WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: PART TWO

 

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WASTE NOT, WANT NOT:  PART TWO

Of my 61 previous posts, the one that has come back to me the most often in ripples from readers was Waste Not, Want Not (January 14th).

I have long considered writing a Part Two as a follow-up, and when I received this tea towel in the mail this week from my friend Bridget, I knew it was time:

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I wish I had counted the number of people who have told me they think of me every time they use a paper towel.  I’m glad I admitted this idiosyncrasy.  Perhaps it is not so strange after all.

I have had several other people come clean about their miserly habits.  I thought I was the only person who ever did this:

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Then I got a picture from someone I didn’t even know who does the same thing.  His mother reads the blog, and she knew he did this, too.  She had him send it to me.

Suzanne said she does it, too.  Gail confessed that she does it to lotion bottles, and toothpaste tubes as well.  I don’t remember learning that one at home, but all three of us do it.

Suzanne and I were discussing other money-saving habits we have.  I did this in college, but I have decided I can afford to leave this one behind.  I was careful then to buy the ones made of paper and not plastic, so that I could easily snap them in two.  I still buy the paper ones, but I no longer break them in half.  I’m guessing Suzanne could afford not to do this as well now, but old habits die hard…

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Gail simply uses both ends before she throws them away.

I learned the hard way it’s okay to re-use plastic silverware, but PLEASE don’t put them in the dishwasher.  The heat cracks them, and then they easily break.  My experience could have been disastrous, but it was averted.  One of the fork tines broke off in my mouth, and it could have been deadly.

Suzanne’s disaster was costly, much more costly than simply throwing them away and buying new plastic silverware.  One of the tines broke off a plastic fork and created a dishwasher disaster, creating the need to call a repairman.  Again, it would have been much cheaper to simply throw it away buy new plastic silverware.

But that would cost a dollar or two…

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Old habits die hard.  After the first Waste Not post, I tried to loosen up.  I watched in horror as one of my son’s friends pulled off a long string of perhaps four or five sections of paper towels just to dry his hands.  I’m sure my face showed how aghast I was, but I didn’t say anything; I didn’t want to embarrass my son.  I wanted to loosen up about this; I really did.  So, I experimented with using more paper towels in a more liberal fashion, trying to let go of the taboo of using them generously.

No way.

That one is not going away.  As a child, they were an expensive commodity.  Now, all three of us can afford to use them however we choose, but we continue to choose to use them sparingly.   Mom and Dad taught us well.

We used everything sparingly because we had to.  We no longer have to watch our spending that closely, as evidenced by my patterns of spending.  I realize the dissonance between this practice of frugality, and the excessive clothing and jewelry purchases I make.  I feel it, I know it; I realize my patterns don’t align.

Yet I continue to do it.  I am trying.  I truly am.  I am making progress, but it will likely always be a work in progress.

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I just re-read Waste Not, Want Not– January 14th.   I was reminded of the commitment I made to myself in writing for the world to see that I was actively and passively working on getting rid of stuff.  Stuff, both material and non-material.  Then, I re-read Time for Letting Go, Part Two.  Again, I reminded myself that I have publicly proclaimed my efforts to purge stuff.  I had already decided, once again, to accept the one-month challenge to give away/throw away/donate one thing on the first of the new month, two things on the second of the month…This time, I decided to determine the grand total—465 things for the 30 days of November—and purge accordingly by the end of the month.

So far, on the morning of the 4th of the month, I have purged 97 things.  Things like old pens and markers I no longer use–as well as the container they were in.  Someone else can put them to better use.

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The beautiful clock that no longer works.  I finally had to concede to that reality after changing the battery—again—and setting it back an hour this morning.

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And the widowed earring that lost its mate years ago on a theater floor.  It likely isn’t coming back. It’s about letting go of things small and large, and letting go of ties to the past.

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Books.  I’m like a crazy cat lady with books.  I have several hundred, and they are all special to me. They are a part of me, and when I adopt one, I rarely let it go.  However, I realized perhaps there were people who could gain more from these books than I could as they sat on the shelf, likely never to be picked up again.  There is someone out there who could take better care of them than I do, even if it is a cool cookbook by a woman with a cool name.  I haven’t cooked from it in years; it’s time for it to go.

