Clutter: What are You Really Holding Onto…and Why?

I did this quick watercolour sketch of swans in my notebook thirty years ago – hence the wrinkles – while I was supposed to be writing a Yeats essay.  I came across it during my recent clear out.

I used to spend weekends walking on the beach near my boyfriend’s home, and occasionally I’d take my camera.  As an English Studies student, I spent most of my time reading and writing, so it was relaxing for me to capture moments then paint them later.

It’s the same process I use now, living the moments then recapturing them in my writing. But seeing the serenity I enjoyed back then and remembering the dreams I had of a writer’s life by the sea , I’m inspired to start painting again. Sometimes dreams don’t work out, but those captured moments make a life.

How do you capture the patchwork moments of your life?

~~~~~~~x~~~~~~~

The following piece was a guest post at Silver and Grace today.

What are you really holding onto… and why?

Your conscious mind has learned to ignore untidy shelves or rooms filled with old things. But your unconscious mind is overworked and weighed down by these things. It becomes free only when you get the stuff out of your house. ~ Tiki Kustenmacher

 I turned fifty recently, and my birthday brought with it a visceral longing, a craving to get clean and clear, to pare my house down to the basics so I could crawl out from under the weight of ill health, exhaustion and overwhelm, to build a bridge between a past that was anchoring me and a future beckoning me like the promise of a sea breeze.

We’ve all had that feeling at some time, that driving urge to declutter, but why does the clutter mount up in the first place? And I’m not just talking about clutter; I mean anything that clogs our spirit and bogs down our days: unfinished jobs, unwritten letters, stains and broken appliances are all tolerations dragging us down. Lots of posts give tips for getting rid of clutter, but maybe if we look at why we hold on to stuff, it’ll help us get rid of it permanently.

Insecurity or ego

Do you keep objects to show others who you are, who you were, how well you’ve done, how much you earn, how artistic, creative, well-read or well-loved you are?  Or do you keep them because they’re useful or still fill you with delight and inspiration?

Options…

Ask yourself why you display things, why you keep things. How many books are on your bookshelves simply to show people what you’ve read? Is your home office overflowing because you want folk to think you’re a very busy person?

If all the objects in your home are for you and your family, and they’re well-loved and useful, keep the most precious, take care of them and enjoy them. But if ego is in the picture at all, and you care what visitors think, ask yourself what other folk might actually be seeing and thinking. And remember, how they see you will be based on their own life view. Are they seeing clutter? Mess? Vanity? A disorganised mind? Pride? Insecurity? Cloying sentimentality? More money than sense?

Depression, reluctance, and keeping stuff  because we can

Sometimes we get overwhelmed without realising, and low grade chronic depression can creep in. This, in turn, can lead to clutter blindness or anxiety paralysis when we see the clutter piling up. If you think this might be you, then please seek professional help and ignore the rest of this paragraph. But sometimes we simply avoid clearing out clutter because it can be really hard work because of all the tough decision making it involves; sometimes it’s just easier to acquire and store than it is to get rid of stuff. Maybe you don’t think of it as clutter if it’s tidily hidden away in the attic, the garage, the basement, the spare room or the wardrobe in your study. Maybe you have so much space, it became easy to acquire and store stuff without you having to think much about the eventual consequences. But your unconscious brain knows it’s all there, and the more it mounts up, the less in control you feel.

Options…

Create a vibrant vision. If you’re lucky enough to have more rooms than you need, you could seriously consider the advantages of downsizing to gain financial freedom. Or if that’s not an option, consider how wonderful it might feel to give each room its distinct purpose back.

Imagine having…

  • …a tempting guest bedroom you long to fill with visiting loved ones; imagine a beautifully dressed bed and empty drawers and wardrobes waiting for a guest to fill them.
  • …a garage empty enough to get a car in, with enough space to reach essential tools easily.
  • …a basement empty enough to be a freshly decorated deluxe laundry room or a gleaming sports room/gym or a den.
