Category Archives: musings

The urge to purge

db2f6261-f9f8-4a1f-9a59-bc0e490f0e79-12096-000007bb74a66c9d_tmpConfession: I have too much stuff, particularly clothing. These days when I look at the two-sided garment rack which is stationed outside of the closet large enough for me to step inside of, I feel weighed down and vaguely embarrassed. It’s too much.

I’ve defended my consumerism with numerous excuses – I lost weight and needed clothes that fit, I must have to different wardrobes to meet the needs of both my day and evening jobs, I rarely pay full price for anything and many of the pieces come from consignment shops or clearance sales, I consign my clothes a couple of times a year…

Whatever. In a world where too many have nothing, I have too much.

But, I’m feeling stuck. My avenue for consigning my clothes has hit a dead end since the store I previously worked with is no longer selling clothing. The idea of exploring other options overwhelms me right now and finding an alternate sales venue feels impossible in my current, crazed life. Maybe you have a suggestion?

Since I haven’t been able to dispose of my clothing without feeling as if I wasted money with my initial purchase, I’m working to commit to not buying new garments. Even when the sale is tremendous and the item “perfect,” I’m walking away empty handed. Buying new things isn’t filling me with joy right now, so why bother?

As weeks in a new year quickly move along, I feel myself trying to get another angle on lightening my load. Maybe It’s time to take an afternoon to make a few piles of clothes which I am willing to weed from my wardrobe, no matter the cost. You know, sorting everything into categories such as Not Worn in a Year/No Longer Fits or Flatters/In Need of Tailoring or Cleaning or Repair and then being relentless.

The idea of actually doing this is growing more exciting than formidable and I’m almost there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Filed under Fashion, musings, Random

Superman never made any money

Both of our names start with

Both of our names start with “S.”

Let me preface this by saying I do not consider myself to be a superhero in any fashion. Actually, that’s kind of the image I’m trying to dispel here. After receiving a couple of really nice compliments recently, I feel I need to lay a couple of things out because I wouldn’t want anyone to perceive me as any more than simply human. Just like you.

My only similarity to Superman is the fact that I’m not motivated by money. Fear about wasting the life I’ve been given, though, is a strong incentive. The thought of not being able to physically or mentally or emotionally continue to do the things I currently manage keeps me inspired. And, when I start feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life I have created, I remind myself that:

A. I am the person most responsible for how busy I am.
B. Life goes by so quickly that it makes sense to try to experience as much of it as possible.

My life philosophy for more than 30 years has been to try to gather as many moments as possible in the time given to me. With the passing of years and some health issues, my commitment to this has only been strengthened. A number of months ago I responded to the question “How long do you want to live?” with this:

I want to live every day.

When I’m asked how I do it all, how do I manage to have a full-time job, a business, a family, a relationship, friends, activities, etc, I don’t really have an answer. I just do it – sometimes better than others, by the way. More specifically? I am in touch with my calendar and I’m super organized with my time. When it comes to scheduling things, my German side takes charge and I’m probably guilty of trying to do too much. That being said, I occasionally recognize that I’ve overextended myself and I bail on commitments, social ones usually. Sometimes, more than anything, I need to sit on my couch and watch something mindless on television. I do that, you know. Just like Superman.

But (s)he stayed in the city
And kept changing clothes in dirty old phonebooths
Til his work was through
And nothing to do but go home.

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Filed under aging, cancer, musings, Uncategorized

Gobbling it up

0bbb8e4e-6135-4907-a905-aa6a4f3d8ec2-5076-00000482afb9a836_tmpAs I extracted the flyers from today’s paper promoting Black Friday, and even Thanksgiving Day special sales, I couldn’t help but wonder which “door buster” item would cause an injury as consumers rushed in to buy one. Would it be a television? Maybe a toy of limited quantity but mass appeal?

