Happily Simple or Simply Happier

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“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” -John Ruskin

There are people, we all know them and we call them “they’ and it is they who say that less is more. I think they know what’s going on, really going on.  They seem to know quite a lot, they do.

I had been noticing, and pondering, this new sort of reality I have found myself in, when Lori from DonnaandDiablo shared this quote awhile back. It caught my attention and I loved how it resonated with thoughts that have been bumping around in my mind, and my notebook, and my conversations, over this last year or so.

Those little moments where little light-bulbs pop to life and I hear my mind say, ‘hmmmm…’

Change, with it’s multifaceted ways and ever-reaching tentacles of both joy and grief, peace and anxiety, comes with much turbulence.

Thankfully, change can also bring clarity and focus.

This change in my life included an actual move to a new location and initially in any move, the primary focus is simple: find the underwear and the toothbrush, and everything else follows in time.  I’ve learned, after many moves, that knowing for certain where those two items are located in the piles, can make the rest of the chaos a little more bearable. So, in this settling in period, as one might call it, this period of transition, some things have become more clear to me once I found my spiritual underwear, so to speak.

Or at least slightly more in focus. fog As I have found my way in this new space I now call home, I realize that without even realizing it, less truly is more. Or is it that there is more to be said about having less? Possessions, that is. Because I truly think that I have more now than before. [I am thinking that Dr. Suess would probably like this post, and that just makes me, well, happy].

I have noticed that…

…where, in my previous location, it seemed I never had enough kitchen cabinet storage, and I had overflowed to a re-purposed cabinet in the garage, I now have honest-to-goodness extra space. Like, empty cupboards in the kitchen. Seriously!

…where I used to be constantly running out of space on my DVR, ever agonizing which un-watched recording could get deleted without ever being viewed, my new DVR has exactly seven programs waiting for me. And of those seven, two I am saving for the kiddo. 

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

…where before I went after the fancy kitchen remodel, I find more peace in a nearly one hundred year old house that leans a little but has more good juju than a box of juju beans.

And, I have noticed that while once full of secrets I was too fearful of sharing, I now understand how the truth really can be freeing. 

I will be honest, and say that sometimes I look around and see all the people with all the stuff. And I wonder, am I missing something? Am I fooling myself?  Will I change my mind at some point (other than the fleeting moments when I walk through the Nordstrom shoe department of course) ?  We are programmed to want more, bigger, better; it feels foreign to go against this grain.

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I had a conversation the other day – one of those proverbial conversation that goes like this:  ‘what would you grab if your house caught on fire and you only had a few minutes’ ?  

For my companion, there was much angst and indecision. I could hear him taking inventory in his mind and feeling the pressure of the imagined decision.  For me, I realized that my answer was so much easier than his. My list was short and clear. Things are just that, things. When we lean into change, we have to make choices. When we lean into change, we invite clarity into our lives.

It occurred to me in the days since that conversation, that the possessions, all the stuff, can take up so much precious space;  and that isn’t it possible that the more space I make for me, the less I need to fill up that space?

What about you?

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Pieces | Brain Painting

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When I wrote Pieces of Grace, it took me months to finish that post. Beyond that, it took me nearly 15 years to find my way through a circuitous maze of understanding that my spiritual path would ultimately lead me to a place of beginning rather than a destination.  A place of acceptance. Acceptance that it is something I must assemble.  Over time.  Even though I don’t yet have all the pieces of the puzzle laid out before me on the quintessential card table of life.  That it’s not going to happen in an instant. And that it’s not a matter of leaving one house and walking in the doors of another.

Instead, as I wrote in that post:

“I have lightheartedly – over the last few years – referred to this questioning, this seeking and these feelings of being a spiritual misfit, as belonging to the church of human kindness.  I have come to see the importance of making intentional choices to live kindly and to have that as a guiding principal.  I find that I look in so many places for guidance, signposts and honestly, just honest to goodness resonance. A sense of place.”

Experiencing my friend’s Bat Mitzvah taught me to pay attention. The pieces? They show up when they will.

