After a few unsatisfactory sessions on the treadmill (it is SOOOO warm in that room!) I was ready to try running in the real world again, no matter how bad the weather might be. Fortunately yesterday was a beautiful day. As I set out from my usual jumping-off point for the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT), it was 45 degrees, dry, and absolutely calm. I was warmed up and happy within the first mile.
I’d planned to run an easy 6 miles, 3 out and 3 back. For various reasons I hadn’t run more than 5.3 miles since way back at the Victoria half marathon in early October. So I didn’t want to push hard, but I really did want to cover some miles.
I knew that the trail was closed approximately 3 miles out from my starting point, but I wasn’t sure of the exact location. This section of the ODT was shut down in early November for “an indefinite period” while a contractor does some work related to cleanup of an old closed mill site as well as wastewater management upgrades necessitated by the Elwha dam removals.
I was running along really easily, enjoying the music that my iDevice was randomly serving me. Anytime “Chariots of Fire” comes up during a run, that’s a wonderful thing, right? That and a few other songs that are especially meaningful for me… songs that have sustained me through unhappy times or that I associate with high points in my life. I watched the birds on the nearly still water just offshore — a dozen or so common mergansers were an exceptionally nice sight to contemplate.
Then just ahead I saw this:
There it was. 2.93 miles and I wasn’t going one step more in that direction!
So I turned around.
On my way back I found myself awash in pleasant emotions. I thought about vacations my family took during my childhood. I thought about how, in those days of few divided highways and fewer interstates, long detours on bumpy roads were commonplace. I thought about how my mom would break into song during those detours:
Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead.
Detour, paid no mind to what it said.
Detour, all these bitter things I find.
Should have read that detour sign.
Wikipedia tells me Spade Cooley and his orchestra, with Tex Williams on vocals, recorded that song in 1946 and it was a big hit for them. I actually have that recording on my various iDevices, and although it did not come up randomly during my run yesterday, it’s the song that played in my head long after I got back to my car.
Besides thinking about vacation memories, I found myself simply loving the run. Feeling good with every step. I love to run.
I don’t do this to lose weight or inches (although I did lose them). It’s not about healing my damaged feet anymore. It’s not even about escaping from or coping with life’s problems. I simply love to run.
When life gives you detours, you find a way around them. When life gives you a “Trail Closed” sign just short of your planned turnaround point, you run joyfully back and forth across the Morse Creek bridge as you’re finishing your run, just so your GPS watch will tick over to 6.0 miles.
There’s always a way. Under, over, around, or through. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. With gratitude and happiness in each and every moment!
After all the shouting and divisiveness of election season, I looked forward to my run this morning as a cleansing event. It ended up being exactly that, in a bigger way than I’d expected.
It started out as an ordinary enough run. The temperature was in the high 40s so I had on my new running gloves (with touch-screen-friendly fingertips for easy Garmin operation) and a hat. The sun was in and out of the clouds but the wind was calm, and I stayed comfy for the full 5 miles. I wasn’t going particularly fast, but that was okay because it gave me that much more time to think.
Lately I have been feeling some pressure in my life. It’s been over eight months since I quit my job and I haven’t even started any of the big writing projects I’d envisioned. I’ve run, hiked, and biked. I’ve rearranged some of the furniture in my house. I’ve gradually continued to redefine the logistical details of my life after Kurt. The other day, for example, I finally called the cable company, reduced the super-premium-bazillion-channels package to basic cable (cutting my cost in half), and got that last utility bill put into my name.
I’ve kept myself very busy, and I’ve wondered several times in this blog how I’d ever found time to work. But what have I actually accomplished? Am I truly spending my short, precious lifetime doing and being the things that I value most?
Last night, I watched and cheered as a nation reaffirmed its belief that the world can be a better place, that the future still holds more promise than the past, that together we can be better and more than any of us can be alone.
