Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 31, 2019

The Lift in the Gift

Although I was unable to attend, I recently purchased a seat at Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write monthly salon (a definition I like) – in the past, a regular meeting of artists, writers, musicians, etc., usually at the home of a rich, famous woman.  I may have written about this before, but I can never say this too often- Vicki has a gift for bringing together THE most talented authors, writers, musicians, composers, actors and performers. Since she live streams her salons and archives them, I can watch them when I have time.  To me, this is a nominal price to pay to support my creativity, her creativity and everyone else’s.  Whenever possible, she gifts my ticket as a scholarship to someone who would not be able to afford a seat.  I think this is a lovely gift.

This month I was reminded of a time almost 10 years ago when money was tight, really, really, tight.  I wanted to attend a workshop at our church about finding your purpose and passion.  Not something you really focus on when you are wondering how to make your next mortgage payment.  It was held over a weekend, Friday night, all day Saturday, and then Sunday after church.  Our son was in elementary school then and I was feeling guilty about being gone so much over the weekend.  My husband encouraged me to go and we agreed that the cost was not going to amount to much in the long run.  Despite my unbearable guilt about the time and the money, my intuition was pulling me with a stronger conviction, and I went.

As I arrived at the registration table pulling out my wallet, the volunteer said that my registration had been paid for by my friend Yvonne.  I cannot describe the relief that cascaded over me.  I had known her for about a year and we were going to attend this workshop together, but something had come up and she had to go out of town.  Yvonne is one of the most generous human beings I have ever met, generous with her time, her ability to talk to anyone in any situation and will give you whatever you need if she can.  Yvonne has lifted the spirits of more people than I can count.  I honestly knew little about her financial situation, but I decided whether or not I thought she could afford it, she obviously knew she could.  She had encouraged me to go to this workshop and when she wasn’t able to attend, the thought of going alone was a little daunting.  And in that moment at the table, it felt like everything in me was aligned for the first time in a long time.

The workshop was truly life-altering, the presenters were supportive and encouraging. I learned that I still had some personal passions and a purpose beyond, wife, mom, and household money manager.  I met my friend Layne ( who found Vicki and took me to her salon several years ago) at that workshop and introduced her to Yvonne.  We all have a passion for writing and became great friends.  Although we may not see each other often, there is a thread running through the three of us.  I believe that thread is a result of lifting one another with our gifts.

We know there is giving in receiving and receiving in giving. Whether you are a part of the giving or receiving, the gift lifts us all.

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Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 7, 2019

Decluttering My Decisions

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!  Right now, as I am typing, our kitchen and family room are being remodeled and it is very noisy.  It feels like we made thousands of decisions before this project began but, I am pretty sure it was less than a hundred.  We are still making decisions as things are changing and problems are cropping up.

Since this is my first blog of the year, I have taken a hard look at why I have not written and posted up until now.  I spend a lot of time thinking about writing something, lots of ideas come to mind and then quickly disappear as I get sidetracked or am too focused on my too long To Do List.  Other times I am just plain tired, lazy and procrastinating.  I like to think that by thinking, I am being thoughtful, careful, perhaps wise, in order to make a space for something profound to occur to me, something worth sharing.

The truth is, there are endless topics to write about.  I write Morning Pages nearly every day, there is sure to be a gem in there occasionally. The fact is, I have not made a conscious, committed decision to make my love of writing a priority.  This is a decision I want to change.

Making all the decisions around the remodel, in addition to all the other decisions I have made this year; financial, health, business, personal, daily planning etc., made me realize that at times, I am putting too much time and energy into some of them.  When the idea of “decluttering my decisions” came to me, I was struck by the thought that I had never thought about this before.  Decisions are a huge part of decluttering and organizing.  People make decisions in different ways for different reasons.  But decluttering the decision-making process itself, that was a new idea to me.

I think it was planted by all the people who have commented on all the fun we must be having in selecting everything. FUN?? And we must be so excited about all of it.  How about PANIC/TERROR/FEAR of choosing something WRONG!!  I started looking at how much time and energy I was putting into every decision and started to see the imbalance.  If I was trying to decide when to do something, if it could be done now instead of in the future, I did my best to just get it done. If it wasn’t urgent, I let it wait.  Is the decision something that can be changed or something permanent? Am I giving too much time and energy to things I cannot control? Am I accepting that at times I procrastinate?  Can I forgive myself and begin again?

I am looking at my decisions, especially to write, through a lens of joy and fun.  I am much more conscious of my time, what I am thinking about, and where I am focusing my attention.  Having played with this idea for about a month, I invite you to see if your decisions need some decluttering.  Let me know if it works for you.

