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I have tears

Written as I soared through the skies on a one-way ticket from my hometown of Seattle to my new home in San Francisco.

There’s been so much to write about this move and everything I’m leaving behind and looking forward to that I haven’t found many words to say at all. And now that my house has been packed into a green Mayflower truck and I’m quite literally in the sky, I feel the need to reflect on this relentless knot in my throat.

All day I’ve felt the tightening and loosening, the gripping ebb and flow of emotion that threatens to unravel my composure without my permission.

Then again, it feels good to cry. A helpful sort of pain. Like a long deep stretch after a long deep sleep.

I’ve had the urge to spread my wings and make a home in California for years. My whole life has been leading up to this point.

And yet. My heart hurts to leave my family and friends, the life and community I’ve built in Seattle for the entire duration of my adult life thus far. I love so many people with such a ferocity that a part of me wishes none of this was happening at all.

I stopped writing to cry and Giovanna caught me. She said, “I looked at you and you had tears and now I have tears.”

She told me she missed Grammy which of course made me miss my parents terribly and I just had lunch with them today. I have the most wonderful and supportive parents and I owe it to them to not just make the most of this move but to be happy. Because what more could you possibly want for your child? They gave me unwavering roots and now it’s time I put my foundation to good use by digging deeper and reaching higher and stretching further than before.

Wish me luck, dear readers. And if you have any tips on living the good life in San Francisco, tell me in the comments or email me at lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I’m all ears.

These photos have no filter like these words.

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Are you doing what you love today?

Have you found something that makes you so clearly happy that you wonder how you ever survived without it?

Things like family, sports, creative outlets, maybe your home or community or even a great job.

But then life gets in the way and you stop running or painting or staying ahead at work or paying much attention to your spouse or kids. Something of this variety happens to all of us now and then because we are human. A distracted breed. We are interesting and beautiful because of our mutability.

It’s not our fault. We have so much to experience. Too much. So many ends to tie up. Too many. (At least it often feels this way!) Billions of unique balls of human energy are firing through the atmosphere at every given moment, getting tangled in one another, inspiring and maddening and exciting and teaching one another.

Every time I drive on the highway these days, I’m struck by my fellow humans, all of us in our respective cars, these hunks of mineral protecting us from one another so that we can fulfill our individualized agendas. Perhaps our life purposes. We have places to go. Down highways and across skies and up mountains. We are smart. We lead complex lives, rich and sumptuous with love for one another and for life itself.

This is all good and well. Until we start dropping ends because we’ve picked up too many. And we feel like we’re in a horror movie because our heads are spinning. We can see in every direction, all of the possible paths. Some call them parallel universes. And because there are many different directions to take, we get confused. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes.

It’s easy to lose the way. The way is completely subjective, after all. What you love will be different than what your mother or father or brother or sister or partner or best friend or enemy loves.

In this day and age, distractions are as abundant as opportunities. We have to stay mindful of our daily activities. Are we staying true to our heart’s desire?

I’m interested in this idea of focus. Focusing on what you love most and not letting superfluous distractions steal too much of your most finite resource. Time.

Why is it that we often have to force ourselves to do things that we love such as exercising, writing, even socializing? My cousin loves salsa dancing as much as anyone can love salsa dancing. But as a mother of two battling Lyme Disease and chronic pain, she rarely gets the opportunity to go out and dance. She’s been out of the salsa scene for so long that she’s hardly looking forward to attending the annual conference in San Francisco next month. This was something she used to anticipate for months prior and savor for months afterwards. And I’m sure that once she gets to that conference and onto the dance floor, she will enter the flow, that state of being from which artistic expression arises.

It’s about momentum. When we get into the habit of doing what we love every day or every other day or every week, that’s when we know I could never survive without this. So why do we try?

Are you doing what you love today?

Please tell me what it is YOU love in the comments or send me an email lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you! 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Savoring October (10 ways)

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt cold.

I missed the space heaters that I already purged because I thought we’d be gone before the drafts in this big old house began to crawl under the covers.

But it’s October now and they’ve arrived, making me even more reluctant to emerge from my bed, which I didn’t think possible.

October usually makes me giddy, but this year I’m in a funk about fall. The great purge showed me that we have a million costumes and dress-up clothes and I have no business taking my kids (or myself–let’s be honest) shopping for Halloween costumes. Not even at the Goodwill.

This year I miss the summer. I miss the tilt of the earth towards the sun, bringing my patch of ground that much closer to the light. I miss eating dinner outside and sunbathing at the lake with my best friend and our babies. I miss chilled cans of Sofia Coppolla sparkling wine. I miss sweet berries from the farmer’s market. I miss long days and Bicycle Sundays and bare feet in cool grass. I miss ice cream because sadly ice cream doesn’t taste (nearly) as good to me in the colder months. (Unless it’s atop a slice of warm crumble.)

Maybe it’s not the summer that I miss but my entire life as it was this past summer and will never be again. Of course everything’s always changing but sometimes, sometimes it’s slow and easy to ignore, and sometimes it’s so quick I can hardly keep up.

But I do. I always do. Life goes on.