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My owl collection was so 2017 for me, so I let it go.  Again, someone else will adopt them and take better care of them than I could.

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The good news is, I’m on a roll.  The bad news is, I haven’t yet made a dent.  I feel a bit lighter, but no one else will notice—yet.  No one, meaning my minimalist husband.  God bless him for that, and for his patience with my non-minimalism.

Wasting not and wanting not truly do go hand in hand.  The more stuff I get rid of, the more I want to keep going.  (I know my husband is over-the-top thrilled at these words as he reads them.  He has been gone all weekend and has no idea what I am up to.)  It makes me want to bring less in, and wisely use what I already have without waste.  Action begets action, and I have been going strong all weekend.

Like paper towels.

And it reinforces my eco-friendly, Mother Nature-loving practices like hanging out my laundry, which I did this morning, even though it was only 46 degrees.  It will get warm enough to dry them; the northwest wind will see to that.

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The dryer generates heat, and that costs money.  I dried the tea towel gift on the line after I washed it, and it was wrinkled.  So, I ironed it to make it look spiffy and crisp for the picture, which, of course, generated heat, thus counting against my clothesline savings.

I feel my mother’s gentle presence as I hang out my laundry, perhaps that’s the biggest reason I keep doing it.  She, too, loved to hang out the laundry.

Gail reported to me that she conserves in a manner I don’t, and likely never will:  If she is the only one drinking it, she reheats her coffee from the previous day if it is left.  I am a fresh coffee snob; I need it newly-brewed and freshly flavorful in order for me to savor it, as I do each morning.

Suzanne doesn’t yet drink coffee, but Gail and I still have hope that she will one day see the light, and savor the flavor.

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Suzanne doesn’t have much to contribute this week because she is the material minimalist, eco-friendly, non-consuming sister and citizen.  Gail and I keep trying to take notes from her, but we are wired a bit differently.  The important thing is that we keep trying.  And, with Suzanne’s influence and gentle coaxing, there is hope for both of us.

Gail has agreed to purge 465 things by the end of November.  I don’t think Suzanne owns 465 things, and that is a good thing.  Therefore, she will not be participating in this challenge.

I’ll call it fall cleaning.  Kind of like spring cleaning, but in the fall.  While I had the house to myself this weekend, I not only purged, I actually dusted.  As in, I picked up the things on the shelves and table, dusted them, and dusted the surfaces.  It’s been awhile.  As I examined each thing, I questioned my need to keep them.  I asked myself these two questions that I asked myself in the last sweeping round of purging I wrote about:

1:  Would I take this with me if I moved?  (Suzanne’s good idea.)

2:  Does it make me feel good?

I was surprised to find myself discarding a few things that, in fact, made me a little blue.  Perhaps a sentiment that turned sour, a heaviness that wasn’t necessary.  Or maybe it was just an ugly, useless thing.

So now they’re in the donation box.

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My friend Bridget who sent me the tea towel has been with me since graduate school in the early 1990’s.  She is a bit older, and a lot wiser.  In one of our many discussions, she told me this nugget that didn’t shine like gold until many years later.  Forgive me, Bridget, if these are not your exact words, but this is the message I took away that has become profound for me.  It went something like this:

We all have holes inside we try to fill up. Try to figure out what those holes are and what you are putting in them.  You may be able to fill them with good things instead of not-so-good things, or perhaps nothing at all.”

Thank you, Bridget, for the tea towel, but especially for the wisdom.

Please take her wisdom with you from this post.

And please, try not to fill up those holes with useless things–or paper towels.  That would be a waste.

 

 

 

 

TIME FOR LETTING GO: PART TWO

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TIME FOR LETTING GO:  PART TWO

In August, we said goodbye to our college kids in Time For Letting Go:  Part One.  I called it Part One because I was already saying another goodbye and planning Part Two in my mind for a future post.

Or perhaps instead of saying “another goodbye,” I should say I was saying “other goodbyes;” plural vs. singular.

Goodbyes that turned out to be joyous releases, not sad ones.  Goodbyes that were probably meant to be said a long time ago.

