Neglecting…

My blog, my camera, my journals (including my art journal), my family... Which is to say, I've been neglecting just about everything that adds meaning to my life. Sitting in my office the other day after a particularly contentious "discussion" with my boss, I asked myself "what am I doing here?" My mind immediately whispered to me, "Neglecting your soul" And there it is - in the year of listening to my soul... So yes, it's been a bad week - and that's okay - we all have them now and then. And while I've been foolishly optimistic with my "there's a light at the end of the tunnel" mantra, I feel confident that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel - because, well, I say so. I am listening to my soul. Getting away - food for the soul Life is good, though - truly. As I sit here gazing at the mist on the mountain, writing this post and sorting through photos, I am grateful for all I have. Greg and I managed to get away for a few days, meeting two of his brothers and wives in Las Vegas. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the desert? As in, zen. Hiking in Red Rock Canyon heightened my appreciation. And then - Death Valley - WOW! This particular spot is called Badwater Basin, and at 282 feet below sea level, it is lowest point in North America. Cool - right? (or maybe it's just me) I had so much fun with this adventurous crew! My sister-in-law and partner-in-crime when it comes to exploring all that must be explored - even when it means dragging our husbands behind us. Breathe... An afternoon boating on Lake Mead - and a pretty-darn-cool-view of Hoover Dam. Appreciating life... And then - back to minimizing Minimizing has been on hold for a short time, but nope - I haven't given up. Greg has even joined in the fun; we are in full tilt minimization mode. Really - our home isn't terribly cluttered - so where has all this stuff been hiding? And yet, I think Greg is now on a first-name-basis with the kind folks at our local Goodwill. I feel lighter with each and every box that leaves my home. We're getting there. Ummmm - photo challenge for the month of March? Oh yeah - stillness... to be postponed until I am able to find a little stillness in my life. Or - maybe I should choose a different prompt - like maybe - chaos. And with that - I'll leave you with one of the benefits of my bad week. Feeling the need for a smile, I got the heck off the subway and walked through the Boston Public Garden on my way to work. Make Way for Ducklings never fails to…

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Vermont summertime

My little corner of Vermont is a popular, busy place in the fall and winter. Camera-clad leaf peepers swarm our area from late September through mid-October, hoping to capture the riot of colors. Winter brings a rowdier crew, as our world is blanketed in snow and winter sports lure crowds away from their city lives. And while I, too, love Vermont during these seasons, it is the summertime that I enjoy most. A time when my flower garden is a profusion of blooms and I putter leisurely outdoors. A time when exploring takes us to a beautiful vineyard and winery, where wine tasting makes for the perfect lazy summer afternoon. A time for kayaking on a nearby pond, listening to the quiet stillness that surrounds us. On this particular morning, a bald eagle soared above the pond, settling high in a tree along the shore. A time for meandering through our local farmer's market - preparing farm-to-table dinners and finding that perfect pasta bowl from one of our favorite potters. We received a pasta bowl as a wedding gift - and after 37 years of frequent use, it finally gave up on us and split down the middle. This one will make for a happy replacement - it makes me smile every time I see it. Summer in Vermont A time for flinging the windows wide open, enjoying the cool fresh air flowing through our home, waking to the sound of birdsong, gazing at the mountains while relaxing on the deck, hiking along the river as Chessie runs ahead, doing her little happy prance while sniffing everything there is to sniff along the forest trails Even on a rainy day like today, I am happy to be here. I listen as the rain falls in the forest, watch the tree tops swaying and the slow movement of the misty clouds which shroud the mountain top. I've been busy with a little of this and a little of that Work is still...work - although it, too, has slowed a bit during these summer months. I am back to reading fiction during my daily commutes, which is not to say that I have given up on my "minimalist kick". I have moved from reading to doing - as I tear through closets and cabinets, as well as grabbing just about anything in open sight that I deem to be neither useful nor "beautiful". I recently finished reading The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own - another minimizing motivator. Also on my reading list Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day  Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living And a little fictional fun: The Last Time I Lied The Leavers I've been neglecting my blog, instagram, facebook... but hope…

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bringing joy and my journey towards minimalism

Ever since I began my journey towards minimalism - note the use of the word "towards" and not "to" - I doubt that I will ever fully embrace minimalism - anyway... as I was saying, ever since I began my journey towards minimalism, we jokingly use the term "bringing joy" - a lot. - the other morning on the way to the train: Me - I can tell this skirt is going to drive me nuts all day long. I'll probably get rid of it. Greg - So, I guess it's not bringing you joy (a teensy bit snarky) Ummmm - nope. And yes, that skirt is a goner. All joking aside, though - this whole concept of bringing joy, is life changing. Really. I find myself looking around my house, eyeing various objects - "nope, that does not bring me joy, nor does that, or that, and why do I even have that? - oh, but that does; I'm keeping it." In my mind, I see a line of belongings marching out my door - bye... While Greg and I hope to move to Away in the not-too-distant future (more on that another day), we will need to get rid of loads of "stuff" in order to combine our two homes into one. And while I have been taking the process slowly, this is a path that I am determined to follow. Last weekend - books. I expected it to be a useless task - my books do bring me joy; besides I donate regularly to my local library. Yeah, well, three donation boxes later - I am pretty sure that I could easily get rid of many more. And I will... someday... In keeping with the order prescribed in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, my next category for purging is "papers." According to the author, I should toss pretty much everything except for my passport, social security card, and birth certificate. Sounds good to me - count me in! Currently Reading: And - because google and Pinterest are ridiculously smart - in a scary sort of way - I stumbled upon this blog. First I was drawn in by the author's story of becoming a minimalist - then, my oh my, her photography...(swoon), and now, I am breathlessly waiting for updates on the renovations of her countryside cottage in a tiny English village. I am feeling a wee bit stalkerish - yeah, don't care. My current reading list - a bit eclectic. I just finished and enjoyed Still Lives. I highly recommend The Curated Closet. It's probably best for someone who, like me, is not a "fashionista" and wants to cut back while maintaining a wearable wardrobe. I've named my own style - "relaxed classic", aka "boring", and chosen my best color palette, which does not include black. This will take a while. Anyway, my new…

