Last week I bought a salt crystal lamp to brighten an area of my house that doesn’t get much light.  The lamp is now sitting on a shelf that previously held a small plant and a fountain.  Neither of those items was well suited to that location; the low light meant the plant didn’t grow much, and the fountain caused some peeling paint because it was too close to the wall and there were occasional splashes.

As with any purchase in our consumer world, buying the lamp left me with the question of what to do with the things it had displaced. The best spot for them, I decided, was a corner of my kids’ study. That area was invitingly clean after some clutter got removed, and it looked like it could use some fresh new energy.

 

Indoor fountain with pebbles next to a houseplant.

 

The poor little plant definitely needed a new pot and fresh soil. I bought a larger pot and then filled it in around the edges with some cuttings I took from another plant, to make the arrangement look more leafy and cheerful. Then I put down a natural-fiber mat to absorb any spilled water. The plant seems to be enjoying its new home, and the fountain gives the room a better look too!

Although people tend to think of redecorating in terms of huge, expensive, time-consuming projects, it doesn’t really need to be that complicated. Just rearranging a few small things can leave the house feeling much more pleasant!

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

To read all posts in this series from the beginning, click here.

 

Although many people would put 12-step programs in the general category of self-improvement, there’s actually a strong focus on looking outside the self. When we get addicted—whether it be to alcohol, drugs, negative thinking, or anything else—the behaviors are habitual, without taking time to reflect on how others might be affected. Recovery involves learning to take a broader perspective, honestly examining the behaviors and their consequences to family and society.

Step Eight is about preparing to make amends to those we have wronged. It’s a methodical process, consistent with the overall reflective tone of the program. Instead of rushing out and apologizing willy-nilly to anyone we might ever have harmed, Step Eight calls for making a list of the people to whom amends are owed, in addition to willingness to make such amends.

There are several reasons why a list is important. First of all, putting it together promotes thoughtful, in-depth consideration of how our actions affected others. It also helps in setting priorities; after all, we can’t mend every relationship instantly, so we have to choose where to focus our energies. The comprehensive nature of a list makes it less likely that anyone who should get amends will be overlooked. And because people may respond in very different ways, there needs to be some thought given to finding the approach that will work best for each person or group on the list.

Amends are not necessarily apologies, though they can be. The word “amend” comes from a Latin root that means “correction.” So the list-making process at Step Eight has to do with deciding how best to go about correcting the mistakes we’ve made in our relationships. While in some instances an apology may be useful and sufficient, that’s not always going to be the case. Sometimes actions, rather than words, are needed. It all depends on the circumstances.

When it comes to negativity, often the best way to make amends to those we’ve harmed by being grouchy and unkind is simply to cheer up! Resolving to be consistently cheerful around our family members, friends, and acquaintances—even though we may not always feel like it—can go a long way toward making them happier and mending the damage from our past bad attitudes. Ongoing positive conversations can benefit others much more than a simple apology (though that’s likely to be useful too), and it’s a good habit to cultivate anyway!

For many years, my husband and I kept a waterproof cordless phone on the kitchen counter.  At the time we bought the phone, it seemed like a useful gadget because we wouldn’t have to be concerned about it getting wet when we took it outside.  In today’s world, there are always lots of interesting gadgets to buy.  The problem, of course, is that they soon get obsolete and turn into clutter.

 

Old waterproof cordless phone.

 

My husband unplugged it yesterday when he realized we hadn’t used it in years. Although we still have the land line to which it was connected, most people who call us now (other than telemarketers and such) would call our mobile phones instead. So it’s almost entirely useless, and we need to get rid of it. But because it sat on the counter for so long, that seemed like its normal place, and we didn’t even think about the fact that it had no use anymore. Often that’s the way with clutter; the hard part is not cleaning it up, but realizing that it is there in the first place!

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most ridiculous clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

I’ve got the sprinklers set up today because the weather has been dry, the grass is turning brown, and the lawn service company just did the yearly aeration.  Also, while I was outside, I watered the gardenia that I keep in a pot next to my garage (shown in my June 12th Nurturing Thursday post).

 

Sprinkler on dry grass.

 

That got me thinking about how we notice when our yards need watering, but sometimes we overlook the signs in our personal lives that tell us we’re in need of more nurturing. When we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re probably not going to look in the mirror and think that we look parched like the grass, even though we really do look tired and stressed. Just like our yards, we need to “water” ourselves regularly.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Sometimes my husband, who is a software developer, says that he doesn’t think of himself as creative. But I beg to differ—there is a lot of creativity involved in building things that didn’t exist before, no matter what their genre. Software programs and DIY home projects can be just as creative as novels or artwork.

Over the weekend he set up this blog so it can be followed (yay!) in WordPress. That wasn’t just a simple matter of installing a plugin. Although WordPress provides follow capability and other features for self-hosted blogs, they’re all in a big bloated package called Jetpack, which wouldn’t run properly until my husband wrote additional code to turn off some unnecessary and incompatible stuff. There were also style sheet issues he had to fix. It looks like everything is working well now (if you happen to spot any glitches, please let me know).

Another weekend project was a dog gate to keep our daughter’s new puppy in the kitchen. The puppy will be moving to Cleveland with her, but that’s not for another three weeks, and we’d rather not have to clean up surprises on the carpet in the meanwhile. My husband built the gate out of PVC pipe, two strips of plastic lattice, some two-by-fours at the bottom, and feet to make it slide easily without scuffing the linoleum.

 

DIY dog gate in my kitchen.

 

And here’s a photo of the pooch—she’s four months old, a mix of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. She has learned how to sit on command, but still needs some work when it comes to housebreaking.

 

Puppy sitting in the kitchen, looking up at the camera.

 

She’s a cute little thing, and very affectionate too—she loves being around people.

