Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Barbie is excused from band class..."

I didn't say 'from gym class' because I never really minded gym class.

Except that one day in 7th grade when I almost got beat up for calling an eighth grade girl a bitch because she wouldn't throw the basketball back into the game from the bleachers, where the Stoners Chicks were sitting and mocking the girls who just wanted to pass gym class. Actually I wasn't brave enough to say it to her face, but instead mouthed the word after she'd thrown the ball back and I turned away from her. Apparently one of her Stoner Chick friends was working to pass gym class as well that day, witnessed what I said and felt a moral obligation to tell. There's some baggage I could clear out, huh?

Anyway, the reason I'm here today for approximately 12.7 seconds or as fast as I can type this is: I need you to give me a pass.

I am tied and twisted up in something else that is precluding me from my mission of material mastery. At least for a little while longer.

Frankly, I'm pissed that this blog and its impetus has been on the back burner for almost two weeks now but it has. And I'm not sure who to blame.

Sometimes stuff happens.....and piles up until you explode. At this point I welcome the explosion.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So Much Better Than Dragons

About Barbie: in regards to My Less is Bliss Journey and the blog it’s prompted, here are some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Well, to be fair that would be NAQs (Never Asked Questions) yet even so, here they are.

My name is Barbie and I live in the Pacific Northwest. (The only reasons these two AQs are relevant to Less is Bliss is because as I’m possession-purging and soul-cleansing, I will be faced with Barbie items (Barbie™ as in Barbie’s Malibu Beach House and Pink Convertible.) and the pervasive mold, algae and moss that grow on possessions neglected for very long in the Puget Sound area.

Other than that, I don’t think any other book jacket details are necessary right now.

Aside from 'stats,' I might feel the need to reveal the following...

I have an abnormally strong grip. I can clench like nobody’s business. At some point along the line I thought it would be a good and appropriate life strategy to hang onto everything in my immediate vicinity with the Barbie Death Grip. (Not the ™ Barbie, but the 5 feet tall Barbie typing here.)

I hang onto everything:
  • belongings,
  • nostalgia,
  • ancient wounds,
  • pre-school crafts,
  • locks of hair,
  • perceived social slights,
  • occupational atrocities,
  • every single photograph I’ve ever taken,
  • toxic relationships
  • and broken small appliances that will cost more to be repaired than replaced.

I have not the good fortune to possess the natural ability of easily ‘letting go.’
(Even typing the words feels like a breeze of clean air.)

Given this important personal confession, you might be tempted to look the other way. But here are a couple of other important bits to counter the images you could be drawing up in your head of 'what her house must look like...."

  • I am not a hoarder. My house is tidy and clean, on most days. Even my closets and drawers. I’m a high-functioning organizer. More on my 3 x 5 card system in another post.

  • I do not have that much stuff. You could walk into my house and you would not think that I have a problem. The house I live in is 1600 square feet. Not large. One story, three bedrooms, one and ¾ bath. It’s not that there is so much, but that I’m clutching for dear life to the moderate amount I do own.

  • I am not a binge buyer. In fact, for the most part, I do not like shopping. I’ll go months without buying a single article of clothing or some chotskie household object. It’s just that it’s so hard to let go of what I already have.

What I’m dealing with here is not an urgent, intervention-precipitating situation. A person can live their entire life in surroundings such as mine and maybe never even sense the disquiet and unrest involved with ‘hanging on’ to items that no longer serve them. Us. You. Me.

But I can’t. I cannot live this way. I am so acutely aware of the peace of which I’m robbing myself that I have to do something. Something drastic. Something now. (Maybe I’m like the Princess and the Pea. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe I belong to the lineage of the Royal House of Riddance.)

If what I suspect is true, that the ‘thing’ standing between me and my best life are my things, (‘things’ being physical, occupational, emotional, social, recreational, even metaphysical things) then what lies just ahead, on the other side of my ‘clutter,’ will be nothing short of AMAZING. We might not even recognize me after I'm done.

I need to keep this fact in mind each day for when I get bogged down. I need it on a flash card, forearm tattoo or note pinned to my shirt. "Beyond here there be magic."

April 16 & 17, 2010 ~ Away from home for a few days, no purging, weeding or ridding to declare.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Good News, Bad News, Better News

Today I gave away five wind chimes.

I’m keeping four. Four. Does four wind chimes sound excessive......?

I had nine wind chimes up along the west and north eves of my house. It’s one of my favorite sounds: the wind and the chimes mingling, singing in twelve-part harmony. But nine was WAY too many.

I started off with one, years ago. Then my family, knowing how much I love them, added to the collection in varying forms of quality and kitsch. This morning, I gathered them up and spread them across the dining room table. I cleaned and polished until they were as shining as they could be after so many years. I repaired the stained glass wind catcher (the name of that piece that swings at the bottom of a wind chime to catch the wind) that had fallen off of my favorite one. I threw out one set that was too weather worn to keep or give away. I packed up four of the least melodic into the Thrift Store bag.

The four best ones are going back up later today or tomorrow. Four wind chimes. Does that sound like too many? It must or I wouldn’t be answering the question. But I selected the Final Four very carefully and systematically. For their durability, their eye-appeal, their voice and range. I have one in the deeper tenor register. I have two typical middle-of-the-road toned chimes but that are so pretty and well-made: beautiful pewter and stained glass. The last is a delicate light-hearted chime that sounds like Tinkerbell flitting just outside my window.

Sound reasoning, yes? Solid argument? Four wind chimes? Not so bad, right?