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | December 24, 2018

CHANGE

I wrote this about eight or nine years ago.  I read it to my beloved writers group every year whether they want to hear it or not! I ended my facilitation of the group last month and this was the last piece I read to them.  It was truly a bittersweet moment, but as Jeffrey in the group wrote, Nothing Lasts. Here we go again 🙂

There is a vase on our dresser that is nearly full of change from my husband’s pockets or when my wallet is too full.  We use it once in a while for lunch money or when my son repays me for some item we have bought for him and he needs change from his dollar bills. We used to roll the coins and take them to the bank but that has become more difficult over time.  Now every so often we take the vase to one of those coin machines in the grocery stores to get cash and the service charge balance on a gift card.

Many years ago my husband and I were on our way to a Christmas Eve party and we stopped at a liquor store to buy some lottery tickets for his mom.  The store was next to a Laundromat and I was surprised to see quite a few people doing laundry on Christmas Eve.  This struck me as sad because these folks did not have access to a washer and dryer where they lived or maybe theirs had broken on the holiday.  I had a thought of giving these people quarters some day and parked that idea somewhere in the recesses of my brain.

This past Christmas Eve as my husband, my mom, our son and I got ready to go to a friend’s house, I remembered this idea I had many years ago.  I thought to myself, we are going to do this even if my husband and my mother think I’m nuts.  I enlisted my son’s help and we put $5 worth of quarters into seven Ziploc Bags.  This took about 15 minutes and barely made a dent in the amount of change in the vase.  I explained to my husband and mom what I wanted to do, so on the way to the party we stopped at the same Laundromat.  We all went inside and gave a bag of quarters to each person.  It turned out to be one family with seven people doing their laundry.  We wished them each Merry Christmas and they said thank you several times with questioning looks of surprise on their faces.

It was a great experience for us as well.  I was thrilled to have acted on an idea I had thought about many years ago.  Using a little change to make a big change felt wonderful.  It reminded me to act on my intuition sooner rather than later and not to worry about how crazy some intuitive thoughts can appear to be.  Change comes in everything we see, hear, do, own and create.  They say the only real constant in this Universe is change.  So perhaps if we want consistency and peace, we must wholeheartedly embrace Change on every level.

Wishing the merriest of Christmases and a New Year filled with wonderful blessings ❤

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | December 21, 2018

Can’t Fail Fudge or Christmas-Revisited

UPDATE:  A couple of friends recently asked me for my fudge recipe and rather than typing it up and emailing it to them, I remembered that I posted it on my blog.  I did not remember when I posted it, and I did not remember writing a post to go with it. It is December 21st, two years later, I am a little ahead of the game this year with help from family members especially one of my husband’s nieces who is not much younger than me but is a yoga teacher with tons of energy.  And isn’t it always easier to help someone else clean their house!

Feel your feelings and take care of yourself. May the gifts of joy, peace and love be yours this Christmas!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Right now, nearly every woman I know is at least a little stressed about Christmas.  It comes with the territory every December.  Yesterday I realized that pre-Christmas is like the movie Groundhog Day.  Why do we vow that next year will be better, easier, more organized, we will start sooner, we will plan better? Some of us have been doing this for DECADES and are in the same boat every year.  How can we be kinder to ourselves?

First let’s take a deep breath and actually exhale it COMPLETELY!  Second, let’s take a minute or two to write down a short list of things we would love to do this holiday season.  Third, do any of these things match the list (that I know you already have made) of what we believe we must do?? Fourth, can we incorporate two or three Loves into the Musts?  Fifth, and this one can be a little rough, can we feel our feelings as memories rise up, happy or sad, celebratory or tragic?

It’s December 17th, Christmas is one week from tomorrow and we have not started decorating.  We had new window coverings installed in three rooms yesterday and are nearly done remodeling a bathroom that has needed a redo for almost 6 years.  My husband and I decided to get all this done before company comes for Christmas!   Oh, and we took a long-awaited trip to Napa for five days at the beginning of the month.  Every one of these things is a blessing yet the guilt still crept in.  As long as things are “good enough” on Christmas Day, which they usually are, then why can’t I Let Go and Let God?

