mend and make do

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We spent the summer nesting. The kind of nesting, apparently, one does when the last of the children leaves and you’ve suddenly inherited a wealth of space previously occupied. It’s a wistful sort of nesting, at first. But we eventually found our way into a groove of happy home-tending.

As such, we’ve worked on all things home this summer. A little remodeling here. Some new furniture there. Paint. Flooring. All with an eye toward how we really intend to use the rooms in our home at this point in our lives. We’ve also planned ahead for when the children, and later the grandchildren, visit.

We’ve spent some hot, summer days in the attic and in the cooler basement: tossing, sorting, debating, and deciding. Paring down possessions accumulated in our 20 or so years as a family. What’s needed? Relevant? Beautiful? Sentimental? Worth hanging on to? Still useful?

While I wouldn’t classify our final decisions as utterly ruthless, we did take a good hard look at our life with stuff. And quite clearly, we have just about everything we need. And then some, probably.

Most of the time, making do simply involves taking a look around to see what I’ve already got. And I guess, that’s what I’m learning. Mend or make do is less about frugality, exactly, than it is recognizing what’s useful and purposeful and helpful among my possessions and banishing those which aren’t any of those things. It’s about retraining my brain from mindless and somewhat habitual consumerism to consciously evaluating wants, needs, and the altogether unnecessary.

New curtains after painting downstairs? Not necessary. Shift the bedroom curtains and rehang some sheers we found in the basement. New area rug? No need. Do si do the rugs in the entry and family room, and it’ll work just fine.  We removed our old kitchen counter and sat it atop some sawhorses downstairs. Et voila! A new workspace emerged for printing and framing my photography.

Maybe it’s time to find a cobbler for those boots I love, so the worn out heels can be restored. It’s a good idea to remove photgraphs I no longer display from the frames I could use for photographs I intend – one day – to show and sell. That old rattan planter makes a nifty wastebasket in our new office space. And I promise I’m finally going to hem that dress which was always an inch or so too long.

It’s a mind shift. A habit shift. A throwback to the days when folks used it up, repaired it time and again, or just plain wore it out before the thought ever occurred to buy new.

Feels good right about now, and I’m discovering …. less really is more.

happy

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The green pepper I diced this afternoon for our Labor Day potato salad was just picked and still warm from the sun shining on our little garden out back. Just hours earlier, we were riding cresting wave after wave, collecting sun-bleached shells, feeling a little like eight-year-olds, and caring not one bit.

Happy.

The passage of time is guaranteed and one for-certain constant in this ever-changing world. Cycle follows cycle as seasons turns from one to the next. Tides rise and fall, always reaching and retreating, pulling, pushing, and steady.  I followed the flight of two Monarch butterflies across the sand today, wishing them well on their migration journey and thanking them for stopping for just a moment on mine.

One of these days soon, the green will go and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen will fade. But maybe the joy’s in the noticing what’s now. And just now, the sun’s setting almost down below the treetops, warming our garden for a few minutes more.

A few minutes more.

I may not be ready to replace the shells I’ve collected this summer with pots of mums on the stoop. But there’s that potato salad for dinner, corn on the cob fresh from the farm, and the lushest garden tomatoes to savor as their juice drips down my chin.

And I’m happy.

Here and now.

 

just do

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Nike got it right.

Just Do It.

Brilliance in only three, one-syllable words.

I spend so many days busily living the norm. Whatever the time of year, days have a certain flow and rhythm, regular and habitual tasks, and the occasional moment of spontaneity where life feels a little more fun and free.

There’s also an on-going and ever evolving list playing on repeat reel in my mind. To-dos, yes, but also want-to-dos. Should dos. Wish I coulds. And someday whens.

Here’s where Just Do It must’ve been born. Maybe we all have such a list playing like background music in our private thoughts. And instead of just thinking and dreaming and planning and wishing and waiting and … hoping … we should just do it already.

Whatever it is.

As of this morning:

  • write every day
  • open an Etsy shop
  • ride my bike to work
  • morning yoga
  • make a salad
  • make do
  • sit with it
  • invest in photography lighting and a new tripod
  • (see make do)
  • save
  • mend that missing button
  • floss
  • take a pottery lesson
  • experiment with photographing people (kids especially!)
  • experiment with minimalism in photography
  • walk the beach
  • put down my phone
  • finish that book
  • train for another marathon (or half … or 5K)
  • walk after dinner
  • climb a mountain

Whatever shall I do today?

 

dream on

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What do you do when you don’t know if you can … but feel you must?

How do you cope with self-doubt?

How do you push past feeling self-serving to feeling self-deserving?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions all summer long. Delighted with more time and opportunity, I’ve been able to nourish my creative soul more often. I savor each and every moment spent with my keyboard and camera.

But is that enough?

I’m not sure.

Is the creative act itself enough to satisfy, or is it in the sharing of the end result?

Do I dare? Will anyone care?

What role does audience play in any creation? In any creative’s growth?

I’m tiptoeing along this path, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of special friends and a husband who supports my every breath and dream.

And there’s a few other acquaintances whose inspiration and pep talks I keep within arm’s reach — maybe they’ll be of use to you if you’re in the midst of your own creative identity crisis:

Elise Blaha Cripe: fearless creator of Get to Work Book and so much more! Find big bunches of motivation by following her @elisejoy on Instagram or her website here.  Her Get to Work Book is a no-nonsense, plain-and-simple, get-it-down and you’ll get-it-done planner I’ve found to be oh-so-helpful. Elise experiments, explores, tries, fails, and tries again — a fun loving and living example of growth mindset. I find her incredibly inspiring.

Elle Luna: artist, co-leader of #The100DayProject, and creative author of The Crossroads of Should and Must. 

Elizabeth Gilbert:  author of Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear

Brene Brown: author of Daring Greatly

and finally, the classic Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.

How can I possibly live past the hypocrisy of encouraging my children, my students, and family and friends to follow their dreams … if I’m not willing to walk the talk and follow my own?

Dream on, friends.

 

 

in praise of porches

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I’m not much of a talker.  I often feel awkward. And shy.  Even with friends, sometimes.

There’s some sort of sudden pressure in the first few moments of any casual conversation or unexpected encounter.  A sense of responsibility. A rush of adrenaline, maybe, and a flush to my cheek.

I just don’t know what to say.

And there’s a small moment of panic right there in aisle seven.

Niceties. Pleasantries. Small talk. All challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable for me.

But I’ve learned this summer  there’s something about a porch that unties my tongue. On a porch, conversations tend to drift, unhurried, and flow like the gentle back and forth of the rocker.

It’s easy. Neighborly. We’re in good company. And there’s a gentle silence in the spaces between words. A moment or two spent rocking and watching the birds fly by.

There’s time enough for companionship. A cold beverage and yes, commentary on the weather.

You and me.

Let’s catch up.

Out on the porch.

 

 

 

once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud