Nice Troll Shirt! For real tho – Are you capturing a memory or just collecting clutter?

Nothing will make you realize how much crap you have like moving. My husband and I bought our first house last year and I’m still aghast at how much stuff we’ve accumulated. We had 80% of our items in storage for most of the year while we were in transition, and even with only that 20% of our items, I started to think I could easily live with just what we were using, what did I possibly need beyond this? I started thinking about just burning everything that we had in storage. I mean, what was all that junk?!?

I’ll tell you what it was: Aside from our furniture – which my husband is grateful that I didn’t actually burn – I found boxes of assorted wine glasses from various trips to wineries, knickknacks from travel adventures (because I HAD to have a hand-carved dragon statue from the base of the Great Wall of China), clothing that doesn’t fit but we’re desperately hoping does again someday, piles of photographs stuck together that “I know one day I will get to putting these in an album or framing” (translation – I’m gonna turn one kind of pile of stuff into a different kind of pile of stuff), and 5,000,000,000,00,833 coffee mugs. WHY?!!

Truthfully, we all know how this happens. When we’re lucky enough to have good experiences, we want to hold on to them, and we tie our memories to totems and mementos. So we keep the free taster glass from the brewery. We bring home the coffee mug from the Grand Canyon. We buy the must-have t-shirt from when we went to see the world’s largest troll collection.

Technology has given us even more tools to capture the moment, which we gladly utilize, even at the cost of these experiences. We go to a live concert and watch the whole thing through our phone screen, recording the event so that we can experience it later…on screen. We bury ourselves in trinkets, take thousands of photos and hours of videos so that we can remember the moments, and (lets be honest) so others can know that we’ve had cool experiences.

You know what I learned from my stuff being in storage all that time? I forgot that I had this crap. My precious crap that reminded me of my precious memories. Wonderfully though, I didn’t forget my adventures, at least not yet anyway. But realistically, even the memories will fade away someday, no matter how many knickknacks we have around us. And then our mementos will just be what they always have been – just stuff.

I’m not saying that having items you collect from fun experiences and cool places automatically makes you a hoarder. If your mementos bring you joy, then I’m all for that. I’m just saying that if they don’t, it’s ok to let it go, be grateful for the moment, and clear your space of clutter.

But what about the priceless items we pick up that can only be gotten in one place?!? Truth bomb: We live in a global world now – you can buy a version of every single thing on Amazon. True story: I found the exact same hand-carved dragon statue last year in a shop on the south side in China town, the sticker said ‘made in Taiwan’.

So here is your zen for today:

It is important to live in the moment. Everything physical disintegrates. Pictures, knickknacks, doo-dads, they all pass away. Even our memories break down and dissolve eventually. So take it all in. Live in the present, in the right now, in this moment. Don’t waste it trying to recreate it; trying so hard to capture it that you miss the authentic wonder unfolding right in front of you. Experience it now and cherish the memory as long and as vividly as possible, and then move on to the next adventure.

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Fleeting Thoughts Friday 11.18.2016 – This Little Light Of Mine

The theme of this week that keeps popping back up in my various encounters is (surprise, surprise) overcoming fear. Or more specifically, belief in oneself.

Not to wave my freak flag in an uncomfortable way, but in an effort to be real with you this week, I’m gonna share that this season for me has brought a particular struggle with self-doubt. Normally, I wouldn’t love to shout that from the rooftops, but again, the intention of this blog is authenticity first and foremost.

One of my favorite writers Elizabeth Gilbert once said that “All procrastination is fear.” I love this, so simple, so direct, so full of truth. It occurred to me this week that perhaps my purpose in this life is largely to wage war against fear and to encourage those around me to take up arms and do the same.

I’m a believer in the idea of cognitive intentionality (pretty sure I just made that word up, but we’ll go with it). The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that perception is reality. Just like Henry Ford said:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

In this light, within the last year or so, I’ve started a new exercise. Every now and then when I find myself in a particularly difficult moment of self-doubt, or negative mindset, I write a note to myself about what I want to focus on and stick it somewhere I’ll be sure to see it. The idea here is that by altering our focus, we can work to become mentally stronger everyday; your mind is a muscle and you must work it out.

It’s a transitional season for me and I’ve been spending a good deal of time this week writing new reminders to myself. So I’ve decided to share them with you in hopes that maybe they lift your spirits, too. So as you head into the weekend and the new week ahead, here are some new mantras to refresh your perspective:

  • You are a good, kind, smart, capable person and anyone would be lucky to have you in their lives.
  • You can’t solve all the riddles at once, and you don’t have to; just jump in, you’ll learn as you go.
  • Breathe deep, you are a great problem-solver.
  • Be done with self-doubt, be kind to yourself.
  • The Universe will bring you everything that you need.
  • Every day, you choose your thoughts, you choose whether or not to believe in yourself.

This last point about choosing to believe in yourself is so important. We must strive to remember that there is no adequate substitute for true self-confidence. Not believing in yourself or continually relying on someone else to have faith in you and your abilities is like lighting a tiny flame next to a log instead of underneath it. The flame must come from within or else it will never be enough, and it will never grow.

 

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Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.30.16 – When Childhood Echoes

I found an abandoned keyboard outside my apartment on Wednesday – the kind you type on, not rock out Mozart on, although I guess depending on who you are and what you call art, an argument could be made for the equivocation of the two…I digress, the sight of it immediately and involuntarily excited me.

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I can understand how this sight might not be exactly enthralling to many others, but I was quickly reminded that it’s still one of the most exciting things in the world to me. I know what you’re thinking…a keyboard? Really?! But it’s true. Ever since I was a kid, I always thought anything with letters on it that I could make words out of were the coolest things ever invented.

I have no explanation for this random obsession with typing mechanisms, I’ve just always been drawn to them. When I was little, my dad found an old broken typewriter in the basement and brought it up for us kids to play with. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever! This is especially ironic considering that I’ve really never learned to properly type; my husband makes fun of me, he says I type with two fingers like a T-Rex:

I can assure you, it’s not that drastic. I moved around a lot as a kid and that part of my development “suffered.” But I can make words come out of my fingers nonetheless, so let’s not get hung up, alright?

Where was I? Oh yeah, random childhood toys. I loved playing with keyboards! I would pretend that I was an author, reporter, spy, lawyer, cashier, banker, librarian, garbage man (I’m not sure why, but I have a distinct memory of weighing and charging my siblings for their garbage on my typewriter)…Come to think of it, I could really play any occupation as long as I had that typewriter and as long as I was in charge of it – I liked to be in charge a lot when I was little; they call that “executive leadership” skills now 😉 But my favorite thing to do on that typewriter was type up my own stories, poetry and short musings. And what do you know? Lo and behold I’ve grown up to be a lowly blogger!

Whatever the case, I think that typewriter made an impression on me, one that was formative and unshakable. Something about it called to me. And I can’t help but wonder if we are our truest selves when we are kids? If we’re born with all we are already inside of us just waiting to come to fruition? Is there something to that? OR are we inherently shaped by the tools we are exposed to as children? If that’s the case then I totally blame my status on my dad for allowing us to play with broken office equipment. I mean, what if he had brought home a copy of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of the Nations?

What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? What did you like to make-believe most often? Does it have anything to do with what you are doing now? Does it still call to you?