Taking Stock

Thoughts on Welcoming a Daughter-in-Law


I raised Brian to grow up and become . . . himself.  To follow his own path.  To discover his own life.  To leave me.  It has always brought me great  joy . . . to watch him UNFOLD . . . right before my eyes.


I'm especially happy that Brian and Lauren found each other.  The two of them seem just perfect for each other.  As a Mom, there is really nothing better than watching your kid . . . grow up and find happiness.

And I am seeing that in Brian now . . . because of Lauren.  I am looking forward to seeing the future the two of them create TOGETHER.  I'm going to love watching their lives continue to . . . UNFOLD. 


 Last week, I sent Lauren a note (saying pretty much the same as above) along with a little "token" -- a symbol, I guess, of my passing Brian's childhood into her hands (and heart) . . . for the next phase of his journey.


I'm confident that Mr. Bun is in good hands!


KonMari in the Garden


Tom and I spent much of Sunday prepping the yard and garden for the colder months ahead.  We brought in the patio furniture and unhooked the hoses.  We composted spent containers and stored my garden tchotchkes in the garage.  We cut back plants and unhooked the pond pumps and emptied the rain barrel.

And all the while, I KonMari'd!

I sorted through everything garden-related.


My "garden shelves" in the garage.

The potting bench.

All the garden tchotchkes I was bringing in for storage.

I sorted it all!

Turns out . . .  a lot of things were broken or rusted or past their "use by" date.  And several things just don't bring me joy anymore.

Now, that shelf (above) looks like this . . . 


And my storage bins are filled ONLY with the garden items that bring me joy.

KonMari. . . scoring another WIN!



Dear Self

The One Little Word prompt for September involved writing a letter to . . . yourself.  Here's mine.

FullSizeRender 26

Dear Self,

I know you were looking for . . . something . . . when you chose the word JOURNEY for 2015.  I know you wanted to wander (a little) off the comfortable and well-worn path of your life.  You used the words "shake up."  You used the words "explore" and "discover" and "get a little lost."


(You did.)

And, as usually happens with this One Little Word thing, you get what you're looking for.  (That's why you sign up every year, right?  That's why you put up with all the prescribed arts-and-crafts scrapbooking bullshit and commercial "kits," isn't it?)  Because, turns out, the process - and the monthly prompts - all work for you.

So, yeah.

OLW strikes again.

Life took you on a JOURNEY you weren't quite expecting when you signed on to this gig.  You landed in some kind of wilderness - one that you wouldn't have picked for yourself and really didn't expect.  And -- AH! -- that's the real beauty of a JOURNEY.  Sometimes you know where you're headed, and sometimes you don't. I kind of remember . . . that you were hoping for a JOURNEY where you didn't quite know where you were headed.

And.  Well.  That's what you got!

Now that you're moving again -- out of that wilderness and onto a path you didn't know existed back in January - you've learned a few things.

Like. . . 

Heading out on a JOURNEY when you don't exactly know where you're going . . . is risky.

Getting lost . . . means being uncomfortable.

And (like with any trip), it's important to pack lightly.  Which means . . . letting go.  Getting rid of what you don't really need.  Ideas.  Objects.  People who drag you down.  Commitments you shouldn't have made in the first place.

Because being lost -- really being lost -- and wandering (even flailing) in the wilderness for a while might just be the best way to find out who you are, what you might want to do, and how you want to live the rest of your life.

When you set out on a JOURNEY - any kind of journey - you should expect to come back changed.  And, y'know, you don't get to direct what that change will be.  It just . . . happens.


Here's to "getting lost."  And "exploring."  And "discovery."  Here's to "shaking things up."

Keep going.



"Cherish your wilderness." -- Maxine Kumin


Report from the Purge Trenches: The Books*

* (With a little bit of Throwback Thursday . . . well, thrown in!)

As the KonMari-ing continues full throttle here in my house, I thought I'd give you a little update.  

If you've read the book, you know that KonMari suggests beginning with your closet (check) -- and then moving on to books.  She suggests that books are easier to part with for most people.  And she intimates that most people have far more books than they'll read, re-read, use . . . or even know that they have.

