I’ve gotten pretty deep lately, it’s time to lighten things up! This whole “me in The Middle” process has revealed a few things.
It started with my new wardrobe.
False; it started with growing up in a family of mostly boys. I grew up tom-boy… but I didn’t know it. Compared to the boys I was girlie and I liked pink very much, but the finer gentle sides of femininity were lost on me.
When my kids fell down, I dusted the dirt off and told ‘em to get back out there. Apparently mama’s are supposed to give loves and cuddles and shush the child back to “all better.” Missed the mark there, a little spit to wipe the blood off and they were good! My kids are tough, what can I say?!
Also… apparently if a guy is making eyes at you and he’s being prodded by a buddy to come say hi… an appropriate feminine response is to tuck one’s head toward a shoulder in a coy, submissive fashion, whilst batting eyes and flicking hair, as opposed to my opened arm bellow, “I’m right here, yo!” For the record… he didn’t come over but my wing-chick and I did get offered a drink by another nice guy.
Then, there’s this inviting men to dinner thing! First of all, this is an evil unspoken rule of the male population and, somehow, though I grew up around men… this knowledge escaped me. The rule goes like this, if a woman invites you to dinner at “her” place… it implies something more than dinner is gonna be cookin!!! Who knew?! I, for one, did not! Then a kind man explained it to me. I thought it a lame rule but…
After this unspoken rule was revealed things that didn’t make sense… clicked! I thought back and realized that some of my former male students that I’d had to my house before (when I was married) suddenly couldn’t make it to dinner. Buddies who were otherwise pretty normal got weirded out by the invitation. I didn’t have that issue with any lady students or friends. I realized the rule was a thing!! I was MORTIFIED that I’d been giving that impression.
Then it got worse! A close friend “assumed” I was sleeping with a guy. How could that assumption be made about me?! I’ve done my best to make it clear to everyone my choice is to be abstinent right now for myself and for my faith. I don’t want to give that impression, and yet apparently I was. I got mad because I thought it was lame that I couldn’t invite men over to my house for dinner but then I thought about it and realized who I WASN’T inviting for dinner... None of the guys I date ever come for dinner! Ok, well, one did after quite a while and nothing happened, my boys can attest to it. But it made me realize that maybe I also “knew” the rule but only employed it with certain males, I'm still pondering the "why" of that one.
So, I'm learning to give more loves and less spit cleans, to bat my eyes instead of challenging a man to ask for my number and to not invite men to my house for dinner!
Back to the wardrobe... As my divorce finalized and I entered into The Middle I wanted to define myself in a way that said, “I’m not going to wallow in self-pity any longer!” I asked my girl-friend with amazing style and flair to help me. She graciously accepted, sat down on my oversized couch, patted the cushion beside her, and when I sat, asked what style I was going for. I told her I wanted to look pretty like her, she said she wanted to clarify because I had a sort of tough-girl theme going on with what I wore. We went through my wardrobe and threw out most of the dark colors and stark, straight lines.
She took me shopping (a thing I loathe but have decided I need to do at times because minimalist doesn't necessarily equate to cheap). She outfitted me in florals and frills and color and flowy things that made my heart sing. After sporting my new look for a couple weeks I overheard a cubicle conversation, the gist of which was that, yes, I really have come into a more feminine version of myself but… “She still does have boyish tendencies, doesn’t she?” one co-worker joked. They all giggled in their girlish way and I told them in a very un-girlish way that I was right there and could totally hear them… they just laughed louder.
I guess, the moral of this little blog post is… you can put me in flowers and pastels but I’ll always be a little boyish and tough. But y’all know you love me... and, anyway, I can still flex in ruffles so there!
I spent hours last weekend talking to some amazing guys. Two men in particular Dan, a supporter of “Save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront” and Jeff an adventurous, goal-setter who just finished a six-month thru hike on the Pacific Crest Trail were especially inspiring and talkative. I enjoyed very much listening to them share what they know. Their stories, their passion and willingness to do things and protect the land were inspirational, invigorating and enlightening. I am humbled that men like these would give time to an inquisitive soul such as my own. They patiently answered my questions about their passions and accomplishments. Their stories and actions are worthy of being told and here is my little attempt to honor the things they have done and are still doing (although there will be more than just this about my PCT traveling friend).
On Saturday I attended an informational potluck to save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront. http://www.savepeshastinmillwaterfront.org/ This ¾ mile stretch of riverfront property is the last, longest piece of property that could be publicly owned along the Wenatchee River. Lacey Price coordinated and hosted an exquisite night of community gathering and information sharing about the Complete the Loop Coalition's vision to purchase the land and keep it available to the public in perpetuity. I came prepared for the event with my trusty notebook of questions which I had spent the last two weeks formulating with the help of other community members. In the end Bob Parlette was able to answer most of my questions about the Coalition's vision for the property, but Dan, probably because we were both helping at the ticket table all night, was the one who shared the most.
