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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can we chat?

Come on over, grab a drink!
Prelude: This post was inspired by a blogging friend, moving and an email newsletter service.
For a long time now I've been contemplating on how nice it would be to simplify my life.
Simplify.
It's a relative term, but to me it means do less of what I don't like so I have more time to do what I do like.
As we have been going through our household deciding what to keep and what to get rid of I see the benefits of minimizing what we have. Most people who know me would say that I am good about getting rid of stuff I don't need or use and I am not a collector of stuff. OK, except fabric!!
When we moved into our home in 1998 I was excited to decorate it with 'themed' rooms and would buy woodsy items for the basement, Americana items for the family room and so on. No more. I started eliminating years ago and have more to do.
With my depression often comes claustrophobic times where I feel like I'm being smothered within my own environment. Because of this I now rarely buy items just for the sake of decor. I do not collect anything such as figurines, enamel ware, pottery etc. Keeping my environment clutter free keeps my stress level down and keeps cleaning time to a minimum since I don't have to move my collections to dust!
I hope you don't find that I'm sharing too much here, but when I'm in the depths of a very dark depression, I imagine myself snuggled up in a hammock style lounger in a room with white blank walls, white crisp linens, a gentle slightly fragrant breeze and silence.
What?? I love colorful fabrics! I love loud rhythmic music! I love to be stimulated!
I'm always doing something! But there can be too much of a good thing; well for me anyway.
So, if it stands to reason that within my environment there can be too much, then it too can be said that within my personal life there can be too much. Right?
Referring again to my anxieties, I have discovered that by getting rid of high maintenance relationships, friendships and beliefs I am a happier person!
Examples:
I used to have larger than life ideas that I had to please everyone or that if I did this or that, people would like me. I don't believe that anymore. I have found that if I am genuine and true to myself, MY expectations are met. I do not do anything out of guilt - not for anyone. Just ask my dear mom! Am I selfish? Yes. By that I mean, do I sacrifice my time with my family or do I sacrifice my beliefs in order to do or go somewhere where I would feel like an accessory instead of a participant - NO! If I do or say something, it is genuine and sincere.
I thought I had to be friends with everyone. Let me state some of my definitions. Acquaintance - someone I have met or someone I am able to cary on a pleasant conversation with. Friend - someone who through a period of time has appealed to me and I have a desire to have them in my life. Best friend - someone who I don't have to see or talk to everyday to know that they care for me and someone I don't want to have to live without.
I have a ton of acquaintances. A ton. I have a few friends. I have even fewer best friends. And I am happy.
A few years ago I 'cleaned house' in regards to who I chose to hang out with. (These people were people I physically would be around, unlike blogging) There were a few relationships where I would be so stressed out after being with them that I wouldn't be able to focus on issues in my own life. Toxic! I'm talking about people who lived the drama lifestyle, not friends who had a hard day and had to talk about it. You know, the people who invite drama into their lives then complain about it over and over again.
Since I've become more aware of what I allow in my 'space', I've become more honest with myself as well as others. Those who aren't aware of my progress may find me blunt or curt. This is not my intent and I apologize when I find that this is the case. I simply want to be clear that I am the gate keeper of what comes in and what stays out of my life.
Oh, and I love honesty. I think that I am pretty open minded, sincere and approachable. I get frustrated when people beat around the bush or think that I can read minds. How do I know you are upset if you don't tell me? By the same token, I try not to allow myself to hold a grudge against someone if I haven't let them know I am hurt; they probably have no idea that there is a bee in my bonnet!
Disclaimer. I hope this all goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway - kindness and tactfulness are key ingredients when being honest!! Just because it is for my well being doesn't mean I have the right to offend!
Every day I get an email on how to live life better. Here are some links from those emails that I have found to be particularly helpful.

§ 18 Practical Tips for Living the Golden Rule

§ Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

§ Savor the Little Things

§ Peaceful Simplicity: How to Live a Life of Contentment

§ The Art of Doing Nothing

§ Calm as a Monk: How Equanimity Can Save Your Sanity

§ A Guide to Escaping Materialism and Finding Happiness

§ Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

§ A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, With 7 Practices

§ 75 Simple Pleasures to Brighten Your Day

§ How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation

§ A Simple Method to Avoid Being Judgmental

§ How to ‘Let It Be’ When You’re Upset

§ 10 Great Ways to Show You’re Grateful Today

§ 10 Simple, Sure-fire Ways to Make Today Your Best Day Ever

§ Faith in Humanity: How to Bring People Closer, and Restore Kindness

§ 17 Unbeatable Ways to Create a Peaceful, Relaxed Workday

§ 10 Tips for Life’s Greatest Challenge: Love Thy Enemy

§ 20 Things I Wish I Had Known When Starting Out in Life

§ 12 Practical Steps for Learning to Go With the Flow

§ Flip Your Karma: 8 Tricks to Turn the Bad Into the Awesome

§ The Incredible Power of Contentment

§ 15 Tips for Becoming as Patient as Job

§ Life’s Enough: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

§ 32 Ways to Make Someone Happy Today

§ Sound of Silence: How to Find Some Quietude in Your Life

Posts written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
Cleaning up and simplifying any area of your life can be liberating. De-cluttering your life can allow postive inspiration and creativity to flow! I recommend it!

