Monday, July 7, 2014

The Thoughts of a Running Mystic

I set out for an 8 miler in my mind today.  Decided to try and track some of my thoughts each mile for some amusement.  At least it got a blog post out of me!

Mile 0-1:  I FEEL GREAT!!!  It's not too hot...it's actually quite pleasant, at least in the shade.  Stay in the shade.  I think I will run 10 miles, maybe even 12!  I will pass Jim up in no time!!  

Mile 1-2:  My toe is starting to hurt.  Keep the focus on the breath.  Listening to Rich Mullins.  His music is so fantastic.  

Mile 2-3:  Wow!  It's HOT!  I'm sweating a ton!  I need to walk a bit...30 seconds.  OK...wipe the sweat off...It's hot.  really hot...did I mention how hot it is?  Jim who?  Jessica who?  What challenge?  Maybe I will turn this into a run for time instead of distance.  I can run 30 minutes and turn around.  That would be ok.  I mean, I'd be over 6 miles in an hour.  That's ok by me. Dang it's hot.  I love this song....

Mile 3-4:   I'm at 25 minutes.  Surely I can make it 8 miles today.  I will decide at the corner.  If I want to cut it short, I will take the short way home.  Rich Mullins can really grab the essence of God, can't he?  Maybe another short walk break.  OK...one minute of walking-GO.  If I cut the run short, I will get home to start the laundry that much faster.  Decision made, I am NOT cutting the run short.  I will run 8 miles and then do the laundry after lunch.  

Mile 4-5:  Can't turn back now!  Heading home the long way.  Look at that pool...Forget the laundry, we are going to the POOL when I get home!  I mean, it is HOT!   I love the lyrics to this song.  Lord, I know that you love me, but sometimes, I feel so far away.  It doesn't take more than an instant for me to become aware of your presence that I recall your love and mercy.  You forgive me once and forever.  All of my sin and shame are forgiven.  Yes, even those. Thank you, Lord.  

Mile 5-6:  How would I describe my spirituality?  I am drawn to the Franciscan life.  A life of quiet simplicity, a life of gospel love, a life lived that is not of my own design.  I am also drawn to the Ignatian interior life.  Finding God in each moment of every day; in each person I meet along the way.  I am so blessed.  I want a BLT.  Wave hello to that lady and smile.  I might be the only person she meets today with a smile. 

Mile 6-7:  (Bathroom stop)  I hope that there aren't any horseflies in there today.  I despise flies.  I hate horseflies.  OK, Lord, show me where you are in the horsefly.  What is their purpose?  I don't think that they have one.  Running past the dog park...no dogs out there today.  TOO HOT!  Poor Rosie, she wanted to run.  It's too warm.  I am too tired to take her out.  Maybe tonight when it cools down.  Oh, wait, I can't go tonight...I am picking up the Missionaries!!!  Foo is coming home from Haiti!!  Praise God!!  I can't wait for that BLT!!!  I am so glad Jim and Jessica encouraged me in this challenge...I love those guys!  We are a team.  A team in Christ!  Holding hands and running towards that finish line!  Jim can get that cake! 

Mile 7-8:  I am feeling good right now!  Everything feels right...even the sweat.  Thank you Lord for a glorious run, for time with you, for all that you bring me to, I love you!  I wonder if I can get Lem to start on the bacon while I shower...

Mile 8-home:  Switched to Third Day and sang King of Glory!  

Home:  Rosie is waiting...headed back out the door for a Rosie mile.  She loves this.  I love that we can do this together.  Wouldn't this whole experience be a ridiculous blog entry?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Project 20:14 Hurry Up and Wait 11


June was rife with bumps in the road, more than the usual number of bumps that is.  We lost two very dear family members, our oldest dogs, within weeks of one another.  I also seemed to have quite a lot of meetings that I needed to attend.  My "oldest-still-at-home" was gone for two weeks with camps which meant a lot of creative scheduling for the activities of the home.

Our son was in the throws of swim team season and while this was tons of fun, it did take away from our available "de-owning" time.  

