. We'll do it one day, when the kids are grown; when we retire; when we have more money; in spring, in summer; when we're less consumed by the daily demands of living. We tell ourselves there will come a day and a time when we'll really be living.

Friend, that time is now. There is no other; nothing is promised. The news I woke to this morning reminded me of that. There is no other time than the moment we are in. You don't have to be doing huge, grand things to be living fully...but you should be happy with your life, and if you aren't you should immediately take strides to do whatever it takes to make you as happy as it is possible to be. You know what you want, deep down. So pursue it. Now, because nothing is guaranteed except for this: no matter how long of a life you are blessed with, it's going to be too short.

 I am so saddened by the passing of my friend. Though I have no doubt that she truly lived and loved every minute of her life, thirty-nine years is not nearly enough.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Clothes Shopping, Week Two

Why would it matter to the world, or universe at large, that I’m not buying any new clothes for an entire year?

Well, truth is, it doesn’t. And I know that. I also know it’s a big goal, which is why I am taking it in increments – two months at a time.

Will it affect the economy? Heavens no, I bought most of my clothes at resale shops or during 75% OFF THE ALREADY REDUCED PRICE kind of sales. So it won’t really even save me money, to be honest.

It is just something I want, or need, to do.

As I stated in previous blog on this subject, when I tried it from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I discovered a few things about myself. Okay, well, that happens a lot, I’m always discovering things about myself, its part of being alive. But this discovery wasn’t exactly a feel-good, I’ve-learned-a-life-lesson-I-can-apply kind of thing. It was more like an Ugh, recreational shopping! I am doing it, too!!! type of discovery.

Because I don’t want to shop for recreation…I’m deeper than that, or at least I want to be. And truthfully, I should be able to easily go a year without buying clothes. Hell, I could probably go a year without doing laundry. I have things in my closet with tags still attached…and yet I was always acquiring more.

And the kicker? I was creating a junior clothes-horse in the process.

My son is eight, and he has 8 pairs of shoes. His dresser drawers will not shut. His closet looks like three children live in our house rather than just one. And you know what he bought with his Christmas money? Clothes, even though Santa brought him quite a few new outfits.

What 8-year-old on earth puts clothes at top of list of things they want to buy with their own money? Mine. And where did he learn this? The same way children learn 90% of the habits, routines, and non-personality based actions they adopt and carry into adulthood – by watching the person closest to him.


And while I have to admit, a big part of me is delighted that he loves fashion. I love that at an early age, he takes care with his appearance and likes new clothes. But I don’t want to teach him to shop as a hobby. There’s a false lesson in that I don’t ever want my child to learn.

Shopping + Acquiring = Happiness….right?


And too many people learn that lesson the hard way.

So, I decided to include him in the no-clothes-shopping year, but in an adapted way. His new clothes will be purchased only on an as-needed basis …no frivolous buying for a boy who could easily go a month without wearing the same thing twice. So when a friend called to tell me VANS were on sale for $14 at JC Penney, I had to think long and hard about taking advantage of what was a pretty sweet deal. You see, my son doesn’t only like clothes; he likes the latest style of clothes and knows what’s cool at the moment. A few months ago it was DCs… now its VANS. He was very excited about going to get a new pair until I told him we were buying a size up from what he actually wears. I explained how I was trying to go a year without buying clothes for myself, and only buying what is absolutely necessary for him, on the way. He protested a little, because he really wanted the Vans, but he couldn’t argue my point…he simply does not need another pair of shoes RIGHT NOW, even if they were free.

So now he’s hoping his feet grow quickly, and I’m hoping to be able to follow through with my little plan and set an example. It may not be a lesson other parents find worth teaching, but what I am going for here is this – an acknowledgement of abundance. We have so much, we are truly blessed, and we need to slow down and acknowledge it. My son may not understand now how good he has it, but my hope is that he will realize at an early age that shopping + acquiring = happiness is the myth many people are fed from infancy, and leads to cycles of over-work and depression that wreck lives and can even destroy families. Getting lots of stuff…even our favorite stuff…is not what it’s all about.

It’s not even close.

