Simply Complex

The road to simplification is complicated. Today, I live within this paradox…desperately longing for an ideal and knowing the price of passage requires this chaos and turmoil.

simplificationI have named this the year of Sustainability. I want to be clear about what I give and what I take, and careful to consider needs vs. wants. Moving in this direction requires me to consistently and repeatedly ask the question: “What do I need now?”

I’m discovering I need less than I once did.

I have many artifacts that have carefully collected over the years. Pieces of furniture purchased at antique stores, my Great Grandmother’s Persian rug, a piano my husband’s mother learned to play on, and dolls brought back from each country my grandparents visited starting when I was 5 years old.

There is a soft heartache when I think of parting with these precious memories of old, as I imagine putting aside the tangible reminders that have traveled with me through time. I think they are more than mere things to be dusted and cared for, because they became my entourage, shaping my view of who I was, or am, or at the very least wanted to be.

Did I need these sentimental constructs to imagine the possibility of a loving family? Or were they simply meant to remind me of my Great Grandmother’s wavy red curls that bobby pins would not contain?

And why did I buy that eclectic mid-century cherry dining set? Was it to create an aura of respectability, or for a place to gather my family around on special occasions (too often driven by my demon of what it should be like)?

As I create both a smaller and a bigger space for my new life, how many of the old things will I let slip slowly through my fingers? Is it even possible to glimpse at the new me through the ornate mahogany mirror that sits above the buffet?

I am sorting through my life’s memorabilia and I can’t quite comprehend the woman I am becoming. Who will she be when there is less stuff to hold on to?

I envision myself this summer, lying in the grass and admiring how the moon illuminates everything she touches without ever lifting a finger. Will I recognize myself bathed in that moonlight? Can her simple rhythm sustain me?

I look up and ask the moon, “How much must I let go of if I am to live a less complicated life?”

“Just your stuff,” she beams back.

All I Want for Christmas

My husband asked me over the weekend what I wanted for Christmas.  I hemmed and hawed, scratched my head, and came up empty.  I did what I sometimes do when caught off-guard, I began thinking out loud.  Sadly, I described everything I didn’t want.  I could tell he was quickly losing interest in the conversation, if that’s what you can call a one sided dialogue of me wracking my brain to come up with what I might like to find (or not) under the tree this year.

I considered the typical things like perfume, jewelry, a massage (this did wrestle for my attention for a brief moment), but nothing really jumped out and captured my interest.  “Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing that I just have to have,” I said.  Then I wondered, is my holiday spirit MIA this year?  I hate it when that happens.

Over the past few years, I have found myself getting less excited about baking, candy making, Christmas letters, and loading up the Christmas tree with brightly wrapped gifts.  I worry sometimes that I have slid into the bah-hum-bug category of people.  For years now I have been telling my husband that what I want to create this Christmas is simple, quiet-time, to sit by the fire and read a book to the sound of Johnny Mathis singing I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas on the stereo.  And every year, though I have gradually shed many of the crazy Christmas trappings, it still somewhat eludes me.

This year my feelings about Christmas are heavily impacted by reading in the paper that unemployment is over 10% (and we all know it is much higher than that when you count all the folks that are underemployed or have just given up!), or that our national debt is going up another half a trillion dollars, or that it is becoming increasingly more difficult for the middle class to have access to a college education, or even medical insurance.  It makes it hard to want to be frivolous when so many people are struggling.  Some would say we can fix it if we spend, spend, spend, but my heart just isn’t in it.

What do I want for Christmas this year?   The obvious of course, I want Peace on Earth but we all know the only way I can have that is if I find it within my own heart.  I want my daughter to have a healthy and easy delivery of my new granddaughter in early 2011.  I want BJ’s knee to heal completely so he can get back to doing what he loves, playing soccer.  I want my husband to feel strong and capable again, after the loss he experienced this year.  I want…I want…I want.

And then earlier today I read on page 94 in the December edition of Fast Company about a $25 gift idea.  It is called the “No Mo” Chemo party and it is given to celebrate the completion of one of the young patient’s chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s research hospital.  And then I knew exactly what I wanted.  I want to give a “No Mo” chemo party.  I want to celebrate life this Christmas!  I want to dance, and love, and rejoice in hope.  And I want to help a deserving child at St. Jude Hospital celebrate too.

For more information on how you can donate $25 and provide a No Mo Chemo party CLICK HERE.


Below is a video of a No Mo Chemo Party.