Category Archives: Philosophy

Silver Linings

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Looking for silver linings one of my favorite mental exercises. Finding the good and positive aspects of a difficult situation is antithetical to self-pity and a companion to gratitude. When you spend a lot of time with people who are dying, as we hospice staff do, you see people can find joy even in deep loss.

I don’t have any serious difficulties in my life right now, but the exercise works for minor irritations too. Here are a few silver linings I have found in the last week or so.

~ the band members are leaving my white towels black with the dirt from the guitar strings. At least they are washing their hands.

~ we are very short-staffed at work right now. My employer is offering extra money for certain shifts.

~ I’m still cleaning the basement of my friend, and I have several car loads of stuff to haul out. Part of that is wood scraps and I will have free firewood all winter.

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Appropriate Décor

Long time reader Kelly, expressed that a piece of wall art that reminds one to “Live Simply” is just as valid as a landscape painting or any other pictorial representation of something that inspires us.

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She is completely correct.

[And that should end the story right there…but this is my blog…and I am an “over-thinker” or so I have been told many, many times]

If that wall “art” [sorry, I just can not drop the ” marks to call that Art] inspires/reminds you to live simply, then, “YEAH!” Go you. Continue on.

But, since it is my blog, I get to have a whiney diatribe…..

How many times in the past year have I, the hospice nurse, been in a home, whose well-decorated walls instruct me and others to “Live….Laugh……Love!?”

But as the Ecclesiastes instructs us—–there is a time and a place for everything. Including dying and crying and hate. Sometimes the Wall Art is giving us incorrect instructions. As a hospice nurse, my patients are close to dying, sometimes they cry and it is entirely appropriate. Sometimes they hate…but I always prefer it when we humans find a way to love one another.

I accept Kelly’s correction, that having the motto “Live Simply” up on the wall may inspire some of us to do so. Then, nail it up there and enjoy.

I think, if I need to put up instructional motivational words on my wall, they should be the Paul Tillich quote:

“The first duty of love is to listen.”

The Lethargy of Grief

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What I notice most about missing my son is how much energy it seems to take.

I have a lot of work to do on the house. I’d like to get a couple chapters further on my novel, or work an extra shift to pay more college expenses, or go out with friends. But I don’t, because I’m so tired.

I’m not a stranger to grief. As a hospice nurse, I spend my work day with grieving people. I’ve been through it before when my marriages ended and when my father died. And still, it kind of surprises me that I can’t just will myself to get up off the couch and DO something.

I tell my hospice families that there is no easy way through grief, but there are less difficult ways.

For me, that means feeling what I feel. Not distracting myself from the discomfort.

My son came by last night with a friend to gets some of his stuff. He looks healthy and excited about the new adventure he is on.

I will be okay. Maybe after this next nap.

Empty Nest

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In September, I alluded to some disturbances in my life, without giving you all specifics. I have always felt that it was important to maintain my children’s privacy. The main goal of this blog is to share healthy ways of caring for a family as a single parent.

Still vague [I know,] my youngest child has moved out at age 16. My nest is empty. I will do what I can to support all of my children, in the various stages of their lives. My youngest is wanting to be responsible for the choices that he makes. I salute that intent. I pray that if things become difficult that he will think of me as a safe harbor.

That said, I wonder if the lifespan of this blog is winding down.

I still have some parenting work to do with the offspring in college. And I need to finish getting the house ready for sale to further my dreams of travel and the kid’s college. I can blog about those things. But the day to day of children in the home is likely finished.

There are many bloggers who post about frugality and many about minimalism. What do you all think? How can I serve you? Or is this blog done?

Superpowers

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The Improve Troupe was hanging around the living room yesterday brainstorming and got to talking about what kind of superpowers they would like to have. Apparently, you can only have one. From my work station in the kitchen, I could hear them discuss their favorites: having fireballs shoot out from your hands, breathing underwater, super-human strength (and discussion if this included strong jumps, aka flying) and invisibility.

If I could have a superpower, the one I want is the ability to love my enemy.