So will my one small act, not buying clothes for myself for a year, and only buying the necessary essentials for my son as he outgrows other things and needs new items, change the world? No. But I know it will change our habits, our routines, and even our budget. Now that spontaneous shopping isn’t an option when we’re bored and need something to do, we’ll look for more and more viable, purposeful ways to spend our time…and the money we’ll save from not buying unnecessary items might just help fund some of these adventures, or make a nice donation to a place we want to help.

In my parenting philosophy, it is a valuable lesson worth striving for. And knowing my son is watching…I think I’m going to make my goal!!!

(sorry for the absence of delightful photos; for some reason, blogspot is not giving me the option at this time to add them...which is making me angry and likely to heave computer out the window at any moment now....)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Southern Beastliness

I was raised on the past, taught at an early age to understand the value of what was. I tagged along on abandoned house explorations; looked out the back car window at dried-up towns; snuck shy peeks at the cloudy eyes of fading people as I listened to thier stories.

It  was during these early, formative years that I learned the beauty of story. These old houses had a story; someone had lived there, once. A screen door creaks open. I'm on the broken porch of a house we had to walk through near a mile of wild to find. I jump - there was no wind.
Walking the streets of an empty town where a few hangers-on still stake out a living, I peer into the window of what was a diner once. Behind me, a man who could be anywhere from eighty to a hundred talks to my father about coming home from the war, and having a soda in that very place. He remembers how good it was, how good that entire day was, and how the diner was once the hub of the town's activity, a dear and favorite place for all. He leans on his walking stick, which is actually a polished root of some sort. His left hand is missing three fingers. He misses the town, but he built his house himself. "You don't just up and walk away from that," he says, explaining his near-lone perserverance in a place that time forgot. I was a child. When I reached out and touched the shiny tip of the walking stick, my fingers brushed the hard skin where his had once been. I gasped. The man winked at me, then laughed. My father laughed, too.

Thirty years later, I'm still not sure why. But I am sure the man had a story to tell, just like the places I grew up exploring had stories that called out, whispers of voices in the creaking of falling screen doors and the steadfastness of brick chimneys that dot the Southern landscape, the only thing left of those homes and families and people that used to be here, once. I believe these story-laden abandoned people and places only exist in the South. And the deeper you go, the more you'll find.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the Red Box movie I picked for myself  last night. I'd read about it somewhere months ago, and was delighted to see it as a selection. This movie, whose plot I really couldn't begin to describe, takes place in The Bathtub, a forgotten region of the Bayou. It's not a real place, technically speaking, though places like this exist. It centers around the lives of a few holdouts who live a completly sustainable, though nearly feral, life in the land they love, despite the fact that time, progress, and one hell of a storm are closing in around them. The central character, Hush Puppy, is a 6-year-old girl living with her dying father, looking for her lost mother, and throughout the tale becomes a protagonist I wish I'd invented myself.

If you love folklore and believe all things in the universe are connected...see this film.

If you grew up with vehicles (like boats) that were pieced together from 50 gallon drums and the back end of trucks...see this film.

If your father ever taught you how to hang over the edge of a boat, lean forward with one arm in the water, and catch a catfish...see this film.

If you've ever turned an abandoned trailer into a playhouse or a refuge...see this film.

If you've ever, at any point in time, had to say to something - or someone - else, "You are my friend...but I gotta take care of mine," ...see this film.

 If you've ever eaten fried alligator made by a lady who told you stories while she cooked...see this film.

 If you want a magical, near mystical adventure that is foreign and yet familiar at the same time...see this film.

For the moment in time it will catapult you into...see this film.

If the word Bayou stirs your heart, reminding you that one needn't cross the ocean to discover different cultures...see this film.

 For the memories it just might conjur up...see this film.

 For the depth of the world's magic that it just might remind you of...see this film.

See this film, whose cast is composed of all unknown actors, one being a bakery shop employee that the film makers happened upon and had to talk into taking the role of Hush Puppy's father (a reminder that often we don't know our own potential until someone talks us into taking a chance - the man is utterly amazing in the film). His character's life reminds me that there are so many ways to live , and Heaven on Earth has many addresses. In some places, money is irrelevant, education means you know how to survive, living fully is not a goal to strive for, it's just how life is lived, and time is a completely abstract concept. A thousand years can be the blink of the eye; a day can last an eternity. Success is measured by how many are willing to stand and face the storm with you., and even the youngest child knows that 'brave don't run'. If you believe that...any of that...then by all means...see this film.

