Practical Minimalism: Things Can Lead to Experiences

Shelfie

Experiences are better than things, but a thing can lead to experiences.

The minimalistic creed that experiences are always better than things is untrue, for I say it depends on the experience (and the thing).  

The experience of going to the library was okay, but the experience of a book I buy and read multiple times is better. Since Covid, I have subscribed to Amazon Kindle Unlimited for me and have added many more books to my daughter’s physical library.

The experience of shopping for a new phone was a hassle, but using that phone to group text my friends for a girls’ night out, promote my Instagram poetry, or play Scrabble is better; buying a new TV was forgettable, but having a 42″ screen where my husband and I watch Wheel of Fortune is better. We bond over skewering Pat for some of the !@#$ he says and the contestants for the bad calls they make. 

The experience of going to the Pensacola Interstate Fair was all right (I make better, and cleaner, fair food at home), but I’ve had just as much fun playing with my daughter in the big blow-up pool (a “thing”) in our backyard.

Some experiences have sucked (like revisiting the Italian restaurant where my husband and I used to go when we met ten years ago), where my time would’ve been better spent watching the current Holiday Baking Championship.

However, some experiences have been wonderful. Sometimes, the simplest experiences are best, such as having a meal at Chick-Fil-A with my family (before Covid), meeting friends for drinks and tacos (or one-on-one for coffee), reading a new bedtime story, playing board games, singing Christmas carols, trying a new baking recipe (will be making my first savory cheesecake next week), making Christmas placemats (a laminator is a must for any homeschooling classroom), creating unique Christmas cards via TouchNotes for some of my friends, and so forth. 

Experiences like these are what life is made of, and most of them aren’t Facebook or Instagram picture-worthy.  

There’s a great quote in the movie Tully, in which Tully tells Marlo (a married mother of three young children who seems to be struggling with the baby blues) that she hasn’t failed but has made her biggest dream come true: “That sameness that you despise, that’s your gift to them [Marlo’s children]. Waking up every day and doing the same things for them over and over. You are boring. Your marriage is boring. Your house is boring, but that’s … incredible! That’s a big dream, to grow up and be dull and constant, and then raise your kids in that circle of safety.”

You don’t have to experience something new every day because every day in and of itself is an experience. My best experiences haven’t always included pictures but are in the stories I tell and the memories I share.

When my job situation often changed (the nature of being a student worker), with my husband and I moving every two or three years (you have to go where you can afford to live), I found myself in a constant state of anxiety. However, we are finally reaching a level of homeostasis that feels an awful lot like contentment (not to be confused with complacency). 

I love my life as it is, which doesn’t mean that I don’t want more; I am just working towards being more. I tell my daughter in homeschool: The more you know, the more you can do, and the richer your life will be, for the more you will be able to do for yourself and others.

I remember a motivational speaker once saying that the two things that make us happiest are helping others and creating something. This Christmas season, I have been fortunate enough to do both. I would also say that staying connected to friends and family (in-person, if possible, or via telephone, not text) is the third part of that, for being giving of your time is the greatest gift.

” … remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

She Loved Him, She Loved Them Not

She did not love those he loved,
but she loved the little person their love created.
She would have loved those that created him,
had they lived long enough to witness
the vow that cemented their love,
though her SILS and BIL,
with whom she’d never fit in,
were a disappointment.
And yet, it was so easy to forgive them
for not being the married-into family she’d hoped for–
so long as they kept their distance.
If only they would respect her right to be left alone,
for it was one of the most sacred rights
of humankind.

Micropoetry Monday: Family Dynamics

When they did their DNA,
Dad traded in his wooden shoes
for a Viking helmet,
but Mom could not trade in
her Black Irish hair
for the auburn that could have been hers
if she’d been born sooner.

His siblings and cousins had been close
when they were children,
but when the patriarch,
who said family was everything,
passed away,
it proved that he was the everything
that had held the family together.

Dad wore many uniforms,
Mom wore many hats,
but as for me & my brother,
we wore many masks.

When the Irish Catholic met the Roman Catholic,
they had Irish potato gnocchi
& spaghetti with soda bread.
They made it work because,
like many others,
they were all trying to get to the same place—
a gastronomical heaven.

She’d been an idealist before she’d married,
seeing a life of in-laws that were like blood &
double dating with mutual friends,
but when the honeymoon rose again,
his love was all that shone.

The Anatomy of a Family

Years ago, I created a caricature book of all the members of my family, and that’s what prompted (no pun intended) this poem.

~

Dad is the bread vendor who can’t quite make the bacon;
Mom burns the bacon and the bread.
Brother plays video games in bed;
Sister prefers to be well-read.
Grandma comes over with casserole and all is well;
Grandpa Lee always has an inappropriate story to tell.
Aunt Ida Claire (born in Jaw-juh) starts cleaning house,
Uncle Beau helps his way out of the doghouse.
Cousin Danny Boy cuts it up,
and Tippi the cat chases Fido the pup.