As I walked myself through this process, I mightily exhaled.  I love to make fudge, play Christmas music, and have our home feel Christmassy without feeling obligated to put our every single decoration we own. I would love to watch my favorite Christmas movies with my husband a glass of wine instead of frantically wrapping gifts while listening to the dialogue.    Can I incorporate these into my schedule beyond the cleaning and rearranging and shopping that Must be done?  Yes, I can if I set my intention and focus on my love of beauty, comfort and joy.  I  realized that many past Christmases were surrounded by illness, surgeries, accidents and death.  Events happen and we dearly miss people.  If we don’t feel our feelings, then all hell can break loose when you least expect it.  Being emotionally healthy is the biggest gift we can give ourselves.  And let’s be honest, except under the most extreme situations, when have we ever failed at Christmas?

Now on to the fudge.  My mom found this recipe when I was a teenager and I have been making this fudge for about 40 years now! It is easy to make and it is delicious. I  often get rave reviews, one from a woman who told me she was a judge at the County Fair and is now one of my best friends.  (One of these summers I will get my act together and enter it into the competition, hmm, a future blog post.)

Can’t Fail Fudge

  • 4 Cups              Miniature marshmallows  (Fresh from the store, not stale from                                                                                  your pantry, I know you)
  • 2/3 Cup            Evaporated Milk
  • ¼ Cup               Butter/ half a stick                 
  • 1 ½ Cups              Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon         Salt
  • 12 oz./1 Bag       Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Teaspoon         Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Cup                  Chopped Nuts (optional)

 Combine marshmallows, evaporated milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium/medium high heat.  Cook and stir until mixture comes to a full boil.  Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips beating until melted.  Do not overbeat.  Gently fold in vanilla, (then the nuts).  Pour into a 9” square pan or pie pan and chill until firm.

Makes approximately 2 ½ pounds.

 

Posted by: clearspaces60 | October 26, 2018

What Are You Ready to Win?

Most people would love to win the lottery.  Lottery Fever is in the air with the recent record-breaking billion-dollar jackpots.  Even matching some of the numbers could lead you to becoming a millionaire. Daydreaming about how you would spend the money is a wonderful way to spend some time.  Many people say that they want to help their family and give to charity.  These are great goals and of course mostly fantasy, yet there are winners, few and far between, but people do win.

If you were one of the lucky winners, are you ready for it? Do you know your state’s laws about the lottery? Most states force you to be publicly identified, are you ready for that? Are you prepared for the onslaught of requests for money and the incredible number of long-lost relatives that are going to come out of the wood work?  Do you have a banker, an accountant, a financial adviser, and a lawyer?  Is it better for you to create a trust or a LLC?  Have you investigated the charities you want to give to? Do you want to start your own charitable foundation? Do you know how? Are you aware that you can only give a person $15,000 a year without any tax ramifications? Do you have a strong backbone as you will need to get really comfortable with the word “no”?

These are all great problems to be solved.  As with any dream or desire, we need to spend some time preparing ourselves for it to come true.  Turning our dreams and desires into goals helps us figure out what we need to learn as well as what steps to take.

Some lottery winners’ lives take a turn for the worse. They trust the wrong people, they find out the true nature of their relatives and friends, or they simply could not accept the windfall of wealth and spend the money until it is gone.  Greed, jealousy, anger and resentment fully come to the surface when someone does not support your success or good fortune.

Prepare yourself for receiving your dreams and desires, no matter what they are.  Surround yourself with spiritual armor so when people tell you that your idea is nuts, you’re crazy, you don’t deserve it, etc., you can boldly stand in the truth of your vision.  Spend some time thinking about what great problems you need to solve to get what you want, and then go about the business of learning how to solve them.  What are you ready to win today?

Posted by: clearspaces60 | October 6, 2018

First Blog Post of October

Message to Myself-

Feed your Soul

Listen more, to your inner voice and to the voices of others

Engage in your passions

When you don’t know where to start, clean out your purse

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Be Love and Peace

Work to Live, don’t Live to Work

Acknowledge yourself daily

Empower and encourage others when you can

Support organizations that empower and encourage others

When you crave calm, close your eyes for a few minutes

Sitting is the new “smoking”, stand more often

When you know you are done with something, let it go with grace

Follow your Bliss

Add Joy and Beauty wherever you can

Eat more dark chocolate

Posted by: clearspaces60 | September 29, 2018

Mysterious Losses

Have you ever lost something and are still baffled by its disappearance? 30 years ago, I graduated from college and my three sisters gave me a Mont Blanc pen.  It was beautiful and expensive.  It meant the world to me.  Several years later, it disappeared.  I never took it out of the house and its loss is a mystery.  Did it somehow get stuck in papers that went in the trash? Did someone take it, accidentally or on purpose? I searched and searched my condo and hoped that it would turn up one day.  Seven years later, I sold my condo and moved out.  The pen never turned up.  To this day, that pen means a lot to me. Maybe it means more because I lost it.