I was simultaneously watching cable TV news (yes, I turned on the TV for the first time in weeks), monitoring my favorite political blog, and scanning my Twitter feed. For the most part the tweets in my feed were expressing the same positive emotions I was feeling. Except for this one really annoying person…
You may recall that when I came home from Palm Springs I joined a local group that is doing community organizing for local sustainability. I was very enthusiastic about this group because it seemed to be an opportunity to build my local connections and help make my community a better place to live. However, as I got to know the other team members, some of them revealed themselves as downright apocalyptic thinkers. These people were not merely trying to prepare for climate change, resource scarcity, and the like — they seemed to be determined to hasten the demise of the world as we know it. Rather than build on the goodness that exists in our society and at all levels of government, they seemed to want to tear it all down.
That kind of thinking, in my opinion, is toxic.
I don’t have room in my life for people who complain, criticize, and seek to destroy. No, we don’t live in a perfect world, but there is so much here that is good. Let’s celebrate our successes, no matter how small, rather than lash out in anger over not getting more things done more quickly.
I have often repeated my running mantra: “One step at a time. One foot in front of the other.” In the months of Kurt’s illness, and in the weeks and months after his death, those words kept me going in running and in life. One step at a time. Sometimes an individual step might be weak or wobbly. Sometimes I’ve had to take a step or two sideways or even backwards. But I’ve done my best to keep moving, keep the momentum going. Small steps and sideways wobbles are still progress, and they’re much more productive than falling — or jumping — off a cliff.
I’ve come to realize that the world is not going to collapse overnight, any more than it has any of the many previous times that people thought it would. Civilization actually seems to be quite resilient in the face of crises and emergencies. If I am mistaken about this, I will expect to deal with the consequences in the best way I can at the time. In any case, I always try to keep my pantry well stocked. And I always try to keep moving forward and building on what I have accomplished so far, because I believe that my doing so is my one small step toward making the world a better place. In any case, it beats the heck out of small-minded, churlish rants on Twitter!
I finished my run feeling refreshed, energized, and optimistic for the future. I have plenty to feel optimistic about. I live in the state that voted for marriage equality and legalized marijuana! I am represented by two awesome female senators who are about to be part of the largest contingent of female senators ever! Whatever your political leanings, whether these specific events seem good or bad to you, you gotta agree that the world is changing, indeed.
I came home feeling profoundly grateful for being alive and healthy on a beautiful autumn day.
I wrote a resignation letter to the sustainability group, wishing them well but telling them I could not support their gloomy outlook on the future.
I am giving myself more time to write, more opportunities to be outside in this beautiful world, more freedom to get involved in positive actions to benefit community and society. Most of all, I am giving myself full permission to enjoy my finite life as much as I possibly can.
I’m going forward — one step at a time.
Running has been interesting the past couple of weeks. I came out of the half marathon feeling completely strong, fit, and confident. I did give myself a brief break from the long runs, but at the same time I immediately attempted to increase the number of my weekly runs from three to four, and added the new element of unpaved surfaces.
The trail running is going rather well and I’m enjoying it immensely, although I’m not yet running on really challenging trails (I have one planned for this weekend).
I’m not doing so well with my plan to run four days a week. In fact I haven’t yet succeeded in doing that at all. I have managed to run two days back to back (a feat that was impossible for me not so long ago), but after I do that I find that I need an additional rest day. I’ve scaled back on the distances for this week’s attempt to run four days, and that may make the difference.
The sequence I’m trying to train for, which I’ll be doing on the Alaska marathon cruise, is:
- 3 miles paved/level
- 10 miles trail/rolling
- rest day
- 6.2 miles paved/hilly
- 7 miles trail/rolling
At the moment, this is looking fairly daunting. I’m beginning to think that I’ll just go out there, have a great time, take lots of photos along the way, and congratulate myself for having the courage to try.
My mind is willing but my body keeps whispering that it’s a little tired. I find reasons to postpone that next-day run and give myself a 1-day break.
I ran yesterday morning in a new place, along the spit that frames the harbor. Most of it was completely flat (as you’d expect at sea level) and paved road, but wherever I could I ran through gravel parking areas and sandy paths that wind between the road and the beach. The mix of surfaces was pleasant on my feet. I kept the distance short, only just over 3 miles. The weather was perfect: high 50s and completely calm. As I ran along the spit’s narrow strip of land, I had a close-up view of the harbor, city, and mountains to the south, and of the strait and Vancouver Island to the north. Here is the view to the north.