So, I read and listen. I pay attention. I remain open to finding pieces that fit. Everywhere I go, I am attuned. I know it when I hear, or sense, a sort of click within me. Outwardly, I kind of tilt my head to the side, like a quizzical puppy, and let my shoulders and chest rise and then fall, and I utter a, ‘hmh?!”.

In those moments, I know I have stumbled upon a piece, a piece that clicks in somehow. And so begins a new part of our time here together: Pieces.

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During a recent read, an article titled:  Peeling Back the Mask: Reconnect with your Authentic Self, on a site I follow religiously (pun totally intended there, c’mon! :) ) I came across this and heard myself go, “hmh?!”…

” ‘We are our thoughts‘ isn’t just Eastern voodoo wisdom. The word ‘brainwashing’ has a negative connotation, so let’s call it brain painting. Painting your mind with things you love is a surefire way to become a happy you. This is nothing more than surrounding yourself with people, books, subjects and thoughts that make you smile. Be selective and consistent with what you allow in.

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I realized the resonance I found in this; this is part of the process, this is how it happens for me.  The article caught my attention with its words “reconnect with your authentic self” – and then drew me so that I would find one of the pieces.

For me, the way I see it, I have to be looking, looking for the guideposts along the way. They are there.

What do you paint your brain with?

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Give A Little, Get A Lot

Bonnie:

This…

This is the Church of Human Kindness.

Thanks JT Weaver for sharing this today. Look around – notice the kindness…
And maybe we can be the one to be seen being kind…

(p.s. it appears the video does not load here ?? so please hop over to JT Weaver’s blog to view – and tell him thanks for sharing with all of us!)

-Bonnie

Originally posted on J T Weaver:

Sometimes we go through life without seeing those little acts of kindness that happen all around us.  Then, without warning we start to notice, we start to see, and we start to understand.  These small events then begin to affect us in ways that make us better people, better neighbors, and better parents.  This is growth.  This is maturity.  This is living.

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Dear Old Love Letters,

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Dear Old Love Letters,

I found you, in the bottom of the big old box. There you were, tucked away safely, all this time. You have stayed so true, so loyal over all these last thirty years. You have not seen the light of day nor felt the warmth of hand to open you and turn your sweet pages.  Thank you for your patience, and knowing, that perhaps now was the perfect time to find you. Read you. Rediscover you. 

As life brings closure on a significant chapter of life, you bring me back, so sweetly and innocently, to the one that began the history of them all. The first.

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It’s been thirty years since you were penned and mailed, with a stamp that cost twenty cents. It’s been thirty years since your words have been read and savored. Thirty years since feeling that flutter of happiness upon seeing the yellow envelope on my dresser when I got home from school.

You were written for a sixteen year old girl, and you were written long before you could ever know that letting those words flow freely from your yet unbruised heart would begin the first of all bruises yet to follow. Your wordy news and little updates of seemingly mundane moments pre-date any form of text messaging that today, would surely consume hours of our days. Every little detail, so important.

Your sweet innocence and vulnerability is almost too much…

“My mind is on other things, so I decided to write to that one other thing – you!”

Your uninhibited words play across the pages – the slightly sappy, but so very endearing Snoopy stationery, chosen by your author – in your own unique way; you convey his heart, his thoughts, his cute little sighs.  You reveal a heart as yet unbroken. You tell me that I am missed, appreciated, and while the word graces not the page, in between the lines it’s there. A naive first love.

To find you now is perfect really. A time of re-calibration. A time of reflection. A time of being intentional. A time of new direction. It’s like you knew, that you waited for me somehow.  You remind me what is possible. You remind me that the heart is beautiful, resilient and wise. And that the telling of one’s heart is in fact an act of courage.

“I’m sure extra glad that things are working out with your parents about me. If I come up to visit, I’ll probably get real nervous and blow it though. So, they said it’s ok to come up and visit and stuff? Well, I’m interested in the stuff :)

Letters, you are a landmark of sorts; a familiar, even if so very vague, place worth remembering, perhaps keeping an eye out for.  I would like to somehow convey to your author  - the sweet boy who was brave enough to pen his heart on your pages for me, for to be so transparent is truly an act of bravery – how grateful I am. That he owns a corner of my heart. Always. How could he not?

