The past year and four months have been full of adventures, changes, and growth. I have chosen to rearrange priorities and simplify my life so much that I have not written much on my blog or Facebook page. I thought I would spend a few minutes catching my readers up on what has evolved.
Just before I left on my first trip to San Diego with the purpose of being there for my daughter who was staying with family members while I lived in an intentional community. I had a few wonderful organizing jobs while I was there, and people asked me to come back and help more. I couldn’t resist! My daughter and I came back to Fayetteville, and within a month I was back on the Greyhound bus headed to San Diego.
My jobs included the following:
- A retired school teacher who was busier than ever with volunteer jobs who needed help organizing her yard and container garden of rare plants.
- A professor who lived in an intentional community in a tiny room which also served as her office who was passionate about helping with immigrants rights.
- A man who’s wife had died a year previously, and he hadn’t been able to sort through clutter because of fear of bringing up memories.
- A talented writer who was ready to focus on her children’s book, but the clutter was clogging up her creativity.
- A vivacious, outgoing life coach (among other things) who was so passionate about many things that she didn’t like to take the time to sort through her stuff, and her condo was out of control.
- A blogger and activist who’s home office and bedroom was full of dust and unnecessary stuff that had been saved over the past 4 decades, and was keeping him from pursing his dreams.
- An retired woman living in a small senior housing apartment who needed to get her kitchen in order so she could work on her health issues, and wanted to organize her home-office so she could pursue her dreams of being a writer and helping people who have cancer.
- A children’s musician who needed feedback on his performance at libraries-and needed help with his home office.
- The director of an intentional community needed help organizing activities and getting more life into the community.
- Teacher of Non-violent communication who needed help in his garden
As you might imagine, I had the time of my life traveling all over the San Diego area helping this diverse group of people. I felt so uplifted, inspired, and satisfied as I saw the burdens that each one of these unique people had weighing them down. Each person had felt stuck, and didn’t know how to proceed. Yet because they were motivated to move forward, and felt safe with me, together we made the changes that each of them told me made a big difference in their lives.
I plan on following up with each of these people and finding out how their lives had changed because of our work together. Most of them gave me a beautiful testimony about how I had been instrumental in getting them unstuck and on the way to creating a more life-giving environment. Because I only stayed about six weeks, I was not able to continue to work with the clients to complete the jobs. However, I feel hopeful that so much progress was made with each one, that they were able to either get someone else to help, or move forward on their own.
When I wrote the list of all the people I worked for, I felt the warmth of good memories coming back to me.
Riding on the trolley and bus to many of my jobs. I love public transportation and all the adventures that are a natural part of that process.
Getting rides from various points in San Diego and chatting with my clients.
Having deep conversations about what my clients were going through, getting to know their hearts, and feeling the joy that comes from being able to help people in need.
Seeing the smiles and satisfied looks on my clients faces as they felt the weight of unnecessary stuff lifted off of them
Hearing how helping them create systems enabled them to save time, energy and even money.
Reading the testimonials that people wrote that expressed such love and care.
When I came back to San Diego, I decided to try to find a place where I could trade rent in order to save money and thus work less. Debi Lambeth, a former organizing client, was kind enough to give me a try. We have been living together and working out problems in a beautiful way for almost a year. We have become good friends through the process of cooperating and mutually meeting needs. My simplified life made it possible for me to do things I had really wanted to do, including:
- Spend more time mentoring and hanging out with my kids
- meet regularly with our Wellspring Community
- Get involved with church activities
- Learn more about permaculture and kugelgarding–and then transforming our front yard into a beautiful garden
- Spend more time practicing the Immanuel Approach
- Ride my bike as my main mode of transportation
- Continue to downsize, de-clutter, and get organized (yes, of course professional organizers need to do that too!)
- Get back into the flow of shopping at Farmer’s Market
- Have more margin in my life so that when opportunities for unexpected activities or connections happened, I could be available.
- Exploring new possibilities like Underearners Anonymous and Life Coaching Certification–and then realizing that they were not right for me. But I learned so much!
- Keeping my connection with my friend Sky in San Diego.
- Cultivating friendships with a small number of other people in NWA.
- Arranging meetings with people who I wanted to connect with
- having quiet mornings and sometimes days without needing to do anything where I could write, walk, read, study the Bible and other spiritual teachings, or research on the web.
- Watch Anne of Avonleigh (the ending series of Anne of Green Gables) where I discovered that I was more like Anne than anyone I have ever met!
- Take the time to grieve leaving a church I had been part of for 14 years.
- Making very healthy food every day.
My life was so packed with work, trying to get more work, and doing chores before I left for San Diego that I rarely had time for any of the above except for focusing on my kids and community and making healthy food. Yes, sometimes I would pour myself into some activity that I got excited about, both before I left and even during the past year. But I continue to realize that each moment I have is so precious, and I want to be discerning about how I spend my time. There are endless needs in the world, and a part of me wants to address all of those needs. But finally I realize that unless I really take care of myself, my children and community first, then I can not successfully help make positive changes in the world.
How I used to resist the idea, “Be the change you want to see happen.” It was much easier for me with my boundless energy and endless dreams to be outward directed. Right now, I am choosing to be on a kind of retreat where I work only as much as necessary to meet my basic needs. I am still asking the question, “How can I best use my talents in order to serve?”
I hope to take more time to write about my simple living journey which really started 4 decades and a year ago when I was 20, sitting in an airplane high above some country between Belgium and New York City. The God that I did not believe in at the time inspired me to have the revelation, “The only way you will be happy is if you use your talents and serve.” In order to do that, I needed to live very frugally which I have done successfully (for the most part) for the past 41 years. I look forward to sharing with you.