  • …a study that’s organised and inspirational, with everything in its place.
  • …a clean, bright and tidy attic you can use to recycle belongings so they keep their energy when you bring them back down to the house. Is your attic scary, or a place that kids love visiting with you because it’s a treasure trove of clean, interesting objects waiting to make a seasonal appearance?

If you have a vision of where everything should go, then it becomes easier and emotionally less overwhelming to make the effort to put something in the right place. It also becomes less tempting to ruin beautiful new spaces by filling them with objects that don’t have a natural home there. Ask yourself what’s more enticing: keeping Aunt Edna’s horrible tea service or freeing up the space the box is currently taking up? Which brings me to…

Respect for others…

Many of us keep unwanted objects because they’ve become synonymous with those who have bequeathed them or given them to us as presents.

Options…

Take digital photos and start believing that possessions are objects, simply objects.  Then give them away, recycle them or bin them.

A present isn’t an object; the gift is the thought and the love that went into it, and no-one can take that away. The object is yours to do what you want with. Anyone who loves and respects you will understand that. Their love is not stored in the object. If you don’t love the object or it’s not insanely useful but instead is depleting your space, your simplicity and your fresh energy, then what they’ve actually given you (or bequeathed) might be clutter, sadness, an organisational headache, extra cleaning, the expense of storing, the bother of auctioning off or selling, or the guilt and anxiety of having to hide it and pretend. I’ve never looked back since the day someone asked where I’d put a gift they’d given me and I explained that it wasn’t my style but that someone else had loved it and we’d swapped.

Fear

Many of us hold onto objects out of fear of what folk will say if we get rid of them; we’re afraid to offend, to lose friends, to hurt others.

We’re also afraid of lack; what if we need something in the future, if something breaks or we lose it? What if we don’t have enough money to replace it?

There’s also the fear that if we get rid of objects, we’ll forget folk, lose our precious memories.

Fear is also one of the many reasons people keep books, the fear of boredom or loneliness as well as the fear of forgetting information. Some folk think they’ll never be lonely or bored if their home is bulging with books, picture frames or ornaments to dust and clean and rearrange. But are they taking the place of a home filled with friends or a future as tempting as a blank canvas?

Options…

Trust. Trust that you’ll always have exactly what the universe thinks you need. Trust that the heart will always, always remember what’s most precious, with or without prompts. Trust that when it comes to material objects, you need less and will be happier with less. Trust that decluttering will make you richer, slimmer, sharper and more energised. Trust that it will save you time.

Go digital. Take digital photos, scan documents and get books on Kindle. Donate books to charity shops, schools and hospitals, or to the library; if they’re in your local library, they’ll be there if you panic and need to access one. Investigate www.bookcrossing.com and set your books free. Sell them on Amazon or Ebay, in car boot sales or yard sales.

The need to provide

Some parents feel they have to pass on objects as a legacy, not just their own possessions and their children’s memorabilia but antiques, property and valuables.

Options

Pass them on now and watch their distressed faces as you clog up their homes while they stand there stoically, unable to say “No thank you”, because they love and respect you. Or let them earmark a few objects now, so you’ll know there will be no squabbling or disappointment after you go. Better still, bequeath an empty attic and happy memories to your loved ones when you go, maybe money, if there’s any left over from you living a full and generous life.

The need to collect

I read somewhere that it’s a human need to identify with something, like a totem, and that really resonated with me. Collections help us bring order into the overwhelming number of things the world has to offer us. But there’s a difference between selective, systematic collecting and simply keeping things.

Some of us inherit collections, and as I’ve mentioned above, some people feel they’re doing it to provide for others or out of respect for the dead. Some people collect because they experienced hardship in the past, some because they’re passionate, maybe obsessed. Some people keep their collections simply because so much money has been spent on them.

