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Swinging that blue lightsaber

A wise friend of mine said once, “some days it all comes down to whether you’re swinging a red, or a blue lightsaber.”

He was talking about the basic question of whether you will be a force for good or bad.  Will you be self centered or generous?  Gloomy or sunny?  Will you give or will you take?

Some days the world seems so depleted.  It’s amazing how little it takes to give a bit back.  I’m not even talking about charities, money, volunteer work or anything like that.  Those things are great, but it takes so little effort to spread some cheer around.

Today I wrote a letter, a real actual letter, on paper with a pen, and I mailed it to my favorite blog.  I sincerely thanked the founders for all they have done to enrich my life.  I’d been meaning to do that for a couple of years now and it’s embarrassing to recall how long it took me to finally do it.  Just one sheet of paper, and envelope and a stamp – but it was a swing of the saber, and a shot against the darkness.

A sincere thank you goes such a long way.  My current job is so much better than the one I had last year, and much of that is because I feel appreciated.  A smile in the grocery store, letting someone into traffic, a friendly wave to a neighbor, a sincere compliment.  We can show appreciation and share cheer with family and friends as well as strangers.

So cheap, so simple, and so priceless.  It makes you feel good, it makes them feel good, it builds community, and it begins to fill up what’s been depleted.

Thank you for reading!  I appreciate you!

 

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

Disrupted by a thief

I rarely have anything stolen from me.  I can thank three factors.  Caution, luck, and until recently, not having anything of value to steal!  However, that changed recently.

I was at work, busily making a living, and someone decided to take advantage of that fact (and my inattention) by getting into my trunk.  My car hadn’t been locked that day.  My trunk is messy and not all that interesting, so the only thing convenient to grab was my emergency kit.

I learned a couple of things.  One, I rely on that kit quite a bit.

“Hey, do you have any glue?”

“Sure, it’s in my…. oh darn.”

“I need some duct tape.”

“No can do, not unless I restock.”

And so on.

As I was rebuilding the kit, I learned how disorganized the old one was, and realized most of the over the counter medications needed to be rotated anyway.

As I shopped, I had some fun imagining the thief opening the unassuming backpack.  What treasures are inside?  Electronics?  CDs?  Maybe medications?

Nope.  The first thing he’ll find is a big pack of Maxi pads.  They make great semi-sterile compression bandages.  And there are medications all right – aspirin, generic Benadryl, and some oh so exciting Dramamine.  Gauze, tape, glue, emergency candles, and more.

I learned a third thing by this experience.  You can put the different items of your emergency kit into gallon sized plastic bags, the kind that zip with a little plastic tab so they are easier to open and close.  Bandages can be in one, disinfectants in another, small tools in still a third, and so on.  things stay cleaner, more organized, and much easier to get to in an emergency.  I removed the outer packaging on the individual itemsBird of Paradise crop as well, which saved a great deal of space.

I also included a bottle of water, an ounce or so of beef jerky for protein, and some dried mangoes for quick energy.  The kit isn’t meant to sustain a person for days, but rather to get you home safely.  I sometimes have problems with low blood sugar, so having that small amount of provisions could make a big difference if I needed to function at my maximum.

Despite the expense, and the annoyance caused by this major disruption, I know that my kit is much more organized and complete than it was.  I’ve also changed where I park and I always lock my doors.

 

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt

A Radiant Thought

Here is a quote that I have considered many times, even though I am not religious.  Every time I consider it, I find meaning.

 

If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall.

The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding.

Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search.

The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it.

Similarly, someone who does not search – who does not bring a lantern – sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light… pure and unblemished… not understanding that it comes from us.

Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe – God looks astonishingly like we do – or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness.

If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.

 

J. Michael Straczynski

 

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

Warning: I was almost eaten by the Clutter Monster

And when they come to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could navigate it.

Mark Twain

I had that room.

I’m great at collecting, which leads to accumulating stunning amounts of stuff.  I’ve done a lot of crafting and I’m an artist who sometimes work in analog. At the same time I’ve always hated cleaning.

Unsurprisingly, when I was young, my room was a staggering mess.  Most of the time there was just a walkway to get through it, or maybe a patch of cleared floor, and stuff all over.  Clothes, toys, art materials, books, half finished projects.

My favorite place to dump my extra stuff was my closet.  It was big and I didn’t have to live in it.

Later, my favorite place to dump my extra stuff was under my raised bed-platform.   Again, lots of space, no organization, and I didn’t have to live there.

If somebody said “clean your room,” it was like a death knell!

I had way too much stuff.

I had nowhere to put it.

That worked together to make cleaning nearly impossible, so I did it as little as I could.

So I got used to the mess.  I thought I was just naturally messy, and that couldn’t change.

Then I visited a neighbor who actually had bags of garbage in her living room, and lived with a chicken and a dog.  Trash was piled everywhere, ground into every surface, and there was no cleaning that place.  Later I started working, became an in-home caregiver, and saw things that were just as bad.

I’m talking stacks of dishes in the sink and all over the counter, mounds of unidentified stuff all over the house, baskets and baskets of dirty laundry, piles of cheap plastic objects, outgrown toys, disposable items, stuff piled in the closets in stacks so high that you couldn’t hang anything in them, half finished craft projects, and I was seeing a pattern.  Health hazards, tripping hazards, allergy sufferers beware!