In my heart, I knew that she was right.  I rarely re-read books.  And (not so much now, but in years before Goodreads), I used to purchase books that I wanted to read later . . . as "placeholders."  (So I wouldn't forget that I wanted to read them someday.)  (I used to do that with knitting patterns, too . . . pre-Ravelry.)

But, still . . . I knew that going through my books would not be "easy" for me.

I've been a Reader forever.  And, as a child, I dreamed of having a Library of my own.  

This photo is me . . . age 11.  Standing with my beloved library.  (This is the throwback part.)  Most of the books on my shelf were old books that had belonged to my mom.  A few were my own books.  (I used to get a book for Christmas each year.  And I used to live for the Scholastic Book Order at school.)  Mostly, though, I checked out piles and piles of books from the library and dreamed of owning more books someday.

Kym at 11

And, eventually, I DID grow up to have a library of my own!  In fact, one of the big selling points to me for the house I currently live in . . . was a library.  An actual ROOM with a floor-to-ceiling WALL of bookshelves.  I was in heaven.  And I just kept stuffing those shelves with books.  (And books.  And more books.)

So, I figured that sorting through those books, KonMari-style, would not be easy.

But I was wrong!  There is power in letting go.  Once begun, I filled over 20 banker's boxes with books that will soon be donated to my library's annual book sale inventory.  

Here's a photo of my library this morning . . . the aftermath.  (The books on the shelves are the books we are keeping.)  (I was so eager to begin that I forgot to take a "before" shot.)


Still plenty of books. 

I found it was easy to part with

  • books I read - and even liked - many years ago, but that I know I'll never read again.
  • books I thought I should read - but never did.
  • books I slogged through when working on my Master's degree fifteen years ago (but haven't looked at since).
  • books I used as references as my kids were growing up.
  • books I forgot we even had . . . and couldn't ever remember where they came from.

It was so freeing . . . to get rid of a thick novel . . . that I had read 30 years ago . . . (which means I've packed it and moved it to new shelves several times) . . . but haven't even opened since.  MariKon is right -- we hold on to things we think are precious.  But they aren't.  Really.

And the books we kept?

  • beloved novels
  • helpful and useful reference books
  • poetry
  • children's books that were particular favorites
  • books that inspire

I still have a dream library!  It just means a whole lot more to me now.

(Oh -- and I did find a few of those "placeholder" books that I purchased with intent to read someday . . . that I actually DO want to read.  These 4 are at the top of my to-read pile now.)  (I forgot I even owned them.)  (Sad, but true.)




This Year


Last week, I shared my two-word intentions for the new year in a blog post.  Those two-word intentions are really just place-holders for me . . . of more detailed goals or aspirations or hopes-and-dreams (or whatever-you-want-to-call-thems) I have for the year.

Today, Carole asks us to share our intentions for the year, so I'll provide some of the "backstory" for my two-word intentions.


Ten Things I Want to Accomplish This Year:

  1. I want to go through All the Things and reduce-reuse-recycle.  Seriously, I'm in a PURGE mode!  I mean . . . What am I keeping some of this stuff FOR, exactly?  How did I come to have it in the first place?  What do I think I'll ever DO with it?  Do I need it?  That kind of thing.  I have just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying . . . and I say Let the Magic Begin!  (Maybe I'll even have a garage sale.)
  2. I'm going to use what I have.  Yarn.  Art supplies.  Ingredients.  Lotions and potions.  Chapstick.  Pencils.  If I already have it, I'm going to use it.  Period.  (I'll save money, too.)
  3. It's time for a little freshening up!  I've lived in my current house for 12 years now.  It is time for a little . . . rejuvenation.  Seriously . . . I hated that valance in the library when we moved in.  I really don't like it now!  I'm not talking about anything major, but a little moving-around and touching-up.  Maybe some new rugs and a curtain or two.  (And maybe some new windows and a new slider, but that's a whole other thing altogether.)
  4. I want a labyrinth in the garden.   I haven't sprung this one on Tom quite yet . . . but we had to have a tree removed last fall (diplodia tip blight. . .)  so some space has opened up.  I love walking labyrinths, and I think we can incorporate a small one into our space.  (It'll give me something to ponder and plan, now that winter has returned.)  (And Tom loves to dig.)
  5. (Okay.  Let's just all roll our eyes over this one. . .)  I want to become proficient with PhotoShop.  I know.  This has been on every goals-list I've put together for 6 years.  But this time . . . I mean it!  Sure.  I've already completed THREE PhotoShop classes (online AND in-person).  But this time, I'm committed.  (I'm not going to let LAYERS intimidate me again.)  (I mean it.)
  6. I want to explore my creative side in a more intentional way.  I'm no artist, but I do feel like there's some untapped . . . expression . . . in there, ready to break through.  So I want to try some new things and take some artistic risk this year.  (I've even taken a huge step in making this happen.  More another day.)
  7. I want to get back to strength training.  I've pretty much got the cardio-thing down when it comes to fitness.  I mean, I run regularly, I spin, and now that I'm not working (!) I'm back to my dance and kickboxing classes.  But . . . I've really let my strength training go.  I'm getting back to Pilates and I've discovered a new class at the gym called "Body Pump."  (Trendy as hell, sure.  But effective.  So there.)
  8. I want to stitch more.  I say MORE ALABAMA CHANIN in 2015!  I love the AC shawl I made last year -- so much that I bought a new AC kit right before the holiday madness began (this time, a t-shirt).  I'm eager to begin.  You can bet that I won't leave this kit - untouched - in my closet for two years.  (Like the last one.)  I'm not intimidated anymore.  (And yesterday Vicki sent me a link to an AC project featuring grids.  I am giddy. . .)
  9. I want to Go Someplace.  Actually, let's make that plural.  I want to Go Places!!  My sister and I are starting to get itchy again.  Tom casually mentioned Mexico last night. (I'm All In.) (Even though he wasn't talking about the two of us going to Mexico.) And I'd like to take some small trips, too (Pittsburgh to see Erin, local adventures with my Mom, Chicago with Tom).  (Who knows where I'll end up. . .)
  10. I want to reach and grow and try some new things this year -- but I also want to settle in with the things I love best.  Hanging out with Tom.  Reading excellent books.  Digging in my garden. Knitting and stitching and creating.  Listening to music.  Enjoying poetry.  Sipping some wine.  And keeping up with friends!

How about YOU?  What are your intentions (or aspirations and goals) for the year?


 Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here

Somewhat Nuts

If someone were to ask me . . . 

On a scale of 1 to 10 ... just how nuts are you? 

I'd probably have to give myself a 7.  I'd call that . . . Somewhat Nuts.

Which is why I've committed to blogging every day in November.  (Along with several other partners in crime.)  It's kind of an overwhelming challenge -- coming up with something to say every day.  So we came up with a few "theme" ideas to get us through the overwhelming parts.

Margene is going to look up on Saturdays.

Carole is going to "show and tell" by sharing stories about things in her home on Saturdays.

Patty is going to talk about her dog, Boone, on Saturdays.

(I'm not sure, exactly, what Vicki will be doing on Saturdays quite yet.)

As for me?  I'm leaving it wide open.  

It's a beautiful (but cold) day here.  When I look up, this is what I see. . .


And I'll "show and tell" you about this . . . 


It's one of my pottery roses that I "collect" each year from a Michigan artist.  I have 4 of them, scattered around my bookshelves.  They are beautiful and make me smile -- and especially during the Bleak Months when there are no real blooms to be found in my garden.

And, of course, I can always highlight these two!


They love to play together -- especially when they can work at destroying one of their new "indestructible" toys.  (Ha!)  (In human language, they have "ripped" and "shredded" and "made a mess."  In dog language, they have "killed" and "disemboweled" and "brought glory to the pack.")

So.  Somewhat nuts.  Sure.

But always open to a challenge!



Words . . . with Impact


First, two facts:

  1. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of my first chemo treatment.
  2. I am struggling with a big decision I need to make; one that involves priorities and decisions about how I want to live my life; one that isn't easy for me.

Next, the backstory:

Last March, I received an email from Dana, a blog-reader.  She let me know how much my story meant to her.  She told me that she wanted me to understand the "the impact your blog and willingness to share your experiences has made on a stranger's life."  She also told me that she was embarking on her first chemo treatment the next day.