On August 1st, I accepted a challenge Gail posed to me long ago, a challenge that I didn’t accept then, but decided to accept now.  She and I both decided to accept it now.

Suzanne didn’t need to accept it, probably couldn’t accept it.  She didn’t have 497 material objects she could part with.  Gail and I did—and then some.  Suzanne was already living bare-bones, and Gail and I needed to take a cue from her.

Recall in Lessons From the Sea Creatures—And My Sister, that I packed way too much stuff for the Florida trip with Suzanne and her daughter Julia in July.  Recall that I was lugging my way-too-heavy carry-on bag through the airport while Suzanne and Julia breezed down the airport corridors en route to our gates as weightless as feathers.   Recall that (at least) three kind strangers rushed to catch up with me to give me back the things they picked up that had fallen out.

Recall that I look up to Suzanne in many ways, one of them is because she is a minimalist.

On August 1st, I got rid of one thing.  On August 2nd, I got rid of two things.  On August 3rd, I got rid of three things.  You get the idea.  By the end of August, I should have been on schedule to get rid of 497 things.

I gave them away, threw them away, sold them or recycled them.  I gifted some, I returned some recent purchases, and I donated some.

By mid-August, I stopped counting.  And I kept going.  It felt too good to stop.

Big things like the broken wicker basket.  Little things like a stray golf tee.  Pairs of things like socks—they counted only as one.

Extra things like coffee mugs.  Ugly things like the totem pole that sat in the corner of my room for years.  Pretty things like the scarf that my friend liked more than I did, so I gave it to her.  Useful things like pens—I simply had too many.  Useless things like an old phone charger.

Bags of things like clothes that I wore perhaps once a year—perhaps 30 pieces of clothing or so.  My delightful step-daughter-in-law Lindsay is a willing recipient of many of my cast-offs; she and I have roughly the same size and same tastes.  Either I am hip and cool, or she is mature and matronly in her tastes.  Or maybe I should meet in the middle and call us both classy.  Either way, we like many of the same styles and same brands, so we are a good clothes-swapping pair of women.

Soon, perhaps even by the time I finish writing this post, she will be able to wear most of her old wardrobe again—as well as the new ones, because she is due to deliver our second grandchild any moment.

We are so fortunate to be able to share their lives in such close proximity, just 100 miles down road.   Now back to business.

Unbeknownst to Suzanne, and also in honor of Suzanne, Gail and I made a pact that we would indeed purge at least 497 things.  We did this primarily to get rid of stuff, junk, crap—whatever, but also to honor her minimalism.  We both look up to her—the little sister—in this respect, as well as many others.  We want to honor her because she is honorable in many ways.  We thank her for her good example to her older sisters, who, at least in this manner, are not wiser.

I must make it abundantly clear that it is not in my nature to be a minimalist, nor is that the effect I am trying to achieve.  I must be honest to all of you in saying that this was really hard for me—at least at first.  And, I must be honest in saying that—sigh—this really hasn’t made a dent.  Just ask my husband.

But I continue.

I purged 36 books, and books are next in line in importance to my family in my heart.  That was hard. I parted with a few CDs too; they are next in line after the books.

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I should have buckled up these bags of books in the back seat–they are precious cargo, just like my children.  They made it to the thrift store safely.

And the clothes.  What was too hokey for Lindsay, I needed to realize may have been too hokey for me as well.   Someone, perhaps, will like them.  That vest that I looked at several months ago and thought I can never let that go, today became that is the ugliest vest I have ever seen. 

Shoes—I don’t need all those shoes.  I refuse to tell you how many pairs I had/still have, but I have parted with five pair.

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Most of my home-health patients are relatively short-term; 1-2 months tops.  Some, however, I keep for a longer term due to various factors.  One such delightful patient has an equally delightful wife—we’ll call them James and Lucy—whom I’ve gotten to know quite well with frequent visits since early this year. We chat throughout our sessions, and I told them about this challenge.  Lucy thought it sounded like a good idea, thought about it for a few days, then took off like wildfire with it.  She told her sister about it too, and she was on board.

