Curate a Wonderful Life

Curate is a popular word these days.  Until a few years ago, I really only ever heard it used in regard to a curated collection in a museum or maybe a haute couture clothing line. But then again, I live in a bubble.  Perhaps you’ve been curating this, that, and the other for years. One thing I know from doing five minutes of googling is that museum curators get REALLY irritated when plain old people like yours truly dumb-down the word to include what we put on our Pinterest boards.

Last year when we began to declutter/minimize our belongings, the word curate popped up in a lot of books and articles and blogs and podcasts that I enjoyed.

At some point about this time last year I wrote this question in my journal: “How does one curate a wonderful life?”  On the following page of the journal I wrote out the numbers 1 through 240.  That would be the number of days I had (have) to work from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.  Apparently, I intended to mark off the days as they passed, which I did not. I don’t see the word “curate” again in my journal, probably because to curate a wonderful life is SOME kind of tall order, but I am going to start a list right now to try to define what a wonderful life even MEANS to me. I’ll share it with you sometime soon. Do you know what it means to you?

Still, I just like to say “curate” and by golly, I am going to CURATE something.  We have begun the building process of our new home in a very intentional way. When we clean out all of the boxes in our storage units…yes, more than one storage unit…we are NOT bringing in the six boxes of crystal doodads left to us by Aunt Bubbles…YES, I did say that we started to declutter/minimize last year, I did NOT say that we finished. We have cleaned out the homes of four people in the last ten years. There are a lot of doodads.

We are downsizing. We want our home to feel warm and welcoming. We want to feed people. We want family and friends to visit our home and leave feeling renewed and relaxed and loved. We want to make smart decisions throughout the process. We are not going to put a thing in this house that we don’t both really like a whole lot. Thus, I hereby declare that I am, with the wisdom of an expert, the marvelous Missy LeCroy Orr from LeCroy Interiors in Greenville, going to CURATE our new home.

Curate: Definition by Daughter of the South (because this is my blog and I can do what I want): To organize, plan, and collect for the purposes of creating a warm, welcoming and loving environment/climate in our new home.

Off we go!

Image above borrowed from sophisticateddorkiness.com

Baking Bread

Baking bread. You can’t rush it. Hours after the bread is done, the house still smells so lovely. Sharing a loaf or two with friends and family seems to make the friends/family happy. There is a certain tranquility in baking bread. I don’t have to do it. Nobody expects me to do it. Even if the loaves are not picture perfect, the bread is SO delicious. Pretty simple. I don’t see a downside…except that I have eaten three pieces of toast and the most delicious grilled-cheese EVER since yesterday afternoon. But isn’t it all about the tranquility?  I’m going to go with that.

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I Don’t Want To Mislead You

I am going back through the book…Present Over Perfect ( Shauna Niequist) one chapter at a time and I am marking it up as I go. It seems that retirement may be “essentially God’s grace prying my little fingers off of of that” (MY), “identity, digit by digit.”  And yes, I know I probably messed up that punctuation.

The following passage hits the nail on the head. “I’ve always given my best energy to things outside myself, believing that I’d be fine, that I was a workhorse, that I didn’t need special treatment or babying or, heaven help me, self-care. Self-care was for the fragile, the special, the dainty.  I was a linebacker, a utility player, a worker bee.  I ate on the run…worshiped at the alter of my to-do list, ignored the crying out of my body and soul like they were nothing more than the buzz of pesky-mosquitos.  Now I know that in the same way I’ve always believed God’s Spirit dwells deeply in this world, it also dwells deeply in me. I’ve known that, cognitively, but my life spoke otherwise. Now I know that the best thing I can offer to this world is not my force or energy, but a well-tended spirit, a wise and brave soul.

Are you saying “WOW…Just WOW!”  ??

I do not want to mislead you.  I can sit on the sofa and watch Netflix with the best. A good massage or mani-pedi?  Why yes…thank you so very much.  But the mind never rests. The to-do list is on a loop in the background. Always. Shoot, this blog post has been running around in my brain since yesterday afternoon.