Recently we remodeled our garage and went through every box, bin, bag and cabinet shelf.  Sorting through my stuff, I realized that none of my old writings, stories, essays were in any of the boxes or bins.  The pages I remember keeping are all gone.  I did find lots of notebooks and folders filled with notes from numerous high school and college classes.  I am bewildered by this, did the boxes get mixed up and the wrong ones tossed out.  I will never know and am currently in the process of accepting that I have no control over this, what’s done is done, I can’t change it.  I am disappointed but the fact that I never searched for them sooner means that I can easily live without them.  I know people who have lost everything to fires, floods and other disasters, they had no control over the timing of their loss. I am grateful, just a little sad.

The loss that hit me the hardest was in reading old cards and letters from my late friend, Jayne.  She passed away much too early at age 49 and I miss her dearly.  The mystery for me is her artistic talents and humor, where did they go when her addiction took over?  Holding things that she gave me and reading the funny words that she wrote to me broke my heart open even more. She often mixed up metaphors and cliches, I wish I could remember more clearly which ones as they were hilarious.

Maybe these losses give us more appreciation, help us make wiser decisions on what to keep and what to release in our lives, and give us the opportunity to reminisce about those we will never stop loving.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | September 15, 2018

Clear Your Mind with Reading

Many times, when my mind is going a million directions at once and I have a lot I need to accomplish, I stop everything and read.  Maybe for a few minutes, or about 15 minutes max.  I find that the need to focus calms my mind and helps me to regroup my thoughts into a plan.  If I just cannot stop all the critics and editors vying for space in my brain, I spend no more than 5 minutes writing down everything that I think I must get done or work on or make time for or think about or remember.  This clears up a little more space.

I am usually in the middle of half a dozen books at any given time, so I may read from one of those or I may pick up something inspirational or humorous, changing gears to free up space for ideas, creative solutions, and often a path to success forms effortlessly.

My current favorite go-to authors are (in no particular order) Mary Oliver, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mark Nepo, Marianne Williamson, Gretchen Rubin, Dennis Merritt Jones, Jim Lockard, Edward Viljoen, Oprah Winfrey, Vicki Abelson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Natalie Goldberg, Ed Asner, Anne Lamott, Charles Blow and Patti Smith.

What authors help you clear your mind for greater productivity and creativity?

Posted by: clearspaces60 | September 8, 2018

Connections

I love making connections.  My first was connecting the dots. Those books were lots of fun.  The next was probably the telephone connection. Remember when calling long distance was expensive and you didn’t always have a clear connection to hear the other person.  I am sure somewhere in my childhood I heard adults talk about “connections”.  Who knew who and what could they do for you. In some families being “connected” had a whole other scary meaning.  I remember seeing The French Connection as a teen, not too sure I was following the story line, but who cared, Gene Hackman was so handsome and then I would fall for him again as a minister in The Poseidon Adventure a year or two later.

I didn’t learn about electrical connections or connecting flights until I was in my twenties.  One time I had to literally and I mean literally beg and plead with an airline to hold a plane for my boss because his flight was late, and it was the only connecting flight to a little town in West Virginia where our wood laboratory furniture factory was located.  I cannot imagine that even being possible today.  Now of course we talk about connection all the time, cell phones, computers, cable, WiFi.

I think there are more important connections and they are my favorite.  Connecting people to one another.  Introducing my friends to each other, encouraging people to reach out to others with the same interests, or answers and solutions to meet their needs.  I get excited when I can have one friend meet another.  I have created friendships this way all of my life.  Facebook has been great for this, back when it did not connect the same shared post but showed it over and over, I would get my friends and family who posted the same things to become friends.  I did this for two reasons- How awesome is it to connect people from different cities, states and countries who are like minded? And I didn’t want to see the same shared post 8 or 10 times!!

Lately, I have really opened my eyes to the reality that some people do not want their friends and family to communicate with each other.  They want walls and barriers.  They want to compartmentalize their lives and fill it with drama.  I believe that many people do not feel alive if there is no drama going on in and around their lives.  This has also given me an opportunity to see where I have had these types of friendship over the course of my life starting with the mean girls in elementary school.

I prefer people who are open and honest yet know the difference between secrecy and privacy.  If everything has to be a secret to the point that one friend cannot talk to a mutual party, not only is it exhausting but the level of dysfunction surely escalates.

