Christmas in August

Posted by suevenman on Aug 2, 2013  

Flipping through a magazine this week I was startled to see an ad for an ornamental Christmas tree. You know the sort: plastic 3-foot evergreen covered with Birds of the World. Someone’s idea of holiday spirit. But it wasn’t just the tree that startled me. It was the presence of a Christmas advertisement in July. It’s one thing to see red and green adorning the drugstore aisles before Thanksgiving; but in August?!?

Besides the cooling reminders of snowflakes in the middle of a heat wave, does thinking about the holidays while perspiring into our iced tea offer us anything constructive?

When I wait until the holidays are banging on my front door, the stress I feel kills the possibility of joy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Plant Purge

Posted by suevenman on Jul 25, 2013  

Every summer I bring my houseplants outside ~ Plant Camp, my sister calls it. And every fall, before the first frost, I bring them back in. I then spend the winter combating mealy worms and creeping cotton (or whatever it’s called). I’ve fought the good fight for years. The score is Mealy Worms ~ 100; Sue ~ zip.

So, I’ve made the boldest decluttering decisions of my life: I’ve decided to rid my house of bug-infested plants. Even the jade that I nurtured from a wee tiny cutting is now compost. It was drastic. It was harsh. I’m sure that I’ll get emails telling me how I could have conquered creeping crud. I’m sure my dreams will be haunted by flying Spider Plants and Swedish Ivies. But I’m willing to risk being given the evil eye by plant lovers. Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom from Stuff

Posted by suevenman on Jul 10, 2013  

Last week we celebrated Independence Day.

In our little village of 600, we have a huge parade, complete with a float from the Grange (one year they had live sheep and a goat riding along looking confused), the local middle school band (who won first place this year), a fife and drum corps, a dozen fire trucks blasting their horns and, of course, Morris dancers with their flowered hats and jingling bells: altogether, a grand celebration of our collective freedoms.

For the last couple years I’ve wanted to put together an additional float to celebrate one more freedom: Freedom from Stuff. Too often we imprison our aspirations, goals and joy behind walls of too much stuff. But when we can let go of what has become stale and useless and too heavy to carry, we’re able to see through to what is truly important.

Read the rest of this entry »

Summertime Dreaming

Posted by suevenman on Jun 6, 2013  

Summertime … and the livin’ is easy. ~ Porgy and Bess

Each year, it takes me until mid-June before I’m willing to put away my turtle necks and switch out my flannel sheets for percale. Yes, I live in Vermont where it’s not unusual to have a wood stove burning in May. But mostly, I have trouble letting go of the rigor of the cold months and relaxing into the spaciousness of summer living.

To help me make that transition, I tried a fun exercise. If the spring to summer shift (or, in Vermont, the mudseason to blackfly-season shift) has got you down, I encourage you to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

Letting Go – Try it!

Posted by suevenman on Mar 28, 2008  

With Spring arriving – slowly in Vermont- more quickly further
south, I am beginning to hear lots of conversations about SPRING
CLEANING and have decided to take a moment with you to consider
the touchy subject of LETTING GO. I know personally, as well as in
my work, that it isn’t so easy!

What about one client’s photo albums from 30 years of teaching?
What about the Doonesbury cartoons from the ’70s? For me – it’s what
about all the letters I’ve saved? And what about the 12 years of
newspaper articles on organizing?

The spaces I currently have for storage are full and I have NO desire
to create additional storage. I know by experience that at some point,
someone will have to deal with my stuff. So what to do?

If I want to declutter I have to take some time to consider my
personal reality with questions like:  When I have free time how do
I truly choose to use it? Is that likely to change radically? If I
couldn’t go anywhere (due to physical challenges) how would I
actually spend my time? What IS this stuff all about for me?

I know that the Doonesbury books were taken to a used bookstore
where you can put credit on an account for future book purchases. I’ll
let you know what the teacher does with her albums.

And me? I’ve decided to do a major paper sorting in the next month and pare
way down. I’m not a historian and have no desire to be one.  So I’m
going to try keeping sample letters and sample articles and see how
that goes. I’ll also follow my own advice to write the date of when
I make the Keep decision – on each item. Then on down the road I
can see how long it takes me to look again at the things I’ve kept.

What is the stuff that gives you trouble?  Want to make April the
month for dealing with it?  I’d love to hear what you do!  And if
you get stuck, feel free to email or call.