Options

Learn to see your own collecting as a search. Ask yourself what you’re really searching for. If you can’t part with an inherited collection but would like to, ask yourself what your deceased loved one really wanted you to have. Then you can keep the emotion and part with the objects. Sell unwanted collections to folk who would love them more. Keep only a few potent, symbolic pieces.

Emotional constipation

There is a clear link between obesity, depression and clutter collection. Obesity is often associated with emotional constipation; some folk can’t get rid of the physical memorabilia associated with certain emotions and the body switches over to store or self-protection mode, too. Clutter blocks the flow of energy, happiness and prosperity in our lives.

Options…

Treat your body and home as precious shelters for your spirit. Get very clear about what you need, then get those needs filled healthily, not through impulse buying, acquiring possessions or overeating. Only the best and most nourishing of food and possessions should be allowed into your life. Less is best. Get energetic about decluttering, and you’ll see the weight disappearing. Strip away the clutter that anchors you to the past, and enjoy some emotional freedom as your body lets go of its protective layers, too.

Seek out healthy fuel for the body and spirit, and watch as your life becomes more vibrant.

This approach to decluttering may feel like opening Pandora’s Box, not a treasure chest, but when you’ve faced up to what you’re holding onto and why, I promise you, you’ll find hope at the bottom of the box.

Sea Breezes, Books and Minerals

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

How often do you coach someone who’s come to you overwhelmed, stuck or overweight? Someone who’s spiritually sluggish, washed out and weary?

Chances are, you’ll have worked on what’s anchoring them in their past and what’s blocking their energy, the flow of prosperity and creativity in their lives. You’ll have investigated what they’re clinging to, afraid of letting go.

For me, it’s been books. Currently, as we prepare to lay a new wooden floor, all of my books are packed in see-through plastic storage crates, dozens of them, some in the attic, and six or seven clogging the dining room. But do you know something? After years of squeezing between sofas and bookcases – I have no home office or study –  I feel as happy as a kid with new wax crayons. I have that lightness of spirit I feel on holiday, in rooms with lace curtains billowing in a sea breeze, revealing tantalising glimpses of a beach full of promise.

When the new wooden floor is laid, and the last skirting board nailed in place, not one single book will reappear on a shelf unless it is insanely useful, destined to be re-read or so precious it gives me an energy surge just thinking about it. I don’t need books to remind me  – or show others  – who I was, who I am, what I know or what I enjoy.

I turned fifty last month. For forty-five years, I’ve been devouring reading material; novels, text books, course books, magazines and more recently, online text. I have clusters of books from every phase and every career: dictionaries and text books in nine languages; tomes on astrology, feng shui, art and garden design; books on translation, linguistics and creative writing; files of coach training printouts and dozens of homelife coaching and personal development books.

I adore reading. I adore books. So why am I on the verge of a cull? I need my energy more. Most of my books are no longer inspiring me; they’re depleting me and anchoring me in the past.

I no longer cast astrological charts or speak Greek every day. I passed my coach certification and no longer mentor, or critique exam tapes. If I haven’t absorbed the basics by now, I’d rather revise them in some fresh new format.

I’m tired of dusting books I don’t read, and as my collection grows, it strikes me as bizarre to contemplate extending my home to house books.

Until recently, the thought of parting with them was unbearable. So what happened?

The menopause, my dad’s heart attack, my kids’ puberty and my own illness happened.

My life, for six months, has felt clogged and bogged down with tolerations. Even as I tackled them, kaizen style, one at a time, I accrued more than I dealt with. Sick of missed deadlines, sleepless nights, hair loss, infections and depression, I summoned the strength to arrange appointments with a consultant and my local doctor. Determined not to have my concerns dismissed, swept under the rug of age, parenthood and caring for an elderly relative, I asked for blood tests.

My inner child, my coaching voice, my intuition and every member of my spiritual team, desperate to crawl out from under the weight of overwhelm, were all screaming:

  • What do I need?
  • What’s stopping me getting it?
  • What am I getting too much of?
