In defense of Pinterest

It seems there’s a lot of strong opinion out there about Pinterest and its impact on everything from use of time (aka waste of time) to fueling competitive birthday parties to adding new musts to the already jam-packed to-do list of the average American woman. (Notice I’m confining my opinions and observations to the narrow borders of my own country…I haven’t been authorized to speak for all women of the world just yet.)

I was going to be productive today...

I was going to be productive today…

No doubt many of the criticisms are justified. I’ll admit it’s addicting and time-consuming to scroll through my favorite Pinterest theme pages. However, I am still in control of the clocks at my house, and that super power extends to my keyboard as well. So it is within my ability to set an alarm and limit the time I spend on Pinterest.  A little Pinterest surfing is often my reward for finishing a project or task. It doesn’t have to gobble up whole evenings or weekends.

One of my favorite things about the site is the at-a-glance appeal…I only check out a recipe or project if the image is appealing. I think this is an enormous time-saver. After all, if the finished product doesn’t look enticing, why would I waste time trying to duplicate the taste or the look? And I love the links that give great step-by-step instructions with photos…no guessing about how to do the tricky parts!

Often when I’m looking for a recipe or product I begin with Pinterest. I’m rarely disappointed…much quicker than checking out links through Google.

As to feeling that I have to decorate amazing cookies or have elaborate theme parties…well, I get to make these decisions too at my house. I understand peer pressure, and I’ve had my share of mom-guilt motivation. But I’m also able to appreciate good ideas and copy what will work for my needs without feeling that I must do everything to the nth degree. I like to think of Pinterest as an engine to fuel my creativity. Actually, a site like Pinterest is perfect for me because I have almost NO inherent creativity. But I know what I like when I see it, and I can copy like a pro! Knowing when to stop is up to me.

I read a post today about the increasing tendency to turn events into spectacle: gender reveal parties, theme parties, holiday celebrations, and biggest and most intimidating of all, engagements and weddings. No one can use every great idea, and few parties are perfect. No one needs the pressure of one-upping or living beyond means to achieve. That’s no fun at all. When the details of the party become the focus more than the birthday child, or decisions about wedding arrangements create stress and tears, something is certainly wrong.

I’m all in favor of reflection, introspection, and honest confrontation here. I’ll admit, as a mom, as a wife, as a woman, I’ve sometimes been guilty of acting out of pride and perfectionism. But the scenario I picture in the planning stage doesn’t always hold up in the light of reality.

Hopefully I’m wiser as well as older now, and I’ve pretty much given up pursuit of perfection if it includes humans of any sort. And now when a dinner flops in a spectacular way, or my holiday dazzle doesn’t quite achieve the double spread gloss of a Southern Living magazine feature, I’m still content. I’ve learned to value the heart beyond the image, and to know that trying and intention count at least as much as any result I could pin on a Pinterest board.

Naughty, naughty!

Naughty, naughty!

So, to my fellow Pinners…let me encourage you to be mindful about this amazing tool. It can be a wonderful source of inspiration and delight. But remember, if you are fortunate enough to live with other humans…short ones, tall ones, young or old…they’ll likely derail your carefully laid plans, and your photos may not be perfect either. You’ll likely not finish all the crafts you plan for the holidays; your amazing new dish may look nothing like the exotic photo you tried to copy.

Never mind: all is well! It’s all about learning from others, enlarging our creative borders to try things we hadn’t thought of for ourselves. And it’s about coming to terms with messy reality: looking around at the kids you love; the person who sometimes is your soulmate and sometimes is just a fellow warrior in the battlefield; the home that isn’t perfect, but is yours, warts and all, and knowing that you love it anyway.

Not sure how to capture that image for a Pinterest pin, but that’s the one I would be most proud to share with the world.

New and Improved

I’ve made a few changes to my routines this year. These are deliberate choices, mind you, things I am attempting to improve.