A couple of years ago in our old house, Hank fixed me up a “tranquility room” upstairs. It was a soothing shade of gray, with a beautiful rug and a big comfy chair. The pictures on the walls were lovely and soothing and a double window looked out over the back yard. There was plenty of room for me to begin learning yoga. The roomed smelled lovely all the time. It was very hygge before I knew what hygge was.

In that comfy chair overlooking the backyard, I made some crazy impressive lists in the pretty notebook I ordered after researching pretty notebooks for a couple of weeks. That was before I researched all things calligraphy and took a calligraphy class.  Calligraphy is hard.

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See what I did there?  The struggle is real.

 

 

Timing

I’ve started this post in my mind at least 20 times over the last several weeks. I’ll just say it.  Preparing for retirement is scary. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old in some way, shape, or form. It started with babysitting and playing the organ for church at the age of 14. At 17, I started working at the bank after school while still babysitting and playing the organ for church. This continued through college, including the bank during holidays and summers. Then I became a wife, and a school teacher, and a parent, taught piano lessons, served as church pianist/organist, directed church choirs. I went back to school for another degree. I became a school district administrator and when Lorelai went off to college, a high school principal. I like to think of myself as efficient.

It recently occurred to me that whether it looks this way to others or not ( and who am I kidding, it probably does a lot of the time), I approach almost every major task and some not so major tasks, whether personal or business, like a bat out of hell. Got to get it done, got to get it right, got to be impressive, got to be in control, got to make the plan right now, come on everybody get with the program, no time to waste, stop dilly dallying around, who cares if we have a year to plan.  And here’s the thing…even if it doesn’t look like that to others, that’s how it feels inside my brain.  I think HARD….ALL the time. And when there isn’t a project looming, the brain still keeps “scanning” for the next new thing and I get at loose ends and short-tempered.

It appears that I have “issues.” It’s exhausting.

Seeing though, how God’s timing is perfect, I recently came across this book.

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I am about three quarters done but I’m reading so fast that I know that I’ll need to start over again as soon as I am finished.  (Reference the bat out of hell approach mentioned above.)  But here is what I know. I haven’t been living as soulfully as I thought I was.  I’ve been living frantically.

This scary retirement thing may not be so scary after all.  I’m going to choose to think of it as more of a blessing and a God-given opportunity to leave the frantic behind.

It’s time.

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Wherever the journey takes us…

 

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It happened.  Our house sold last week. If all goes to plan, we will close no later than November 30. Yes…we are already packing. THIRTY-TWO years in the same house, and while we have been dedicated to minimizing since the beginning of the year, there is still  plenty to pack. Oh, if you live in the Charleston area, I have a wonderful grand piano for sale. Not enough room in the new house…not to mention that I also have the piano that I learned to play on. Going to hang on to that one.

The cotton is ready to pick and we are ready to begin work on our new home as soon as we close. A plan that began with just a house has expanded to a house, pond, and pecan orchard. Hank and I are incredibly excited. Legare says that he is “appropriately sentimental” about our selling the home to which we brought him from the hospital when he was born. Lorelai just doesn’t want to talk about it. You’d think we are moving halfway across the world.  The farm is just shy of an hour away for heaven’s sake.  We will miss our neighbors. I’ll put MY neighbors up against YOUR neighbors ANYTIME. They are the greatest.

I will commute back here to work the remainder of the school year and then RETIRE!!! We will need to find a new church.  My Methodist roots seem to be calling out, but we will see.  I’ve rented a small booth in an adorable consignment shop. Ned and both of our mothers will be just 10 minutes away. (Ned is not doing great right now. His feet and ankles keep turning blue, so he is going to a vascular surgeon this week. Positive though…he does not seem to be in any pain, so we will count that as a blessing.)

Stay tuned.

Waiting for? Probably nothing. Ned!

Lorelai and Ned, some years ago, fishing at the river.

