Saturday, November 27, 2010

Limiting Oneself

When do we know when we have enough? “Enough what?” you ask. “Enough of anything,” I reply.

How much is enough when you sit down to eat? How do you know when you have enough clothing, shoes, office supplies, words?
Enough everything?

How does a person limit herself to having just enough of something before possessions flow over into the way-too-much category?

We’re sliding through the final days of the annual Thanksgiving experience. We should be able to answer this simple question before moving on toward Christmas.

If you move around as much as Sister and I, you would totally understand why this subject is critical to us now. We have both been sentimental collectors of things since forever--each for similar, and yet, different reasons.

We’ve both lived with abundance. We’ve both known times when enough was only what we could carry in our arms. For the last nearly fifteen years, we’ve also known what it’s like to have an annual purge of possessions because we’d collected too much of nearly everything.

Until we began planning this trip around the country, however, we had never learned the lesson of enough more completely. If someone loses their home to disaster--of whatever variety--the reality of what is necessary vs. what is luxury seldom weighs in. That we are creating--in a very limited sense--our own loss of home makes for interesting revelations.

We’ve come to truly appreciate the meaning of limitations regarding necessary possessions for living. Any good Hindi would laugh at us for this tardy understanding. That philosophy teaches to only concern oneself with meeting personal daily physical needs. For the average American, that’s a philosophical challenge of enormous proportions, sometimes on more than one front. For sentimental collectors like us, it goes beyond that.

How many clothes does one take on the road for year or more? How does one limit kitchen supplies when a love of cooking is rooted in your soul? Do campers really need at least one dress outfit on the road? Remember, there won’t be irons handy.

Necessities must come first. The rest is luxury. Our necessities: shelter, food, clothing, transportation, photography equipment, computer with extra drives, minimum writing materials, and an adventurous spirit.

We have all that. Everything else stays behind.

That’s where limitations come in. The purge has begun of possessions we’ve not used since we’ve been in Montana. Some things have been with us for many years and survived many moves across the country. No longer.

This whittling process for the trip and its look into needs vs. wants has shown us where our lives need to focus. And that focus isn’t on possessions any longer.

Our pot-latch will be the talk of the apartment complex. We have furniture, kitchen ware, assorted decorating goodies, you name it--even small appliances. Our storage garage awaits its own purge to allow an accommodation of its new contents.

Our Thanksgiving is winding down with a true appreciation for all things achieved this year. We’ve finally learned the limitations we must live by for the next year and are grateful for them. We’ve also learned, in a personal sense, how perception shifts with understanding and why limitation can be a person’s best friend.

So, I ask you again. What limitations have you put on yourself and are they friend or foe? If they don’t allow for understanding, purpose, and expression, they have joined the enemy. (As Bill Cosby would say, “Sort of like tonsils when they go bad.”)

If those limitations keep you growing, learning, striving, they could be your best friends. It’s up to you to decide.

Do you have enough?

Until later,


Monday, November 22, 2010

Today's Endeavors

Our current conditions--Cold with a smattering of snow.


I walked with my muse today.
We talked along the way to a large open space--
Nothing particular to say between us.
We sat, silent, staring at the emptiness ahead
Until I chose words to add panache to the scene.
Muse waved a negligent hand to paint the sky with sunset,
While I worked with soils and waters before me.
A few breaths later the picture cleared and I could see
What Muse and I had painted so effortlessly.

Between bouts of computer work, packing continues to consume time. Between bouts of packing, planning begs for continuation. Better to do planning, then packing, then working. Yet all must get done soon.

Enjoy your week, peeps.


**NOTE: Photo used with permission of  BJ Jones Photography, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Storing Life To Travel

The Universe is an astonishing place. Have you ever really noticed how it takes care of things?

It’s as if the Universe waits for a person to find the right keyhole, place exact key inside, and turn it so that the correct thread of existence and potential can be woven into the proper tapestry. Many times when life become tougher, all it takes is one decision, one action, and life’s ride smoothes out.

Since I’ve announced new plans to vacate the north on Dec. 14, so many things have fallen into place. It’s astounding how making the right decision allows influencing factors to come into their own.
If I wrote this scenario in a novel, no one would believe it. After all, life just doesn’t happen that way. Yet, I wonder how often it really does happen that way and we just don’t notice because our attention is focused elsewhere.