  • What am I not getting enough of?
  • What will I gain when I get the balance and flow back?

When I visited the consultant, I simply asked him to help me find out what I was deficient in.  Such a small question, but my silent sigh convinced me it was the right step, the right question, like a perfect pebble dropped in a deep pool.

While I was waiting for the results, I had my seasonal September craving to get clean and clear. I rode it like a cresting wave, surfing my way through packing, recycling and binning my possessions, blessing and letting go of anything that no longer energised me. I knew I’d reach the shore battered and sea-tossed, but it was worth it.

Out went patterned, grubby rugs, shabby faded curtains and sagging fake wood bookcases.

In came a shaggy wool rug, freshly painted cream walls, soft cotton slip covers and snuggly throws and cushions, all in natural textures and the colours of serenity and sea shores: sun baked terracotta, warm sand and sea-tossed pebbles, driftwood and shells.

My books, photo frames and ornaments are still safely stored until I decide their fate.

Right now, I need spiritual space more than belongings, fresh air and clear surfaces more than books and objects. I need time with my loved ones more than the memories that keep me anchored to lost loves and the empty shells of lives no longer lived.

My blood test results came back and I smiled. Due to malabsorption, I’m severely deficient in major minerals, including zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause sleeplessness, depression, skin problems, hair loss, infections and a lack of  appetite – for food, love and life itself. I was right to have insisted on tests.

Now that I know, I can work on my zinc. It’s easier to ask myself “How can I get and absorb more zinc?” than “How can I fix my entire life?”

One banana, one handful of seeds, one step at a time works for me, as long as it’s a step that takes me in the right direction.

Are you depleted at the moment? What do you need to get – and absorb – more of? What small step could you take today that will get you closer to where you want to be?

(*This was adapted from my latest Coaching Moments piece in VOICE, the official newsletter of the International Association of Coaching, where it was edited by Linda Dessau. The illustration is a painting called Long Golden day by Alice Dalton Brown.)

Life Laundry…revisited

(This is a Coaching Moments post from a few autumns ago. It’s still very timely; my son started high school a few weeks ago and my dad celebrates his 85th birthday this month. He had a heart attack a year after I wrote the post, and we’re both still doing the ‘life laundry’ every autumn.)

Life Laundry

Pegging out laundry
Damp and fragrant in the sun
She lifts up her face
Listens to the sheets flapping
In the breeze, surrendering
Ready to set sail  ~ Janice Hunter

What’s September like where you are? Is it spring? Or has the frazzling heat of August started to fade, leaving you fresher and less floppy? Do you take on new clients, begin new ventures?

September feels like the start of a new year for me, with its promise of exciting new beginnings, classes and semesters. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent most of my life as a student or a teacher or because my birthday falls at the end of August and both my children were born in the autumn. Whatever the reason, this is a time for freshly sharpened pencils, for blank pages and tempting piles of books, something to look forward to on darkening days as the nip of autumn turns into the unexpected bite of winter.

I have a cupboard in the dining room where I store all the Christmas candles, scented oils and festive season bargains bought in the January sales. Wedged at the back are some wooden Shaker hearts, hand-painted aChristmas Shaker hearts warm, folk art red. They were a free gift with a magazine and I always planned to do something creative with them. Waiting in there, patiently for years, they’ve soaked up the fragrance of cinnamon, apple and spice. If I’m ever saddened by the fading brightness of autumn, or tempted to see it as a season of loss rather than a time of fruitful abundance, I furtively open those doors and inhale the excitement of another season nestled within, like Russian dolls.

As evolving souls in human bodies, we’re meant to grow, to feel the seasons, to surrender to the beauty of each one – but like many people, I’m not very good at letting go. My daughter started high school a few weeks ago and I spent an anxious, distressed day pacing like a caged animal, unable to relax until she burst through the door beaming. My dad is eighty three this month and has started to prepare for a different kind of letting go, sorting through his treasures, putting his life and house in order.

