The little garden fountain on my front porch, which I mentioned in a May post, has had a lot of algae this summer. I didn’t want to risk harming animals that might drink out of the fountain by putting chemicals in the water; so I’ve just been dumping out the water and the pebbles from time to time, and then putting in clean water and more pebbles.
 

Ceramic garden fountain with pebbles at the top, covered with algae. 

I need to quit being lazy about it, though, and give the fountain a good thorough scrubbing to get all that algae out! The water hasn’t been flowing as freely as it should, and every time I look at it, I’m getting subconscious impressions of blockage and gunk instead of the healthy flow of energy that I had in mind when I bought it. Even the best of intentions for self-nurturing aren’t necessarily going to work out without some work being put in!

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 23, 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One of my kitchen cabinets has three shelves behind glass doors, where I displayed my kids’ craft items when they were younger. After they went off to college, I decided it was time to retire those cute handmade items, but I wasn’t sure what to put in their place. My mom just happened to be moving at that time and giving away things she didn’t need, which included some mugs with bright and cheerful designs, so I put them on the shelves instead.
 

Kitchen cabinet with three shelves and glass doors, open to show brightly painted mugs and candle-wax animal figurines. 

But that arrangement never looked right to me. The mugs on the bottom shelf are not quite the same size as the mugs on the middle shelf; they’re actually two different sets. And although the candle-wax animal figurines on the top shelf are pretty, I’ve had them since I was in college. Overall, when I look at the display cabinet, it gives the impression of old mismatched random stuff, which is certainly not what I want.

I know what I need to do—find new and meaningful items to put on the display shelves, so that looking at them will give me joyful positive energy. Maybe angel figurines so that I’ll feel safe and protected when I see them? Although I haven’t yet made up my mind, I decided to go ahead and write this post anyway, to give myself a bit of motivation!

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 memorable 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!

As described in my post on January 1st, my New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to say “Yay!” to my new red toaster every morning, so that I would start each day with a smile (and perhaps a giggle) while better appreciating the fun and silliness in ordinary life.
 

New red toaster with display screen. 

I haven’t always kept that resolution as intended, though. On those mornings when I don’t feel awake enough to do much more than stumble into the kitchen to get some coffee, remembering it might take me a few hours. So I’ve modified the resolution a bit. Now, if I don’t remember to say “Yay!” to the toaster in the morning, I just say it to whatever other cheerful objects I notice later. So far, I’ve said it to the dark and breezy air just before a thunderstorm blows in; to the glint of sparkling waves on the river at midday; and to the cool shade of my willow hedge.

I’ve even said “Yay!” to the roll of toilet paper in my bathroom, which seems a very appropriate subject for gratitude because, after all, life with modern sanitation is much better than where we’d be without it!
 

Roll of toilet paper on a shiny brass holder. 

So, even though my “Yay for the Day” resolution didn’t turn out exactly as I had in mind, just being flexible about it made my days more fun anyway! And I would say that’s true of most things in life. Rather than worrying about failure when something doesn’t go as planned, it’s best to look at it as an opportunity for lots of other interesting stuff to show up!

As we all know, yard work does not go away when ignored. A row of junipers under my living room windows had been getting overgrown for years while I put off the chore of pruning them. I sternly lectured myself this spring that it needed to get done now, before the sprawling branches killed any more of the grass around them. I started working on it over the weekends, setting myself a deadline of mid-August because that is when the lawn service usually does the aeration and overseeding, which I thought might help with getting the grass to come back more quickly.
 

Junipers with bare spot in grass where they were pruned. 

When I mentioned that to my husband, who is a practical-minded engineer, he said that the timing really didn’t matter because the lawn service people generally don’t walk that close to the bushes anyway, and the bare areas will mainly grow back from the edges because overseeding adds only a small amount of grass seed. Looks like he was right about that because the aeration and overseeding was done this morning, and I didn’t see aeration holes or a significant amount of grass seed in the bare areas.