17 comments:

belinda said...

You are so right Mel about the clutter....inside your home as well as in your personal life....stressfully toxic friends who just seem to bring out the worst in yourself....Oh....AND the DRAMA QUEENS....I know one of these r-e-a-l well....they can just suck the life out of you!!!
I must take heed....see if I can do some de-cluttering...thank you!!!

Micki said...

Mel, that is very good advice. I have only a few good friends, but they are good ones, and I try to do now things for myself. I never did that before I retired. I really enjoyed your post!
Micki

Shari said...

Thank you so much for sharing Mel! I understand about high-maintenance relationships. My husband perseveres with one chap (who really is nice but totally unreliable). I actually have few close friends and that usually doesn't bother me most of the time. I have a lot of friendly acquaintances and it is in my nature to keep people at arm's length (could be why blogging appeals to me a little). However, I think we can get to know each other a little and share ideas and encouragement. And thank you for your list of inspiration - because I do keep people at arm's length I can get a little introspective and meloncholy so I need a bit of a boost to get my act together and keep it real. I do feel affection for you and I know that if we lived near each other we would have a lovely, low-maintenance acquaintanceship with lovely cups of tea/coffee/diet coke and jokes about our husbands and bragging about our children and of course lots of chats about fabric and baskets (which is just incredible that you can make them...). Oops! 6pm and tea isn't finished. How can typing a few words take so long!
Hugs - Shari

Pat said...

Very good post with some excellent points shared with us! Thanks!

Kaaren said...

Your post I'm sure will be with me for some time, Mel. I've been having many of the same thoughts and realizations but have tended to sweep them under the carpet reather than deal with them.

Maybe now's the time.

Thanks for being so frank and honest.

Christine said...

Thank you for this post.

Christine

Amy R said...

Mel - you put into words so well so much of what I've experienced and come to realize over these last few years. Thanks for opening yourself up so freely and honestly and it really gives strength to so many others.

zelda said...

Well said! I totally understand what you mean about the clutter in your life suffocating you. Cluttered space, cluttered time, cluttered life.

Thanks for expressing this so well!

Trisha said...

Wise words, Mel. I feel the same way. I have had experiences with friendships that suck the life out of you and you have to get out for your own sake. And I agree about clutter and simplifying your surroundings. When I have a lot on my plate, I clean my house of its clutter and I feel like I can take on whatever I have going on.

Michelle said...

And if nothing else works....green fingernail polish ;0)

onlymehere said...

I admire your courage in posting this. I too am at a stage of life when decluttering is the best thing for me both in my home, mind, and spiritual surroundings. It helps me to focus on what matters most if all the extra "stuff" is out of the way. Good for you for living life your way and doing what works for you. Cindy

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Mel, I came to that a few years ago and let me tell you I feel so much better! Maybe because I am older and I feel my family will always come first, and I also do not like clutter in my life and my home. thank you for all the links; I will love to check them out. Also, thank you for sharing yourself, it was brave of you, but will help so many. xoxo

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

BTW Love the picture!!

Keiauni said...

I love this post.
I have been struggling with many of the issues that you have written about, and have been in the process of de-junking MY life.
It is really hard for me:)
(I hoard things emotionally and psysically!)
The comment you made about toxic friends really made me think. It hadn't occurred to me that maybe I'm not the problem! (As far as being SO stressed out everytime I'm with them!) Maybe you could point out to me how you eliminated those friends, tactfully? I don't know how to do it! (guess that goes back to what you wrote about living your life for YOU. It is OK to be selfish!)

you are so strong.

It's baby steps for Kei. This decluttering thing takes me awhile.
ie: rent a storage unit, and put all my junk in it....Learn to live without it, and PURGE!

I'm going back to read what you wrote again! Thanks for sharing.
It helped me.

Becca in MD said...

Hey Mel, I lost your email, but I wanted to say THANKS! for the gift in the mail!

The fabric is totally awesome! I can see finishing a nice wall-hanging x-stitch with the red-colored fabric.

Take care, and good luck simplifying. :D

Robyn said...

Mel... I really like you.... you are a wonderful warm honest person and this is why I am drawn to you in a girly friendship way... clarifying lol!
In my experience, which in some ways has been similar to yours...
I believe we all go through this...(all of us who are 'real' people and care about others).. in some way or another.
It is good to evaluate ourselves and our friendships and everything around us (and sometimes this is sooo hard)... it is healthy and very hard to do if we are honest, but de-cluttering is really worth it for our own well being and self esteem!
Thankyou for your wonderful warm honesty and for some useful links to check out.
I could really go on and on and on..
Keep being you!! You are a wonderful lady.
Friendship hugs
Robyn xx

Carrie P. said...

I have done the same thing you have. Simplify! I have come to realize that "stuff" is not what makes me happy. My family and God is what really makes me happy. I love your honesty and understand where you are coming from completely.