31 December 2014

The Measure of Years: Reflections on Turning 40

It’s this freedom that’s the key to becoming visible again. Not caring what others think is freeing. Expressing yourself any way you want is freeing. Having opinions, emotional wisdom, spiritual understanding…these things free you. And in freedom, we find power.
~ Jane Tara, The Happy Endings Book Club

 his December I turned 40.

Forty.  A supposedly significant number, but what exactly is it supposed to signify?

In a society that values money, production, , utility, doing and acting, it is easy to look at the past forty years and wonder, What have I done with my life so far?

If I use society’s rule book and compare myself to others, I come up with a depressing list of did nots and do nots:

I don’t earn a six digit income.
I didn’t get a promotion.
I don’t own a company.
I’ve never lived out of my home state.
I don’t have a Masters, much less a PhD.
I don’t own a fancy car.
I don’t own any designer clothes.
I didn’t publish a book.
I didn’t consistently write 500 words a day.
I didn’t publish as many blog posts as I planned.

But as an Idealist (INFP) and an Inspirer (ENFP), these particular "failures" didn’t bother me for long (except the writing, but we’ll get to that later).  That means I value being over doing, reflecting over acting, creating over producing, and relationships over money.

It doesn’t mean I sat and dreamt my dreams and then did nothing to realize them.  Just that my dreams differ greatly from the majority of society.

You matter....embrace and express yourself!
Image: © Sergey Nivens
Some dreams you don’t know you have until you have a chance to live them.  My week long trip to Kodiak, Alaska in September 2014 was a dream; one I walked away from inexplicably changed.  On the surface, you wouldn’t know it.  

But inside….the interior landscape of my soul and my psyche were drastically altered. And that trip allowed me to give the proverbial finger to society’s (and familial) expectations and judgments of where I should be at forty.  

So now my list looks like this:

I have a decent paying job.
My position is low-stress.
I have money and time to support other small business owners.
I read voraciously and care more about learning than earning letters after my name.
I have a car that runs and gets me from point A to point B.
I have more clothes than I actually wear. (And I do own designer, vintage hats!)
I may live in my childhood home, but I have visited Alaska twice and stood six and half feet from a Kodiak grizzly.

Most importantly, I learned to let go of a couple of my most damaging fears.

But I’m human.  And I suffer from depression.  So I’m not going to clean this post up and tell you that everything was peachy keen and I triumphed glamorously through adversity and lived a positive, healthy life the rest of the year.

I made a lot of mistakes and I failed a lot ~ sometimes spectacularly.  The temptation to give up, to despair, to wallow was overwhelming at times and I gave in more than I care to admit.  And I’m still struggling.  To listen to the supportive, loving voices and to ignore and block out the judgmental, critical ones.  To embrace both my light and my dark side.  To regain lost ground.

Especially when it comes to following my passion for the written word. 

There’s no way around that one.  I failed consistently at being consistent with my writing.  And as writers know, the most important aspect of being a writer is to show up, sit down, and put words on a page.  My failure to do this is directly tied to both my depression and a deep-rooted fear of rejection and indifference.  And both of those fears are directly tied to family of origin issues.  Not an excuse, just something I need to stay aware of.

Which means there is no easy solution, no magic potion, no “just do it” way to overcome it.  I do have excellent help and loving support, and a firm belief that healing is possible and attainable.  Still, it's going to take more hard work, openness, and suffering.  Something that I need to allow to bleed onto the page.

That's raw.  That's real.  That's honest.  That’s life.

That’s a significant forty years.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

How do you measure the worth of your years? 

Pin It

30 December 2014

Resolution Fail: 10 Insane Home Organization Assumptions

Learn from the puppies: don't clutter where you live.
~ James L. Papandrea

is the end of December, and you know what that means - Pinterest is brimming with a million ways to organize your home, office, and life!

Perhaps it’s because we need something to do post-holiday binge.  Perhaps it’s because we now have even more redundant, unnecessary stuff and need to get rid of last year’s redundant, unnecessary stuff.

Whatever the reason, the explosion of articles, pictures, and ideas provides some much needed comic relief.  And since de-cluttering and organizing is only a rapturous joy for a very few sad people, and an overwhelming chore and quickly abandoned resolution for the rest of us, might as well laugh about it.
Image: Google search

Perusing the various boards on Pinterest, I’ve notived ten things that professional organizers assume:

1) You have nothing else to do. 
Making pen holders out of cereal boxes and toilet paper roll holders?  Really?    

2) You are a hoarder.
Why do you even have those toilet paper rolls lying around to be made into insane pen holders?!?

3) You have no social life. 
Ain’t nobody got time for that! You're busy wrapping toilet paper holders with fabric, old wrapping paper, and wallpaper!

4) You have either no interest in alcohol or plebeian tastes.
Seriously, a counter-top wine rack?!  What happened to clearing the counter of all clutter?!  Uh, hello?  Not to mention, those big blocky things only hold 6 to 8 bottles of wine.  Who only has 6 to 8 bottles of wine at a time? 

5) Your laundry room is the size of a small, rich country. 
Dude, if my laundry was THAT big, I wouldn't have so much trouble keeping it organized!  Heck, I could probably afford a maid to do it!

6) Your family shares 3 coats.
Standing coat racks aren’t just impractical, they’re mistaken for the Bogey Man when you come downstairs for a 2 AM glass of wine from your in-the-way counter-top wine rack.

Or you’re single, in which case, the Bogey Man scenario is even worse.

7) You don’t own enough redundant, unnecessary stuff.
Because that tree branch/old leather purse strap office supply holder may look chic, but the sheer amount of office supplies and pens that I own would break that twig in half.

8) You have no friends.  Or never have them over.
A blanket chest to replace under the bed bins – ha!  I like to keep my guests comfy, thank you.  One large blanket would fill that – again, pretty but impractical – chest, forget about the four other queen sized blankets.  Plus, you just told me to pack away seasonal items!

9) You bathe once a week.
Rolling up bath towels is just weird.  And time consuming.  And frustrating.  Did I mention weird?  If you have no friends, no social life, and do nothing else all day but make pen holders out of toilet paper rolls, you might have time to roll up your two or three towels and store them in a dust-collecting basket. But it’s weird.

Unless you live in a beautiful and remote area (like Alaska for instance) and really do bathe just once a week.  That would be perfectly acceptable - except that they think it's weird too.

10) You never actually DO anything in your house - you just sleep there.
A long commute to work does make this seem true.  But that just means you don’t need to look at the clutter! 

Happy New Year!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Pin It