It’s Monday. Let’s all stick together out there. 🙂
It is pretty clear that I’ll never be a minimalist.
Yet I am hopelessly drawn to articles about it.
Not too long ago I saw the headline Minimalist Connoisseurs and was immediately intrigued. The article was not at all what I was expected, but it really set my mind whirring.
First, there was the title Minimalist Connoisseurs. The author talks about how if you’re going to be a minimalist you should be a connoisseur of life.
And I thought, if you’re going to be ALIVE you should be a connoisseur of life! I don’t know about you, but just watching life filter away isn’t my idea of LIVING.
Then he brings in the idea of being a curator of your life. He quotes the authors of Rework, a book that has been on my ‘to get to’ list for ages:
“Be a curator. You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room. That’s a warehouse…”
Definite WOW moment. (Yeah, yeah, also a ‘Duh!’ moment; but that’s how my life tends to run.)
These two ideas smashed together in one article made me all giddy inside.
According to ye old Merriam-Webster’s, a connoisseur is an
“expert; especially: one who understands the details, technique, or principles of an art and is competent to act as a critical judge.
One who enjoys with discrimination and an appreciation of subtleties.”
While a curator is
“one who has the care and superintendence of something; esp: one who is in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit.”
What could be more appropriate, or more necessary?
And if you want to build a life like that, live life like that, you have to really understand what’s important – either in life generally, if you’re up for that, or at least in your own values. What is it that really makes you tick?
And you have to weed out all the chaff: Pursuing something that isn’t right for YOUR life, or pursuing 100 different directions at once, simply isn’t going to make sense for a Connoisseur of Life.
It took me several stabs at achieving the American dream, and a ‘normal American life’, to clue in to the fact that those are just not me. And while my life definitely isn’t where I want it to be, I’ve been a lot less frustrated since I hit that realisation!
Just think about that!
First of all, I wonder how many of us are enjoying life at all? Between stress, busyness, and loss of hope, we’ve got frightening numbers of people dying from suicide, and a vastly larger number looking our days as just something to survive.
But how much richer is experiencing ilife so fully and intentionally as to enjoy it with discrimination and appreciate the subtleties?
Imagine a lift to savour. A life to breathe in deeply and experience with every one of your senses.
I think that’s where the curator bit comes in.
I firmly believe we’re supposed to be stewards of our lives: To manage and direct our lives is a critical job.
And it only makes sense to me, thinking about this quote from Rework, that my life is either going to be a museum or warehouse.
There’s a big big difference between a museum, and a warehouse. A museum expands us and draws us in. There aren’t many people standing in line to hand over their hard-earned cash for the opportunity wander through warehouses.
For all I know, there may be warehouses that hold exquisite paintings–maybe even finer and more expensive than the paintings in the Louvre. But those painting aren’t doing me any good. I’ll never even KNOW about those paintings. If I do ever seem them, packed in their warehouse, I won’t be able to distinguish them from the rolls of extra toilet paper, or gardening tools, because they are all just items stored away.
So. It’s made me think about what kind of care I’m taking of my life! Of where my life needs some firmer direction, and of what I need to pull down off the walls of my life in order to appropriately steward the things that are most important to most valuable.
That’s going to take some thought!
It’s kind of an exciting little adventure!
I hope everyone is well!
I found this neat little article by Joshua Becker that gave me quite some food for thought.
Mr. Becker extrapolates this out to many more examples:
If you’re looking for reasons to be scared, you’ll find them.
If you’re looking for reasons to be mad, you’ll find them.
If you’re looking for reasons to be encouraged, you’ll find them.
And so on.
It’s like that great Thai restaurant on 5th and Main that your friend just mentioned: You’ve lived here for 8 years, the Thai place has been there for 3 years, but you had never once noticed it.
NOW, however, in the 6 days since she mentioned it, you’ve seen two ads for it, one review of it, and your brother mentioned having lunch there.
All it needed was an anchor in your consciousness, and now it’s EVERYWHERE.
So, Mr. Becker’s point hit home. Whatever anchor my mind is working from is likely to grow in my awareness – it’s happened a million times without my even trying!
