This Next Chapter of Life

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I listen to a lot of YouTube videos, Ted Talks, podcasts. I tune them up, put in my earbuds and do stuff while I listen. Even the videos I usually just listen. I listen to such a weird variety of stuff you’d probably not believe it.

Well, I was listening to a Catholic priest the other day and he explained something so clearly, and I felt so accurately, that I ordered his book. So, I may be sharing more after I read it.

In his lecture, he described our lives as being in 2 distinct chapters. I sort of think there are more, but I won’t go into that here. He said that in the first part of our lives we are busy finding out who we are and building our lives. He called it, “Building our containers.” Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I here? What is my purpose? You know all those questions we ask when we’re young – and sometimes if we’re older if we had a challenging childhood.

We are busy getting married, starting families, building careers, etc. He then said the next chapter or second chapter we are more concerned with the “Contents of our container.” Here’s where we are searching for meaning. We begin to notice the quality of character, values, virtue, etc.

If this is an accurate description, then the whole decluttering thing makes sense. Whatever age you are when this happens (often late 40’s and in your 50’s) –  the kids are on their own, you’re in the latter stages of your career, your parents are passing away, you are realizing your own mortality, you are becoming more of a mentor, sage than a worker drone and you’re getting a few gray (WISDOM) hairs – you begin to feel this surge of a new life beginning. You realize you can do whatever you want to. Your kids are not taking all your money and your time. You’re old enough and smart enough and mature enough not to make stupid decisions so you can create a new life!

That’s why we want to shed all the stuff that weighs us down. We don’t need all the trappings we did when we were younger when we were competing when we were racing. We’re perfectly fine now with a cup of good coffee and a nice view. We don’t want to clean a huge house, we’re fine with a couple of rooms and good company. We no longer care about the container, we want the contents.

The tag line for my original Minimalist Grandma blog was, “freeing myself up so I can enjoy this next chapter.” I might adjust it slightly to say, “keeping myself free so I can enjoy this next chapter.”

Stay free my friends!

Peace,

Jill

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Your Home As Sanctuary

I want to give you permission today. I want to give you permission to protect your home, to keep it safe and make it your sanctuary.

Sanctuary is defined as: “a place of refuge or safety.”

I grew up in a home that was not safe and it was a place of drama and trauma. I watched as people came in and out of the house and as they did they brought pain, insult and drama. They were able to change the atmosphere physically, emotionally and spiritually as they wanted. No one protected our home.

So, as an adult, I determined that I would have a home that was safe and a place of refuge for me and my family and for anyone who would respect what I was trying to achieve.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.thingstodowithkids.com

I have had to fight to protect my home. I have had to work hard to guard its peace.

My home is my only place. I know I am welcome at my kid’s homes, at friend’s homes, but my house is mine. It’s my place. I have the authority to make it what I want it to be.

Husband and I pay the mortgage. So, we get to say what happens in it and to it. Drama and trauma people don’t have that right. Manipulative people don’t have the right. If I invite people into my home, it is understood that they follow the rules and honor the vibe. I set the tone, they don’t.

I want to give you permission to take control of your home. Your kids, extended family, and friends don’t have permission to take over and change your home physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Your home should be a place where you can take refuge and feel safe.

Peace and safety,

Jill

 

 

Interior Decor: What You Love vs. What You Can Live With

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Photo courtesy of American Vintage Home

One good thing about getting older is that you’ve had time to try out a bunch of decorating styles and you can easily pick out what you like and eliminate what you don’t. Maybe you haven’t found a name for your style, but by the time you’re in your 50’s you pretty much know what you like.

My problem is that I like all sorts of things. My taste is pretty eclectic. It took me forever to discover what I loved vs. what I could live with. I mean, I love primitives.

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Photo courtesy of Decoholic

 

And I love Colonial and Early American.

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Photo courtesy of White House

I also really, really love French Brocante.

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The problem is that I can’t live with any of those styles. The Primitive style and the French Brocante ends up looking run down and dirty to me. I mean if I had a brand new, quality house, then maybe the chipped paint, the worn and stained elements would be charming.

I can’t live with Colonial and Early American because it’s too delicate and fine. I’m really not a furniture polisher. I also want people to feel comfortable when they come to my home, not have to watch where they walk or sit.

So, I opt for the Cottage Style, the beach cottage, the easy-going, relaxed vibe. I choose fabrics that are durable and don’t show all the spills and dirt that frequent my life. I want the grandkids to be able to pull all the cushions off the couch and build forts. I don’t want collectibles and knick-knacks that might get broken. I don’t use china, I use Chinet or paper.

And I’m happy with it.