I’ve given up my Franklin-Covey planner, which I’ve kept for 20+ years, and transitioned to a digital calendar. THIS WAS NOT EASY! As a list maker, and someone who loves to record my to-dos, I don’t get quite the same satisfaction from digital planning as I did from my paper version. But I finally made myself do it. I finally faced the reality that I was duplicating my efforts, and continuing to lug around a physical planner every day, when I could list everything once in my phone calendar and be done with it. And wagging my phone around is not optional. I know I’m always going to have my phone along for the daily parade of adventures.

I’m wearing a pedometer. I tried this once before, a few years ago, but didn’t stick with it. I’m trying to be more conscious of how many steps I walk each day. This handy guide comes from

1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index”

2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.”3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered “somewhat active.”

4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active”.

5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active”.

It helps to get a more accurate picture of how much I’m moving on days I’m not working out. So far I’ve remembered to wear it more than not, and haven’t lost or washed it (yet).

I’m taking more nutritional supplements. I’ve been really good about taking a couple of specific supplements for years, but have been really bad about adding others that are beneficial. Mostly, I don’t want to choke down a lot of horse pills every day. Now I take flax seed oil in a capsule, Osteo Bi-Flex (my mom assures me this is a good one!); calcium (Rob warns me that my bones will be fragile one of these days), baby aspirin (thrown in as a precautionary measure), and I’ve added Vitamin D and coconut oil. I’m not on prescription medication, but surely I take enough pills every day to count for something?? Maybe I won’t have to add a lot more to my regimen.

Rob and I are trying to be more thoughtful about our phone use. No answering calls while we’re eating, or watching a movie at home, or whenever we determine that we are “off.” I’m so programmed to answer if I’m within earshot this has been really difficult for me. I really want to take control of the phone. But it pulls at me. What if someone needs me? Or has something exciting to tell me? What if, what if? Well, I’m trying. Most of my difficulty lies in the fact that I only get calls from family, at least on a regular basis. A couple of times a year my dentist’s office calls me to remind me of a cleaning, and about every six weeks I get a reminder call from the salon where I get my hair cut. That’s pretty much it. So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to miss out on a Riley update, or hearing from my son, or catching up with my mom. But as I said, I’m trying. I am slightly bigger than my iPhone, so being the one in control should be quite manageable. Most of the time. Those phones are demanding little things!

I am choosing contemplative writings or how-to guides for more of my reading. Oh, I still read my favorite blogs, and I take a peek at some other sites. But I’m trying to be more selective about what I give my time to when I can really read. When I was younger I loved novels, and although I still have several favorite authors, I find that fiction doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

I’m continuing with the great clean out. Just when I think I’m done, I find some other pocket of stuff that needs a little sorting out. I think what’s really happening is that I’m ever more willing to let go of things that I’ve kept for a long time. And that feels good! I can’t deny that a new possession or two creeps in now and then. I’m impulsive, on occasion, and I’ve been known to be overcome with the need for a new kitchen gadget. But I’m better than I used to be. I was never a true shopaholic, but I’ll admit I’ve had my moments. I consider myself to be in recovery-mode now, trying to be less materialistic and more frugal and thoughtful about buying in general, and whether I possess things, or they posses me. That is sometimes that is a difficult distinction to make, I’m sorry to say.

Upward and onward!

When you live on an island in Alaska

If you’ve ever lived on a small island, (and particularly, a place with a challenging climate…can you say rainforest?…you’ll understand, and if not, you’ll have to take my word for this…

~Every trip out is exciting!
~The Seattle airport seems like home.
~There’s so much traffic, so many people in the lower 48…
~The stores are huge!
~Groceries are CHEAP!
~I fill my gas tank about once a month in Ketchikan; we’ll be at the gas station a little more often this week.
~Aahhh…dinner options…where to eat?! Choice is a bit limited in Ketchikan.
~Time to go shopping in person instead of on line.
~Sunshine returns to summer!
~Rob can golf while we’re “south”
~We can drive from anywhere to anywhere.

Perspective: This week, it’s all a matter of place!