August 10, 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Although my daughter had planned to move at the beginning of August, she is still here because she didn’t put down a deposit promptly enough after finding an apartment she liked.  They gave it to someone else, and now she has to wait for another unit in that complex to come open at the end of August.  It’s a good life lesson for her, but in the meantime her clutter is still occupying my house while she procrastinates about cleaning it up.

I reminded her about a desk she used in high school, which has a drawer crammed full of junk. “There’s nothing much in the drawer—just a few pencils,” she tried to convince me. As you can see from this photo, she didn’t get too far with that argument.

 

Desk drawer full of old pencils, pens, and other junk.

 

And this is what the shelf under the drawer looks like. The boxes to the right contain ancient CDs for stuff that became obsolete long ago.

 

Desk shelf full of clutter.

 

I’ve been patient with her because she did very well to get through a rigorous nursing program in four years while also playing soccer. Not many college athletes can manage that. But that junk in the desk is going to have a close encounter with a big black trash bag in the very near future.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most ridiculous clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

Many of us keep a gratitude list as a reminder to appreciate our everyday blessings such as family, a home, clothing, and food. When we’re feeling stressed and grouchy, taking a few minutes to consider the good things can be enough to banish that rotten mood. And when gratitude becomes a regular habit, it can bring about a far-reaching shift in perspective.

When I wrote yesterday’s post Moments of Grace, in which I mentioned wanting a deck of miniature cards as a little girl and then unexpectedly getting them as a prize from a gumball machine, I thought about how children naturally appreciate those small wonderful moments. And that led me to a question: What can we do as adults to cultivate that sense of life being filled with magical prizes everywhere? Well, how about starting a new kind of gratitude list called the Bubble Gum List?

 

Antique bubble gum machine.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

As I envision it, the Bubble Gum List would be for moments that inspire a feeling of “I just got the biggest, bestest prize ever, YAY!” Moments when you just can’t believe your luck, when everything in the world suddenly feels so right that instead of walking, you just want to skip and dance.

Children have moments like that all the time, of course. But as adults, we set the bar much higher when it comes to allowing ourselves to feel spontaneous joy. After all, sensible adults don’t go around singing and dancing just because of a happy little moment, do they? So we subconsciously deny ourselves permission to acknowledge those feelings and don’t pay them any attention when they show up. Keeping a list of joyful moments can go a long way toward changing that mindset and convincing ourselves it’s all okay.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

August 6, 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

Among the hot fashion fads of 1969 was a lacquered wooden purse with assorted bright and colorful decorations, which always included a shiny penny on top. My mom had one, and I coveted it with a passion, especially the tiny Ace of Hearts next to the penny. I wasn’t really all that interested in carrying a purse to kindergarten—but oh, did I want a deck of miniature cards! I must have driven my mom to distraction with my begging. But of course, in those days searching for odd little items was a lot harder than it is now. My mom did look for them, but Christmas came and went without any miniature cards in my stocking.

The mysterious ways of Providence brought me a deck of tiny cards in January, neatly enclosed in a plastic capsule from a bubble-gum machine. They even looked like the card on my mom’s purse. I was thrilled! Of course, my sister and I promptly lost half the deck while pretending that our dolls were playing card games; but it was great fun while it lasted.

Many years later, my sister remembered how much I had liked the wooden purse, and she bought a similar one as a gift for me. This one has no miniature card on top, and of course the 1969 penny is no longer bright and shiny; but otherwise it’s much the same. I keep it in a corner of my study as a decoration and smile whenever I look at it.

 

Wooden purse with stickers and 1969 penny.

 

As children, we don’t stop to reflect on the little miraculous events in our everyday lives. We’re much too busy playing; and life seems magical anyway, so why shouldn’t the things we want just pop out of a bubble-gum machine? But after we grow up and develop task-oriented adult minds, our sense of everyday wonder doesn’t come as naturally as it once did. We may not even notice the moments of grace in our daily lives unless we carefully cultivate habits of appreciation and gratitude.

And when we do, we’re likely to start discovering unexpected blessings everywhere.

While looking through some work-related papers at the back of a desk drawer in my home study, I found a stack of training materials from January 2001, when I helped to train a group of new hires.  There was some other useless stuff in there too, like instructions for installing Windows 2000, along with a stack of paper newsletters (what a quaint concept that seems now!) from that time period. Evidently, I had put all that stuff in the drawer and left it there for many years without looking at it.

 

Training instructions document dated January 2001

 

I would say there’s another training lesson to take away from this discovery—the need to train oneself in the habit of regularly disposing of clutter, otherwise it builds up without even being noticed. Drawers, shelves, closets… they’re all magnets for clutter, and they can’t be kept organized without taking an inventory of the contents every once in a while. Especially in the modern world, with so many things becoming obsolete in just a few years, it’s all too easy to end up with a heap of useless stuff that has long outlived its purpose.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most ridiculous clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

My mother-in-law enjoys gambling. She occasionally goes to Vegas or takes bus trips to casinos with her friends. When she gambles, she decides in advance how much money to put toward it, in an amount she wouldn’t be too upset about losing. If she wins, that’s good; and if not, there’s always another chance for better luck next time.

 

Slot machine with bars and 7s.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

I do not gamble and have never visited a casino, but this approach strikes me as a good attitude to have toward life generally. We’re always making decisions about how much money or time to spend on everyday things; and if we take the perspective that it’s just a small amount and its loss would be no big deal, then we’re less likely to get upset when something doesn’t work out the way it was intended.

So many people are afraid to make choices and try new things because they might be wrong. Well, so what? In most situations, being wrong is not a major calamity. If we try a new activity and don’t like it, or if we buy something and it turns out to be a waste of money, that’s not much different from losing a small amount of gambling money, and there’s no reason to be upset about it.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.