Dan is a retired veteran and I think he has an energy level that rivals my own. He has a knowledge base about our community and the piece of land in question that left me awed. He was quick and ready in second to answer any question anyone had about the project. Dan grew up fishing the very stretch of property that the Coalition is trying to preserve for the public. He is so passionate about keeping the area accessible that he devotes time, energy and service to save the land. For himself? No, not really. It was obvious in talking to him that he's a visionary. He is there for future generations as much as himself. He sees their need to have primitive lands to enjoy and is willing to sacrifice pieces of himself for them. It was an honor to spend that time in the presence of a man of his character.
Then came Sunday and a phone call that lasted nearly three and a half hours and still could have gone on longer. Treehouse, that's his trail name, finished hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. He's young full of life, strength and passion to see the world and test the limits of his own body. More than that, he sets goals and sticks to them. Not only has this guy hiked the PCT, he was the fifteenth person to circumnavigate Florida… in a kayak! The enthusiasm in his voice as he talked about his adventures and plans was palpable. For the second time in as many days I was in awe of a man and his deeds.
Like the older gentlemen of the night before, Treehouse is a man of action. He sets his mind to something and does it. His execution of the hike took a little longer than he planned but he made all 2600 miles of the trip and had some fun “side-trips” as well. Throughout the conversation he deflected compliments, humbly stating that adventure seeking was just what he did. But it's not just what he does. Treehouse also works with high-risk youth in middle grades. He is eager to share his passion and love of nature with a younger generation… and with older people like me. He had an answer for almost every question I asked and shared so many stories from along the trail.
The story of his trip down Mather Pass speaks to how quickly the weather can change everything about your plan. It was cold at the top… too cold and a storm had blown in with thunder and lightening. He was ready to come down as quickly as he could so he started to blaze a trail straight down the mountain instead of using the switchbacks that would take too much time to traverse. Treehouse said he seldom hiked without music in his ears (he admits he's especially fond of 80s ballads) and he had the volume up loud as he plowed down the trail. Through the blaring music, he thought he heard heavy thunder but when he turned to look back, he realized it was more than just noise. As best he can tell, the force of the thunder must have shaken some rocks loose and he had to take refuge behind a boulder while mountain flung debris down.
I am grateful for every story and minute he gave. He shared his experiences with me and now I know more about trail magic and the physical and mental challenges I'll face when I go someday. More than that I was struck once again at what an honor it was to spend time with a man of action. They are all around me, young men like Treehouse, working to conquer daring physical and mental feats; making me feel like an old mother listening to stories I would be proud to hear my own son tell someday. They are older, like Dan, and the Coalition board members, working to conquer commercialism and consumerism that might forever rob the world of primitive land; making me feel like I was twenty again with their comments about “young people” my age.
Not only were these weekend conversations enlightening, they were a contrast of age and ways to leave a mark on the world and also a confirmation of what I have been learning this year. Good men are active and present everywhere, they are respectable and honorable, they do things and are passionate about what they believe … and they are humble. They will not bring honor to themselves even though they are so deserving of it. And so… they have graciously allowed me the opportunity to talk about their adventures and plans and I hope I have done them all justice. Cheers to the men of my weekend!"
I'm faced with homelessness. Don't worry, it's not that bad. If I wanted to I could uproot my child from his school and pull my soul away from the city I love and find a place somewhere else but I am a stubborn something else of a woman and I really, really, really want to stay in Leavenworth...in town… on a sidewalk. So, instead of taking a living arrangement in another city I'm holding out for something here. I'm running out of time, though. My landlords want me out when my lease is up. I have exactly 24 days to find something or … potentially be homeless until I do.
This is where my stuff becomes a burden. We have places to stay until something pops up... but what about the stuff? What do I do with it? This is a question I've been struggling with and now I'm in emergency mode. I have to get a storage unit but thinking about paying to store stuff makes me sick to my stomach. Aren't storage units the epitome of being a spoiled rotten over consuming American???? I mean no offense to anyone else, to each their own, but I, at a primal level, DO NOT want to be this person and yet I have all this stuff I have been left with and nowhere to put it.
Here's the back story:
I've called myself a minimalist for quite a while. I like to not over use or consume or waste. Furthermore, if I'm truly honest, I'm just plain cheap, I hate wasting money on stuff (although I can totally justify spending it on running events and concerts so… yeah…). Because of this most of the stuff I have is second-hand, hand-me-down, well used, worn out and what most Americans would probably consider junk, and I do not love it enough to store it.
Now, with no where to go, my minimalism is put to its biggest test… what do I keep, how much do I purge?
I had a sale this weekend and sold most of the filler goods and furniture I once owned (or gave them to my daughter). I have little left. It's scary, it's kinda sad but… it's OK. I don't need to pay to store stuff that carries with it memories of a life I once had. I need a new beginning.
In paring down the things I have, I've researched the minimalist movement and I like it! For the most part I've been embarrassed to admit I'm a minimalist, now I don't feel so alone. Minimalists are people too. We have have feelings and we value people, experience and life just as much as anyone else, we just don't see it in stuff as much as in people and community. From this day forward I am going to make a more concerted effort to be unashamed of my minimalist tendencies. I do wonder though how a person with a “gifts” love language views the minimalist lifestyle. Could someone with a gifts love language embrace minimalism? I would welcome feedback on this topic from “gifts” people.