Now I more clearly see that the demand to keep things separate and contained is based on fear.  Many people are terrified of sharing themselves.  Being open and authentic takes courage. I guess I have never felt so ashamed or embarrassed or humiliated about myself that I would not want the people I love to know and love each other.  I understand more clearly that this is a real issue for many people.  I am learning to accept it, and to see it with more compassion and forgiveness.

I will still do what I do, make connections, bring people together, encouraging friendships and business relationships.  Connections-when done in a healthy way with honest intentions- may bring us together in new and wonderful ways.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 18, 2018

Please Follow My Blog

What does Paula Poundstone have to do with ClearSpaces?  Follow me and let’s find out.

I have been in a writing rut all year. Other than Morning Pages, a few short personal essays for my writers group and some business emails, I have not done much “real” writing, whatever that is.  What is holding me back? Nothing.  Who is holding me back? ME!  At one point, I just decided to forget about it, let it go, and see if it came back to me. It did!!!

At the end of May, I had the pleasure to once again attend one of Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write salons. (I follow her on Facebook and Twitter). She brings together incredibly talented musicians, writers and actors who perform and speak to “regular” women like me (and a few men) who love to write.  Her headliner was Paula Poundstone.!! I have always loved Paula’s work, but I had no idea that she was an author or has a regular NPR gig. Yes, I am late to that party.

A friend who is a HUGE fan of Paula’s was with me and I immediately joined that fangirl club.  Before the program started we each bought a copy Paula’s book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness and asked her to sign them.  She sweet, kind and funny.  During her part of the program, Paula was hilarious! Honestly, I think everyone’s face and stomach muscles hurt from laughing so hard.  Her wit is phenomenal.  She did a lively running commentary on all the other people who had read or performed before her, combined with the news of the day and the state of our world as well as sharing a great deal about her personal life.  After the program was over, we talked to her a little more, hugged her, found out that the three of us are all nearly the same age, just months apart, and took some pictures.

Later that week while my husband was watching the The Walking Dead or a baseball game, I picked up her book and started reading it.  I could not put it down.  How could she string these words together and have them feel so effortless that I was actually laughing out loud?  I am always telling people to read books or handing them a book and saying, “You must read this.”  Do they? Well sometimes.  How could I get everyone I know to know about this book?  Well I do have a blog…

I want to write an Amazon review for it, but when you buy the book directly from the author, as I often do at Vicki’s, it can be harder to get the review to show up. Also, our Amazon account is in my husband’s name and no matter how many times I have changed the review to may name, it still shows that my husband’s name on my review of Vicki’s book, Don’t Jump: Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll… And My Fucking Mother. It starts out “LEAP into this book.  I read this book as if gulping a bottle of Annie Green Springs and inhaling a lunch-size bag of Cheetos, it went by too fast.”- Sounds like every guy I know! Maybe after I get done with this, I will work on a review of Paula’s book which will be more pressure than writing for my blog with my 23 followers of which I am one.

Oh my, how I’ve digressed!

What does Paula Poundstone have to do with ClearSpaces?   In her book, Paula has not one, but TWO chapters on getting organized experiments.  I don’t want to give anything away but her insights are both hilarious and spot on.  I hope it is okay to just quote this one sentence from her book.  In her first experiment, her hypothesis is “I am sure that getting organized will make me happy. I just know it.”  Who hasn’t thought or said this? ) She knows us. She is us. She has three kids (so do I), so every mom can relate to many things she goes through, literally and figuratively; board games, kids artwork, clothes, toys – and the one thing I still don’t know what to do with- school pictures.  I swear I had tears rolling down my face.  When she writes about what she keeps and why, the memories that are evoked, you may have different tears streaming down your face. Then in her second experiment, she talks about interviewing, hiring and working with a professional organizer.  I swear I said, “No, Paula, No!” dozens of times. She did accomplish a lot. I would love to talk to Paula again, discuss her views on the movie “Cinderella” and be invited to her home to play ping-pong. No spoilers, Read the book 🙂

I am finally writing about this because earlier this week Paula showed up three times in one day, Facebook, Twitter and then she was on Stephen Colbert. Three times a charm, so get off your ass and write something.  Plus, she now has a new podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone”.  So, whether she reads this blog, I will share it on Twitter and @ her as the kids say.  Read her book and Vicki’s too if you are so inspired.  And if you aren’t a follower of this blog but want to be, go over to the right-hand side of this post and figure out how to follow me.  If I could do it, then you can too!

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