The frigid winter two years ago was hard on my roses. Three bushes, weakened by the extreme cold, caught the rosette (also called witch’s broom) virus last summer and died this year. I ordered bare-root replacements and planted them with fresh topsoil and mulch last weekend. Here’s a photo of one:
 

Bare root rose freshly planted. 

Next spring I’ll have three tiny new bushes in the same flowerbed with larger existing ones, which will look peculiar at first; but I expect it won’t be long before they grow big enough that I can’t tell the difference! That’s often how things go. Even if something happens that is bad luck and a nuisance, there’s no reason to get stressed about it because in a year or so, it will all be forgotten.

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.

I had an odd dream Friday morning in which people started wishing each other “Good baby steps!” That meant making slow and steady progress, without time pressure or worries. When I woke up, I realized it was just a dream and our busy, fast paced culture had not really changed. But it left me thinking—what if people really did expect to go through life in a spirit of adventure, with plenty of time to do anything we might want, as if we were babies just learning to walk?
 

Toddler taking steps on a brick walkway.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

Instead of rushing to get through our projects, we would see them as fun opportunities to create and explore. We wouldn’t obsess about money and status, but would simply trust that the world was full of abundance and that we’d always have enough to meet our needs. If something didn’t work out, we would pick ourselves right back up again and keep on going, without any self-judging thoughts about failure or whether we should have done better.

If we wanted a toy, we would just think about how to get it, rather than worrying that we might not be good enough to deserve it. And when we got it, we wouldn’t be self-conscious about being happy in the moment. We would feel comfortable with taking breaks when we needed them, napping when we got sleepy, and looking around when a pretty bird or an interesting idea flew by.

Yes, it was just a dream; but I’d like to believe that it gave me a tiny peek into a more joyful future. So I’ll say to all my readers today: Wishing you good baby steps!

I knew I’d have to get around to this one eventually, whether I wanted to or not—the stuff that lurks in the closet under the basement stairs. Christmas stuff is stacked up on the left, there are sports bags including some road race freebies to the right, and my husband’s old boxing gloves and other sports gear are heaped up in front. I have no idea how a mini vacuum cleaner, which hasn’t been used in years, ended up in there.
 

Cluttered closet under the basement stairs. 

Rather than nag my husband to clean up his junk, I’ve been working on other areas of the house and leaving that closet for another day. That day will soon arrive when it’s time to take out the Christmas decorations. I plan to take everything out of the closet, give it a good vacuuming (the mini vacuum might turn out to be useful after all!) and tell my husband that if he wants to keep any of the old sports stuff, it needs to get bagged up neatly in the freebie sports bags.

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!

The credit for this week’s self-nurturing topic goes to Elizabeth Gilbert. In her bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love, there is a scene in which she describes going to a soccer match in Italy and taking notes on a spectator’s colorful cursing because she loves the sound of the Italian language so much. She mentions that there is no good English translation for “che casino,” which literally translates as “what a casino,” but has a meaning closer to “what a mess.”
 

Bright neon casino sign at night.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

After reading that book, sometimes when I realize that I’ve let myself get into a “what a mess” mood, I say out loud “Che casino!” in my best fake Italian accent, dripping with exaggerated pity. That’s almost sure to leave me giggling and take the seriousness out of the situation! Although we all get into bad moods on occasion, humor can be a very effective way of dealing with them.

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.

There’s a cabinet in the basement where I never put anything. When I opened the door recently to see whether any random items might have ended up in there, I found several mostly empty bottles of liquor left over from my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, when she and her friends had a tiki bar in the backyard and played Hawaiian party music.
 

Mostly empty bottles of liquor in a cabinet. 

She is 23 now, and I suppose I should count myself lucky that she is so uninterested in liquor that those bottles sat there for more than two years, totally forgotten!

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!

October 17, 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

Instead of going on holiday, a phrase that brings to mind adventurous excursions in long-ago fanciful tales, here in the United States we simply take vacation—that is, we remove our rear ends from our desk chairs and vacate our workspaces. Vacancy is a rather dull way of describing time away from work; and what’s worse, often those vacation days don’t even include play or relaxation. Instead, they are used to catch up on postponed chores and projects.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t work on creative projects or fix things around the house while on vacation, if that is what we genuinely feel like doing. Personal projects, when they’re moving along easily and without stress, leave us feeling refreshed and joyful. But often that’s not what happens when we have an overflowing to-do list at the start of a vacation week. All that mental clutter interferes with relaxing and builds pressure to get things done while we have the time. Even things that ought to be fun end up feeling like chores. Lurking like spiders in gray dusty corners of our minds, those to-dos keep on spinning their icky little webs of time pressure and anxiety.
 

Spider in its web with a gray background.

(photo credit: publicdomainpictures.net)
 

When I started writing this post, I noticed a few of them peering out from their usual haunts. “Better hurry up and get finished, otherwise there might not be time to do it for days,” chuckled one big fat imaginary spider, well fed from sucking the life out of things that should have been fun. Another whispered from its dim dark hidey-hole, “Writing that post is taking so long—wouldn’t it make more sense to check a few chores off the to-do list instead?”

I told them to shut their collective yap. Then I set the half-finished post aside, picked up my Kindle, and spent some time reading NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman, a thoroughly researched historical work setting forth the various perspectives on autism in the modern era. This bestseller is a fascinating book, filled with engaging anecdotes and richly detailed descriptions that bring the cultural context to life. I serve as a board member of a nonprofit organization, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, which is briefly discussed toward the end of the book; thus I’ve had the privilege of becoming acquainted with several people the author mentions.