One thing that calms me when the months and years seem to be spinning out of control is to anchor myself in the everyday details of creating a life I love. I try to cultivate gratitude and focus on the people I love, on the things that inspire me and on the thoughts, emotions and details that are within my power to change; then I just do my best to trust the rest to the universe.

Every autumn, I get a craving, an almost visceral nesting instinct to clear out all the debris of an old year. Out go old passions and paradigms, making room for abundance, new experiences, new people and new lessons to flow into my life. Clutter clearing – my own and other people’s – brings me so much pleasure, it should be X-rated. Deciding what to do with every sheet of paper, every object, every garment or piece of fabric is a living, breathing meditation, a tangible way to strengthen my choice muscles and ask some important questions:

  • If I had ten minutes to rescue my belongings, would I take this?
  • Do I really, really love and need this or am I keeping it ‘just in case it comes in useful’?
  • Could someone else get more benefit from this or love it more?
  • Am I keeping this just to please someone else? Or because it came from someone I care about ?
  • Is this anchoring me in the past when I need to be moving on?
  • Is this heartstoppingly beautiful?
  • Will the kids be glad I saved this in the attic for them or roll their eyes in years to come and wonder what on earth I was thinking about?
  • Does this object exude positive, empowering energy?
  • What does it say about me? And do I like what it says about me?
  • Does it symbolise a value, something good, something precious?
  • Do I spend more time dusting souvenirs than I do making memories?

Every time I shred paper and clear out my clutter, my coaching and poetry get better, the house becomes more spacious and easier to clean, we all have more energy… and I lose weight! As well as space and energy, a cathartic clean-out also frees up time and money. A few weeks ago, we had a family holiday in a small, white cottage by a sea loch; it was funded entirely by what we’d earned from family car-boot sales and by what we’d saved by recycling and re-organising.

What could you let go of this autumn to prepare the ground for the seeds of a new season?

Attacking Anchors in the Attic

side porch

Because after all, a home is the empty space of possibilities in which you write your life. ~ Dawn Ritchie.

This is the longest I’ve gone between posts, and you know what? The sky hasn’t fallen. My kids will be back at school soon and summer’s already fading, so I’ve been limiting my time online, loving my family better and blessing my home with a thorough clean. After a week of broadband, browser and server problems, it hasn’t been such a hardship to shelve my cyber life for a bit.

I planned to write a post on Sunday – began it even – and then, as I was sitting curled up in the sofa, jotting down notes, I looked down and decided I wanted to swap our living room rug for a lighter coloured one that’s stored in the attic. Suddenly, out of the blue, it seemed very important to get into the attic and find that thick rug; hand-woven in the colours of sea shells and sandy beaches, we’d bought it in our first year together in Portugal.

My husband lowered the loft ladder, climbed up and started stomping around. He banged his head and cursed as he looked for it behind Christmas boxes and kids’ keepsakes. I joined him in the search then my heart sank as I saw the mountain of vacuum packed bags.

I’m fairly ruthless about keeping clutter tamed in the house, but fabrics are one of my danger zones. I shouted down to my son and started tossing the plastic bags down the loft ladder, not sure what on earth I was planning on doing. He carted each one off into the living room.

I was horrified when I saw just how much I had. My husband shook his head in disbelief, then quickly went off to put the kettle on. The living room smelled of mothballs, reminding me of every house in Greece I’d ever visited.

There were bags of curtains I still like but have rotated; curtains from my old house which don’t fit the windows of this house; bright woven blankets and cushion covers from Greece; sentimental scraps of old fabrics from previous clear-outs that I’d planned to make wall hangings with (I used to sew) and my precious bag of antique lace, cut threadwork sheets, embroideries and doilies.