“I sure had a super great time on Sat. Thanks! We didn’t do much, but it didn’t matter. Just being with you made it worth it.”

Letters, sweet old letters, thank you for staying safely tucked away and finding me again all these years later.  I grin and blush just thinking about you and feel almost sixteen again.  I am comforted by your presence, for the 16 year old girl then, and the woman now old enough to be her mother.  Like muscle memory, our hearts have a memory too. It is good.

Love,
Bonnie

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*These letters are real, and were from my first boyfriend when I was 16 yrs old and he 19.  We met while working together at a summer camp. I attended his wedding years later and we danced together, talking and sharing, knowing we’d always think fondly of the other. While I congratulated him on his big day, and said I wished he and his bride so much joy,  I told him I still had his letters. He said he still had mine.  

I could tell you what happened or who broke who’s heart, but when a first love ends, isn’t it both hearts that twist and crumple, never to be quite the same ever again?

How the story ended is not so important as remembering the sheer openness and accessibility. Every girl should be so lucky to have letters so sweet and that remind her that she’s been cherished in the eyes of another. 

Lemonade Is On The Porch

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Come on in!

Things are looking a little different around here today finally.  So much for phase one and then phase two and then phase 3…one and two seemed to really want to ride tandem.

So, we’ve got the new outfit and the new name tag today.

Here’s the old place…just in case you are a little unsure!

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Remember me?

It’s the same place on the inside and

there is lemonade is on the porch for you!

Relax, enjoy, stick around…while I figure out how to change the name officially.

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Can We Be Done Now?

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My Kiddo and I have some of the best conversations; he’s an old soul and his humor on par with many adults I know. Add to that, he’s open with me and we talk about some pretty cool stuff; I feel lucky as the mom of a now ten year old boy that we talk the way we do and about the things that matter.  Boy humor is often thrown in, well, just because. And because it really is funny sometimes.  And, it’s hard to avoid!

That aside, when we get into one of our cool convos, I always know there will come a point in the conversation when I hear, “mom, can we be done talking about this now?” and I always say yes, even though of course, I want more.  I know he’s reached his limit; that he’s overwhelmed or we got just a little too close.  Some kind of noise, right?

I figure if I take his lead, then there will be a next time.

And, so far, so good; we’re still talking.

The other day, we were discussing his request for a new video game for his game console. It’s a never ending, ever-lovin’ request stream.

I hear the typical arguments:

“But mom, all my friends have it…”

“Mom, I will pay for it with my gift card…”

So, I ask kiddo to lay out the positives and the negatives.

Tell me why I should say yes. Tell me why I would say no. I want to hear both sides from you.”

He plays along, the arguments are solid.

So, then I say,

‘Tell me about the game honey. Tell me why you like it so much.”

I hear so many words, my brain starts competing with itself to stay with him.

“It’s important, let him talk” vs. ‘”you have no idea what he’s saying”

He’s doing a good job explaining it”  vs. “stop thinking about what you need to finish this afternoon”

“He really wants to get his point across, wow”  vs. “If only he was this focused and clear when it comes to homework”

Then, I start to laugh.

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Noise.

There is noise in my head.

I hear words like memory. extraction. database. points.

And then I don’t know what else. It’s all noise.

But I am laughing (he’s still explaining). I totally get it.

I say to him,

“Kiddo, can we be done talking about this now?”

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Ps…remember..change is in the air.

Hi Honey, I’m Home

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I have shared before that when I started this blog, I really didn’t know why I was, other than I thought I was supposed to, to support another creative endeavor.  I started with such uncertainty and trepidation. It took me a long time to really feel at home here, but something in me said to keep going, even when I wondered, “What’s the Point” ?

What’s ironic (and irony is never lost on me…) is that I have had to put that other endeavor on the shelf, indefinitely for now, perhaps permanently, but yet this blog remains and has come to be something central to who I am. It has allowed me to become more honest with myself.  This honesty breeds direction, understanding, confidence and contentment, within myself.