I did start and finish the boys' room as I eluded to in my previous post.  Here are a few shots of the progress.
Mid Clean Out

Typically what the room looked like

"The bed IS made, Mom!"
After the initial clean out, we felt it looked pretty good, but we were ready to make some changes.


We chose a color scheme and spent a good week painting.  The hardest part was covering the trim which had previously been a blue color.  NEVER PAINT TRIM ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHITE!  


The boys are much happier in their room and in the month that it has been cleaned out, I can honestly say, they have been able to maintain it's order because there is so much less in it!  An added bonus is that they actually play with the few toys, (hot wheels and legos) that remain and read the few books that were their favorites.

Its not magazine perfect, but it works perfectly for them!

I am now in the throws of my master bedroom and closet.  It is a struggle.  I find I am not motivated because it is so daunting a task.  I think part of the de-motivation is seeing the areas that I have decluttered just a few short weeks ago, mainly my kitchen, quickly fill with odds and ends from well-intentioned folks returning plastic ware that was never mine to the souveniers from VBS and other summer programs that society feels MUST accompany everyone home.  Speaks  to the fact that the "experience" itself isn't enough...we just have to have "stuff" to validate the memory.  How a water bottle confirms spending a week in deep prayer and contemplation, I'll never know....

So, as I blog this post, I can admit, I am procrastinating working in my bedroom.  I did get a good start on my closet.  I have just lost steam.  I am getting things done, just not as rapidly as I had hoped.  And today, I bought more clothing.  I am determined to remove  several pieces from the existing clothing pile (which I did cull through quite mercilessly two weeks ago) to make room for the new pieces.

It's not all fun and games de-owning things, but I have no doubt that the less I have, the more freedom I will experience and the easier it will become to let go of even more. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Project 20:14 Continued Progress 10

After the passing of Hannah, our other dog, also fairly elderly, began to show signs of illness.  Her gait was off and then she could not hold herself up with out up.  Five week after Hannah left us, KC followed suit.  We will miss them both, but we know that they are both free from pain and they have left us with many wonderful memories which we will cherish for our lifetime.

It's amazing to me the outpouring of love and caring that so many friends and family have shown us through it all.  What's even more amazing, how many offers of new puppies came within hours of losing KC.  I appreciate the sentiment, but truly, I could never replace my sweet dogs AND we still have Rosie who is full of life and is trying to adapt to being the top dog in the house.

We are on a de-owning/de-cluttering journey and I had a thought cross my mind after KC passed away.  I have noticed less dog hair.  Less noise/barking.  Less requirements to let a pup in and a pup out. Less food bowls, less beds on the floor in the walking area, etc.   I would not trade one day with my dogs and would have given most anything to have more time with them, but to my surprise, I am kind of enjoying the "less" aspect of having only one dog...for now.

The big project over the last few weeks has been the boys' room.  I decluttered and they helped me to de-own many, many items, books, toys, clothes, etc.  They were much more willing to let things go than I was.  We hauled off several bags of donations, sold some furniture, and threw out A LOT!  What is really crazy about that is we did a huge clean out last September!

The boys have about 10 books that they love in their new-to-them bookshelf.  They have Legos and a few small toys that fit in a plastic box under their beds.

We were able to find nice hooks for their race medals and ribbons and aside from those, an initial for each boy that they painted and a crucifix there is nothing on the walls.  It looks fabulous.  And speaking of the walls...my daughter volunteered to help paint the room.  My older son had painted it 4 years ago and the colors were dark grey, rust, and dark teal.  The trim was painted teal.  I decided upon a lighter grey and to repaint the trim white.  I plan to paint the closet door with chalkboard paint for the boys to decorate.

They love their "new" room!  They are proud of it.  They want to show it off.  They want to spend time in it.  They say they sleep better!  All of this inspired my daughter to thoroughly clean her room and cleared out that wonderful dark place...under...the...bed.   She is quite proud of herself.

I have taken June as the month I will work on my closet, wardrobe and bathroom.  If I can finish that up, then I will start in the bedroom.  So far, I have shrunk my wardrobe of my every day clothes down to 45 items.  This does not include undergarments, pjs, or workout clothes.  Also left out of the count are about 6 more formal dresses.  I placed my "winter" dress scarves and blouses/pants (about 15 items) in a box that will be stored under my bed until the temperatures return to Texas winter standards.

