Time To Think

Time To Think

Sunday, August 27, 2017


I don’t consider myself a Minimalist, however, I am about to become one. Our recent move to Arizona has taught me that I can live with less, in order to live more. After months of packing up our home in Milwaukee, selling, and giving away STUFF, I was amazed at how much we had accumulated over the years, only for it not to matter so much anymore.

There were boxes and boxes, packed with miscellaneous home décor, hundreds of Beanie Babies (oh, they may be worth something someday, better keep those) clothes, books, electronic games, stereo equipment, you name it we stored it. In fact, we rented a storage, to park stuff, so our home would be clutter free for real estate showings.

Goodness, when all the stuff was out of the house, I was amazed at how much better I was able to breathe, move around, and observe. That’s when I actually noticed again, the beautiful design of our home, with all the natural wood, high ceilings, and windows galore. Once the stuff vacated, I felt like I could return, and a weight lifted. Even though we still had the hustle and bustle of moving, I was beginning to think more clearly, and vowed to never get into that position again of accumulating stuff.

We packed our moving POD with only the essentials, except when we got to Arizona, we discovered that a lot of those ESSENTIALS would remain in the garage. I looked around the space of our new dwelling, and found that I like a clean wall, and unobstructed flooring, where there is room to walk freely. Although we will have to sit on the floor for another few days, when I went shopping for new furniture, I only bought a chair, sofa and a dining table small enough to fit in the kitchen area. I intend to be very strategic about how I place accents around them. No more clutter.

My office has a few staged personals, minimally, so that I can feel at home, and summon my writing muse.  I am wondering, though, where I will house my library, books remain essential. They may have to stay in boxes, until I get a space for them to be in their own room. Nothing but books.

Right now, I prefer to notice HOW I’m living. I enjoy looking out an unblocked window, and appreciating how the desert weeds appear like beautiful flowers, walking out my front door to a quiet neighborhood, seeing the stars in a clear midnight sky, watching my cat look out the window and virtually chase everything that is moving outside, and even a smaller area to clean up doggy poop. I like driving down the highway and looking up at the mountains, before me and around me, and yes, I even discovered how to appreciate the heat, and how to navigate in it.

Definitely, with less stuff I am set about to discover this living, breathing house­­– me. I’ll check in from time to time to let you know how I am doing. In the mean-time you might want to look around and purge some of the essential non-essentials. You’ll be better off for it!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tree Lessons

I absolutely love when I catch myself living in the moment. Lately, those times are sporadic, and scarce. To my delight, today was one of those times. While eating breakfast, my posture facing the patio door, I looked out and traced the boundaries of our property. My eyes focused on the lush green foliage from the treescape, and its divergent characteristics.

There had been trees on the land before we arrived, but not many, except on the adjacent city lot. I remember when my husband planted more trees to create a natural fence for privacy. I could hardly imagine then, that the sticks he would plant in the ground, would grow to be the deciduous shade trees they are today. I am unable to name them all, but what they have in common are lustrous leaves, durability and adaptability.

My eyes were drawn to an older tree, its bark badly peeling, branches thinner, some taken out by storms, and others cut down because of being weak and fragile. We had thought often about cutting the entire tree down, but year after year, as it turns out the tree is always reliable. Its leaves fall quicker than the others, and we barely expect them to return in the Spring, but they do.

It stands taller than the other trees and stands out among them. I am always looking for symbolism during moments of reflection. Today, the tree taught me a few lessons. It taught me that although it was older, thinner and declining, it still had much to offer. I made this observation as I watched a tree squirrel search for a trunk to shimmy up. The rodent appeared to frustrate itself with the younger, denser trees, and excitedly chose the older tree for its scamper. The trunk on the mature tree was apparently more suited for adventure.

Lesson: The tree is still useful.

I noticed that the grown-up tree flirted with the wind, more than the others. Taller and leaner, the branches effortlessly swayed in the breeze.