I trust myself more.

I have learned to pay attention and attune myself to the quiet subtle moments that are rich with insight and import.

Stories once long forgotten are sometimes my teacher in these moments.

I can now sense the shift that occurs within me when the writing needs to happen, and how much I miss it when too much time has gone by.

I would have never guessed that this blog would persist, and that the other project, the original activity, would recede. If you had asked me then, I would have for sure predicted the inverse relationship between the two. I have written about the stunningly rich community we have here, how blogging really takes place in the comments and this amazing opportunity to develop and share a voice.

We have all talked about how these elements have impacted us as people, as writers, as friends – in ways we could never have predicted and likely would have never even believed if someone had tried to tell us. To be seen, to be understood, to be accepted through this, is a gift of epic proportion in my estimation.

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The days I am kept away from blog-land – reading and/or writing – are not preferable in my opinion. When I am here, when I log-in to Word Press, I feel as if as if I have walked into a room full of friends – the virtual community is real. It’s the online Cheers, where everybody knows my name. And so much more.

The power of two.  So, its somewhat confounding to me to think of where this all began and realize that time has snuck up on me; and sit back and appreciate that over two years have gone by.  Over 200 posts I have written. How is it possible that I have had over 200 things to talk about?  Two road trips have been taken with you along for the miles.  I have met two of you in person and wow the looks I get when I share that.  And I know that two is not the end of that list!l

My life has changed, my kid has grown. This blog has changed me, in ways I could not have foreseen, but were necessary. I have grown. There has been a Freshly Pressed in the mix but to be honest, the honor is far greater when one of you is moved enough to share something of mine in your own space. That we know each other’s lives and stories because we dare to share them here, is moving to me, and something I hold closely.  I love how we have a sense of the essence of each other even though we have never met. We get each other’s humor; my days feel much more complete when I see a response to one of my comments and the reply simply says: “laughing”. Somehow a connection has occurred in that moment.

This feels like a second home in many respects.

So, I am sticking around, it is just way too much fun here!

But, I now have a much better idea of what the point is. What the point is for me. When I started, I chose the name PaperKeeper because this blog was meant to play second fiddle to that other endeavor. As time has passed, I have a better understanding of what I want to do here, why I am here.  That it is really about this endeavor.

So…

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I am ready to make some changes, and here’s how that is going to do down. We are going to start first with:

voice-girl-makeover-mondays-editA new look – it’s time to spruce things up around here. Times have changed, so we have to update our wardrobe and hair style.  In the next few weeks, or maybe days, you will notice things looking a little different. Everything on the inside will stay the same!  I have some ideas for new types of posts, but nothing radical. It will feel just like it does right now.

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babynameAnd then, once that step is taken, the next phase will be that this blog is getting a new name! I have been thinking for a long time of what I want this blog to be called. It needs to reflect why I am here, not why I thought I was supposed to be here.  It’s probably been over a year and I was waiting until it just came to me. I am a ‘I will know it when I know it‘ kind of person, and I percolate in the meantime. The best part is that a great friend of mine helped me see what was already right in front of me.  The new name will be revealed soon, but I will give you a hint, I have used the phrase around here already! If you think you know, no spoilers!

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And, then the last step will be a new address.  The www will change. No more paperkeeper.wordpress.com.  It will be http://www.somethingsomething.com!  WP assures me that everything will be seamless, but course, like with any move, it’s making me a bit anxious.  I want you all to come with me, of course, so when I get ready to load the truck, I will tell you ahead of time what my new address will be. If anyone has gone through this, please let me know if you have any good tips/tricks you learned in the process.

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It’s going to feel a little like being in WITSEC at first;  new look, new name, and a new address, but the important difference is I won’t be in hiding, or without all of my friends!  One step at a time, but change is exciting, its keeps things fresh and new. It seems impossible to convey my gratitude to all of you for making this everything that it is.

Amazing. Remarkable. Safe. Challenging. Fun. Home.

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