embroidered jugI inherited those from my mum, my mum’s cousin, and many a Greek lady who wanted to add to my dowry. I took out every piece, admired every stitch, then carefully smoothed them and repacked them, ready to put the bag back up in the loft. These little hand-crafted works of art give me immense pleasure. Lives are woven into them, daydreams and moodlings, memories and wishes captured in every stitch.crocheted lace

Each bag contained its own stories. I found the blanket that had covered my bed before I met my husband; the baby patchwork quilts that had covered my babies in their cots; the jeans I was wearing the day I met my husband, the suit I wore to the interview that got me my first post in Greece and my first job in a university; the sparkly red Lurex top my mum wore for ‘posh’ at Christmas; the dress I’d made and worn to my graduation in Athens and to church for a baptism. I hugged and laid aside the Lurex top and the cot quilts.

Overcome with ruthlessness, I decided that most of what the bags contained was dragging me down, anchoring me in the past, connecting me with other homes, other lives and the stillborn dream we had a few years ago of moving into a new-build home here in Scotland. We were able to input into the standard design so the architect’s plans included a front porch, lots of interesting landings and small windows as well as larger windows and a sun room opening onto a sunny south facing back garden. (The contractors let us down and sold their business; the house was never built, and the curtains never hung.)

My husband, dreaming of a safe and empty attic, brought in a roll of bin bags, knowing that there was a brief window of opportunity before sentimentality stalled me, We’ve worked together so often in the past, he knows my system. One bag is allotted to each of the following:

  • car boot sale or antique shop
  • charity donations or charity jumble sales
  • the rubbish bin
  • recycling
  • raw ingredients for creative craft projects
  • gifts to friends
  • things to be kept

My system is simple: an object gets kept if

  • …I think it’s beautiful and it never loses its positive emotional charge for me or becomes ‘invisible’.
  • … it’s been used at least once or twice in the last year.
  • …I want to give my children the choice of whether to keep it or not when they have a place of their own and they’re old enough to make the decision
  • …I’d replace it in the event of damage or theft.

I no longer hold on to objects to honour a memory; I honour those I loved and lost by living as fully as I can. For many years now, I’ve also refused to hold onto unwanted gifts that other people have given me;  I’m more afraid of the unhealthiness of emotional blockage and physical clutter that I am of offending folk.

yellow antique laceOnly three bags went back into the loft, each of them filled with dreams that inspire me to move forward, memories cherished, or practical items for rotation in this existing home. (Swapping rugs, curtains and cushion covers every season gives me colour co-ordinated flexibility and freshness without spending a fortune.)

Blogging has distracted me from a lot of things in the last five months, and gutting my home is just one of them. But as always happens, the minute I cleared that corner of the loft, I longed to log on and share it with you. I have some guest posts lined up with colleagues, but in the next few weeks, I hope to be doing a lot more posts about getting clean, clear and unstuck. Whether you’re a writer, a homemaker, a coach yourself or someone who works from home, I hope you’ll find something to inspire you to get that vacation-home feeling for yourself.

Today, my son was online and came in saying he’d found a house with a porch in Canada and a few homes in our town that he thought I might like as much as the one we nearly built. (My son and I are spookily connected when it comes to houses.) There are rarely any homes for sale within our price range where we live, yet he found five. I suddenly realised that the universe had nudged me into the loft to make room, room for new dreams and possibilities. We’ve built a good life in this house, but when synhronicity speaks, I sit up and listen. We’re going to check out a few of those houses this week.

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In homelife coaching, areas of  the home can be seen as symbolic. Some say the attic can represent ideas or the future.

 A crammed storage space blocks your personal and professional development. It acts like a lid that prevents your tree of life from growing. If you get rid of old souvenirs, keepsakes, worn-out clothes, and other things, you will discover new perspectives that you never dared even to dream before. ~ Tiki Kustenmacher

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A Feng Shui  colleague of mine once said “Clutter holds your dreams.”  What could you get rid of right now to clear some space for new dreams and possibilities?