~The food court at the Seattle airport…


Food must-haves

The Market

Grocery time again…how does it come around so often? I make my list, because I never go without a list – that’s fatal – a sure way to come out with a cart full of essentials that have nothing to do with What’s For Dinner – you know – olives, and favorite teas, special cheese, fancy herbs and spices. You get home and realize: I just spent (fill in the blank) and have…nothing to eat. But I could garnish a fabulous salad bar, and I have a pantry full of exotic extras. So, everything goes on the list, even standards like milk and cream. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about shopping…if it’s on my list, it’s more likely to make it into my cart and out the door. No guarantees…oh no, the grocery cart is just like life…being on the list doesn’t mean I’ll actually pick up the item. If I’m with Rob I’m much better. If I’m shopping alone, I’m likely to be one of the multi-tasking people who is also on the phone strolling down the aisles. (I do make a point of being off the phone when I go through the check-out. I mean, there are limits!) Check out etiquette demands that the customer have the standard chit-chat that’s required for the process of spending amazing amounts in a few short minutes and leaving with checker and customer feeling like there was a fair exchange of produce for cyber money.

But the point of all this is…I suddenly noticed that so many of the things I now consider standard for my pantry/fridge were once unknown in my kitchen universe. Some of the change is due to exposure…you experience a taste and can’t get enough of it. Or you suddenly have access to an item that you haven’t been able to purchase in the past. Sometimes the adventure of trying a recipe that has an ingredient new to me is enlightenment enough, and I find that I have a new staple to stock.

Now I buy (on a regular basis):

~chopped dates – essential for making English Toffee Pudding dessert. I don’t make this often. But I might need to make it at any time. Best to be prepared; when you need this dessert, you NEED it.

~lemongrass – amazing flavor for Asian dishes, subtle but distinct.

~cilantro (love that taste and fragrance) – kicks up Mexican standards and Asian recipes, or just plain good in salads.

~fresh mozzarella – required for Caprese salad, and let me just say that I could eat this salad every day for the rest of my life; also perfect for a grown up grilled cheese (definition of grown up grilled cheese is multiple cheeses on a grilled panini that creates an ultimate ooey-gooey-eating experience when you take a bite…)

~ginger-peach tea – best flavor for unsweetened iced tea, my personal choice for beverage of the year.

~turbinado sugar – perfect for sprinkling on top of muffins or cookies to add a finishing touch before baking.

~Balsamic vinegar – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: good for salads, marinades, sweet and savory dishes.

~Dubliner cheddar cheese – so sharp it practically squeaks! Cannot. get. enough. of. this.

~egg beaters – an essential for Rob’s morning scramble.

~water crackers – perfect light pairing with sharp cheeses.

~small containers of gourmet ice cream – I love to get a BOGO or 2-for price and choose our favorite flavors. The small size is perfect for indulging without too much guilt, and this size has a significantly smaller freezer footprint than standard containers.

~edamame – I love these little beans, and they’re good for you. I think if you eat enough of these they actually erase the impact of cream addiction.

~Greek yogurt – so thick and luxurious!

~sparkling water – another thing I buy for Rob, when he’s not drinking “Hawaiian” water – water with various fruits diced up and added to give flavor without calories.

~rhubarb – best for fruit pies and crisps, and the best combination is rhubarb and orange. If you’re lucky enough to have a rhubarb plant you will never need to buy this again. You will have plenty to use in season, to freeze for out of season, and you may find yourself looking for unlocked vehicles to share your extra rhubarb bounty with fortunate strangers…yes, it grows at an amazing rate (at least in a rainforest).

~Bocca burgers – I can hear my son groaning now…he’s a meat snob and looks askance at anything vegetarian that masquerades as a burger. I don’t say that this replaces the classic grilled beef burger, but in a pinch, and especially if I’m eating dinner alone, it’s an easy and good alternative.

These are a few of my favorites at the market. Ten years from now, or possibly sooner, I’ll have a different list of kitchen standards. But at the moment, I’ll be feasting on these things. Hey, I know What’s For Dinner!