Every visit, we would discuss the day of the month, how many things we should have ridded ourselves of and how we likely exceeded that number.  She kept me motivated, and I thank her for that.  She, too, stopped counting, finished out the month, and kept going.  Their home already appeared to belong to minimalists, but she said the basement was full.  It was always neat, tidy and clean.  I thanked her for that too—I told her I would eat off her carpet, and I meant it.  I doubted she had that much stuff to get rid of, but she assured me that directly below us was a basement full of stuff, waiting to be purged.

I could write a book about all the homes I have been in during my career in home health therapy—perhaps 300 or so.  I have seen everything from minimal and tidy, to full-on hoarding.  Most are somewhere between.  Most are comfortable and welcoming, some are scary.  In the scariest home, I came home and threw my clothes away.  That’s one way to get rid of stuff.

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My parents moved off the farm in 2000 into a small house in town.  They got rid of everything except the bare essentials, and special things from us.  That was a gift to us, because when it was time to clean out their house, it was still hard, but as simple as it could possibly be.  I will be forever grateful to them for that.

I come home from some home visits and feel motivated to get rid of more stuff.  I see what I don’t want to become; what I don’t want to leave my children with.

I saw James and Lucy today, and Lucy continues to inspire me to get rid of more.  “It’s time for the season to change.  Time to purge more stuff.”

Thank you James and Lucy.  You both inspire me.

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Speaking of books, I did write one several years ago.  I kept all the first drafts in print:  corrected, edited, trashed, changed or otherwise.  I thought that someday, it would be interesting to re-read them to see just how much I’ve grown as a writer.

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Why, I now asked myself, would I plan to bring myself down like that in the future?  Why would I want to grimace at my novice writing skills, and my obvious mistakes?  I wouldn’t, I decided, so I got rid of the whole box (it only counted as one thing).  Now, the (almost) error-free version is available on Amazon, if you would like to check it out.

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Jettison: to throw or drop something from an aircraft or ship; to throw away as no longer useful.

I included this word and definition in Lessons from the Sea Creatures—and My Sister, and proceeded to put in writing that I was committing to jettisoning some of my possessions at home.  I said that I was trying to recognize some of the patterns in my brain that lead me to repeat futile actions, such as accumulating more stuff.

Since I try very hard to be a woman of my word, and because I put it in print for the world to see, I kept my word.  I went home from that trip in late July and began the quest on August 1st.  I haven’t stopped.

Just today, I have jettisoned the following items from my home:

*the stinky lotion in the pretty bottle

*the paisley curtain I will never use

*2 aprons–I have several others

*4 stained and/or torn tea towels.  I sent them to the rag box in the shop.  That counts.

*the sponge in the shower—I thought it was his; he thought it was mine

*2 beautiful pieces of blue glassware—I offered them to my neighbor because she likes blue more than I do.  She can pass them on if she doesn’t want them.

*a meaningless refrigerator magnet—I have plenty of others

Gail was busy today too.  She made two piles, and donated them to her local thrift store:

 

 

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You get the idea.  Large or small, new or old, useless or useful, these things needed to leave my home, and Gail’s too.

Greater than that, the act of purging keeps my brain thinking in that direction.  It keeps refreshing my eyes to look at possessions with this question in mind:  Do I really need that?

I follow two guidelines, one provided by each sister:

1:  From Suzanne, because she recently experienced a move:  If I were moving, would I take it along?

2:  From a plaque on the wall in Camp Gail:  It must make me feel good.

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This means that, even if it was a gift from Aunt Madge or my friend Sally, I don’t have to keep it if it doesn’t bring good vibes.  Or even a gift from Gail or Suzanne.  We made a pact that it’s okay to pass it on if it’s time.  Or, if I spent too much money on those jeans, but they aren’t comfortable, they’re history.

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Less is more, and less is also less.  In this case, less is good.  Not only does my brain look for more material things to lighten its load, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I possess other non-material things I don’t need to hang on to.  This is how my brain works, and if you are open to it, yours just might too:

Getting rid of that old heavy coat can make you realize that you don’t need to keep that heavy grudge either.  Perhaps they didn’t even know they hurt you.

Letting go of that ugly sweater can dismiss that ugly regret too.  Neither of them are serving a purpose anymore, if they ever did.

Those worn-out shoes served their purpose too, as did that worn-out friendship.  Like shoes, not all friendships are supposed to last forever anyway.