Still, I would say that setting myself a deadline was good because it kept me motivated to finish the task, even if it didn’t make a practical difference. When neglected chores sit around in plain sight with no definite completion date, they tend to drain mental energy because the subconscious mind notices such things and files them away under the “lots of stuff to do, and it’s not getting done” category. Better to quit procrastinating, get the chore over with, and effectively “overseed” that depleted energy by looking at the positive results instead!

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 16, 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

A few years ago, when my husband and I went on a lot of road trips to watch our daughter’s college soccer games, we often had to leave early in the morning. Not surprisingly, we started drinking more coffee. That gave me the idea of buying my husband an espresso and cappuccino maker for a Christmas gift, since he likes gadgets generally.
 

Espresso and cappuccino maker on kitchen countertop. 

Although it got some use over the winter, we decided to buy a Keurig coffee maker before the next soccer season began. Not only are K-cups quick to brew, they also make it possible to keep many different kinds of coffee in the house because they stay fresh for a long time, unlike bagged coffee that must be used soon after opening the bag. So the espresso and cappuccino maker became just another obsolete gadget taking up space in a kitchen cabinet—a gadget gone cold!

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 memorable 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!

August 15, 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My inner child needs to learn some patience.

I sat down with her yesterday afternoon, in the warm spring grass of April 1978. Wild strawberry blossoms dotted the meadow like tiny white stars. Bees buzzed in the dandelions, birds sang in the trees, and puffy clouds piled on each other along the horizon to make fanciful castles—a wonderful moment to be savored for as long as it might last.
 

Wild strawberry blossoms and dandelions.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

But, truth be told, my inner child wasn’t appreciating it nearly that much. Well, except for the castles, from which she pictured angels and fairies swooping down to grant wishes. And what was she wishing for? To be grown up already. Just being a child with nothing to do besides sitting in the grass was too boring, you see. She wanted to get on with all those exciting grown-up adventures that surely had to be waiting for her.

“If you bring me forward in time, just a few years,” she said out loud to the imaginary angels and fairies, “then I’ll…”

And here she ran into a bit of trouble, having nothing to bargain with for the time travel she wanted. She had no precious jewels to offer a fairy, nor was there a magical jar anywhere nearby from which she could release a grateful genie.

“Then I’ll be happy even if it’s the end of summer,” she finally said, which she thought would be a great sacrifice. After all, she liked spring and early summer the best of all the seasons. Picking the wild strawberries in May and the raspberries in June always was great fun; and later she would look back fondly on her memories of sitting in the spring grass with the strawberry blossoms and the dandelions, even if she couldn’t have been persuaded of it at the time.

I did try, though, when she paused to listen for fairy-voices amidst the birdsong, just before I reluctantly left this peaceful scene. I couldn’t stay any longer, but had to go back to my exciting grown-up world of mortgage payments, work schedules and to-do lists.

“You don’t have to be in such a hurry,” I told her. “That wish is one you’ll get soon enough.”

Somehow I let myself get into a gloomy, brooding sort of mood over the past few days; and when today rolled around I still didn’t have anything in mind for a Nurturing Thursday post. While I was standing in the laundry room, taking towels from the washer and putting them into the dryer, I was wondering if I’d had any self-nurturing going on this week that was even worth mentioning.
 

Front-loading washer and dryer, full of towels. 

Then I started thinking about how everyday things like a washer and dryer, along with all the other common household items we take for granted, make our lives more comfortable all the time. My current front-loading set is much nicer than the set it replaced, which in turn was better than the first washer and dryer my family had, and even that cheap set made life much easier than using a laundromat or an apartment laundry room.

And of course, before the modern era, women who did their laundry by hand in a washtub or at the river would’ve dearly loved going to a laundromat! So, as with everything, it all depends on one’s perspective. When gloomy thoughts show up for no particular reason, the best thing is to take a different view of the situation and just let them wash away!