We began a correspondence.

Now, to yesterday:

Yesterday was a rather difficult day for me.  Like I mentioned above, I am struggling with a decision.  In my heart, I know what I'm going to do, but I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do it yet. (And that's the hardest part.)  And, in my head, I kept circling back to starting chemo six years ago . . . and how cancer changed my way of thinking about the world and my place in it . . . and how, now, I'd slid back to the "before" . . . losing sight of my own priorities and getting swept up in the drama around me.

And then, before I went to bed, I opened my email.

And there it was.

An email from Dana's husband.  He wanted to let me know that Dana had passed away in late August. He said the chemotherapy was just never effective in stopping the advance of her cancer.  He wanted me to know that I "had made a difference in Dana's life and helped her from a distance at a time she needed it most."

I came undone.

It is overwhelming ... the power of words.

I can't help but think that, on that particular day at that particular time, his words were the words I needed most.  It was like Dana was reaching out and reminding me, "Girl. Where are your priorities? You don't have forever."

Words. . . with impact.


My Closet: A Metaphor for Life, Part III

I developed my personal wardrobe-philosophy over a lifetime of studying fashion, shopping, and twirling in front of mirrors.  

You know . . . 

  • Start with the basics.
  • Invest in high-quality items.
  • You can't go wrong with accessories.
  • Every woman needs (at least one) LBD.
  • Never get rid of a Burberry coat.
  • A scarf will pull it all together.
  • "If you don't absolutely love it in the store, you won't wear it."  (Sandra Bullock in The Blindside)
  • "Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off."  (Coco Chanel)

And, really.  I lived that philosophy.  (Except for the Burberry coat.  Which I have never owned.)

What did it get me?  A closet full of clothes . . . that I thought I loved; that I thought I needed.


Then, I met Project 333.  Talk about another perspective!

Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites participants to dress using 33 items (or less!) for 3 months.

33 items, people.  Including shoes, jewelry, coats, and handbags.  You might imagine my reaction.  (Let's just say it involved the F-word, followed by a reference to myself.)  

But I was intrigued.

33 items?

I read all about it.  I checked out the Facebook page. I read blogs of Project 333 participants.  I even took the Project 333 microcourse because I wanted to learn more about minimizing my maxi-sized wardrobe.  The microcourse was just what I needed, actually, to get me thinking about my wardrobe and my clothes and my philosophy.  To think about WHY.  To think about how it all fits together.  To . . . explore the possibility . . . of reducing my wardrobe.

But, still.  I knew that Project 333 wasn't really for me.  [Because accessories!  I might be able to whittle my wardrobe down to 33 pieces . . . but I would never be able to give up my jewelry or my scarves or my handbags and shoes.  (Just no.)]

So, while I'm not climbing on the Project 333 bandwagon, I am folding many of its principles into my wardrobe-philosophy:

  • Love every piece in your closet!
  • Only wear what looks good and feels good.
  • Be creative in mixing and matching.
  • Shop for what you need; don't just wander and see what "grabs you."
  • Start with the basics.
  • Invest in high-quality clothing that lasts.


And with that, I started a major closet overhaul.  I emptied everything out of my closet(s) and drawers and shelves.  I sorted.  I bagged.  I donated.  I shared.  I sorted some more.  I packed some things away to decide later.  I sorted some more.  In fact, I'm still sorting!  Every time I put something on, I question myself.  Do you love this?  Sometimes I realize I don't.  So out it goes.


Although I know my wardrobe is still WAY too full to achieve minimalist standards, I've come a long way.  It feels really liberating to love everything in my closet; to wear everything in my closet; to be able to see space between the hangers!  

And I'm not finished yet.  The sorting will continue. . .  





I don't set "resolutions" on New Year's Day, or even "goals."  I set intentions instead . . . intentions for the ways I want to live my life in the new year.


My intentions for 2014:

SHAPE my life.


Take some RISKS.

DREAM bigger.

DISCOVER new paths.

CREATE space.

LEARN new things.



FEED my soul.

SUPPORT others.

SEEK joy.

How about you?  Do you have any intentions for the new year?



“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

-- Neil Gaiman