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Life in the low country of South Carolina!  Never a dull moment. While it doesn’t look like we are in for any of the true chaos of the hurricane, it is windy and dreary this Sunday afternoon and school is closed until next Wednesday.  All of the windows in the house are side open and the breeze is glorious. Ned is here, as all of the Aldersgate homes called families to come and pick up the residents until further notice. Oh my…OH MY!  We had to miss the football game in Clemson (GO TIGERS) but DID make Ned watch it with us even as he sat there mocking us in his garnet South Carolina shirt.

Typically, when we visit Ned, he goes on and on and on and ON about wanting to come and live with us. After four hours yesterday afternoon, he started wanting to know when he is going home, i.e. Aldersgate. Apparently, I am much too bossy for him and living with us no longer holds any charm.  At least for now. By next week, he will have forgotten how bossy I am (as many of you know, he has early onset dementia) and we will be back to the constant wondering on his part of when he is going to come live with us.

My thankfulness for the fine individuals who care for Ned and his other five house-mates knows no bounds. He requires constant supervision and they are all, I am convinced, angels. And goodness, how they spoil him. Which is why he thinks that I am bossy.

Bossy though I may be, I am fixing one of his favorite meals for a late Sunday dinner.  Oven barbecued chicken, rice, crowder peas, and slaw. Better get back to it.

Waves of Nostalgia

I was blessed with five first cousins…all on Mother’s side.  Marshall was the oldest.  He was in Mother and Daddy’s wedding in 1955, so I’m guessing he was born 1950-ish.  Then came his brother, David, born…oh, let’s say 1953-ish.  Elizabeth was born, I believe, in 1958, then her sister Martha, who I am positive was born in 1960. Then yours truly in 1961.  I ruled the world until ’67, when Elizabeth and Martha got a baby brother, Whit. Ned was born in ’68.

I don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that ours was a close family. Not all huggy kissy lovey dovey, but rarely was there a Sunday afternoon growing up that we weren’t at our Grandmama’s house for two or three hours. In the summers, Elizabeth, Martha, Whit, Ned and I were all together at our houses next to each other on the Edisto River. E, M, and W lived next door to Grandmama after she moved into town when Grandaddy died, but she stayed with us when at the river. She was my bunkmate. I don’t think she had a bathing suit. She was more of a porch sitter people watcher. One of the things I remember most about our Grandmother was that she got down on her knees beside the bed EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before she went to sleep. (Below, Martha, Yours Truly, Elizabeth at Folly Beach around 1964…our Grandaddy took his three daughters and their families every summer.)

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Now there are first cousins’ spouses, a total of ten second cousins, and the third cousins are coming along. While none of the first cousins live terribly far apart, life has been busy and I haven’t spent too much quality time with them in recent years. Mother is the only sister of the three still with us. Marshall and Martha have passed away…much MUCH too young.

Funny thing though…since we decided that we are going to move back to the family farm, I’ve begun reconnecting with the cousins.  As a matter of fact, Elizabeth, Whit, and I have shared three meals together in the last couple of months.  Two of which we shared with all of the others, except Ned.  He’s not able to get out much anymore.

I am feeling waves of nostalgia…good waves.  I’m sure that life was not perfect back in the day, but I’m pretty sure that we, the cousins, feel like it was pretty darn close. And I have a feeling that there are very good days ahead.

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A Little Trip to Arizona

 

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Hank and I are back from our mini-vacation (as in travel day…two days there…travel day) to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Delta Airlines had a bad time of it on our trip out, but we eventually got there safe and sound, albeit a little bit behind schedule.

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The Grand Canyon was, well, GRAND. Pink Jeep Tours ROCKED it (no pun intended) and the package we had at the L’Auberge de Sedona did not disappoint. Breakfast and dinner out by the creek…delicious food and beautiful scenery. I have a great little video but am technologically challenged so as not to be able to figure out how to put it in this post.