Lesson: The older one becomes, it is a blessing to shed some weight. Being lighter allows freedom for the flow. The tree showed me that the flow is so beautiful, younger trees submit to its representation, as they struggle to find their place in the ecosystem.

Finally, the tree showed me it lives. In spite of its shedding of leaves, brittle bark and failing limbs, it still sings its own song. The tree is resilient, it has seen some things, and it is happy to keep on living.

Musing off…

Friday, June 30, 2017

New Nest, New Branch, New Tree

We have LIVED in our Milwaukee home, located in the Florist Highlands for 23 years. These days, we are fixing and replacing worn out subjects, preparing to sell it, looking forward to our move to Arizona. We built the colonial, two-story, single family home in 1994. The builder called it a “saltbox.” The term became literal for us because of the nature of salt and its relationship to the earth. We envisioned our saltbox as a place suitable to raise our children, a welcome place for fellowship, food and fun. We’ve been blessed exceedingly and abundantly on this parcel of land! Our saltbox, we trust, added flavor to our neighborhood and community.

 I think back to the football games, wedding receptions, summer soiree’s and countless cookouts in our backyard. We soaked it all in, rain, shine, and snow! Our friends often considered our back-yard a private park because of its uncommon size for a city lot. We once had an open- door policy on Sundays. In years past, if you found yourself in the area, you could pull up un-announced and share Sunday dinner with us. We had to dial it back a bit- the un-announced thing, while my husband and I went back to school. This type of activity has recently slowed to make room for the move, but we are lucky that our friends and family still grace us with their presence every now and then!

The neighborhood has changed a bit, in a good way, with new families starting out building their lives. We have slowly gotten to know many of them moving in, and remain neighborly to the long-timers. My husband and I often joke, we are now the seniors of our block. I think back to when we were in our first home. We revered and respected the seniors on our block. We are now those people!

One of the neighbor kids, now a teenager, who I have known her since she was born, stopped by a few weeks ago, and began to reminisce while standing in our front yard. “Mrs. Lee,” she said. “Remember when we played softball in the back yard, and Bekah let us make a gym out the front yard, and play with the dogs? Boy, I am really going to miss you when you move to Arizona! So many good memories here.” I turned away as I found myself tearing up. I was around when her father and his siblings were her age. They played with my children. Wheww!

I was enjoying these reflections while taking down wallpaper in one of our bathrooms. The only way I could get through the task was by thinking happy thoughts. In fact, wallpaper removal was going to be the subject of this blog, but writing about plain ol’ wallpaper removal may have run the risk of being a tutorial, meaning- there would be no meaning. So, I am going to make meaning of it now.

Living in this house has been like the glistening beauty of newly applied wallpaper. Over the years, we have had some peeling, dulling and seam-splitting. Today, new trends abound for home decorating. Wallpaper is considered out of date for some, and has served its usefulness. It had to come down. The wallpaper was stubborn against its removal, and resisted in splits and tears, but finally gave in. However, the backing stood firm. To remove it required painstaking scraping, and steaming. It did not want to go, but finally relented.

That’s kind of how I feel,  however, unlike the wallpaper, I am not kicking and screaming against a move. But I am a little stubborn to my memories when they surface. Sometimes I feel a bit like I will be starting from scratch. The possibilities, while exciting, can be a little intimidating. I’ve become too comfortable, one of the signs that it is time for a change- besides the mid-western winters, if I am really truthful.

I read somewhere that a baby bird does not know for certain that it can fly until it takes the first leap off the branch of its tree. I feel like a baby bird, moving to the unfamiliar. While the thought of moving forward excites me, leaving my cozy nest requires a great leap of faith into the unknown.

I am sure I developed the feathers for it though, and they are designed to fly through the skies. Time to build a new saltbox, in a new nest, on a new branch, in a new tree. I’m leaping folks!

See you soon!

Musing off…