Expired mayonnaise will make you feel about as good as that expired romance.  Get rid of them both.  I had a few in my single years; trust me on this one.

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Suzanne, unaware that Gail and I were conducting an ongoing purge in her honor, continues to purge useless stuff.  She and I talked about having a garage sale, but never fully committed.  She had a Friday off work several weeks ago, and I kept the day open just in case we decided to throw our stuff together and have garage sale at the last moment.

Knowing the life is short secret, we opted instead to take a field trip one hour south to Hutchinson, Kansas, home of a famous salt mine that stores Hollywood memorabilia.  Below, like a good Kansas Girl, Suzanne is posing next to Dorothy II from the movie Twister.  Along with many other props from many other movies–including some original movies reels, it is stored there for dry, safe keeping.

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We lunched at our favorite Mexican Restaurant, and shopped at my favorite store:  TJ Maxx.  Yes, I did bring home more stuff, but less than I would have, had I not undertaken this effort.  I had several things in my cart that didn’t pass the would you take this with you if you moved/does it bring me good vibes test, so I put them back.  Having Suzanne there was a good reminder to ask myself that question.  Seeing her empty cart helped too. Unbeknownst to her, she was passively policing my purchases, and I thank her for that.

I know myself well enough to know that, at least not at this point in my life, I won’t completely give up on bringing more stuff in my house.  Whether it is from a garage sale or TJ Maxx, there are certain things I like to buy.  I am more careful now when I make that decision, and I am bringing home less, which is actually more.  I am more careful now when I consider the usefulness of things in my home.

We took our potential garage sale stuff and gave it to a charitable thrift store.  Hopefully, someone else will find treasures in everything we jettisoned.

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November 1st is several days from today.  Consider giving up one thing.  Then, on November 2nd, give up two things.  On November 3rd

Thank you Suzanne for your inspiration, and to Gail for challenging me and joining me as well.  Thanks also to Lucy—and her sister—for keeping me motivated to continue. 

Thanks also to my minimalist husband Mark; he has infinite patience with me and my stuff.  

Lessons From My Sister–And The Sea Creatures

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LESSONS FROM MY SISTER—AND THE SEA CREATURES

I sat sweltering and sweating, but savoring the sun and steam at the beach with Suzanne and her daughter, Julia.  The waves rolled in, crashed, ebbed and flowed, high-tided and low-tided, drug in seaweed, reflected the sun and the moon and then did it all over again.   All the while, the sea creatures did their thing too.  And then did it all over again.

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We made it to the beach again—safely.  Just as Suzanne said we would.   Our plane didn’t crash—just as she said it wouldn’t.  I need to listen to my little sister more.    I need to look up to her more.

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There were three kind strangers behind me in the airport who picked up my things as they fell out of my bag and caught up to me to give them back.

These should have been my first three clues.

My carry-on bag was obviously overstuffed, and losing its contents.  I struggled to carry it in my arms as I wheeled my suitcase along, so I tried to strap it to the handle of my wheeled bag.

Suzanne glided along smoothly, with her light load, consisting of a (smaller) wheeled suitcase, and a small, over-the-shoulder carry-on.  Julia had an equally small wheeled bag, and a small backpack on her back.

I had seven books packed in there.  I had snacks.  I had my jewelry holder.  I had water, which, of course, had to be drank before security.  I had my Kindle.  I had other stuff.  Too much stuff—obviously.

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Jettison:  to throw or drop something from an aircraft or ship; to throw away as no longer useful.

I am a self-proclaimed word nerd; I wear the badge proudly.  This particular word was the word-of-the-day not long ago on my calendar, and it quickly came to mind.  As I walked through the airport with this ridiculous load in tow, this word wouldn’t leave my mind.

I watched my little sister advancing easily along toward our gate.  Her 21 year-old daughter did the same.  I, however, struggled.  I, however, signed up for this.  I didn’t expect their help.  I did expect Suzanne to tell me I didn’t need all this stuff.  She did, and she was right.

Unlike Gail and me, Suzanne is a minimalist.  Gail and I strive to be more like her, but so far, it’s not working.