I came home feeling physically great, and with a mental sense of relief as I had been getting edgy from a couple of days of not running. That’s the ironic part — my mind really wants me to run more frequently. My mind craves the release from all the everyday concerns, stresses, and hassles of life. My mind thinks running is really fun and wants me to do more and more of it. My body seems to agree and has responded remarkably well to the demands I put on it, but only up to a certain point. My challenge is balancing the desires of my mind with the physical limits of what my body can do on any given day. As an intensely cerebral person, I keep having to re-learn that I need to listen more closely to my body.
This afternoon I’m planning an easy 4 mile run along the waterfront on the city side, followed by a local microbrew with running friends. I’ve vowed to run comfortably, have fun, and focus on resilience. What my body and mind need to learn now is the simple discipline of going out the next day and doing it again.
I’m getting from here to there one step at a time.
I have to keep reminding myself that in running and in life, we can’t shortcut the process. We can’t (and shouldn’t) be someone other than the person we are, but we can take those steps to become the person that we want to become. One mindful, careful step at a time, with an eye to the future while also fully experiencing, being present in, and cherishing the quality of each moment now.
I want to believe that this balancing act between present and future is not an impossible ideal.
What do you think?
It’s the 9th day of the month again. Today marks eleven months since Kurt died. Although grief is no longer at the forefront of my thoughts every day, I still feel sad as each of these small anniversaries approaches. This one seems especially poignant because the next one will be a full year.
At this time last year, I was packing up our things and preparing to drive Kurt and our three cats home from Palm Springs where we’d spent the late winter and early spring. Although he’d been under continuing care (read: “endless chemotherapy”) from a local oncologist, he was clearly getting sicker and weaker. He told me when we locked up the condo and left on May 15 that he didn’t think he’d ever see it again. I said, “Of course you will!” I was trying to be strong and I so badly wanted him to be strong and keep fighting. Perhaps, instead, I should have encouraged him to talk about it, at that moment when he might have still been able to have such a discussion with me.
No, I won’t second-guess my own actions from that time. We all do what seems like the right thing to do at the time.
And the mile markers go by, one after another.
My favorite running place, the Olympic Discovery Trail, has both mile markers and half-mile markers. I don’t look at them much these days, but they do serve as reminders to glance at my watch. I keep getting faster. I’m still not quite sure why I’m getting faster, or how much faster this slow happy runner is capable of going.
Since I started running three and a half years ago I’ve now run 1,577 miles, which is 534 more than last year at this time. I’ve probably run a million steps, give or take a few thousand, over the past year. One step at a time.
I have handled hills, rain, and gale-force headwinds. I can go out now and run ten miles at a constant pace that I couldn’t have done for even one mile a year ago. The next day I’m not sore. I’m amazed that I can just go and do a run like that and feel perfectly normal afterward.
Life goes on. I am not the person that I was a year ago. I will always have “Kurt’s widow” as a deep part of who I am, but I am not only that person. Every step, every mile, every corner turned and bridge crossed, takes me further beyond the life we shared.
My last post was about a bridge on the Olympic Discovery Trail, and it brought a question about whether this was an old railroad bridge. That particular bridge is a new one, but the trail is indeed on an old rail right-of-way, and some of its many bridges are indeed railroad bridges. After my run the other day I stopped to take photos of one of these; it’s just west of mile marker 5. Colleen, this is for you:
While on a bike ride back on April 27 I stopped in the middle of the bridge to look down at the stream. There was a bunch of wood and other debris caught in an eddy current and in the process of getting hung up on the downstream side of the bridge. I watched for a long time as a discarded green plastic bottle swirled around, each time looking like it might escape and float downstream, and each time becoming more entrapped by the debris. Each time I have crossed the bridge since that day, I have stopped to look for the bottle. Each time, it was still there.
Today the bottle was gone. There was still a debris dam there, but the green bottle had somehow escaped and floated on downstream toward the mouth of the stream a mile away.
Time passes. Things change. Mile markers approach and then fade behind us.
Life goes on, one step at a time.
I’m in the middle of packing and shipping some things, discarding other things, and mentally preparing myself to leave many things behind. Not surprisingly I suppose, in the middle of trying to do all this I got sick with a weird left-side-only ear/throat infection. It may have a physical cause (last Saturday I went hiking in a cold wind with periodic hard rain showers and I do recall having rain driven into my left ear), or it may be entirely due to the psychological stress of leaving this place and this part of my life behind me.