We can read about that later, because this is thanksgiving. Today we gather to share a meal and a moment with family and friends. Or, perhaps, we don’t. Maybe the holidays have just gotten to be a little weird and you find yourself at loose ends without a real plan for the day. You’ve had invites, but nothing really appeals because the size of the gathering doesn’t feel right (you pick – too large or too small) or the drive is too far, so you’ve not committed to anything beyond a 5K. With that already under your belt, the day stretches out ahead of you with…

Some melancholia. It is impossible to not think of past holidays focusing, as is your way, on the ones which make you smile. There have been a lot of those.

The promise of possibility. The day is yours to use as you wish – a long walk with the dog, a glass of wine or two, a movie that you’re interested in seeing, some holiday baking to get a jump on…

Acceptance that this is holiday you just might need right now – one that is quiet and doesn’t require being “on.”

Appreciation that your children have a large family who will surround them, feed them and provide them with their own holiday memories to reflect upon forever.

Gratitude for the opportunity to feel thankful every single day of the year. While life is not without challenges, the gifts many of us have received are the sort that lend themselves to daily acknowledgement – health, sustenance and love.

If you find yourself alone on Thanksgiving, remind yourself that true appreciation of our blessings should not be limited to the last Thursday of November. Be thankful for the day you have been given, each day. I most certainly am.

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Filed under holidays, musings, Observations

Finding my rhythm in Chicago

img_0798I started this post the day I returned from a quick weekend away at the beginning of a week that ended up feeling really long. I’ve got a folder full of these aborted writings, but I decided to revisit this one after catching up on last Sunday’s New York Times. The featured magazine was about travel and the editor’s letter grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, something that doesn’t happen often enough. Her words kept kicking around in my head and joined my own thoughts with a serendipity I couldn’t ignore.

Deborah Needleman said:

“Why is it that we can’t just do nothing anymore? Somehow “nothing” equals guilt….”

“I slept as late as I wanted, exercised when I felt like it, ate alone at restaurants…”

“It certainly was a journey, in the personal sense of the word, not just to another part of the world, but to another part of my psyche.”

Now, my own words…

My body aches and I’m about as tired as I recall ever being, but it is a sweet exhaustion. It was a great weekend. I highly recommend 72 hours of alone time in a new city as a means of recharging and getting back to a rhythm that is solely your own.

Traveling solo is both an exercise in self-improvement and an acknowledgement that you’re ok. From the reaction I received each time I explained that I was going to Chicago, alone, and my plans were basically to eat, run, nap and see some new things, I don’t think enough people are comfortable, much less excited by, the prospect of a loosely defined personal escape. Not being dependent upon any one but yourself is a condition that can be interpreted as freedom or a burden and I guess it depends upon perspective. I suspect you know how I perceive it.

We have lives that are busier than ever, connected to multiple platforms and constantly within touch. Taking some time for our own pursuits shouldn’t be a luxury that is too often perceived as foreign. While this trip had originally been conceived as a trip to celebrate a number of my friends and I achieving a milestone birthday, when schedules and commitments didn’t allow that to materialize, I continued to approach the weekend with excitement. I felt remarkably fortunate* to be able to spend three days exploring a new city, but even just two hours at the mall, or in a museum or outdoors can seem like a getaway. It isn’t about how far you go, it’s more about how close you get to yourself and your personal pace. Do it.

*I can’t tell you how many times I wondered to myself how I ever got to be so lucky.

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Filed under aging, Chicago, ideas, musings, Observations, Recommendations, travel

5 questions for Election Day

95d00716-6f66-4af0-91c9-ba34ed0a572e-8665-00000b1bc4435617_tmpIt has been a particularly unpleasant and long campaign season and I’m looking forward to it being over so I can just enjoy the grace and dignity of the Obama family for a few more months. But, first some questions.