One of the perks of getting older is knowing yourself. And being okay with it.

What’s your style?

Peace,

Jill

Daughter’s Anniversary Visit

We were happy to have our daughter and her family here for a few days! It was her and Michael’s anniversary so they decided to come see us, go out to dinner and use the built-in babysitters and then hit the beach.

I had a surprise for them. I did a painting of the barn where they got married. I had been shopping with Katie recently and we saw a barn painting and she said she would love to have a barn painting for over her sofa, but only if it was a painting of the barn she was married in. So, being the “I’ll give anything a try even if it turns out terrible” person I am, I decided to paint their wedding barn.

I’ve painted before with average results so I got out my brushes and knowing the style I wanted I watched a few YouTube videos to get my mind wrapped around the project. So, I got the paint and made a stab at it.

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This was before I made a few final adjustments. I am my own worst critic and I know it’s a very amateurish attempt, but they can hang it in the garage where no one can see it! It was fun to do and we had fun reminiscing about their wedding.

Then we hit the beach! Such a fun day!

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Katie had a dome carrier with screen and shade for the baby. It was so awesome! It has a cushioned base and the screen lets the air flow through nicely. He slept like a baby, haha! I wanted to get in with him and take a nap! If you’re interested in one, check out this link from Amazon.

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It wasn’t very hot so we were very comfortable and the water temp was perfect. Here in Texas we get to drive out on the beach which makes it very convenient to have all your stuff, coolers and toys within easy reach.

The beach has always been a very special place for our family so it was great to be there when baby Judah had his first visit to the sea.

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I love having the kids and grandkids here. I can’t wait for the next visit!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

When Your Soul Is Sad

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I had a close friend of mine contact me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she was thinking about me, that she knew that this time of year was tough for me.

It happens every year. I’m cruising along making my way through summer and then September and October roll around and while I absolutely LOVE the Fall, there is an underlying melody of sadness that I pick up on. My soul hears it and I dismiss it because logically there’s nothing to be sad about. Everything is good but something has pricked my heart’s minor chord. Sometimes I think it’s because the Fall brings the close of summer with its fun and sun. Sometimes I think that maybe it’s the shortening of days, the cooler weather driving me indoors to artificial light and hibernation and I’m just not ready to give up summer.

It’s not until I am reminded in some way that I remember that my soul usually has a time of grieving in September and October. My mother died on September 30 when I was 3 years old and my sister died on October 4 when I was 33 years old.

I only had one counselor in my life tell me that no matter how old you are, or no matter if you remember it or not, that if a significant person in your life dies it affects you. She said babies, infants, toddlers are deeply affected by the death of a parent. And even though they may not remember the person or the death, they are deeply, emotionally, soul-ly affected.

So, when this time of year rolls around, even though I have no memory of my mother in my brain and I cannot remember the sound of my sister’s voice in my ear anymore, my soul remembers them. And it’s sad. It grieves.

I’m glad I get reminded. I’m glad I don’t walk around with this gloom and think something’s wrong with me.

Grief is not an illness, though it can make you sick if you let it. Grief is an emotion like joy. Emotions come and go. They flow. Just like water, it’s only when you stop it, that it stagnates and can make you ill. If you keep grief with you, make it your house, hold it, wear it, caress it, worship it, that’s when it becomes a problem.

To me, grief is an experience akin to being hit by a strong wind or a wave. The more I fight it to try to make it stop, the more difficult it becomes, the harder it is to bear and often I hurt myself in the fight. But if I let it wash over me and blow through me like wind or wave, the quicker it passes and the less injured I am from the experience.

I remember reading what C.S. Lewis said in “A Grief Observed”:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in.”

I found his description to be very accurate in my experience. This quote really helped me.

After my sister died, I suffered from panic and anxiety attacks. I fought them, took medication for them, went to counseling. But now after many years, when I look back on it, I think I was just grieving. When my sister, who had become sort of a mother figure, died, I grieved double. The depth of my grief scared me. I didn’t know if I’d ever recover. Now I know we do, people do recover. It may not be exactly the way it was, we may not be exactly the same, but we do continue. And whether we are better or worse for the loss I think is largely dependent on us. It depends on what we want our life to be.

Some people stop in their grief and don’t want to fight to get better. It is a fight. It is a fight to recover. Sometimes you have to have help. But you can recover if you work hard and let go of what was.

Now, when this time of year rolls around or when someone I care about dies or when there are sad endings to loves, friendships or times and I feel that fear creep up on me. I try to relax and let it wash over me.

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Then after a while, perhaps the sun comes out and you feel its warmth on your face or for some reason, the taste of a favorite food seems to lure you out from under your blanket of grief and you wade in the waters of life once more.