When Suzanne moved to my small city about six months ago, she jettisoned many of her possessions.  She sold or gave away much of what she owned, and started over—minimally.  Gail and I have been collecting stuff, and living in our homes 20 and 21 years respectively.  We want to be like Suzanne when we grow up.

Perhaps it is her minimal nature.  Perhaps it is her experience with cancer that made her realize she doesn’t need stuff. Perhaps it is both.

Perhaps she feels at one with the sea because the sea offers that same lesson to anyone willing to listen.  All one really needs on the sea is a minimal amount of clothing.  The creatures of the sea also offer that same lesson.   They may or may not carry a shell on their back, and sometimes they shed that.

…but the sea does not change.”  These lyrics were the first to come through my earbuds after I turned on my iPod (name that 80’s tune, if you can) as I started my morning run on the third of our four mornings there.

I don’t believe in “coincidences,” so I will take it as something meaningful.

I should have left the iPod in the room and listened to the crashing waves, because I can listen to music any other day.  These precious few days here are the only ones I can tune in to the ocean.  Ocean music trumps 80’s music—or any music for that matter, but, like so many other habits, I rely upon my daily patterns, this one with music to get me running.

Another habit I engage in during my daily run at home is the mental lamentation of my left knee pain.  I know the point as I take off down the driveway when it starts, I know the downhills hurt more and the uphills hurt less, and I focus on the exact spot inside my knee where the pain resides.

Except today.  I wasn’t in that daily groove like I am at home, so I didn’t think about it.  And there were no hills on the beach.

And it didn’t hurt nearly as much.

The sea does not change, but I did.

I know the power of the brain.  My day job is in the field of brain rehabilitation.  I know how habits are formed.  I know how patterns in the brain are made.  And I know they can be changed, starting with conscious awareness of them, followed by simply thinking differently about them, then ultimately acting differently.

I have some nasty habits, some patterns that should have been turned around long ago; some that should never have been started in the first place.

So I started looking around here on the seashore.  There before me was a wealth of learning opportunities, lessons from the sea and its creatures waiting to be learned.  In the spirit of keeping my 51 year-old brain in better shape than my left knee, I am always up for taking in new information, no matter how or where I can find it.

SEA TURTLES:  I didn’t see any sea turtles, but I know at least one had been there, and more would soon proliferate there.   A female Loggerhead Sea Turtle had crawled ashore and buried her eggs in the night, and returned to the sea.  The rule on the beach is that sea turtle nests are not to be disturbed—under penalty of law.   The nests are roped off, monitored, sponsored, studied and revered.

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When the buried eggs hatch, they climb out of the nest and go toward the light.  Hopefully, this light is the moon reflecting on the sea, and they crawl back in.   To minimize the chance that they will go toward artificial light instead of the sea, beachfront property owners are urged to keep their lights down because the baby turtles will not survive long if they go the wrong way.

Following the true light is a survival matter.  So it is with humans too, but we can survive longer than the sea turtles in the darkness if we choose to follow that.  Except that the darkness is the wrong way, and too often we don’t listen to those forces that try to guide us into the right light.

SEAHORSES:  I have long had a fascination with seahorses.  Julia does too.

In my work with the brain—and as a word nerd, I latch on to the cool words that describe its structures and functions.  Hippocampus is one such word.   It is the structure largely responsible for memory.  It is shaped like, and named after the seahorse, as hippocampus is the species name of the seahorse.

The male seahorse takes it upon himself to gestate and give birth.  Having been the star of Act One in the delivery room twice, I have a respect for him that is beyond words.

Both seahorse sexes shake it up a little bit and swim vertically as well horizontally.  I like any person or creature who goes against the grain, and I try to examine the grains of every social fabric before I go with it or against it.  Even if everyone else is doing it, it might not be right for me.

Seahorses aren’t easily found on this beach, and we weren’t lucky enough to find one. Julia, however, did find one on a trip to Mexico with her mother four years ago, and she has been fascinated ever since.   To commemorate this creature and this trip, I found this necklace in a cool little shop called Landing Company.