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Open shelves in the kitchen?

I admit it - when  photos of open shelves in the kitchen started appearing on Pinterest, I was decidedly not a fan. Don't they get dusty? don't they get messy? Who wants to look at a stack of plates and glasses, anyway?? Okay - you may now call me a convert! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned needing to do a minor home improvement project. Yep, our cabinets at Away are falling apart. And while I would love nothing more than a full kitchen remodel, well, perhaps someday - I still need to figure out that whole work-life balance thing. (I know - it's an obsession) The dreaded 1980s-cream-laminate-with-oak-trim-cabinet Anyway - these cabinets - I know... If you also have these dreaded 1980s-cream-laminate-with-oak-trim-cabinets, I feel your pain. Although, if you have these (dreaded) cabinets and like them, I wish I shared your mindset. Please do not feel offended by this post. None intended, I promise. Anyway - we felt fortunate to pull this dilapidated row of cabinets off the wall with minimal damage. A little patching, a can of paint, two shelves with hardware, and no swearing (truly, none), and I am as happy with the outcome as I can possibly be - considering I still have a kitchen full of cream-laminate-with-oak-trim-falling-apart-cabinets! We stand in the kitchen gazing at our new shelves, amazed with the difference one small change can make in a room. My tiny kitchen feels just a bit more open, a bit larger (though that may be stretching things). I actually like them so much that when we finally take that plunge into a kitchen remodel, I think I will incorporate some open shelving. I'll let you know about that whole dust and mess thing. My dream kitchen? Something a little more like this, Not that I've been spending crazy amounts of time pinning lots and lots of beautiful dream kitchens... Back in my early days of blogging, I posted about painting this type of cabinet - in my bathroom. If my kitchen cabinets weren't falling apart, I would consider it. If yours are in good shape and you would like to give them a new look, you may find my old post helpful. And - changing topics, I can happily report that all the snow at Away has finally melted - most, most, Christmas lights along our ride appear to have been taken down - and our forsythias are finally blooming. Baby steps - it's the little things! What are your thoughts? Are open shelves in the kitchen a do? or a don't? I wish a very happy Mother's Day to all mothers, aunts or anyone who takes care of anyone. Have a wonderful week!                    

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Minimalism and the closet purge

Otherwise known as "Finding Balance - Part 3" which seems to have hijacked my life - are you tired of this topic, yet? As you have undoubtedly surmised, I'm not entirely happy at work. I need to remind myself, though, that I am not entirely unhappy, either. And while I am feeling - well - a little out of balance, I have taken a detour from my normal fiction reading into the world of non-fiction - looking for guidance - or inspiration, really. I am borrowing and buying as many books on "minimalism" as I can find. I know - the irony... Anyway, before I tackle my work-life balance problem (is it a problem? - hmmmm- I probably have a few things to work out) the part of me that needs to feel in control is taking control of whatever little pieces I can grasp - starting with my closet. grasping balance through my closet Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? I don't exactly embrace everything she suggests, but I am planning to take the plunge - clothes first. The criteria for choosing what to keep and what to eliminate is whether or not the item "brings joy". Ummmm, so, clothes don't really bring me joy. What worked for me, though, was asking myself the question "how does this make me feel?" I discarded anything where the honest answer was "lousy" or "uncomfortable" - including a few items that I wear regularly. Why continue to wear something that makes me feel bad? So - this process wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be. I sorted and discarded and even started looking at some of my clothes differently. I am no where near a ten-piece or even a capsule wardrobe. But just getting started feels like a refreshing change. Minimalism? So, Greg is pretty happy about the whole closet cleaning thing (my closet, that is) - but a little concerned over my interest in minimalism: Greg: I'm not sure that I'm on board with this minimalist thing Me:    Don't worry - if it brings you joy, you get to keep it Greg: Well, my radio brings me joy, and my train brings me joy, those pictures bring me joy, and my TV brings me joy... Me:    What? - your CDs bring you joy? - when is the last time you listened to them? Greg: Not my CDs - my TV Me:    We're not getting rid of the TV (sheesh) Greg: Well, if we get rid of the CDs, what will we put on that shelf? Me:    Empty shelves are okay... Yikes... So, yes, this is going to be a long process. According to the book, my next step should be books - and this is one area where Marie Kondo and I will have to agree to disagree.…

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