Yes, we’re beginning our trip around the country almost five months early. For months now we’ve waited patiently for certain issues to be resolved so that we could commence with this trip. The sense of urgency, however, didn’t let up. Finally we couldn’t stand that constant push from the hindbrain any longer.

Sister Jo and I sat together and talked. The upshot was that we chose to do the trip as soon as we possibly could. We chose to disregard the need for security, a permanent home, lots of belongings, and hit the road running. We can now see the country and learn about it and ourselves without encumbrances. As soon as we were willing to let go of everything, and make plans to leave immediately, our thread of existence was placed on the loom of the proper tapestry.

Everything will go into storage except what we can carry with us in the car. And we will tent our way across the country, write articles with photos along the way, put together a book about our adventure, and then decide “what next”?

Some call us insane since it’s winter. I agree. It is insane to leave comfortable warmth and safety to travel the deep south, visiting friends and family and seeing what we can find along the way. We wonder, though, why youngsters should have all the adventures? Can’t us older women do the same thing?
That’s why we’re setting out to answer that question.

Some call us brave to even attempt this trip, regardless of season. After all, who wants to live in a tent for over a year, especially someone over fifty or sixty years old? For me this trip isn’t brave, really. I’ve done many other things that required much more courage than this.

Now we work; work to get all our belongings sorted, packed, and placed into long-term storage. We check off each detail accomplished each day. Those check lists are our lifeline in this endeavor. We can’t do this without them.

By the beginning of next week I must have a new website created for this trip of ours in order for everyone to follow our exploits. That’s part of why we’re going. Not everyone can make such a journey. We might as well share as much of it as possible, both with words and photos.

And there you have it. Our next few weeks will be ones of details, decisions, hard work, and planning. In the end we’ll have an entirely new future in the offing.

I hope all of you will come along for the ride. I hope everyone can experience some of our feelings as we move around the world learning about it.

One of those things that will help us along the way is also the thing we plan to help keep us awake on the road. Jo is going to relearn her Spanish and I’m going to learn it for the first time. Yep! We’ve got the CD’s for the car, the books, and the desire. It will help the miles pass quickly during those long days of driving. We will have something to show for our hours of auto travel, and it’ll come in handy in many places along the way.

So, drop by in the coming weeks for updates about our progress. Enjoy yourself, I hope, during each visit.

Until later,


Monday, November 8, 2010

Now Is Not The Time To Panic

Have you ever noticed that many times in our lives we don’t bother to do some things until the doing is forced upon us.

I’m talking in our daily lives here. Example: You know that the house needs a thorough cleaning, right down to major vacuuming with wand on the drapes and everything. You know that the bathroom is probably growing science projects, and you don’t even want to think about the refrigerator.

When do you really get these things done the way they need to be done? Answer: When you find out that company is coming on short notice and guilt washes over your mind like a London fog, enveloping every other sensation of which you might be capable. Your response to this stressor is to tackle that cleaning like a crazed Merry Maid looking for a hundred dollar tip.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

How about when you put off getting the oil changed in your car? After all, you only drive it around town. You haven’t put on 3000 miles since the last trip onto the rack. Driving around town for six months couldn’t possibly have done anything bad to the car, now could it? Did the dealer tell you about the 3000 mile or three month rule. Yup! Better take ‘er in for that oil chance, tune up, etc.

What about your knowing that you’re going to have to get presents figured out for the family for Christmas, and you’ve decided to make all of them this year. I heard that! I’ve done the hand-made gifts on many occasions. They take lots of time and thought. It’s now November. Why did you wait so long to think about the situation? I can ask that question with a straight face because I’ve decided to make hand-made chapbooks for loved ones this year. I do understand that they will probably get them a wee bit late, but it’s a price I’ll have to pay for craftsmanship.

See what I mean? We know things need done, and we just look at the calendar and tell ourselves that there’s plenty of usable time. Now’s not the time to panic.

Question: When is the time to panic?

All of this brings me to NaNoWriMo. It’s now day 8 of that prestigious month. Words are flying onto hard drives, paper, and websites everywhere. Have you done your NaNo today?

I’ve worked on just about everything but NaNo today. I organized informational brochures for research later on a much different project. Done my duty by the PAD Poetry Chapbook Challenge. I’m covered on the PiBoIdMo Challenge for the month, and then there’s my three NaNo WIPs.