  1. Why do elections bring out the worst instead of the best?
  2. How is my vote important if the electoral votes determine the winner?
  3. Is there a reason other than racism to justify the complete lack of acknowledgment of the accomplishments of President Obama?
  4. Who are the people who believe that Donald Trump is concerned with their interests – other than other wealthy people who have learned how to Trump the system?
  5. Will this election with all of its controversies, ugliness and accusations compel people to be more or less involved in the process in the future?

Vote.

 

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Fifty

imageI haven’t been so excited about a birthday since my 30th, which was just shy of 20 years ago. Then, I was a newlywed, in love and pregnant with my oldest son. I had my first “real” job as a school librarian and we celebrated with a dinner party at a wonderful restaurant with friends and family. Those memories make me smile. Life was good.

This one, though, is different. I mean I think it is.

I’m no longer married, so that’s an obvious and major change. As I plan a celebration for my upcoming milestone, I can’t help but recall that the task for organizing my last decade birthday party was also my responsibility. Not everything changes. My birthing days are behind me and the void has been filled by hot flashes and skinny jeans without front panels made from elastic. In a couple of weeks, I’ll begin my 21st year as a librarian and I am starting to imagine what might come next professionally. It’s exciting. Life is good.

I don’t feel like I imagined 50 would be. The number isn’t scary to me or overwhelming or sad. In fact, it feels like a wonderful new decade filled with opportunity and a sense of capability that can only come from years of surviving and thriving. It’s beckoning and I can’t wait.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Events, friends, musings, Uncategorized

Growing up in black and white

imageThere’s been a lot of talk about race in our country and its got me thinking about the my own perspective on the relationships between blacks and whites. I was fortunate to have been raised by a woman who did not discriminate between races. My earliest school friendships were with a black girl and a Jewish girl – a real feat in a small town which was almost exclusively Christian and white. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of childhood.

When I was about 12, we moved to a house a couple of miles out of town in a neighborhood I had heard referred to as The Colony. That wasn’t said in a complimentary way. You see, this particular area was populated primarily by black families, including that of my elementary school friend. The house we lived in was only two miles out of town, but it felt pretty far removed. We had the telephone exchange of Warwick, the school district of Greenwood Lake and the zip code of Monroe, perfectly summing up the lack of interest in a single community to “own” this long road. It felt very much like a no man’s land.

In the spring of eighth grade, a number of us tried out for the freshman cheerleading squad in what would be our new high school. I was the only one who was selected and, even then, I felt that it was because I was white. Vicki and Brenda were both better than me and deserved it more. I ended up quitting the squad before football season even started.

A year or so later something happened that changed my comfort level with people of color. My brother had some sort of altercation with Vicki’s brother, I don’t know what it was about, and he got punched in the face as he boarded the school bus one morning. I remember being shocked by the violence and afraid of what might happen next, especially after listening to other students who had witnessed the fight. Their language was new to me and the prejudice they demonstrated was unlike anything I had ever heard, but it gave me a cloak to wrap myself in for protection. I didn’t spend time with Vicki anymore.

In the many years since then, I’ve had very few black friends. I’ve puzzled over this lack of diversity in my life as I’ve celebrated the friendships my own children share with kids from every imaginable ethnic and religious background. The single block in the DelSo where I’ve lived for 20 years is populated by Indians, Blacks, Jews and Whites and I think of them all as neighbors.

Last week, I went back to Greenwood Lake to spend an afternoon with friends. In the early afternoon, I took a run past the haunted houses of my youth accompanied by more memories than I could ever share. My feet took me along the roads I had walked countless times, most frequently to get away from home, but now instead in an attempt to take me back to where I came from. It was a very emotional run, especially once I saw the two “new” (to me) state historic markers declaring the significance of Nelson Road.image

Reading about the history of The Colony caused me for the first time ever to feel a sense of pride about where I spent some pretty influential years of my life. I was reminded of the cultural contributions of Black Americans and wished that those markers had been installed years ago. I hope Vicki has been back to see them.

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Filed under aging, girlhood, musings, Observations, road trips, running, Summer