One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Minimizing the Minimalism

A few years ago I bought one of those homemaking bundles on the internet that offers hundreds of ebooks, courses, and information on keeping the home organized—all for one low-hurry-up-and-order price. Topics ranged from budgets to meal plans, managing clutter to making your own soap. I suddenly had access to all these "experts" who could help me get rid of junk mail and always know where to find the mates to my socks. I was sure I had the determination to follow all the advice and make our home stress-free. As I started skimming and reading through the material, however, I discovered that only some of it was useful and most of it just cluttered up my computer and my brain. I didn't have less stress I had more.

I next tried listening to a podcast about organizing the home, but I came to the realization that everything the hosts were discussing didn't have any meaning at all to thousands of people in this world. Meal planning? For families who eat only one meal a day, they know exactly what's for dinner—if they're lucky enough to even have dinner. Organizing your closets? There are people in the world who have maybe two outfits total. Maybe just one. Reducing the clutter in your kids' rooms? Some families have only one bedroom where everyone sleeps, with room enough only for beds or mats on the floor.

Why, when I had a safe home in a safe neighborhood with plenty of food to eat, clean water, money to pay the bills, time to take vacation with my family, was I suffering under the stress of trying to not have so much stuff in my life? How did I get there?

I was born in a certain skin, in a certain culture, in a certain social class, to a certain hard-working and loving family, in a certain part of a certain country where I don't have to wonder how I'm going to feed my family or whether we'll have a place to sleep each night. Accidents and unexpected illnesses could happen to us, but we have a relative security that so many thousands of people in the world don't have. That I get stressed about having too much has become rather sickening to me.

It's become too easy to buy anything I want, whenever I want, to be delivered right to my door if I want. But the easy shopping leads to a crowded life that leads me down a path of taking everything for granted. Then the burdens pile on, and not only have I forgotten to be grateful, but I'm grouchy and uncomfortable in my comfortable life. And I'm not even rich! Sometimes I go to enter a sweepstakes and then I catch myself thinking, What if I win? I'll really be miserable! Ha!

So I start looking for help, but there are so many experts out there making money on this problem of abundance that shouldn't even be a problem. Yes, some of them have genuine hearts to help people. Some of them just want to make millions. They aren't wrong that having too much is a problem. They aren't wrong that the educated, privileged, well-off don't always know how to take care of the smallest details. But running out and buying all their books and taking all their courses isn't necessarily the way to solve it. There's the danger that people will think as I did that if I just read the right book, listen to the right podcast, I'll get everything together.

The trouble is, what do I do? Prayer, yoga, deep-breathing exercises might be a start, but I think I need to stop looking for the solution in the minimalism frenzy. For me, anyway, I've got to put down the books and log off the websites and just tackle each job one at a time. It's not easy. But there are bigger problems out there.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Learning to Hold My Tongue and Cover My Ears

The other day, as I nagged in my usual mom way, reminding Geddy of all he had to do, words of wisdom flowed from his mouth, catching my breath as I heard: "It's hard for you to remember that I'm growing."

Apologizing and biting my tongue, I said I would try to let him show me he can be responsible without my constant prodding. I'll try.

Because yes, my son, it's hard. I see you still as my baby, just as mothers do, even when my baby is not only walking and talking, but picking out his own clothes to wear and dressing himself in the mornings; pouring his own juice and cleaning up his spilled water; going to school and learning to read on his own. It's hard for me to see that you can make many of your own decisions now and that you have to experience mistakes and failure to grow. It's hard because I don't want you to grow up, and yet of course I do.

At the beginning of kindergarten I worried: what if he's still not ready? But, seven weeks in, he's showing Luke and me that now is just the right time. He comes home talking of new friends, new lessons learned, new games played. When I pick him up after school, his friendly voice calls out kids by name, telling them goodbye. He still needs help and guidance, but he's moving into this new phase of life with gusto.

And his vocabulary is growing quite nicely. Before bed the other night, as I sat in the dark of Geddy's room, singing his goodnight songs, I heard a bump.

"What happened?"

"I hit my head on the wall."

"Ouch. Are you ok?"

"Cover your ears; I'm going to say a bad word."

"Oh really? Ok. Go ahead."


"Do you feel better?"


"Go to sleep. I love you."