On the hunt

I have never been much of a window shopper. I’m more of a target-oriented buyer. I usually know when I drive to a store or a mall exactly what I’m looking for, and although I’ve been known to buy additional “found” things not on my list, I always start with knowing: knowing the goal, the store, the general price.

That’s the approach when I’m doing actual brick and mortar shopping. I am completely different when I shop on line. I may begin with a specific site and item in mind, but I wander. I click. I follow links. I get sidetracked. I end up miles from where I started, maybe with nothing, maybe with a lot more than I planned on buying. But it’s always a meandering ramble through digital space.

I find the same thing happens whether I’m looking for a shirt, a recipe, some obscure piece of information, or click on some random headline on a news site. Of course, that’s why they call it surfing. One click leads to another, leads to another, leads….

I’ll admit, I’ve spent a lot of evenings just following a trail from one link to the next, sometimes with purpose, sometimes with curiosity, but always with interest to see where I’ll land. I’ve found some of the best sites by accident. That’s the amazing thing about the internet: there’s always something more to discover, to stumble across, to appreciate. Some sites I visit often, others are a one time stop. But that’s true of real places too.

I love the personal side of the internet. It’s a technology that can isolate and separate. You don’t have to leave your home to access many things that were once available only in person. You can certainly limit your interaction with human beings…shop online, research online, bank online, make reservations online. The ever-growing ability to do for ourselves via the internet has decreased dependence on other humans in many ways.

And yet, the opposite is true too. I am an avid review reader. I rarely buy anything now without first checking out the online reviews. I read customer opinions of all types of products, restaurants, hotels; editorial reviews of books, movies, music; blogs whose writers focus on food or travel or some phase of life. You can find blogs about every subject under the sun. And most of this free and very personal opinion comes with the option to comment on the comments, to reply and have a conversation, or even multiple conversations, about the topic of the moment. How connected is that? I’ve certainly never walked around department stores quizzing other customers on their buying recommendations of a particular item in a brick and mortar store. But I can do it in a digital setting. I call that pretty personal, even if I’m not seeing the other customers face to face.

Of course, one of the great success stories of the world wide web is the social networking opportunities that abound. It seems there are never-ending opportunities to be connected. In spite of the reality that the links may be only digital…I’m in Alaska, and my Facebook friends are scattered all over the US…the relationships are real. I’ve found people I hadn’t communicated with in years.

I frequently get fixated on a particular quest and stay focused on it until I feel I’ve exhausted myself with the number of links I’m willing to investigate. (This happens a lot with recipes.) Sometimes I lose track of the original search and find I’ve veered off toward a completely new target. But that’s part of the fun too…seeing where I find myself at the end of the night. Did I find the cookie recipe I was looking for, or did I come away with the perfect pasta sauce? Did I find the out of print book I wanted, or discover that there’s a free Kindle download of some classic that is available for a mere click of the button?

Tonight I listened to a presentation on the future of electronic health records. Did you know that we are all moving toward a new age when every piece of our health information will be available across different health systems, across different technology platforms? Did you know that health care providers have to be skilled technologically as well as knowledgeable about medicine?

We’re all hunters now. Whether the hunt is for personal benefit, work related, knowledge based, or pure curiosity, every time we go online, we’re hunting. And even the digital world can be a scary place. You shouldn’t follow every link. Really. There are some frightening things and places you can visit from the comfort of your sofa.

But there’s no going back now. No, the real stores won’t go away. We’ll have a need to buy milk, and most likely, we’ll continue to do that for ourselves rather than ordering it online to be delivered to the front door. But as the world is increasingly a digital experience, there will be changes to absorb.

Happy hunting. Be careful out there. Most of all, have fun, don’t get lost, and leave yourself a breadcrumb trail to follow home.

Find of the day

So today was disappointing. May 2nd, and instead of a beautiful sunshiny day (like last Thursday…a warm postcard of a day in Ketchikan) it was chilly, rainy, gray. I had turned the heat off earlier in the week, but today, I had to flip the switch back on. It was just too cool in the house to be comfortable. Not the way to welcome May!