Along the way this past month, I have tried to be kind to myself with my expectations, my goals, my to do lists.  I am finding that things are "feeling" more open, less cluttered, and more organized just by the nature of having less.  One big de-own for us...our coffee maker.  We drink coffee.  In fact, we drink lots of coffee.  My son received  a percolator as a gift and I fell in love with it.  It is reminiscent of my childhood when I would prepare coffee on the stove-top percolator for my great Aunt FoFo.  This new electric model is fast, clean, and keeps the coffee the perfect temp!  In the bin with the coffee maker.  No more vinegar rinses!  And when my son goes back to college, I will have my own percolator.

I don't know that I want to call this process a journey to "minimalism" or "simplicity" because I don't think I am after what the truest sense of those lifestyles represent.  I do desire to reach a level of intention in how I am living with the flexibility that is needed for a homeschooling family with 3-4 kiddos still at home.

Whatever label this thing we are moving towards is called, it brings with it a sense of ease, a real presence of peace, and an affirmation that relationships with those around me are the focus of my life, not the thing I try to fit into my day after taking care of my possessions.

***will add pictures once I can get the files to upload.  Technology hates me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hannah


Sweet Hannah came into our lives as quietly as she left.  13 years ago, we fostered a dog that was destined for the other end of the needle unless we could get her to eat and "cheer up" enough for the humane society.  A few days in our home, she was eating out of my hand, literally.  Her first meal was a few pieces of "Life" cereal.  Then we discovered that she had heartworms.  The organization agreed to treat her for the condition since she was brought in by a group of construction workers who pulled together enough money (500.00!) to donate to the shelter if they would agree to take her in.  I will always believe in the goodness of people.

Hannah was once named Mama Dog and had had at least one litter of puppies in a construction zone.  She became Hannah in August of 2001, a week before my 5th child was born.  She was the best of the best.  Never complained.  Never misbehaved.  Always obedient and loyal.

If Hannah barked, you better figure out why.  She watched over the home quietly and gently and maintained a sort of balance for us all.

April 27, 2014, Hannah became very ill, very quickly and was gone before we knew what was happening.  It was my prayer that when her time with us was done, that God would take her quickly and that I would know without a doubt that it was her time.  My prayer was answered.

Hannah walked many years with us.  She was the childhood dog to all 6 of the children.  She loved most everyone.  And if she didn't like you, there was a good reason for it.

I will miss my shadow.  I will miss watching her beautiful, lean body run ahead of me through the woods.  I will miss hearing her footsteps on the floor as she made the security rounds every now and then in the house.  I will miss petting her to soothe my own soul.

The luckiest people in the world get to share their lives with a good dog.  I have been one of the luckiest of all.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Project 20:14: Ponderings 09

This week a quote that stuck with me and seemed to resonate throughout the entire week was, "Are you organizing or are you decluttering/de-owning?"

I love to organize.  I love neat binders all in a row, books that appear as nicely arranged as our public library, cupboards to take one's breath away by their exceedingly amazing crisp, organized, and picture perfect presentation.  And I have spent many years working to achieve this look only to be undone quickly by living life in a home with real people looking for real things that while might appear to be in an organized home, honestly are in a home with too.  much.  stuff.

I have come to a point in my life where I no longer desire organizing too. much.  stuff.  I would rather live with less so that I can use my time doing other things that I enjoy and will bring more meaning to my life and to the life of my family.  My mantra for 2014 in all areas of my life is..."life-giving not life-draining".  From my sock drawer, to my vehicles, to my finances, to my relationships.  If the "thing" does not offer life-giving qualities then they must be discarded or at the very least minimalized.

Organizing is a great stress reliever for me, but it is also an untruth.  I feel as though, when I organize, I am gaining some positive control over an unmanageable area.  Most often, however, I find that very soon after my efforts are finished, the disorganization returns and I am more frustrated, disappointed and overwhelmed yet again.  I am done with this way of living.  I am choosing to own less so I can live more, and live more abundantly.