And I don’t know about you, but I could do with more happiness, gratitude, encouragement, hope…! I’ve also got more than enough fear, anger, defeat, and loss to last for a good long while.
I recently saw a headline about a proposal to sell an ‘Anti-Abortion Fundraising License Plate’ that would benefit “organisations that oppose abortions”.
After a short period of staring at the screen blinking, I thought about how painfully ineffective we are.
Why aren’t we fundraising to help support and protect people carrying unplanned pregnancies to term?
Why aren’t we fundraising to support babies whose parents cannot raise them?
Why aren’t we pushing to ensure that every American has access to high quality education from the earliest stages of life up through a decent college education?
Or to ensure that access to contraceptives is free, or very, very cheap?
(“But Kat!”, you say, “if people have access to contraceptives they will be encouraged to have sex!”
Maybe so. I have my doubts about this assertion, and clearly plenty of people are having sex anyway, but for me that isn’t the important point.)
That isn’t a trick question, but do give it a moment’s thought before answering.
Because if what you really want is to reduce abortion, then it’s time to focus on the practices, processes, and resources that really DO reduce it. And pushing our country deeper and deeper into poverty, inequality, divisiveness, and desperation aren’t part of the solution here.
And they do it in ways that don’t require abusing, or alienating, desperate people who feel trapped in circumstances far beyond their ability to manage.
(Which also sounds a bit more useful to the mandate of the Christian, according to my reading.)
And if what you really want is to control other people, at least be honest about that, so you aren’t burdening those who are actually fighting abortion. (And perhaps, let’s be realistic too: You can’t wholesale control other people’s thoughts, choices, or actions. I’d suggest focusing on what IS possible.)
I strongly suspect that most people who consider themselves ‘Pro Life’, view abortion as something sought by irresponsible high school or college kids. And undoubtedly some are. I have no idea of the actual proportions.
What I do know is that when I worked in a crisis pregnancy centre, EVERY ONE of the clients I saw who was actually considering abortion was a married woman who felt that she and her husband simply could not afford to support another baby.
My experience may be unique. I’ve sometimes wondered if God hand picked each of these clients to transform ME.
Because they did transform me.
But regardless of whether my experience was typical, or just God’s underhanded machinations, it does point to the fact that many women are considering abortion due to the exact conditions which most Pro Life Americans consistently work to preserve in our country: low wages, expensive or limited access to health care, reducing (of all things! What on earth?) access to birth control options, poor quality education, and limited support for families raising young children.
If that is all we have to offer, I don’t think we’re going to achieve this goal.
Hope and opportunity are a much better foundation from which bargain for the life of a child than are poverty, judgement, and continually diminishing opportunity to thrive.
Is it really that we care more about controlling other people’s choices than that we care about saving lives? I hope not. That doesn’t speak well of us, and if it is so, I think we need to get our heads on straight.
But my guess is that isn’t all of us. At least not when we are paying attention.
I suspect that when we see media hype about one topic, we don’t necessarily make all the connections to other topics.
We may see the recipients of Head Start or school lunches or Food stamps as people with no connection to us. OTHER. THEM.
When we see that THE OTHER SIDE supports abortion rights, we may close our ears to everything else they support, and never realise that a great deal of what they support has direct, and significant impact on reducing the likelihood that a couple will ever even consider abortion.
For that matter, when we judge THE OTHER (or THE OTHER SIDE) it probably doesn’t occur to us that no one has ever changed our own beliefs by judging us, so probably we won’t change anyone’s views that way either.
“Pirates don’t take orders or ask permission… They do what they want.
Allow me to clarify. If your mom asks you to do the dishes, do not pull out your pirate attitude.
But if someone tells you you’re not good enough, says your dreams are too lofty, or claims there is no room in showbiz for a dancing violinist —
I hope everyone is well! I’m well. It’s a beautiful day outside, and my house is now fairly liveable.
I’m going to repost this video today for a couple reasons.
First, it’s completely awesome and I love it! Second, I know a couple of our number are going through some rough patches right now, and I hope the message of this video will provide a spot of encouragement.
While I was digging it up on Youtube, I ran into this little behind the scenes video, and this follow-up with a fantastic message about reality. Worth a whole post on their own, but for now I’ll just link them here. 😉
How is everyone?
