I'm My Own Worst Enemy

August 09, 2010

I made a trip to the library today to pick up some books for future reference for the blog and for some prospective articles for SheKnows.com—and look what I brought home!

The irony is that the DVD in the photo is about “simple living.” Ha. Nothin’ simple about trying to read, or at least skim, all these books while I simultaneously try to keep up with the Explorations Artful Journaling Class (Hi, Laure…yes, I will soon be turning in my two missing assignments…), get my son ready for the new school year (clothes, backpack, doctor’s appointments), keep writing while searching for new paying markets for freelancing, take care of my horse, and somehow keep my house from falling down around my ears.

Why do I do this to myself? It’s not like I don’t know better. Apparently, I don’t really want a simple life, or I’d have one. Or at least a simpler one. Apparently what I want is piles of books, stacks of papers, art supplies all over the kitchen table and a load of laundry left to languish in the dryer (It’s only sheets—they can wait to be folded.) What happened to Do Less in More Time?

When it comes to the fun stuff, I don’t want to cut back. I don’t want to miss out on anything that might be remotely enjoyable. The only problem is, when I cram my life so full of even the fun stuff, I fail to fully appreciate and enjoy each thing as I experience it.

So I guess I’d better figure out how to restrain myself. I think I’ll start by watching that simple living DVD. Maybe it’ll help.

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  1. You mean there's not suppose to be art supplies on the kitchen table???



  2. I know, what's wrong with that?!?!
    Everyone knows art supplies are decorative elements, right?

  3. When I had kids at home and was trying to do so much, I told myself that it was hard to do everything full-time and that the house could just be part-time. It worked for me!

    I like how you are doing your "stuff" as you take care of everybody else too. Some people put their "stuff" aside to cater to others and then are not really happy...kind of like "The Giving Tree".

    Never stop learning or creating, that is my motto!


  4. Hmmm... you don't want to see my art supplies "area" -- and that's after giving away more than half of it to my sis last spring to focus more effectively on my writing. ;)

    I think I am a weirdo in the "live simply" movement. I actually do not buy into minimalism, and I think they are different concepts. I sometimes even suspect the "minimalist/get-rid-of-your-stuff-to-make-room-for-more-flow" camp is a plot by people who want us to give away perfectly good things in order to go out and buy more things.

    I don't think we need to give up our books and our creative messes to live simply, Kathy. Of course, total chaos is counterproductive and stressful. If you can't find what you need, it's a problem. But when I look to Nature for guidance (hey, it's me, where else would I look?) I see that what looks like chaos has hidden order, potential, and buckets of inspiration. It just needs patience to unfold. So my house has overflowing bookshelves, mismatched dishes, cozy coverlets draped everywhere you might want one, random seed packets & garden catalogs laid down wherever I was last contemplating them, books-in-progress on every end table and beside the bed, and the swamp-thing rising out of the laundry basket. It doesn't seem to impede the simple life to have things.

  5. Kathy--Sometimes I feel selfish for pursuing so many interests while I keep up with my responsiblities. I get unbalanced, one way or another, and then swing back to a more appropriate place. It's a challenge.

  6. Meredith--I simply could not be a minimalist and be happy. I find comfort in my "stuff." Your house sounds charming to me, and quite a bit like my own.

    I also find that some of the simple living principles are not really "simple" at all (for me anyway). For example, to walk or bicycle to do do my errands here would be dangerous, not to mention unbearably hot for most of the year. There is no public transportation to speak of. I've mostly gotten to the point where I can absorb the simple living principles that fit well with my life and let the rest go without feeling guilty.

  7. Yes, that is indeed a very respectable stack of library books you have! :) I have Bleak House partially started--I set it aside when I got to a slowish part, but I do want to pick it back up again at some point. It seems like a perfect fall/winter book. And I'm all for trying to live simply, but it is harder to do than it sounds I think. I suppose the trick is to mold it into something consistent with how you live now. The good thing about library books is they can be returned guilt free and unread (if need be). I'm trying to feel less guilty about my reading quirks but that's not always easy either sometimes.

  8. Hi, Danielle--"respectable"--now that's a good word to describe it! The Postmistress is there because of one of your recommendations, by the way.

    I don't think I've ever read any Dickens all the way through, and my husband and I recently watched the PBS version of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson, so I thought maybe if I read the book NOW, I'd be able to access my memories of the miniseries, and I'd have an easier time of it. So far, I have to say it's pretty rough going. Ah, well. Sometimes it's good to stretch the reading muscles!

  9. Like you, I love my "stuff" and that's obvious to anyone who walks in my home! It's okay.... living simply doesn't mean living minimally.... to me it just means doing one thing at a time so that you're enjoying what you're doing and not feeling stressed. I love having more books waiting for me when I finish the one I'm on.

    I think you're on the right track!

  10. I agree. Stuff is just fine as long as you're not a slave to it. I can tell, for example, when I've crossed the line between having just the right number of books going/waiting to be read, and when I have too many. My belongings are like that, too--enough/too much can be a fine line, but I can usually tell when I've crossed it.

  11. Ahh, the age-old dilemma!!! I'm going through the tossing phase now, telling myself I must think small, as if I lived in a small apartment. I too collect "stuff", but most of I don't need, and clutter annoys me so much.

  12. There's a fine balance between enough and too much, isn't there?