After I wrote this post’s first few paragraphs, I actually did take days to get around to composing the rest of it. That wasn’t caused by an overload of chores, but was simply a result of other things (some fun, and all good, yay) that ended up getting my attention instead. When I sat down to finish the post, I wondered why I had ever imagined there was any reason to hurry. My reasons for blogging are, first, to reflect on my experiences and clarify them in my mind; and second, to share with others and make a small contribution toward creating a better world. Neither of those purposes is well served by rushing through my posts.

Usually I take most of my vacation days in November and December, and this year will be no exception. But unlike in the past, as I go into this year’s holiday season I intend to make sure that those pointless old time-pressure scripts don’t spoil the fun. I’m going to sweep the dusty cobwebs out of my brain, send the imaginary spiders on their way, and hang out a “No Vacancy” sign!

My husband recently asked me to leave cookies off the grocery list because he had been eating too many of them, which was best dealt with by an “out of sight, out of mind” diet. Over the summer his employer got acquired, and he ate more cookies because of stress without realizing it. Many people do that, of course, as shown by this word-art picture I got in an email from a coworker last month.
 

Cookie Monster saying "Today me will live in the moment unless it's unpleasant in which case me will eat a cookie." 

Many years ago, Sesame Street changed the Cookie Monster to the Veggie Monster out of concern that kids shouldn’t be encouraged to eat sugary snacks for comfort. Although I can’t picture the Veggie Monster inspiring kids to clamor for lima beans, the health concern is indeed valid, given that today’s diet has way too much sugar in it. But even though it’s best not to overindulge, I have to admit there are times when nothing beats a soft gooey fresh-baked (or microwave-warmed) chocolate chip cookie after a tough day!

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.

There is an old expression, to hat someone up, which means to send them on their way; it derives from giving people their hat when the time has come for them to leave. This week it came to mind when I looked up at the top shelf of my closet and noticed a stack of hats that I used to wear for gardening and other outdoor activities, to keep the glare out of my eyes. I realized that those hats had been sitting there gathering dust for years because I now prefer to wear prescription sunglasses instead of hats on sunny days.
 

Stack of hats on a closet shelf. 

It’s all too easy for closet shelves to fill up with stuff that once was useful, but hasn’t been touched in ages. Sometimes it’s because of a conscious decision that it might one day be useful again; but more often, it’s simple inertia because the stuff has been there for so long it doesn’t even get noticed anymore. However it might happen, that clutter just needs to get hatted up!

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!

Saturday was a chilly day here, with some rain showers. I was outside for part of the day and was glad to get back home, where I could warm up! When I looked out the window by the front door, I noticed a rabbit on the steps, looking perfectly comfortable. My first thought was that the rabbit wanted to get out of the wet, too!
 

Rabbit sitting on my front porch steps. 

I didn’t invite the rabbit in for tea, like in old-fashioned storybooks, but I did take a photo as a self-nurturing reminder. While it’s good to get outdoors and be active, having a warm and cozy house to come back to later is always something to appreciate!

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.

Carolyn at Nuggets of Gold kindly provided me with a story prompt: Candy Corn, French Vanilla Coffee and a rainstorm.
 

Cornfield with candy corn decorations.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

A chilly October rain clattered against the windows when Irene woke up. She had been dreaming about work, hurrying to finish a project while evil giant corn stalks sprouted from an overturned bowl of candy corn in the break room. At first she thought she’d overslept; but no, it was Saturday, and she didn’t have to go anywhere! Even if the rain turned to snow, she would be nice and cozy here at home with the heat on. She could stay in bed all morning if she wanted.

But then she remembered the new romance novel she’d been wanting to read. This would be a perfect morning to curl up on the couch with her Kindle and a cup of French Vanilla coffee. Quiet and peaceful, with no distractions. Just what she needed after a hectic week. She imagined she could smell the coffee already.

As soon as she opened the bedroom door, the coffee smell got stronger. Not French Vanilla, though it seemed familiar. And what was all that noise coming from the living room? She turned the corner and found her husband Rick sprawled on the couch in his shorts, watching mixed martial arts.

Every inch of the coffee table was totally covered with donuts, crumbs, candy bar wrappers, the morning newspaper, and a cup of that weirdly familiar coffee. The aroma left her thinking of Halloween parties, and something else—what was it that she had been dreaming about earlier? On the TV, some big tattooed guy was choking his opponent into unconsciousness on a bloody mat while the crowd cheered.

“Yeah! Awesome guillotine choke!” Rick grinned cheerfully and scratched his unshaven chin as the referee stopped the match. He moved over to make space on the couch. “Irene, you’re going to love this coffee! The supermarket was out of your favorite French Vanilla when I got the groceries yesterday, so I bought the latest seasonal K-cup variety instead—Candy Corn flavor!”

The rain and wind rattled the windowpanes even more, as if it might indeed be about to change over to snow, or at least freezing rain.

“Actually, I don’t feel much like drinking coffee today. I’m just going back to bed.” Irene pulled her robe more tightly around herself; she had been standing near the window where it was drafty. “And this afternoon, I plan to clean out all the junk that’s been piling up in the spare room. After that I’m going to paint the walls and buy some new furniture so that I can use it as a sitting area. A couch with a nice floral pattern would be just the thing, wouldn’t you say?”

Rick scratched his chin again, looking quite baffled. “Okay,” he mumbled after a while, turning his attention back to the TV as the next fight started.