Well, my time off was useful, even somewhat restful. As usual I tried to pack too many things into the time, and didn’t accomplish everything that I had hoped would be a shining example of COMPLETENESS by today. Sigh.
An interesting thing I’ve been noticing now that I’ve had a little time to process: I am having to relearn many things. Very odd things to need to relearn, in fact.
That should be a no-brainer, right?
But if we humans are nothing else, we are an adaptive lot. And if you’ve got chronic illnesses loitering across your life, you have to adapt to them: chronic is ALL. THE. TIME.
Before too long you reframe ‘okay’, or ‘healthy’ or ‘a good day’ in terms of the new normal: “This is the best I can expect with this illness, so this is now my sense of a good day.” You don’t THINK that, it just becomes so.
And after YEARS of that new normal, trust me, it gets to be the only ‘normal’ you can clearly recall.
So being here, in an environment that is a bit healthier for me, I’m hitting these patches of ‘healthy’ that poke out beyond my ‘normal’!
And I’ll remember that once I felt like this, before I was sick. But it’s a shock now. I’m having to learn how to feel healthier than I could previously even remember.
Now, this one is really an offshoot of the improved health, but sometimes now I find myself with enough energy to do more than just survive the day.
Don’t get me wrong: marathons are NOT in my foreseeable future, nor is ADHD. But I CAN actually handle investing a tiny bit in my community now.
I am not exaggerating when I say that for the last few YEARS that was simply more energy than I’ve had.
So I had simply lost the concept of community engagement as something positive. In my last location, I limited it as much as humanly possible, just to have enough energy to do the required bits of life.
Now, here I am with a wealth of cool people to know, and interesting places and activities to explore, and more energy than I need to just maintain basic function! It’s wild!
If anyone ought to be the Limits Guru by now, it’s me, right?
And yet, having that little increase in energy has required a little relearning even there. It took me a little while to remember that MORE energy is not the same as LOTS of energy. Now I, of all people, have to learn to pace myself!
Who would ever have imagined that?!
So, I’m having to figure out what I truly CAN contribute to – because I’m still in no condition to take on every cool thing and stay healthy – then slowly step back into a space I thought I had left behind for good.
Or, maybe reevaluate is a better term for this one.
I live in a small town. And, it’s not quite in the middle of nowhere, but it’s also not anywhere near the greater metropolis.
So there is a new kind of balance to navigate here.
Do I drive to the big town a good half-hour away, to patronise the local Co-op, or do I content myself with Safeway, part of a huge conglorporation, but right down the hill?
Similarly, I have long had a desire to reduce the plastics in my life.
Living here can push me further toward that goal: we do not have trash and recycling pick-up, and a landslide closed the direct route to our recycling and waste disposal centre, so getting rid of plastics requires a 40 mile round trip. BIG incentive to ditch plastics!
On the other hand, since my shopping options are limited, it’s harder to find the things I buy without plastic wrapping.
And of course, I am on a very limited budget right now, which makes it necessary to be creative in a place where organically grown food is not the majority priority!
Another example: It’s really important to me to support the local economy. But ours is based on an unsustainable monoculture that is likely to implode before too long. How do I most helpfully navigate that set of opposed values?
So, it’s been an adventure. At the very least, it should help to keep my mind elastic for awhile!
I hope everyone is well!
The past weeks, and yes, the past year, have been some rough and stressful times – in the US and across the world.
Today I thought I’d just share some verses that I’ve found especially … helpful… in the midst of the madness.
Take a moment, forget that they are nice-Bible-verses-you’ve-read-a-hundred-times.
And, I’m finding, they are true…
I wish God changed everything – my situations, and me – in the blink of an eye.
And it’s scary and stressful that he doesn’t. But I am finding that as I DO what he says to do (which frequently, is just trusting him) HE does what he has promised!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalms 37:5
You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. Proverbs 3:24
Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better? Matthew 7:7-8
God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. II Corinthians 6:2
Just a quick shout out to all those who refuse to vote the party line,
insist on thinking through the issues for themselves,
and stand up for what is right –
even when that isn’t easy or popular!