Yesterday, October began. The first day of a new month holds great symbolic meaning for me. A lot can happen in a month, a lot of pleasure and happiness and change and unhappiness.

So I felt compelled to slow down and make one of my favorite months count, starting with a list. Here’s a 10 point bucket list to get me (and maybe you) into the spirit of October:

1. Go to the farmer’s market and see what’s still growing in the Pacific Northwest. (CHECK!)

2. Spend a sunny afternoon in the Washington Arboretum. Take pictures with the Japanese maple.

3. Fry some famous Washington apples in coconut oil and cinnamon. (CHECK!)

4. Consume as much butternut squash as possible, preferably in the form of a creamy soup.

5. Go on a pumpkin-themed Trader Joe’s shopping spree.

6. Mull some wine. (A first for me.)

7. Visit a nearby pumpkin patch.

8. Paint and/or glitter some pumpkins.

9. Use my slow cooker.

10. Write every damn day. (Because I will be moving this month & will have so many reasons not too. But life is too short to put off doing what we love, even for one day.)

Is it obvious enough already that I really really really love food and pumpkins?

How will you savor October? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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picnicking at the Columbia City farmer’s market yesterday evening

Mind tricks & testimonials for purging all that STUFF

I continue to shed stuff in preparation for my move and I keep faltering and regressing and yes, progressing. Half of my garage contains my discarded items, the purgatory for my family’s belongings.

My own personal trick? Don’t ask yourself if you like it, ask yourself if you wear/use it.

Letting go can be very easy and very hard. A little bit of help goes a long way. I see immense value in hiring professional organizers and asking friends and family for their assistance.

My sister, visiting from Guam, gave me that LOOK when I said I wanted to keep something. My mom reminded me to be “ruthless.” A friend came and relieved me of a pretty pile of my clothing. My Facebook friends and blog readers imparted their wisdom which I’ve shared below.

Other tips and mind tricks for purging:

I ask myself What do I want to keep? instead of What do I want to get rid of?

Take a picture for memory.

As you go through you’re closet, stick to your intentions to only keep what you absolutely love the most most most.

If I haven’t worn it/used it in 1 calendar year, it’s automatically gone.

Only keep something if (1) You LOVE it, (2) You NEED it, or (3) it makes you money. The “love” and “need” had some specific criteria I’m forgetting right now, but on an initial pass, it helps to start whittle down the unnecessary things. When we moved last year, it helped to think about whether I really wanted to bother packing and/or unpacking something. If I was on the fence, it usually went in the “donate” pile.

I hang all my hangers the wrong way, witg the hook facing me, if i wear it, i hang it up the correct way. At the end of one year, my roomate has to go in and get rid of the items not worn in one year. (If i see it, it is too hard to get rid of, hence the roommate doing the discarding/donating)

For beauty products and the like, I pretend I’m packing for a big trip. Anything that’s not used gets tossed out ASAP. It’s ruthless, but it works well. I also use the hangers-wrong-way trick for clothes and it works like a charm!

Where are you going? That dictates what you keep and throw away. Does it suit your new life?

Don’t hold onto things somebody else could be getting use from.

Take a photo for posterity and ditch it.

As with everything, I always think it is great to break things up into smaller chunks. Start with one draw, one storage closet, or the kitchen pantry. When one area is done, take a break (whatever you decide). Then, go to the next small area.

Encouragement and testimonials for purging:

A dear friend, who is older and wiser, once told me that many will spend the first 1/2 of their lives acquiring things, and the 2nd half of their lives giving things away. So true. I LOOOVE purging. The past 4 years have been an extended journey of simplifying in all aspects of my life, and it has been so very freeing. Less IS more!

Relatives still buy the kids toys, so I purpose it to “purge” their closets and shelves when they are occupied almost monthly. Somehow they acquire all these teensy things and my daughter would hold onto it forever if I let her! I try to be sensitive about things that could be sentimental, but the rest goes!! My closet never looked so fresh and free, and even my email inbox…over a period of 4 weeks I unsubscribed to almost every newsletter or advertisement that wasn’t immediately relevant to me…it feels so good!!!! Even in the kitchen, pantry purge, linen closet purge, under the bathroom sink purge….GO FOR IT!!!

All in one year I got divorced AND started another business (in addition to the busy law practice I already had). I became determined to simplify. I set an intention to not only get organized but to get rid of 90% off everything and to not buy something else unless I a) NEEDED it (as opposed to wanted it) or b) got rid of two items for the one I’d buy. I felt as though I had been unburied from a grave!

I can honestly tell you that esp with kids most of us have so much more than we need. I have found (having moved 9x in 10years) that each time it is sad at first to part with things, but once you realize its the people, experiences and memories that bring hapiness its liberating and freeing to declutter and downsize. I think you will feel less overwhelmed, have more time and be happier once you purge. Less to clean too which is always nice.

I’m a purger. Love to get rid of stuff, And even I could do more of it.

We just recently moved. It was an eye opener to how much STUFF we didn’t use but yet had to have it.

I went from 4bedrooms to a subaru wagon full of stuff to move to the bay. I took photos and said goodbye.

I just keep purging. I almost NEVER ever regret.

