Friday, July 22, 2016

The Simple Things

My best friend passed away in November of last year. I've not addressed it here on my blog because I'm still not ready to yet. I can't condense my thoughts and feelings on him and his unexpected death in a short, sweet blog friendly manner, so I'm just not going to try yet.

However, I must at least acknowledge it, because it has been the catalyst for so much upheaval and change in my life over the past 8 months.

Losing your best friend at such a young age, well, to call it a reality check is an understatement. There were so many things left unsaid and undone and they added to the already impossibly heavy burden of all consuming grief.  I became angry. Over so many things. Over every thing.

I realized that I wasn't living the kind of life I wanted, or being the person I am deep down inside, or showing people the kind of love I actually feel for them. My life was not not positively contributing to the world in any meaningful way. I was a zombie. I wasn't being who the universe intended me to be.

More importantly, I realized why I wasn't.


Fear of repercussion, of rebuke, of disappointing people, of being preached at, and of being laughed at, of being alone, of being a failure, of being reproached and believe it or not, fear of being condemned to hell. By the people who are supposed to love me.

And yet, I couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if I died today.

How did I want to be remembered?

As a person who did her best to maximize her potential to be a positive influence on the world in all areas of her life.

How did I want to die?

Not wishing I had done more to put good things into the world.

And so my anger over losing my friend began to morph into a sort of resolve, to be the best version of myself that I can be. And though it is obviously a journey that can only be ended by death, and some days have better weather than others, overall, I feel more like myself now than I ever have in my entire life.

The best part is that it hasn't taken any crazy products or life style changes or commitments to make this happen. Just love and kindness and simplifying my life. The simple things are so much more satisfying when they become the major threads through your life and not just some novel concept that you occasionally take note of for a well timed social media photograph.

I know it sounds cliche, but it is so true.

Love, especially, comes in so many wonderful, simple forms.

Sometimes it is in the form of little handmade gifts, like this peppermint flower bouquet I made for my best friend's mom. I used a crochet flower my mom made and a piece of ribbon saved from the wrapping of an etsy purchase, to pretty up an empty Martinelli's apple juice glass. This literally cost me nothing to put together, but it expresses love as much as much as anything I could buy at a store, because it required time and thoughtfulness to assemble and deliver.

And because self love is important, I also made one for myself! It brings me so much joy as it sits on my kitchen counter and blesses me with wafts of sweet pepperminty scent as I buzz about the kitchen.

Baking is another way I like to show people that I love them. Like this fruit crisp(and quart of purchased ice cream) I also took over to my best friend's mom. Her son used to bake for her, when he was still with us, and so in some way, I feel like he moves through me when I bake for her. It is keeping his spirit alive by carrying on his traditions. Because the crisp was made with peaches and blackberries that I grew, it was not only tasty but had extra special personal meaning to it.

Yesterday I was blessed by a friend who brought over a bag of little bitty pears to share with me. This too is an act of love. She didn't have to go out of her way for me, but she knew I would enjoy her home grown produce, so she brought me some. And my kids and I were blessed. She didn't ask for anything in return, but I knew she had liked a couple of my embroideries, so I sent them with her, because I wanted to be sure she knew how much I appreciated her thinking of me. The world needs more of this-love and bartering.

Organic gardening has become an important part of my simplified life. Growing herbs and fruits and vegetables is not only mental and emotional therapy, but a form of love. Love for the earth, for myself and for my family. I make sure to harbor realistic expectations though, or else it becomes  a source of stress and a reason to mentally beat myself up because I tend to feel like I should be doing more than what I am capable of. I try to focus on just one or two areas at a time. Like seed harvesting coriander and radishes during blackberry picking season. As my children grown and I have more time to devote to food production, I'll add more plants to the garden and be able to produce and preserve more things.

I'm focusing on eating more simply too. This year I am learning about all sorts of new foods that are already present in my garden-like radish seed pods and day lilies and dandelion greens! I am also growing my own herbs like peppermint and echinacea, then drying them for use in tisanes and tea mixtures come this winter.

I've really freed myself when it comes to the art pieces I am making, too. These newest pieces fully embrace the chaos that comes from mixing elements together in completely unrestrained ways. The message I am trying to convey is when you embrace the chaos of your life, instead of always trying to control it and rid yourself of it, sometimes beautiful, happy, bright things occur.

More than anything, though, I'm making myself slow down and really open my ears, eyes and heart. I do yoga and I meditate almost every day. I enjoy the ritual of tea with honey, not just a hastily chugged, refined sugar filled cup. I make a point of looking for the moon, quietly observing the birds and bugs and bees, gazing at the stars, watching the sunset with no distractions around me and using what I already have to make love gifts for others, to entertain my kids and help them find ways to entertain themselves.

Less movies we've already seen a thousand times, and more making things together. Less Dairy Queen and more home made blender ice cream. Less whining about the things we want, and more satisfaction from feeling blessed by what we have and doing what we can to share our blessings with others.


Can you see the rainbow?

Do you see the little moon?

There are so many beautiful, joyful, peaceful, exciting, wondrous, magical and lovely things all around us, waiting for us to enjoy them, and be blessed by them, if we just open our eyes and hearts and minds and souls and spirits up to the possibilities, and to the fulfillment that simplicity brings.

So that's where I currently am. And as I move forward, that's what I hope to continue to offer you- love, laughter, hope, peace, joy, encouragement, community and creativity.

Because in an increasingly scary world, those things often feel like they are in short supply.

But, they definitely don't have to be.

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