C’est la vie.

Peace,

Jill

 

Making, Acting, Sendak & A “Where The Wild Things Are” Costume

We have been moving for 8 months now. From the time Husband applied for a new position to actually being somewhat settled in has been about 8 months. That’s almost as long as it takes to conceive and birth a baby! And that’s what it feels like, haha!

In that time and longer, as I had my mind on decluttering, I have put off my creative projects. Oh, I did write and vlog, but hands-on, elbow deep in clay or fabric or paint had to be put on the back burner. So, now, happily, I can get into some projects.

I’ve sort of got my office/studio/study/junkroom set up and I have been making and making!

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Being creative has always been therapy for me. As a kid, I would make up stories and put on skits for family and friends mostly to purge my frustration with my home life. A counselor once told me that I should be proud to have found a healthy way to deal with my situation. As I got older, I was the cartoonist for my Jr. High newspaper and also in Jr. High I entered a talent contest and wrote and performed a silent Charlie Chaplin skit complete with a whipped cream pie fight!

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Through my teenage years and into adulthood I found I loved improv and would eventually teach classes. I performed in community theatre and even dabbled in stand-up comedy. I was dubbed “The Funniest Woman In Town” by a theatre owner at one point. Haha! That’s a joke in itself.

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(This was a community theatre production of the female version of “The Odd Couple.” I played “Florence” the hypochondriac, obsessive-compulsive Felix character. I’m falling to pieces in this scene and they’re having to carry me to the sofa, haha!) 

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(This was from a newspaper article about an improv class I taught to college students)

So, naturally I LOVE Halloween. Not because of the spooky, occultish stuff, but because we get to dress up and pretend! Halloween was the “high holy day” for me and my costume-loving-dress-up-and-pretend friends.

Grandboy #1 is really into “Where The Wild Things Are” and he’s really connected to the character, Max. I am so excited because I LOVE Sendak. In fact, I met him once and he signed my “Where The Wild Things Are” book!

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I asked my daughter if I could make him a costume. And being a mom of an infant and a 2-year-old, she said, “YES!”

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So, I made him one.

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I used this pattern as the basis. I used the fox because of the ears.

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I adjusted a few things for his size and to make it more accurate to the character. I made the legs appear longer by raising the crotch for one thing. And I used velcro as the closure instead of a zipper because I thought it would get caught up in the fur and get stuck. I also wanted him to be able to get in and out of it by himself so he wouldn’t be begging Mom every 5 minutes to zip him up. I redesigned the ears and tail to look like Max’s.

Initially, I wasn’t going to do anything about hands and feet. I was just going to cut a ragged hem to give the appearance of claws on the hands and feet. But when my daughter said he was very focused on the claws, I decided to adapt some gloves and buy some slippers with claws.

I used foam for claws and glued them to the gloves. They are probably going to be too big but I couldn’t find smaller gloves. I also bought the little knit crown but I’m not sure if it’s going to fit. So, I made one out of foam and trimmed it in fur that matches the tail in case G is that interested in accuracy. He might be!

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And….I also made the boys treat bags. They’re just easy peasy rag bags. Frayed seams on the outside to make them look raggedy.

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So, I’m off to the see them all. I can do that now since I’m only 4 hours away! What a joy! I’ll let you know if G likes his costume.

Peace,

Jill

I’m Not The Only One! Death Cleaning

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My father-in-law sent me a Washington Post article on “Death Cleaning.” I was so excited to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s important to clear out unwanted things and get your s@#%* in order before you “bite the big one.”

According to Margareta Magnusson I’m about 10 years too early. She suggests starting at 65 years old.

But really, the Swedes embrace the concept of “dostadning” which comes from the Swedish words for death and cleaning. It’s basically what I’ve been talking about: gettting rid of unwanted things so your family doesn’t have to deal with it and getting your affairs in order.

The article quotes Karin Olosfdotter, Swedish Ambassador, who says that her parents are “death cleaning” as well as their friends and she thinks it almost a “biological” thing to do.

It’s funny because I have run across my people in my own age range and most of them are doing it and if not, they want to or are thinking about it. So, I think it could be a biological thing. A lot of people don’t do it because it’s so hard, though.

We should come up with a word for death cleaning here in the US. I think I have. It’s called “getting your s@#* together.”

I’ll have to get Magnusson’s book when it becomes available in the US in January.

I’m glad I’m not alone and this whole throwing out experience wasn’t actually a mental breakdown.

This day after Halloween might be a good time to start “death cleaning.” What do you think?

Peace,

Jill