Thursday, March 21, 2019

Yes, it brings me joy

Since moving into this place a few years ago, I feel I've gotten my relationship with material possessions in balance. Now, most of the stuff lying around my home adds to its charm.

When I was a kid and a young adult, stuff-management felt like longing for the new, wading through the clutter of the old, and occasionally expending a little energy cleaning, sorting, reorganizing, or even hiding the mess of it in order to make my spaces presentable to friends and family. For a while, my hospitality style was something along the lines of, "oh crap, someone's coming, better clean up!"

I'm no neat freak, but I'm proud of the fact that my hospitality style now aligns better with my heart's intentions: "Yes! Come by! Any time!" You'll see crayons all over the table and dogs all over the couch . . . nothing at all to be ashamed of.

I haven't done a major Kondoesque purge, but after four moves in five years I have gradually given away almost everything that doesn't serve a clear purpose or give me great joy. I have little nooks and crannies all over the house filled with beloved objects—things that remind me of people I care about, or that just speak to me for one reason or another. My walls and refrigerator are covered in art by people I love and admire. My second-hand wardrobe suits my style, which X has coined, "thrift pixie."

If it looks like clutter, walks like clutter, and quacks like clutter, it's probably clutter. I have a few more heaps to face—the upstairs closet, the workshop, the kitchen cupboards—but I'm well on my way to a clutter-free home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Surgery Day

Today's the day! I check in for knee surgery at 1 pm and may be released as early as 6 pm. Thanks again to every reader, donor, dinner-bringer, and well-wisher who helped get me to this day.

One positive side effect of this injury has been that I've become a more careful steward of my financial health. Knowing that I'm not only facing big medical bills but also investing the hard-earned money of my beloved community in my recovery, I've been careful to watch every penny that leaves my wallet for any reason at all. It may take months or years, but with your support I believe I can emerge from this experience both physically AND financially healthy.

I started budgeting carefully about three years ago, but I fudged a bit. "Oh, I know I'm over budget but one dinner out won't kill us." "Oh, I know I don't have anything allocated to gifts this month but she would LOVE that." "Oh, one blueberry bush won't break the bank." Now, I'm proud to say that I have not spent one un-allocated cent in January, February, or March. Where I used to assume my tax refund could go toward my budgetary overruns from the 11 preceding months, now I assume it goes straight to medical bills. I feel I'm beside every person who's given to my medical fund, pulling this $13,000 weight together. I feel I have friends at my side, making the work more bearable.

I am in good spirits today and I am, as always, so very, very grateful.

With love and gratitude,

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thoughts on mortality

It's been a long time since I blogged here. Sorry about that! It's been a full month—of work, of doctor's appointments, of slow but steady healing, of cow kisses and dog cuddles, of births and deaths in my small community.

I am having knee surgery Tuesday, for—at a minimum—bone fragment removal and cartilage repair. There may also be some cartilage grafting and ligament reconstruction. Whether my recovery timeline will be six weeks or six months, I don't yet know. In preparation for the procedure, I was asked to ensure my last will and testament, health care directive (living will), and durable power of attorney for health care were up to date.

This is a safe procedure, and my doctor and I feel great about going forward. I've seen an internist who gave my heart two thumbs up (I have a common and mild heart defect and a history of TIA), and I and my care team are absolutely confident that I'm going to be sitting on the couch Wednesday morning watching House reruns. Nonetheless, preparing these documents made me thoughtful about my own mortality in ways that were challenging and sweet.

I wrote an addendum to my living will, "My values regarding death," from the perspective of a 39 year old mother, for my three daughters just starting out towards adulthood. From the perspective of a daughter, for my healthy, active parents. From the perspective of one piece of the universe writing to another, and knowing full well that these particles will only travel together for so long before they disperse again. I wrote with tears falling down my face.

I hope to rewrite this document when I'm 80, 90, or 100, when my parents are no longer reading and my daughters are no longer young. I wonder if it will be as hard then, or as sweet.

In the words of my beloved friend Hilary, "Is today the day? Probably not. But maybe. Do what you want with that. It's a mystery to me, and probably will always be. Being OK with that is the practice."

I'm glad we're alive on this planet together today, you and me.