Lessons From the Couch: Source

[Third in a three part series of reflections during an illness.]

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The simplification of our lives has the side benefit of making it more workable and easier, but at its essence it is a desire to return to beingness.

Resting in the source of who we are is the balance point. When we find it, all else is made whole.

Lessons From the Couch: The Deep

[part two in a three-part series of reflections during an illness]

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~ We have a responsibility to care for what we invite into our lives: people, objects, intentions.  This means giving the relationships in our lives the love and attention to which they are entitled. It means not having so many objects in our homes that they gather dust or invite mice or some other material sign of our disinterest. It means clearing our minds of distractions so we are clear on our intentions and have the focus and energy to make them manifest.

~ It is an expression of our love for others to take only what we need from the table. And we need to continually evaluate the reality of the situation. If we try to take more than we need, we end up with an unsustainable situations like trying to maintain a pool in the desert. It is going to evaporate, and your well is going to go dry trying to fill it.

~If we view our lives as an exhilarating ride on a surfboard, we clearly see the advantage to being fit and flexible and unburdened.

~ My life has been out of balance for the past 2-3 years. I do not have to work so hard. Everything that I need shows up each day: The lessons I need to keep growing, our daily bread, opportunities to be of service. I do not have to work so hard.

Lessons From the Couch: Surface

[first in a three-part series of reflections during an illness]

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~ I must have my foot caught in a bear trap and the pry bar just out of my reach, before I will ask for help. And then, it’s just to hand me the pry bar. I’ll get my own damn foot out, thank you very much. This tendency may be my greatest weakness.

~ If I have a stroke while in the tub, and still have one working hand and can speak–I have identified three friends who would come over, drain the tub, dry me off and pull on yoga pants and a T-shirt before they called the paramedics, so I won’t have to leave the house naked. It’s good to know who these people are ahead of time.

~ Usually we are too busy to notice how the quality of light changes throughout the day from the same point of view. And how consistently beautiful it is. Or how soft the fur on a house cat. Or how comforting the vibration of a purr on an aching chest. There is a sweetness to the innocent observation of the world. It is astonishingly beautiful and ever-changing.

Embracing Boredom

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Boredom is one of those uncomfortable emotions that we run from as if it were a large dragon with fiery breath guarding the bridge to the castle. As modern women and men we have even more tools for distraction at our disposal than ever before.

Boredom is one of the reasons that we keep ourselves so busy that we are exhausted. We are afraid of the discomfort.

I do not see boredom as a destructive dragon to avoid, but as the bridge to get to a place a want to be. Usually, when I feel bored, there is something about the present moment that I find disagreeable. Rather than immediately distracting myself with some pretty, shiny new thing to ease the discomfort, I lean into it. What in this moment is unpleasant? Why does this song on the radio, that I have heard thousands of times, irritate? Is it the unimaginative chord progression? Or the sexist lyrics?

Why am I sick of making this recipe at this moment? Do I no longer believe it to be healthy and nurturing? Am I irritated at the person in the household who claims it as a favorite?

When I answer these questions, I learn something about myself and the world and am able to move forward with more clarity and effectiveness. I have come to value these moments as powerful teachers. I invite them into my life by simplifying the distractions out and leaving space for the powerful Now to reveal itself.

So you are bored? Lucky you.

Minimalist Kitchen: Food Beliefs

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Food is such a huge part of our daily lives and cultures, that it is no surprise that we have created a lot of beliefs about our food: what it means, how it should taste and be prepared, who should prepare it, what nurtures us.

Here are a couple beliefs about food that I once held and no longer do:

~ food is the enemy, it is what makes me fat.

~ desserts are a treat for when I work hard.  (You can see there is a bit of conflict between these two.)

And here are a few that I still hold:

~ food is fuel for my body.

~ foods that are fresh and less processed are healthier.

~ food can be a celebration.

For the minimalist, it is good to know what you believe, so you do not hold onto objects or beliefs that no longer serve your life.

How about you? Got any beliefs about food that you are willing to let go?