The last year, I have been working little bits at a time to find the balance between having too much and where I would like my home to be.  Less is more.  And the less we have, the more I think we have too much.  Funny how that works.

Homeschooling will be wrapping up fairly soon here and I aim to begin some major de-owning of things.  Especially homeschooling books, pictures, binders, furniture, and anything else that might not be nailed down...and maybe even some things that are.

I don't yearn for a house with nothing.  I love to feel the warmth of a home that loves books, but I want the books to be books we are using or books that we love and will go back to time and time again.  I began to clear out some items from one set of shelves yesterday.  Truthfully, I have three items left on the shelf and when I look at the emptiness, it startles me!  It will take some soul-searching to part with some of these things, but I know that this is an ever evolving process that will allow me to re-visit things as often as I would like.  Maybe I won't get rid of every single book that doesn't fit my profile, but sometimes I think sentimentality has a reason to be considered.  I have a book from my mother's childhood.  I will never use it as a school book and my children probably won't ever read it, but my mom is gone and I don't have much from her life around the house.  These are things I may choose to compromise on, and I may even change my mind about it someday and release it.

The idea of a more simplified life must be defined by each family, each person, as to what that means to them.  Today it means something different to me and to my family than what it meant 5 years ago and I'm certain as the years continue to click by, it will change again.

Monday I will begin to clear out one shelf per day.  I will go through 20 shelves in the family room.  I may do more than one in a day, but I will do no less than one per day.  Weekday that is. Weekends are for enjoying and working outside!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Project 20:14 Slow Steady Progress 08

I had set some real goals (aka dates to have stuff done by) for my decluttering/de-owning project 2014.  In typical K style... life happens and the above mentioned "goals" become lost amidst the sick people, the birthday celebrations, the Church retreats, etc.  I like goals because they keep me focused, but goals can also totally derail my efforts.  

"I can't get it done, so just forget the whole thing!"  This line of thinking has crept into my life before, but not this time.  I am trying to adopt a different tune to sing.  It goes something like this....baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.  Some days I will get a lot done, others it will be very small, but relentless forward progress is often that way...slow...steady...forward motions.

This weekend I realized what eats much of my time and honestly, it's just how it is.  I am a mom.  A mom that homeschool's the children.  I have other outside commitments to church, friends, and family.  As I should.  So rather than becoming completely frustrated by not meeting my goals, I will embrace the few steps off the path to larger goal of a life surrounded by simplicity.  

My kitchen is the hub of all activity in our family.  I have a counter that is about 6 feet long and 2.5 feet wide to work on.  School?  Taught from the counter.  Groceries come in?  They land on the counter.  Meal prep?  Counter.  Bill paying...Counter.  You get the idea.  So much of my day is spent here and my time is often filled with clearing the counter so I can think.  

Wait?  You don't need a clean counter to think?  You must be one of those normal people...  I need a clutter-free and clean counter to think AND work. 

Saturday, I found myself in a bit of a huff because I had cleaned every day last week and still found a counter that looked like this

6 foot long brain


Smaller brain whose only real job is to collect clutter


I have been wanting to declutter one particular cupboard in the kitchen that I had previously done, but I wasn't as ruthless as I needed to be in clearing out what I didn't need.  

I had about 30 minutes of free time and a small bit of extra energy, so I challenged myself to see if I could get the cupboard re-worked and the counters squared away.  

I can think again!

Yes, it will collect clutter again!

Not a HUGE transformation, but one that makes more use of the space.

The point of this post is to encourage you.  Do not let the daily hustle and bustle and incoming clutter bombs derail your efforts.  Do something everyday, no matter how small.  Do not let the lack of perceived progress get you down.  Remember that this is a mindset, not a look or style.  Enjoy the little moments of counter clarity...cause tomorrow is grocery day.  



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Faith


Sometimes all that is revealed to us is the very next step that we must take as we step out in faith.  

Faith is not believing in something that we can not see; faith is knowing we can trust that God will  lead us into the fog as he prepares us for something that He has planned just for us.  He always has and always will, the only variable is whether or not we take the time to listen to His whispers.