But I'm no reviewer. So here's the trailer:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Month That Changed My Life (in a wee small way, but nevertheless...)

Here she is, folks...a certified clotheshorse.

Why yes, that is a ridiculously huge basket of yarn and a favorite pair of cowboy boots behind me...what of it?

Let me say here that I am pretty proud of the fact that the sweater I'm wearing in the photo above only cost .50 cents. But see, that is part of the problem. I'm a lover of bargains and resale shop shopping, and I'm also a lover of clothes, a fact that this picture, which only shows about fifty percent of what's actually in my closet, can prove.

How will I ever share a closet space with someone else when this big walk-in can barely even hold my things?

I strive to embrace the simple living concept of not being materialistic and all of that good stuff, but I like clothes. Alot. I never though about how much until a Red-Box drama I rented a few months ago enlightened me. It was the vow a character made - not to buy clothes for an entire year. I thought, woah.....there is no way! Her reasons were moral and noble and had to do with her personal beliefs about acquiring and abundance, and also the frivolous things we focus on and spend our time, money, and energy on. As good movies usually have a good message, this one got me thinking about my personal beliefs about acquiring and abundance, and I found myself I frivolous what comes to time, money, and energy? Could I go a year without buying new clothes?

So, I decided I'd challenge myself in a mini, toe-in-the-pool-because-I'm-too-scared-to-dive-in kind of way: From Thanksgiving until Christmas, I would not buy any clothes, either resale or on sale, even if I had extra funds or found great bargains. None at all. Yeah, I know that's only a month, but let's just say it was enough of a challenge that I was nervous. Have I mentioned how much I love clothes?

And you know what? It was an eye opening experience to me in many ways, but the one I want to focus on here is this: my  little experiment showed me that the primary reason I shop for clothes is...drum roll please...B-O-R-E-D-O-M. Yep. Boredom.

As an adult with ADD who choses not to medicate, it's fair to say that for my brain to work properly, I need more stimulation and activity than most people. I channel that need into projects, social time, creative activities, physical exercise,you name it. I need things to do, plain and simple. Still sometimes, all that I take on is not enough, and I find myself completely caught up on every possible thing and it's just 11am on Saturday morning and I've got to find something to I'll go out and find a yard sale, a thrift store, a sale at Old Navy. I never, ever imagined myself a 'recreational shopper' because I'm not the typical mall/outlet store/something-with-the-word-warehouse-in-it's-name Saturday peruser. And yet, here I was, unable to shop for a month, and humbly realizing I spend an awful lot of time shopping out of boredom...just like everyone else.

And the result? I was purging constantly. I might have only been spending $10 or $20 a month on new clothes, but due to the small space I live in, I was always having to go through it to make room for more. And what good does it do to purge if you're just gonna replace it all 5 minutes later?

When I finally get over being afraid of my sewing machine, I'll make something wonderful with these fabrics...which I've had for years now...

And so I made it through the month without buying clothes for myself. Big woop to many people, I know...but it is a big thing to me. It opened my eyes a little to the fact that I DO recreationally shop, whether I like to admit it or not. And it isn't good, for many reasons, but mostly because even if I'm getting a super-dooper's still something I don't need. It's still materialism. It's still uneccessary. There are so many more meaningful things I can do with my time than look for super-dooper deals on things I've got plenty of already.

And truth be told, I have enough clothes. More than enough. I could easily go a year without buying any new clothing item, and I think it's worth a I'm going to. Month by month, we'll see how it goes. Because while purging is good...

Thrift-store bound goodies!!
...not acquiring it in the first place is even better. So, at the time of this writing, I'm beginning the vow anew, but in baby steps. From January 1st until Valentine's Day, I will not buy any new clothes or shoes for myself, because I truly don't need them. And if 11am Saturday rolls around, and I am bored, well...I believe I am intelligent enough that I can find something more stimulating and meaningful to do with my time

Next, we'll work on not buying books...or not buying yarn....

...nah...not this year. Gotta contribute to capitalism in some way, right? :-)