I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself this evening, and in a bit of random surfing, I ran across a site that celebrates the little things in life. Hey, that’s what my blog is about, at least some of the time. The truth is, it’s about whatever I want it to be about. Because, that’s right, it’s my blog. I read some of the posts, and each one brought a smile to my face. I felt my sunny side up coming back. Just because the day outside is dreary, that doesn’t mean I have to be down.

I looked around to choose what to celebrate now, this very minute. Hmmm…nothing jumping out at me…

Ok, how about this? I’m uploading Riley photos to Flickr, getting ready to make a photo book of her first year of life. Looking back at the photos is an amazing review of her little face, her rapid growth, her changing smile and emerging personality. That’s a good thing!

Or this? Made a cake, chocolate, with cream cheese frosting, and after giving away most of it, I still have a decadent piece saved to treat myself for the next few nights.

Or this? My hair has grown long enough I can pull it up in a pony tail, and my bangs are long enough that I can pull them back…ok, I know this is only of interest to me, but it’s a small personal triumph.

Or this? I’m downloading books left and right on my Kindle. What a kick!

Or this? Did a good deed Saturday. Made me feel good all the way to today!

Or this? Listened to great music all afternoon on Pandora.

Or this? Ticked off several to dos last weekend and feel ready to start the week.

Or this? Added the link to my blogroll. Take a peak for yourself. Can’t vouch for all of the content, but it seems like a great source for celebrating the good and the small. As Julie Andrews sang, “these are a few of my favorite things.”

Well, well, well…May is looking up. How about you? You don’t have to find 1,ooo things to celebrate. But how about one? Or two? Have a good time listing your own awesome things.


Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Amazon Kindle

I finally got a Kindle. I’ve had the Kindle app on my iPhone for quite a while, and have actually enjoyed using it. I wasn’t sure, initially, if reading on a small screen would be good or frustrating. I’ve primarily used my phone app for reading when I travel.

But I took the plunge, and boy, do I like the full size version. It has taken a bit of adjustment. The functions are not built into a touch screen, so after scrolling from page to page on the iPhone app via touch, I’ve had to retrain myself to use the page buttons. But overall, it’s been an easy transition. I love that it arrived in my mail box already set up for me and with all the books I had previously downloaded to my phone app already synced. My device knew me by name, before we had even been properly introduced! It was a small thing, but oh so fun, to power up and find everything installed and immediately ready to use.

And I’m off this week, taking my new slim friend along. It looks like a book in it’s new case, fits neatly inside my purse, and I’m excited to use it while I’m traveling, knowing I’m not draining my phone battery, because….I might not make it to the next outlet before my phone dies. No, no, that’s just my phone phobia at work. I’m never  really in danger of that. But what if??

I’m rapidly becoming technology woman. I have my little netbook and the charger for that. My iPhone and the charger for that. My Kindle and the charger for that. Oh, I’m so modern! See kids, I told you I was a cool mom! Or maybe I just love gadgets. Anyway, without a gaming product to my name, I have an impressive number of ways to take advantage of any electrical opportunity.

Back to Kindle: I can see upgrades coming in the future. I would love the view to be in color. I would personally prefer a touch screen. But like any technology, it’s a work in progress, and you know when you buy in that there will be updates. It’s nice when new versions are digital downloads and don’t require a re-purchase of the hardware. But even that is just part of the package that comes with all the amazing function of this technology. I look at the list of books I’ve downloaded and the ones on my wish list. To take even a small number of books traveling would quickly fill my carry-on. Then there’s always the dilemma…keep a book forever, gathering dust on a shelf, or donate it? Now I can have the best of both worlds. I’m not adding to a stack of books in my physical space, and I can keep any of the downloaded books as long as I want. Or, if I decide to delete, it takes a moment and the push of a button. Pretty easy recycling.