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What stole the show for both of us; however, were the Red Rocks around Sedona. The red rock pictures from Hank’s hike (while I did the spa thing) are on his phone, so I’ll have to share those later. Should we ever head back that direction, Sedona and surrounding area will be our focus. It was THAT beautiful.

The dry air of Arizona was NOT a friend to this daughter of the south. As we walked out of the Charleston airport I was, for a few blissful moments, positively giddy about the humidity.  I’m over that now.

 

How Much is Enough?? Food!

We’ve been doing SO well these last six months decluttering and simplifying.  Most things. As we begin our process of moving to the farm, the commitment we’ve shown to our mission has really paid off. Why did we hang on to things so long?  There’s no answer worth wasting the time to figure out. We’re taking care of it.

Which brings us to today’s theme. How much FOOD does one person really need to know how to prepare.  I have…wait for it…more than 700 recipes saved on Pinterest.

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700. And then there are the ones I’ve saved on Facebook. And the ones in the many cookbooks on our shelves. And the recipe box.

Hank and I DO enjoy a good meal. We determine whether or not we’ve had a good time on vacation in terms of how well we eat.  We appreciate new interpretations (sometimes) of old favorites; however, as a true Daughter of the South, when I think of comfort, I think of meals eaten at kitchen tables…kitchen tables at my childhood home, at Miss Peggy’s house, at my Aunt Zoie’s. I think of church homecomings, family reunions, family gatherings on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Mother’s Day…ice cream socials, peanut boils, shrimp boils, oyster roasts and the southern fish fry. Nobody needed Whole Foods. All the groceries came from Red and White or Piggly Wiggly.  Or Mr. Chick’s where you called in your list and he had it ready when you got there. Mr. Chick was ahead of his time.

I can’t answer the question of how many recipes are right for you. I, on the other hand, am going back to the basics. No more following Facebook recipe pages. No more new cookbooks. Back to the basics…those yummy ones from my childhood home, Miss Peggy’s, Aunt Zoie’s, church homecomings, family reunions, ice cream socials, and so forth and so on.  I’ll keep you posted.

What say you?

Time Flies

Lots to tell…LOTS!  Graduation is next Wednesday evening…another school year in the books.  Legare’s birthday is tomorrow…he’ll be 31.

I took a calligraphy class.  I’m REALLY bad at it.

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Lorelai and Butler closed on their first house today. Memorial Day weekend will be full of excitement as they get moved in.

I’ve decided to retire next year…13 more months. Actually, I retired on April 30th, but entered the TERI program and get to work one more year. It’s a South Carolina thing.

We’re going to MOVE…yes indeed, we are preparing to sell our house and will be building a new home…our forever retirement home…at the farm. I said that I’d move to said farm when “you know what” freezes over.  I guess it’s chilly down in “you know where.”  More on that later…we are really excited. Got the house plan draft last week…just a few more tweaks and it will be ready to go. If it sells before I retire, I’ll commute.

Hank and I are going to the Grand Canyon this summer. The trip has been in the back of our minds for several years and we are LONG overdue for a vacation. As you may or may not know, we’ve had weddings the last two summers…Lorelai in 2015 and Legare in 2016. Two weddings in two years will wear a set of parents out.  Our friends Fred and Donna had two children get married in five months.  Lawdy!

Politics?  Let’s don’t talk about that.

I have been sticking with my new minimalist attitude. Our new house will be a bit smaller that our current home and we’ve been cleaning out and giving away and reorganizing like nobody’s business.

I kid you not…we feel better.  We can breathe more easily. Our minds are not as cluttered. I’m writing in my version of a bullet journal. Prayer lists. Praise lists. Thoughts. Ideas…and what I call my Brain Dump.  I write every single thing in my cluttered mind in the book and it makes me feel less frazzled. When something or someone upsets me, I write it all down in my book and I generally feel better.  The brain is a funny thing, isn’t it?

And I got a Kindle…as part of the minimizing effort…fewer books. The struggle is real, though, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE books.

Later, my friends.