photo from My Home Ideas via The Inspired Room

Rapt Attention, Gifts and Rain

Every person has the potential to find a community of like-minded people and to create a matrix of safety and encouragement for personal and collective growth and creativity. ~Candy Paull

I was twitching at the weekend, desperate to log on, but I realised it was the addiction, a compulsion to feel connected online, to work hard and keep reaching out. So I relaxed, breathed, drank lots of water and thought of you enjoying your weekend.

I log on for the ability to connect with you in words, to articulate and share, to create that holy triangle of reader, writer and what’s written, but the truth is – and this may sound strange – I already feel connected with you. I spent the weekend trusting.

It’s hard for me, because I’m new to blogging and I’m used to working hard, often obsessively hard if I’m passionate about what I’m doing, but I managed to let go and trust that you wouldn’t suddenly disappear if I spent the weekend with my family, just as I won’t disappear from your life if you take a health break or go off for a few weeks.

And that trust brought blessings. I logged on today after draping a table napkin over my email counter. Don’t laugh – it works!  I have no idea how many emails I’ve had since I logged off on Friday. I’d recommend it. My priorities were: check if there are any comments or views, write a post, respond to comments, stroll around the blog route then give email correspondence my complete attention.

And what comments! Like a breath of fresh air, there you were, silent supporters, chatting friends and new readers, all of you understanding that my absence simply means I’m sleeping in a different time zone or refuelling my soul so that I have something to share with you in our café.

To write well, we must live well, with presence, openess and a yearning to go on  soul safaris, excavating our authentic selves so we have something real to share. If we genuinely believe in the power of letting go, really letting  go and allowing the universe to fill us up to overflowing with inspiration, we have to trust.

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Tidied all my papers. Tore up and ruthlessly destroyed much. This is always such a great satisfaction. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Staycation update…

  • On the 4th of July, I honoured my US friends by reading a Nora Roberts novel set in Maryland during the first week of July, and by cooking burgers; I cheated and had a veggy burger.
  • At the weekend, we had complete freedom to do as we wanted, every member of the family. I used our cheap long distance phone option to phone my son’s godmother in Greece and chatted for 45 minutes; it felt like we were on her wooden front porch, a few metres from the sea, drinking strong, grainy Greek coffee from tiny little cups. We covered everything from kids to computing.
  • Afterwards, I chose to clean windows and let the sun stream through, then shredded old documents. (I get shameful amounts of pleasure when I declutter and shred; I feel like I’ve shed pounds!) My husband and son decided to follow suit and tackled a corner of the attic. They filled the car full of boxes of books, games, toys and household items to be given to charity shops or the library. The next day, they did a car boot sale with the rest and made nearly $100.
  • My daughter created her own accoustic renditions of half a dozen popular songs. Her version of a Coldplay song had me in proud tears. I decided to investigate how I can put music clips, mine and hers, on my blog. A café needs music.
  • The kids watched Forrest Gump and cried at the end. I have good kids.

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Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the Earth; without rain there would be no life. ~ John Updike

It’s raining today and we’re in the middle of a storm. If you’re in the mood for a longer read, here’s a refreshing piece about another rainy day at home. Although I wrote it for my column a few years ago, re-reading it transported me back into the moment. (If you’ve downloaded my free ebook, it’s already in there.) When the Heavens Open

It got me thinking about what gifts I’d send you today from Scotland, if I could. I’d send you some rain – only where and when you wanted it, at night time maybe, to water your plants! I’d send you the lush, damp greenery and oxygen-filled fresh air it blesses my homeland with, and the drinking water, so fresh and crystal clear, we can drink the same stuff straight from the tap that is sold as bottled mineral water.

The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence. ~ Sue Atchley Ebaugh

You already bestow a gift every time you read someone’s writing with rapt attention or share a precious piece of yourself whenever you leave a comment somewhere.

 …but if you had super powers (and here’s the cool thing – you’re a writer; you already have superpowers!) which gifts could you share from your home town, to make us staycationers feel like we’ve had a glimpse of the elemental beauty of the village, town or city you live in ?