Amazon offers thousands of books in digital format. You can purchase the latest New York Times bestsellers, blogs, magazines (although the magazine offerings are quite limited, from what I’ve seen). You can also download, for free, many of the “classics” that have been digitized and are copyright free. It’s a nice bonus that many books that I either read long ago, or always wanted to read, are available at no charge.

I haven’t cleaned out all of the books I’ve accumulated over the years, although I’ve thinned the collection. And I will surely continue to buy books in the traditional format on occasion…some books demand physical expression, for the color, the graphics, the presence of a book. But I suspect that the times I feel the need to purchase a “real” book will be fewer and fewer.

This isn’t really meant to be a review. There are thousands of reviews of the Kindle on Amazon’s site if you want technical information, pros and cons. This is just a personal endorsement of a favorite pleasure that has been repackaged for ease of access and portability. Reading has always been my first choice of a private pass-time. And now, in this format, one small item in my purse can take the place of a whole library. Pretty amazing. Pretty wonderful!

Unconditional love or approval?

I recently read a book that was amazing. Kitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, was first published in 1996. Somehow I missed it when it came out, all those years ago, and just stumbled across it one Saturday afternoon when I was rambling in a local bookstore. I actually bought a small gift book edition, a condensed version of the full text. I found the writing moving and insightful.

I eventually discovered, when I mentioned the little book to Rob, that he had the full text edition in his books, stored in the basement. I hadn’t even realized I had read an edited version. I dug it out and read the whole thing in a few short sittings.

The book is a combination of personal reflections based on the author’s life and stories of wisdom drawn from her experience and years as a physician and counselor. There are many pearls of insight, but the one that was most meaningful to me is this:

Children can learn early that they are loved for what they do and not simply for who they are. To a perfectionistic parent, what you do never seems as good as what you might do if you just tried a little harder. The life of such children can become a constant striving to earn love. Of course love is never earned, it is a grace we give one another. Anything we need to earn is only approval.

Few perfectionists can tell the difference between love and approval. Perfectionism is so widespread in this culture that we actually have had to invent another word for love. “Unconditional love,” we say. Yet all love is unconditional. Anything else is just approval.

“Anything else is just approval.” That’s a challenging filter to pour my emotions through. Digesting this made me consider all the people in my life that I love. It can be a bit complicated to sort out all the reasons we love, and what feeds that emotion. This is not just an issue for parents and children. The principle applies to spouse, extended family, friends.

Of course the people in our lives may do things that may please us, or not. But the question is really less about what others do and more about how we respond. As a parent of young children, I always encouraged my kids to do their best. But I admit, what I often meant was “I know you can do better than that.” And the reality is that I was probably right when I had those feelings. They probably could have done better. But bottom line, the challenge was to take whatever they did and see the positive in it. Sometimes I got that, sometimes not. I believe, overall, I was able to escape being a perfectionist parent, but not because I completely understood the difference between love and approval. Maybe that was a grace that I was given, and in turn was able to extend.

It’s a fine line we walk….navigating between approval and love. Of course, I believe these two things can exist together, and should. I can choose to love, even when someone in my life is behaving in a way I don’t approve. Maybe the resolution comes when I recognize that although I may be the center of my own little universe, the people in my life are not obligated to behave in a way that I approve. No. They will make their own decisions and choices. As someone who is part of their universe, I may have an opinion about their actions. But it is my choice whether I love, or don’t love. I don’t get a choice when it comes to behavior. That’s their choice.

What about you? Are you loving the people in your life? Or just approving of them? Is there behavior that crosses the line? Spouses divorce. Rifts occur. Family members let go of others, quit speaking. I’m not saying there should be no boundaries, or that loving someone means you become a door mat. But it’s worth thinking about.  I want to be honest with myself. And I want my standard to be love, not just approval. And I hope that I’ll be given the same grace.

Pain of parting

Shoes in a shop


I’m going through a painful process as I sort and thin possessions. Yes. I am parting with some of my shoes. Imagine mournful music playing at this point.