(Okay, PAY ATTENTION.... this is where I could use some audience participation. I am going to need your help in this area. When you hear me justifying the items I want to keep, call me out, scold me. If I am feeling the need to justify anything to an unseen, perhaps non-existent blog reading audience, this is a very bad sign and I’m kidding myself. Let’s call it Clutter Denial. The items I keep and I am at genuine peace with, require no justification of any sort, to you or anyone else. The compulsion to make excuses will not occur when the decision is true and good for me. I will simply own my decision with the right things and all the ‘talk’ is a spin job to rationalize keeping the crap. Please point this out to me when you see it. You even have my permission to laugh as you point. There may be a pop quiz on this point later.)

So after writing here, I went back. Selected the most colorful one of the four 'keepers' and am sending it to my kids to hang outside my new grandson's nursery window. In the end, I'm keeping three of nine. This feels much better. I got rid of 2/3's of my wind chimes today.

April 15, 2010 ~ Besides the Great Wind Chime Massacre and other things, today I chucked out: 2 Zip Lock bags full of beads and old jewelry, Easter decorations, more candles and a dusty dark red vase.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Barbie Swings for the Fence

I’m not sure how to begin any type of introduction here. An introduction came to me in my dreams last night but it was of the statistical, Playboy ‘bio’ variety. My name is. I’m this old. I enjoy walking here and reading that. Odd dream.

I’ve had the needling suspicion for a long time that there is secret magic in clearing space. Physical space, emotional space, head space, domestic space, closet space, silverware drawer space.

In the struggle to find my ‘right’ life, my true purpose, I’ve read. I’ve written. I’ve confessed and divulged. Self-help books, journals, companions and therapists. I’ve explored them all. Nothing took. Nothing clicked. I knew truth when I read it. I saw empowerment when I’d write of it. All lofty life enriching, higher enlightenment, greater self type stuff. It was all up there with the cumulus clouds that resemble the opening shot of The Simpsons.

I knew it was possible. That it existed. I still know. Inner peace. Certainty of my soul’s wisdom. Breath. My spirit at rest. Finally. Yet it remained just beyond my reach.

My heart recognizes my truth when I see it. I’ve read Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Martha Beck, Cheryl Richardson, Ekhart Tolle. Okay, I didn’t always 'read' read them. Sometimes I’d just check them out at the library and stack them in a pile next to my bed. A couple I did read cover to cover: Finding Your Own North Star. You Can Heal Your Life. Finding Your Passion Or maybe I watched the DVD, listened to the audio book.

But as I ‘read’ so to speak, one of the many little voices in my head would say, “You already know this. What are you reading this for? You are wasting your time.” It felt like reviewing fractions at the beginning of the school year.

It wasn’t “Oh, I’m so smart,” in that know-it-all, I don’t need this crap sort of way. But more of a “Stop treading water,” sort of way. “Get on with it,” my little voices began to gang up on me. But I didn’t know how. What do I do? The Secret and other law of attraction material had me wondering if I could just want it, think of it, visualize it enough that 'it' would simply appear.

‘It’ being my perfect life. Published author, little cottage by the sea, solitary domesticity. Waking up each day with the sole purpose of following my bliss.

So I buckled down: affirmations, writing scenes of my perfect life as if it were already true, meditations, vision ‘boards’ of one type or another. All good. All valuable. Yet my life wouldn’t budge. My reality, my day-to-day remained firm.

Please do not misinterpret the struggle I’m describing here as criticism of the authors or material I’ve mentioned above. I am a fan, a true believer in them all. Well, almost all. I’m already sold on the concepts. Each premise. I get it. I believe I create my own life. I am already convinced. Like I said, my heart knows. My soul resonates when it finds truth. I can actually feel a physical change in my body chemistry when this happens.

But even so, something was off. Reading this stuff was like memorizing the sales brochure for a vacuum system I’d already purchased. I get it, this is the way to go, but what now? How do I proceed? I bought the Kirby, why isn’t my carpet clean?

Not always but often in the books and DVDs I was absorbing, or sleeping right next to, there would be a reference to cleaning, purging, organizing, ridding, simplifying. And at these times, an especially clear tone rang within me. “Truth! Truth! Truth,” it rang.

For years, I’ve read inspired and inspiring, uplifting truth. Eventually, I came to notice a pattern: the passages specifically addressing physical clutter, ‘spoke’ to me more profoundly than the surrounding words of wisdom.

I had a sense there was something secret hidden here. One of those inner voices would say, “Yes, there will be unexpected magic on the other side of going through and tossing most of your material possessions.” But she was kind of a soft spoken voice and there were numerous, much more insistent voices saying that it couldn’t be that simple. That the physical act of cleaning out your home, your life is too easy. This could not be the secret. ‘Barbie’s Secret.’ “Reaching your perfect life has got to be more complicated, more difficult than just clearing out possessions. Making space. Sorting through your stuff.” (Bossy voice!) No, cleaning out a drawer is not lofty or metaphysical enough. Could attaining my perfect life come through the manual labor of cleaning out? It couldn't possibly be the mystical, transcendental answer I've been looking for. Could it?

I’m about to find out.

I’m giving that soft spoken voice the floor. The floor, the closets, the drawers, my email inbox. All of these and more. Everything I own is at risk. Starting today.

April 14, 2010: Among many other things ~ the red, beaded clock, Colin's old Speedo goggles from the swim lessons he hated, an dusty tub of bird seed ( seed now scattered under the fir tree outside my window, tub in recycle), James Herriot book of animal stories

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Less is Bliss' begins

Today is the first day on my way to 'less.'

This truth gives me chills.

Let's see how it goes. I can't wait.