Helping to clean up those messes helped me realize I didn’t want to end up like them, and I was closer than I thought I was.

How does a person get to that state?  Where they are ruled by the mess and it’s almost too bad to clean?  W

I know that I got a lot of my habits from relatives who, through utter necessity, always kept a lot of things around.  When you don’t have a lot of money, you tend to save things because you might need them later.  To make things harder, you don’t always have access to the best shelving or cabinets either, and when something breaks you often keep it around in case you can fix it later.  Not only that, but you are usually having to live in a very small house or apartment, so that makes it even more difficult to be organized.

Under those circumstances, it’s all too easy for the stuff to start owning you.  chaos-227971_640

I rejoice to see the decluttering sites and blogs out there.  My own Mom is preparing for a move and is beginning to see the decluttering light.  I heartily applaud her efforts!  Especially because the beginning of this journey can be a painful one.   Yet, I know she’ll make it, because her goal is something that’s very important to her.

If you are going to do something big and life changing, you need a solid goal that you want very badly.  For example, my Mom is moving into a beautiful 100 year old house that could be a museum, and she wants to live in a way that enhances that house, and not fill it with mismatched stuff.

When I did my first big purge, though utter necessity, it felt like I was throwing away memories.  When I gave away things people had given me out of love, it felt like I was throwing away their love.  I got rid of some very precious things during that time, because I simply couldn’t take them.   Do I keep a precious piece of art, or ten kilos of beans?  Well, which will feed me when I’m hungry?  Which will fit in the one vehicle I am able to pack things into?   There were many hard decisions.

I had to realize that my friends and family members’ love was still there, and mine for them.  The memories were still there.  They were in your head and in my heart.  That connection didn’t go away.  But most of the stuff did.  Ultimately, I kept the precious things where they belonged and then gave away the husks, the mementos, so that they could bring others joy.

I was able to keep a few things in storage, which helped me make some of those hard decisions.  I asked that person to safeguard my DVDs and CDs, and some of my art.

Do you know what I did when I got my other stuff back, much later?  I rehomed some of it, too.  What I had been so eager to save, really wasn’t needed anymore.  I’m really grateful to that friend for saving those things – I was definitely happy to get my media back.  However, it was also a very important lesson about what I really needed.

At this moment, I still have too much stuff in my house.  That’s because I’m a producing artist, married to someone who builds lightsabers.  That means equipment and materials.  I have that stuff organized though and I’m constantly thinking of old things to get rid of.  I no longer have stacks of books and papers.  The art materials have homes.  My clothes are actually organized so I can find everything.  Everything in the kitchen has a place.  You can see all the floors in our little apartment, and it’s easier to keep things clean.  I feel much freer.

I’m not tied down to junk.  Since it’s easier to keep the place clean, it’s also better for my allergies.  I don’t do caregiving anymore, and all honor to those who still do.  So I don’t have to deal with other people’s houses anymore either!

I wish my Mom well on this path toward freedom.  Maybe she’ll learn the sweet taste of organization, and having more space to move around in.  She’s already made a lot of progress and I’m proud of her for it.

For anyone who wants to talk that same path, the way to less clutter is pretty simple.

The first rule is, have and get less things.  Figure out what’s essential to what you need.

Have more places to keep things, like cabinets, shelves, etc.  Racks and specialty storage are good if you have a hobby that requires a lot of stuff.

Have some kind of system, so you don’t lose stuff and you can get to it.  That could be as simple as “keep all the tools together.”

The one year rule – unless you have a really good reason, if you haven’t looked at something in a year, you probably don’t need it.

Decluttering isn’t about having less stuff as much as it is about having more room in your life to do things.  There’s less time spent cleaning, you will feel more relaxed, and you will have a lot easier time when you have to move!

I no longer need soundings to navigate my room – all my floors are visible so I don’t even need a map!

 

doorway-crop-1000

 

via Daily Prompt: Warning

My Favorite Place

I’d have to say my favorite place is Arizona.

Can anyone doubt it?

The views, the weather, the critters, the plants, the people, the food.  It’s great!

Cactus Art Print 1000

I liked this cactus so much against its blue background, I turned it into an “art photo!”

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View!

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And view!

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And huge prickly pear!

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And a cool tree!

This is at my local park, which is one of my favorite places – within my favorite place.

 

via Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

Entanglement – a story that transcends time and space

Dave Plassman’s patient fans finally have something new to read.  There is a new science fiction novel out, called Entanglement, and wow is it a rollicking journey!

Our main character is a recent graduate of  the University of Washingon,  Somewhat at loose ends, all they want to do is make enough for rent and gas.  They sign up for what advertizes to be a dream study to make an extra hundred dollars. That sleep study is more than it appears, and it turns into something that involves both virtual reality and interplanetary travel!  Will this intrepid student ever get home?  Will they want to?

People who are interested in the mind, memory, space travel, and ancient civilizations will enjoy this book.  Best of all, there’s a bonus prequel story at the end that has several surprises of its own.

An eBook version is available now and paperback is coming soon!

https://www.books2read.com/u/3J0PDv

If you want to read more of Dave’s thoughts about space travel and the future of humanity, visit him at his blog:

Energy Minimum Road to Outer Space

Entanglement Cover 800.jpg

 

via Daily Prompt: Patience