Another Matter of the Heart

There’s a story I don’t share much. I allude to its content from time to time, but I don’t really go into detail. I don’t go into detail for several reasons such as:

1) Its content is not something by which I want to be defined.

2) After all this time, I try to tell a new story.

3) If I don’t discuss it, it won’t hurt as much.

However, I realize after eight years the subject does define me, to a point. It allows me to not only tell a new story, but to change my entire value system. And, while time does heal pain, the void is never really filled so it doesn’t really matter if I talk about it or not.

Tomorrow marks the eighth year I have lived without my only sibling. A young man with a seven-month old son left the world at the age of 27, suddenly without much warning. The one person I was to tease throughout my entire life. The one with whom I was to discuss matters regarding our parents’ health. The one I would leave my child to if something terrible happened to me first. In just one day I went from being someone’s sister to being an only child. It crippled me emotionally for nearly half a decade.

The details of the ‘old’ story and how this happened are not really necessary here. What does matter, however, is how life’s events are meant to teach us valuable life-altering lessons.

Lessons like…

1) Relationships and family are more important than work.

2) Saving for a rainy day is important.

3) When someone is in need, time is of the essence.

You see, I didn’t get on a plane from Connecticut to Missouri fast enough. I didn’t do it because I was really busy with work…I didn’t have a dime in my savings account…I thought it was a simple stomach ache and that was not important enough for me to fly clear across the country. Between the time I got the “You need to come home” call and the time I actually arrived, my brother had slipped into a place from where he would never come back. I never got to say goodbye. And that haunted me for many, many years.

It also changed me. It changed me in so many ways that I wish I could go back to those people who angered me with their “There is a gift in this tragedy” statement. I would say to them “You were right”. Because, folks, why else must we endure such pain if not for growth?

So, how did this change me? How did I grow?

Nobody’s work is more important than family. I live by this in my job now and promote this value to those I supervise and with whom I work. I also remind my superiors from time to time that family is a priority for me. I’ve quit ‘dream jobs’ to be with my family. It isn’t hard to make decisions when you live your values.

Buying useless crap takes valuable resources away from you. When I lived in New England, I lived in a house I really could not afford and bought items for this house I really, really, really could not afford. So, when I got the call my first thought was “Where the hell am I going to get $900 to fly to Missouri?“. Eight years later, I can tell you with all truth and honesty: I think of that moment whenever I am about to buy something major that would deplete my savings account. It has stopped me many times from buying something I do not need.

Don’t ignore your intuition. When a friend is in need, today is the day to pick up the phone. Today is the day to stop what you are doing and write that note. Not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not ‘not ever’. I knew something was wrong on that Friday. I should have called home that day. Instead, I waited nearly 36 hours for my father to call me…and another 12 hours to arrive at the hospital. I think Facebook is a wonderful place to get information. It is not a wonderful place to show someone how much you care.

What does this have to do with simplicity?

I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Except that this event, along with a few others, led me to my decision to stop working so much, quit buying so much, and take the time to sit on a blanket in the yard watching a storm roll in last night with my son instead of washing dishes.

Every one of my ‘simplicity’ heroes has a similar story. An ‘Ah-Ha’ moment, if you will. What’s your old story and how did it help create a new story? Are you a ‘simplicity-minded’ soul and if so, how did you arrive here? Are you in the midst of your own painful life event that has given you pause? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy weekend!

PS…I’m giving my dear friend and editor time off to deal with her own set of priorities and family issues. If the blog is a complete grammatical mess – I take full responsibility.

A Matter of Heart

“We have been told happiness is found in big houses, new cars, fashionable clothing, and full closets. As a result, we spend much of our lives pursuing possessions seeking this promised happiness in them. But fullness of life is not found in the things we possess.”Joshua Becker

May begins with a return to my heart’s calling. April was fun as I, tongue in cheek, shed my inner domestic goddess and became a bit more playful with you. I hope you enjoyed it. No worries, I will attempt to still be witty, but truthfully, I felt a bit distracted. Distracted because all those experiments with closets and cabinets and food choices didn’t really address the real reason I blog. The real reason I write is to help us all understand one basic thing:

We have too much clutter in our lives.

Too much physical clutter. Too much emotional clutter. Too much spiritual clutter. Too much social clutter. It’s distracting.

Just typing the words “too much” gives me the heeby-jeebies. It is all so overwhelming to me sometimes, I admit. When I start to feel suffocated by my clutter, I get centered and come back to my original pursuit: What really matters?

The Answer is People. People really matter. Relationships. Relationships really matter.

For too long, the good life has been defined by overbooked calendars and time commitments that, seemingly, allow us to believe that we are really important to our community and the world as a whole. But I’m telling you…you don’t need a crammed-packed calendar to make that a reality. You are already important to your community and the world as a whole. You’ve just simply defined community and world too broadly.

Trust me on this. Your ‘community’ is that network of friends you keep up with on Facebook…with whom you never really keep in touch. Your ‘whole world’? What about your children? Your spouse? Your parents? Your friend that sticks closer than a brother? Aren’t they really your whole world?

I joked to my husband last night: “No body loves me. My phone hasn’t rang for three whole days and I haven’t gotten a text in 24 hours.” I was joking, of course. People love me…but there are days I wonder if I stopped checking in on social media sites…would anyone wonder where I’d gone?

We should build relationships – not resumes, social networks and definitely not bigger houses for stuff. Relationships. When we focus on relationships and on those we love, lives are changed. Your life. Other’s lives. And change is good.

This week’s challenge:

Pick one person and write a real letter to them. Start out by saying “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I hope to change that…” and go on from there. You will have to buy a postage stamp in order to mail this letter. A postage stamp. You remember those, right?

May Challenge

There is no challenge this month, as this ends the 90-day closet clearing challenge I asked you to start back in March. How did it go?