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 9, 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My daughter trained her dog to ring bells as a signal that the dog needed to go outside. The bells hung from the handle of the sliding glass door in the kitchen. The dog learned how to go to the door and push the bells with her snout to ring them, but there was one small problem: We always had to leave the vertical blinds open, at least enough that the bells were not covered up. And on cold winter nights, that made the kitchen drafty. So my husband moved the bells to the wall next to the door.
 

Small bells hanging from a wall next to a sliding glass door. 

To us, the bells looked close enough that they were almost in the same place. But a dog’s brain evidently has a harder time processing what to do with objects that have been moved, and the dog never rang the bells again. Now she just barks at us when she wants to go out. So the bells have been hanging on the wall since the winter, completely useless. We finally decided it’s time to bid them farewell!

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 memorable 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!

Yesterday I decided that it was time to post a summer photo of my backyard willow hedge, completing the series of autumn, winter, and spring photos featured in past Nurturing Thursday entries.
 

My backyard willow hedge, bright and green in summer. 

So I stepped out into the backyard and took this photo, standing at the end of the hedge as I did in the other seasons. I felt warm and comfortable in the sunlight of a cloudless day, surrounded by the late-summer sounds of crickets, locusts, and one small bird chirping. It was so peaceful that it almost seemed as if the moment might last forever.

As it turned out, though, it was a very good thing I took the photo yesterday because this morning was cool and rainy, feeling much more like autumn. Looking out the window at today’s damp gray sky, I’m reminded that everything changes, and often much more quickly than we expect!

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.

My latest approach to banishing those to-do list pressures from my personal creative projects is to put together a “Fun Things To Do List” every three or four months. It’s just one page of whatever activities I happen to be enjoying at the time, mixed in with a few creative projects that I would like to get done—or, at least, to get moving forward.

Picking a few items for the list helps me to stay focused on making progress with them. Even if I write only a few sentences at a time, that still gets something done on the project, which is better than sitting there looking at a big heap of unfinished stuff and wondering what to do. By putting my creative projects in with random unimportant things like “watch the latest superhero movie” or “play video games,” I remind myself they are mainly for fun. No life or death consequences are attached to finishing a blog post or a story.

That’s not to say I consider the projects unimportant. On the contrary, I would describe myself as an ambitious writer, seeking to touch my readers’ emotions and have a positive impact on the culture. But just as with anything else, stressing about creativity and trying to force it can be counterproductive. The muse needs plenty of space to fly around sprinkling fairy dust on whatever takes her fancy!

Production schedules can be helpful in reasonable doses, of course. Since I began writing weekly Clutter Comedy posts, I’ve made a lot more progress in getting old junk out of my house, in addition to creating more content for my blog. I also enjoy taking part in Nurturing Thursday, which reminds me to set aside time for restful, nurturing activities.

Having regular features on my blog does not overwhelm me with production pressure because those entries are relatively short and structured, so they flow easily. What’s more problematical is writing unstructured blog posts on different topics regularly (such as this one) while also having plenty of other creative projects in various stages of completion, which totally lack a schedule.

When I work on a book or other large project, I sometimes feel pressured to write a blog entry instead, as otherwise it might not get done. And if there’s a week when I don’t write anything but blog entries, then I feel like I’m slacking off with the large projects. Because I have too many large projects to put them all on a production schedule, just deciding what to do can feel like a major drain on my mental energy.

Choosing two or three projects for the near future gives me permission to set aside the others till later, without feeling guilty for neglecting them. The projects I’ve picked for my current list are turning a short-story collection into a free Kindle book, creating content for a new website, and writing more installments of Breaking the Ice. Setting a fuzzy “due date” a few months from now gives me some impetus to stick to the schedule, but it’s not looming over me as an anxiety-provoking hard deadline.

Posting this entry also gives me a bit of accountability, in that I may have readers looking for the free Kindle book or expecting to find more story installments over the next few months! Coming soon…