Photos and More Photos

IPhoto tells me that I have 3,323 photos, and I know that is very conservative compared to many people I know. I love looking at my photos; they transport me back in time to special occasions, outings, great meals and good times. They remind me of loved ones who are no longer with us, and friends and family who live far away.

Isn’t it great to have it all there on the computer? Sometimes when I want to look at photos of my precious Mom, I sift through all the other ones in order to get to the good ones. Other ones like 83 photos of a cousin’s wedding, 47 of the last baby shower we went to, complete with all the ‘mistake’ ones, and another 24 of the baby.

How many do we need? Would 10 good photos of the wedding have sufficed? Two of the pregnant belly? How about 10 of the baby? Naw, I think we need all the ones of the baby.

I have been going through my photos recently and eliminating all the repeats, the ones that make people not look good, and the ones that just don’t matter anymore, like 15 of a turtle I saw on my walk two years ago.

On another thought, when we take multitudinous photos of every event we go to, every restaurant meal we eat and every trip we take, do we not experience the event through the lens of the camera rather than just enjoy the day? We go to the restaurant and take photos of the food, the decor, and then the inevitable group selfie.

Writers write in their head instead of living in the moment; this is such a beautiful scene – how can I describe it – lush colors, blood stained sky, panoramic masterpiece, rather than just drinking in the scene with all their senses. I do that all the time.

The rest of the world takes photos so that they will never forget. The problem is that they miss out on the music, the laughter and the scents that go with that beautiful scene or delectable meal.

My current project is to simplify life by not only living in the moment, but also loving the moment, every moment, and keeping them to memory and sentiment rather than on my computer.

This poem by Wendell Berry captures in a great and humorous fashion, the dilemma of our times.


The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.

He went flying down the river in his boat

with his video camera to his eye, making

a moving picture of the moving river

upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly

toward the end of his vacation. He showed

his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,

preserving it forever: the river, the trees,

the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat

behind which he stood with his camera

preserving his vacation even as he was having it

so that after he had had it he would still

have it. It would be there. With a flick

of a switch, there it would be. But he

would not be in it. He would never be in it.

                                                                                                Wendell Berry


The Art of Saying No


A large part of simplifying a life is accomplished not just in reducing your possessions, but also in giving yourself time to enjoy the spaces you’ve created. It is also experiencing joy and contentment, spending time with family and friends while doing the things that make you happy. For the longest time I wondered why I didn’t feel peace in my heart and life. I had pretty much decluttered the house, donated things that needed to be donated, and sold things that needed to be sold.

But there was something that really bothered me about my life. It was my calendar. Yes, my calendar. It was filled with all sorts of good things up to three months in advance. One April day a few years ago, a friend called wanting to set up a time to get our two families together. I looked at my calendar and had to say, “Wow, it looks like we are booked solid until the third Saturday in June! Should I pencil you in?”

That was quite pathetic, that we would have to wait two and a half months to get together. My calendar was filled to the brim with appointments, engagements, family things, professional things, weekends away, visitors, and all the things that make a life. Truth be told, I had put all those things on the schedule because saying ‘no’ would have been harder.

Why would a person say yes to something they don’t particularly want to do? Guilt? Shame? Unease? Difficulty in saying no? Fear of hurting the other person? For the longest time I have been making plans only to cancel them at the last minute when I feel overwhelmed with too much to do, not enough time, or just a discomfort with the request. It would have been easier to just say no in the first place.

I had to realize that my time is valuable; that I am valuable, and that I cannot do justice to an outing or an engagement if I would rather be doing something else.

But what do you do when someone calls with an invitation or a request to speak, volunteer, sit on a committee or some other such thing that will take some of your time? Many of these things are worthy and good, but are they worthy and good for me? Rather than saying an outright yes or no, I have come up with a method that works for me. Now whenever I am asked anything, I respond with,

                                        “Let me get back to you on that.”

And then I have time to go home and decide whether or not this thing will be something I can do or attend, whether it works for my family, and whether or not it is a good fit for me. That’s a lot easier than saying yes now, fretting for a time, and then back pedaling later. However, having said “Let me get back to you on that”, now I have to make sure that I actually do get back to them.

Let’s be purposeful with the things we say yes to, and make sure that they add value to our lives. Choose wisely! And don’t apologize.

How about you? Do you find your schedule too full? Do you wish you had some time to do the things you love rather than doing what other people think you should be doing? The next time you’re asked to do something you’re not sure of, just try saying, “Let me get back to you on that.” and see what happens.


Oh, by the way, yesterday I brought a third carload of ‘stuff’ to donate to VeeVee’s Boutique. They will be opening in one week and it will be interesting to see what shows up in the shop.


VeeVee’s Boutique!

There’s a new thrift shop opening next week in my town! Yes, Value Village will be opening its doors to the citizens of the Annapolis Valley very soon.

We jokingly call it VeeVee’s Boutique, but really, it’s a great place to get all things second hand, from clothing to furniture to anything a person would need in the kitchen. Actually you can buy anything you would need in a house or garage.

Their slogan is “We keep millions of items out of landfills every year!” Value Village is one of the best second hand shops around.

In an effort to simplify life around here, I have been gathering up various things from around the house to help a good cause. It’s a win-win situation because Value Village helps many charitable organizations as well as employing many people; and I get to donate all this stuff.

Donating helps me get rid of things I don’t have the audience for on kijiji and articles I can’t bring to consignment shops or used book stores because they are not clothing or books. It has felt so good to liberate space in the house and get rid of some things I have been looking at forever that don’t make me happy at all. The great thing is that someone else will be happy to have these things and will put them to good use.

Like the old tapestry suitcase full of craft supplies that I haven’t used in 8 years. And yarn that I will never use. Also several picture frames that have been behind the bookcase for the past five years. Once I get on a roll I would just throw out everything in the house. Decorative tins, tired lampshades, books, ornaments, even some silverware. How about six apple baking dishes that I got on sale 10 years ago and only used once? And pottery goblets that were cute when I bought them 7 years ago but never used? It gets exciting to open a cupboard and see where things used to topple over one another and now there is just a space.

I have to make sure I don’t start filling my spaces with more crap that I may or may not use. Like, how many coffee machines do we really need? I found a great Cuisinart one at Frenchys last year and use it all the time. So the two Krups machines languish in the basement, waiting for the Cuisinart to break.

But it probably won’t break.

Instead of owning my stuff, my stuff had started to own me.

So far I have brought two carloads of items to Value Village, and I have another lot ready to bring tomorrow. I had often worried that the things I get rid of today, for sure next week I will go looking for them. However, that very seldom happens.


My rule of thumb has been, if I haven’t used it in the past 1 – 3 years then it might be time to consider tossing it.

I have decided to use my living space to live in, not to store things in! And as there is more and more space in the closets and cupboards, I begin to see more clearly and feel more at peace with myself.

How about you? Do you have a place to get rid of things that are dragging you down? Are you willing to part with them?