Thank you everyone for your help and please keep the advice coming, readers and friends! The rest of us need it. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1454.JPGgetting it out the front door can be the hardest part

If you’re going to San Francisco…

The line from this song is sticky. It stays in my head for hours.

I’m still not sure if I wanted my life to take this turn.

It’s turning anyways.

At night when I’m tired, things feel gray. It’s a bad time to try making sense of reality. Soon I will be leaving my home and my city and my family and my friends. But we love so many people here. How is this happening? Why is this happening?

Why am I looking forward to leaving my four bedroom Victorian–with its views and sprawling yard and trees that are like old friends and a turret in which I birthed my daughter–in exchange for a small city apartment in San Francisco? How will I breathe without all of this space? How is it possible that a change can both thrill and terrify me?

All my life I’ve known and loved California. As a child I thought everyone in Seattle came from California, like my parents and their closest friends did.

I used to watch Sesame Street and wish to live in the city like that. With people everywhere and life unfolding quickly.

As a teenager I visited the University of San Francisco because apparently they wanted me enough to offer a merit-based scholarship.

I like wearing flowers in my hair.

So maybe this city has been calling me for my entire life. I don’t know.

But I’d like to think so.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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with my favorite tree & flowers in my hair

A beautiful mess

Sometimes lately I feel scattered, unfocused, spread thin. Life spilling over and making my edges more noticeable as they crumble, bits and pieces of me falling away.

My house.

My community.

My business.

My belongings.

Everything seems a mess, my hair consigned to the bedhead style. I need a haircut but I thought I just cut it. I have hardly looked in the mirror for a week. I keep forgetting deodorant. I haven’t done any formal exercise for most of the month. I haven’t been cooking much either. My 4 year-old wants to eat only bread. Our car broke down then got broken into. We’re moving and we don’t know when.

I am in the process of changing and simplifying. But I have to dig out of the rubble before I can take a deep breath. It’s like everything has to get a little bit worse before it can get a whole lot better.

And so, after a weekend of madly cleaning my house for a showing, and then sorting through the piles of stuff I’d thrown into the garage to get it OUT of the house, I am here. Thinking about the messes I’ve cleared away, the messes still waiting for the magic wand. My “trash” that will hopefully become someone else’s treasure. Wondering why my desk drawers and kitchen counters aren’t always this empty because it feels so good. Why do we love stuff so much and why do we want it all around us? For a distraction or a band-aid or a disguise or a preservative?

This purging of stuff has brought me a buzz. Strangely enough, it’s not so different a buzz from finding the thing I really wanted. The materialistic circle of life.

In clearing away the detritus–not just papers and clothing and toys but other things I won’t get into now–I feel like I’m seeing myself anew, yet again. Though I may (occasionally) look put together, I am (often) a mess. When we married my husband wrote in his vows that I was “a beautiful mess” on the morning before the evening we fell in love. But I was a mess that day because I’d been riding my bicycle in the rain on city streets.

So maybe, if the messy part comes from adventure and risk and fun, maybe it’s okay. Maybe I can learn to love my messes simply because I had the privilege to make them.

Is there something about yourself that you’re learning to love rather than shame? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The great purge

I’m moving (more on this later) and I’ve decided to purge roughly half of my belongings. I’ve wanted to do this for years and now that I’m doing it I’m sure it will be the greatest purge of my life. Never again will I accumulate this much stuff. Plastic sunglasses, outdated eyeglasses, ancient eyeshadows, piles of pantyhose though I haven’t worn pantyhose in years. A broken candle pedestal from Peru, a Cuban statue missing his partner, a necklace with the tag still attached and no memories of how it arrived in my possession.

Have you noticed that going on vacation can be like going on vacation from your stuff? (If you’ve never engaged in retail therapy you might not understand.) Less is more. I want quality over quantity. I want every item of clothing to be something I love wearing. I don’t want to engage in a constant battle with my children’s toys. I don’t want clothing to live on chairs or the laundry room or anywhere but my drawers and hangers. And I definitely don’t want more than one junk drawer. The place where objects goes to die.

I’ve been hanging onto too much stuff for too long, doubting the universe’s ability to provide for me. No more. As my husband says, we must edit. Shopping is human but editing is divine. It’s not like I’m daring to be a minimalist, but I’d like for my dresser drawers to be tidy.

So I’m having a garage sale this weekend. I’m selling scarves from Laos and dresses tailored in Vietnam and a sweater from France and maybe my Ciao Bella t-shirt from Italy. These are the hardest things to part with, these souvenirs from my travels (not the never-used food dehydrator nor the commuter bike I should have sold years ago when I got a new road bike). But does it matter what I was doing when I bought it if I no longer use it? The memories live inside of me. The threads of my mind, not the threads of a shirt, make me who I am today.

“If it comes, let it come. If it goes, let it go.”

I’d love to hear your decluttering/purging/moving tips! I will share them in a future post. Tell me in the comments below or email me lucymiller7[at]gmail.com. 

If you’re in the Seattle area and would like to drop by and check out my stuff, email me for my address.

IMG_1020.JPGOne large box + one large bag full of my clothes alone and that’s not all of it…