The first is 3/5 finished. I have two more sestinas to write to complete it. I’m not scheduled to begin the second WIP until sometime on the tenth. And I’ll worry about the children’s story book around the twentieth. Sounds so organized when I say that, doesn’t it?

It’s an illusion. I have to do heavy research for those two sestina’s. (Maybe I can get to that after Castle tonight.)

I’ve only thought about the 50-75 poems for the second WIP. It’s not like that should be too hard, do you think? I mean, really, after all, I only need to do a minimum of 5 poems a day for ten days under the theme of “The Forest Primeval.” I have all the photos for inspiration. Oh, yeah, I have to go through those and pull all of the ones I’m going to use for that inspiration. Still, how hard could that be?

As for the storybook; well, I have the photos for that one, too. It should fairly leap onto the page once I have the first word of that adventure down in black and white. I can always count on something coming to me. I’m lucky enough to be one of those people who never gets writer’s block.

Yeah, I’m in good shape for the rest of this month. I have a plan and I’m not afraid to use it. We’re going out for Thanksgiving dinner this year, so I won’t even have that distraction to clutter that third week of the month. How good is that?

So, don’t panic anyone. There’s plenty of time to get everything finished. It’s only November 8. You have 22 more days to get everything done before the official beginning of the Christmas season comes tinkling its merry way into your hearts and shopping mania.

For those Jewish friends of mine, your season starts a bit earlier. Perhaps you should begin your panic a bit earlier as well. For the rest whose holiday season flows slightly differently from Christmas, please adjust your panic accordingly.

Until later at the need for another boost of confidence, sign me out as


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Working Through NaNoWriMo

Most of the writers I know are hip-deep in NaNoWriMo this month. The question arises with each writer, “How can I complete NaNo and do everything else in my normal schedule?”
Whether you’re single or married with a family, as a writer trying to find time to write can be a bummer. For all that, we still manage. I’m luckier than many because I’ve retired from the active work force and can commit whatever time I choose to NaNo’s pursuit.
Take today, for instance. It’s now a quarter past 2pm. Have I started on NaNo yet today? Why yes, I did. I spent a most productive hour on that little beastie before noon. Also before noon I slept until 9:30 (not recommended) because I didn’t get to bed until after 2am. Bathroom duties followed by large coffee, and I was ready to tackle the work.
I checked e-mail—both accounts. Dealt with all that. Checked my favorite forum. We have our own monthly writing challenge over there, so checking on that is habit as much as anything else. Then I did monthly bills. That took time away from writing, but without that time spent, I wouldn’t have a place to write, so it balances out.
Maintenance man came to fix my closet door and replace one of the light fixtures in the kitchen. By the time he left, it was time to decide on a PB idea for PiBoIdMo. I’ve got some doozies going right now. Somewhere in there, I managed to make myself something to eat. I was getting a bit light-headed.
Next, I wrote the Claudsy’s blog post and got it up and running. Now, I’m on this one. When I finish this and get it up, then I can go on to my daily work on the PAD Poetry Chapbook Challenge. It’s only for one poem in rough draft, so that won’t take too long. Then, I’ve got to go to the bank.
From that point on, I can go back to writing on my NaNo poetry book, “Moon Sees All” and hopefully get at least the next sestina finished for that. By that time, it dinner will have found its way to a taco bowl near me. Yes, that’s right. Taco salad all around for this household tonight. Drool, people, drool.
Gotta run so that I can finish and have something of an evening for some studying on another writing program I’m doing. I’m ready for chapter eight out of 24. A writer’s life is always in flux. That’s what I’ve been taught, and I feel it’s the only accurate description of my life.

And to answer the question about completing NaNo and living a normal life, I ask another question. Whoever said a writer had a normal life in the first place? We think differently than "normal" people. Our minds are constantly cluttered with a variety of characters, facts, figures, plans, schedules, etc. that would drive the average person to drink or go mad. We can't look at anything or anyone without trying to place him/her or it into a current WIP or future project.

What about that is normal? Completing NaNo is a goal. Living has nothing to do with that goal, really. Either you find a path using determination and ingenuity or you don't. The ultimate prize from NaNo, however, is the knowledge of what you can do in a time crunch and how much you learn about yourself and your abilities because of your work there.
Take care, all, and be sure to stop long enough to drop me a comment on your writing experience with NaNo, or barring that, your writing experience in general.
Until then,