A love of shoes is a common weakness for women. Maybe for some men, but I’ll confine myself to generalizations and stereotypes of my own gender here. I am definitely not alone in this. Visit any shoe store and the selection for women is much larger than for men. I feel very proud of myself if I only choose three or four pairs of shoes when I pack for a weekend. I’ve known some women to need a whole suitcase for shoes for a week. I quickly say to myself, “I’m not that bad!” But of course these things are all relative. My husband can’t understand why I might need multiple pairs of black shoes for a trip. But while the color may be the same, the style is different. Who would put black heels with an outfit that needs black flats?! But he never really gets these subtleties.

What I really struggle with is giving up favorite pairs of shoes. I used to love Pappagallo shoes, and had a quite a collection in my closet. Then I lost my source for buying that brand. But although I bought the last pair in the early 90s (can’t believe my son was in 1st grade at the time, that really puts this in perspective for me) I’ve never been able to give up any of them. Not that I still wear them. No, they’re dated enough that I would feel strange about that. But they’re Pappagallos! And because I have kept my shoes in their original boxes and I’m careful to wipe down and polish, even shoes from that era still look almost new. But really, I’m not stocking items for a museum. And if I’m not going to dress in vintage clothing, why am I still hauling them around?

So, I have a multi-step plan. First I pull out anything that is even remotely questionable. I can part with two pairs using this filter. Then I look again and try to determine if there are classic styles that I haven’t been wearing that I really would put back into use. You know, sometimes you just transition to newer items because they are new, not because the older things are out of style or too worn. So I determine that another two or three pairs of low heeled pumps really are wearable, and looking at online shoes stores, could have been purchased yesterday. So I was right all along about classic styles…they really do last, or come back into fashion!

So that leaves me with a dozen or so pairs of shoes that I am struggling to give up. I know, realistically, they won’t be coming back to my clothing rotation. I did get a lot of use from them at the time. Now I just have to steel myself and let go. I look at the colors and the lines of the shoes, I remember times I wore them or outfits I paired them with. Something that seemed like a routine chore is surprisingly poignant, because suddenly this is not about getting rid of old shoes at all. I’m walking through an era of my life when I was in my early 30s and I had young children. I had a different life. Rob and I were the young parents. We had a lot before us.

Now I am a grandmother of an almost-one-year-old, and I have a lot of old shoes. I have new ones too. My life hasn’t stood still. And if I have a few moments of nostalgia for the past, I can shake it off and remind myself that today is good too. But it’s funny to me how out of the blue, in a stab of realization, these gains and losses are defined all over again, and by unexpected catalysts. Who would have thought cleaning out my shoes would take me to 1st grade, or soccer games, or the office I worked in at the time? Or the trip Rob and I made to New York? Or a house I once loved?

One of my favorite quotes says, “You’re never safe from surprise till you’re dead!” Well, sitting in the middle of my closet floor, surrounded by the past, cleverly disguised as shoes, I experience surprise at how sharp and sweet the memories are. But I look again and realize that I am keeping the memories, the really sweet stuff. It’s the shoes I’m cleaning out. My heart will still be able to go back and visit those times, at moments that I choose, or need to. The scenes in my mind are still there, tucked away. But I can let go of the shoes. That’s not where I live; they’ve outstayed their welcome, and it’s time to send them on their way.

Favorite things

Film poster for The Story of Us

These are a few of my favorite things (in random order):

  1. Warm sunshine in my sunroom
  2. Loving words
  3. Rubbermaid tubs (great for boxing and storing)
  4. Macadamia nut cookies (Pepperidge Farm, yum!)
  5. Movies with a message – check out “The Story of Us,” an oldie but a goodie
  6. Odd serendipities – I broke a glass vase yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to part with, but didn’t really want either – I broke it accidentally; but was actually relieved to be free of it without guilt
  7. Pink tulips
  8. Little Riley’s voice on the phone
  9. Anticipation
  10. Digital books

What are your favorite things?