realizing what matters


My parents are out of town, and I’m staying with my sisters. Right now, my role is mostly taxi-driver and cook. My grandmothers both live nearby, so I’m also helping them however I can. Grandmama¬† is my mom’s mom. She’s almost fiercely independent, even though she is blind and can’t get around very well.


This morning, Kara and Stephanie and I loaded into the van and headed out to pick up Grandmama and go to church. As we turned onto her street, we noticed a police car. It was parked in the middle of the street, mostly blocking the way. Behind it were cars, people, and firetrucks. The policeman wasn’t there, but some neighbors were standing out in their yard. I rolled down my window.

“What happened?” I asked.

“A fire.”

“Which house? Do you know which house?”

They didn’t.

I squeezed the van around the police car, heart pounding. There were at least three huge fire trucks, and they were right in front of Grandmama’s house. I thought, “There’s been a fire at Grandmama’s house. She probably left the stove on and didn’t realize it. And if there was a fire in her house, she probably wouldn’t get out. She probably died in that fire.” I briefly wondered why no one had called us, but realized there probably hadn’t been enough time. There was still smoke in the air.

But the smoke wasn’t coming from Grandmama’s house. It was the house across the street. The back corner of the roof was black, and the house sported tyvek instead of siding.

I never did see the policeman, but people were out in their yards everywhere. I stopped and asked if everyone was ok. They were. No one was hurt.

I couldn’t get to Grandmama’s driveway, so I parked on the street by the edge of her yard.

I rang the doorbell. Soon she came to the door, I explained what had happened, and we walked across the yard to the van. Then we went to church, even more thankful for Grandmama than when we woke up that morning.

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1 way to simplify right now

Simplify. Declutter. Eliminate. Streamline.

These are big themes in my life right now. I’m frustrated by the amount of clutter (physical and mental) in my life right now, but my progress in simplifying has been halting, at best. Today, I was thinking about how I could simplify, and I had a very freeing thought.

You can’t change what other people expect from you, but you can change what you expect from yourself. Therefore, you can simplify by eliminating expectations for yourself. It’s something that you can do almost instantly, and the results are wonderful.

Think through your task list, and even beyond it to the “ought list.” The “ought list” is that impossibly long list of things you ought to do, hope to do, beat yourself up about, but know you’ll never get to. In my case, my ought list contains the beginnings of projects that sounded wonderful at the time, but no longer hold any interest to me. In many cases, the ought list contributes to clutter in my house. I save things that I ought to use for a craft, and books that I ought to read.

The crazy thing is–no one is telling me to read those books. No one else cares if I read those books. I’m the one that decided that I should read them, and now I don’t want to read them anymore. So guess what? I don’t need to read them. And I don’t need to make those crafts. In fact, I can cut my losses and get rid of the clutter associated with those “oughts.”

You can do it too.

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