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In celebration of Suzanne’s five-year cancer survival, she deserved her own special piece of jewelry.  With the capable, kind and personalized attention from the amazing jewelry lady Dawn, we were able to find the perfect necklace in Landing Company, something Suzanne truly wanted—and she doesn’t want for much.  It was a beautiful silver image of her favorite sea creature:

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THE MERMAID:  Don’t bother telling Suzanne they are not real, because she has chosen to believe they are.  She has a new-found fascination with this mythical (real?) creature, and to show her just how happy I am to still have her with us, I put it on my tab with the seahorse necklace.

The mermaid is noted to have powers of telepathy and immortality.  Suzanne has always had an intuition that I cannot explain.  Before she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer five years ago, she consulted several doctors.  An ENT and a radiologist pronounced her without cancer, but nevertheless, she persisted.  She knew something wasn’t right, and she moved on to a doctor who found the problem, and began treatment.  Now, five years after she visibly exercised her power of telepathy, her powers of immortality have commenced.

May these powers live long, and may she continue to inspire all of us with her powers that, like the mermaid for her, are very real.

 

CRABS:  One of our favorite restaurants in this beach town is Crabby Bill’s.  Seafood is a local specialty—of course—and this spot is our favorite. I am not a crab eater, but there is a lesson to be learned from crabs.

In a bucket of crabs being harvested, if one tries to crawl out, the others will pull it back down.  No wonder they are called crabs.

Don’t hang out with crabs.   They will try to drag you down to their level.

Our host at Crabby Bill’s was Ed.  Our dad’s name was Ed.  He even has the same sweet smile that our dad had.

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We also found an old friend there from last year.  Gregg was the host we mentioned in my first blog post, and of course, he remembered us.  Gail was the one who hugged him upon his introduction last year, but he remembered us too.

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Now, because I don’t want any of you to suffer the fate that the next creature can deliver, I must bring you down for a moment.  I promise I will bring you back up.

SEAGULLS:  Recognize them for the beautiful creatures of God and Nature that they are, but beyond that, be careful.  They are takers.  They may charm and woo you with their natural beauty, but don’t be fooled:  They are there to take.  And when you give them—even a little, they will stay for more, because they already know your weakness.  They know they can get something for nothing from you, so don’t even give a little.

Leave them to their own devices and vices, because they are not going to change.  Give up hope, as I mentioned in my last post.  Give up hope on changing a creature who only knows how to take.  Bless them and send them on their way.

Shoo.

**

We missed Gail terribly.  She was with us last year in this beach haven, and even though we thoroughly enjoyed Suzanne’s daughter as proxy, there is no one like our sister Gail.  She is the spark plug that ignites our fires inside and outside.

People remembered us.  Even before we checked in to our hotel Friday night, one of our favorite restauranteurs greeted us heartily when we stopped in for a late dinner.

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Gail was not able to join us, as she had recently returned from a trip to Michigan to see one of her older daughters.  Suzanne and I, however, kept her spirit and her memory alive here.

We were able to reach out—without Gail–and make a few new friends.  Fred B. happened to be sweeping his driveway as we walked by his house.  He lives adjacent to our resort, close to the beach walkway.  We were staring, slack-jawed at this perfect little house, perfectly located by the beach.  His house has been in his family since the 1930’s, and he has lived in it since he arrived in the 1940’s.

We are so jealous, but a house like this couldn’t belong to a nicer man.

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Dawn at  Landing Company, and Terri Anne at The Tervis Store are now counted among our friends there, too.

**

The sea does not change, but after spending this trip with Suzanne and her daughter, I am motivated to change.  Suzanne’s spirit of minimalism is admirable and I want to be like her when I grow up.  So I am starting small, but starting nonetheless.  Despite the purchases I made that, perhaps I didn’t really need, I am trying to jettison other possessions at home.   I am trying harder to recognize the patterns of thought in my brain that lead me to repeat the same futile actions over and over yet again.

Next time I’m preparing for a trip, Suzanne has volunteered to pack for me.  She said she will be able to fit it all in a Zip-lock bag.

Like the sea creatures, we shouldn’t need all this stuff.

Like Suzanne, we should all celebrate every day of this life we are granted, because, unlike Suzanne, we are not immortal.

**

This post is dedicated to Suzanne the Survivor, and to Denise who is fighting the fight right now.  Denise, let’s plan a trip to Florida in five years—and maybe even before.