My physical surroundings are in total disarray. Yesterday I took 200 pounds worth of “stuff” to UPS and shipped it home. I’ve done a dump run, and this afternoon I’ll do a Goodwill run. Then I’ll have to figure out how to fit the artwork, electronic gadgets, and things needed en route into my car. My cats, that stuff, and I will hit the road within the next few days, leaving an unsold, mostly furnished condo behind. I’ll probably do another price reduction soon, and then cross my fingers that someone will want it furnished so I won’t have to come back later to dispose of the rest of the stuff. When I go, I want to be gone for good.
As far back as I can remember, leaving a place has been a gut-wrenching experience for me. Even leaving a place that I don’t want to be can be difficult. My choice to do a dissertation about the experience of being in a place was not an idle one; this was something deep that I really needed to understand about myself. Why do I get so attached to places? Why is it so hard for me to go? Why is it that, once I have left, I can hardly bear ever to return?
Once about ten years ago I had the opportunity to move back into a house that I’d loved very much but had had to leave about five years earlier. As much as I had loved that house and that town, I could not go back there. Partly that was because I didn’t want to be the person who’d lived there then, but mostly it was because leaving there had broken my heart and I didn’t want to risk having to go through it all again the next time. It was a house perched a mile high on the edge of a mountain range, overlooking a large portion of southern California. I looked down on millions of people, houses, cars, and lights. On a clear day I could see the ocean. I left it because keeping my job required it. I could no longer do the commute, which was 96 miles each way.
I am leaving this condo because I don’t need it; it is superfluous; it is holding me back. And yet I know what it meant to Kurt, and I know that he truly hoped I would keep it and live the life that he had wanted us to live. So this is me saying goodbye to something more complex and subtle than just another place.
I have other places to go…
It is time for me to say goodbye to this place.
Yet as I’ve said here a few times, this place does have its charms. Want another example? I took this photo the day I tried to go hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.
This was the day after the hike in the cold wind and rain, and hours before I realized I was getting sick. Although I’d expected to see snow and dressed accordingly, I wasn’t prepared for how cold blowing snow can feel when you’ve been in warm sunshine for the past few months. I was out of my car only long enough to take several photos.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since I’ve run, but right now I barely have the energy to walk, so I’m not worrying about not running. I expect to get right back on a regular schedule when I get home.
Right now, I am living in the in-between… but soon… I will be home.
Perhaps I should mention that I have not dropped off the face of the earth. I’ve simply gone into another one of my thought-funks, in which a lot of things are brewing but it’s difficult (or premature) to crystallize them into the pseudo-solid field of Zeros and Ones.
I am angry. I am disillusioned, in the literal sense of having my sense of reality ripped open and exposed before my eyes. I have lifted the veil, looked behind the curtain… and there really is nothing back there. This isn’t that sense of “walking off the cliff” into unexpected depths of grief that I’ve written about here many times. This really isn’t about grieving for Kurt at all. This is more a sense that many of the fundamental assumptions I have held about the way the world works have simply exploded.
We live in a world in which the institutions we have created do not do well by the people who created them and who have devoted their lives to maintaining, sustaining, and striving to improve them.
For many years I have lived, or professed to live, by this well-known Gandhi quote: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” I devoted my professional life to trying to awaken others to the power of personal transformation. I honestly thought that if I could reach enough individuals with this message, then I could help make a genuine difference in the world.
I’m now seeing that the world (or at least the portion of the world in which I have lived my life) is not going to change, is not interested in changing, and would prefer to see the notion of “personal transformation” limited to “becoming more effective/productive within the constraints of the existing system.”
If I really, personally, want to see change in the world — MY world — I’m going to have to really, personally, start with myself. I have to reevaluate my relationships to the “stuff” that I love, the things that I believe to be true, the literal and metaphorical security systems and barriers against the world that I have personally erected. I have to dare to be free, and I have to take personal responsibility for what it means to be free.
So now I’m in the process of figuring out what all that might mean. I suppose I overthink things, but that is who I am and expect I always will be, no matter how many veils I end up piercing along the way.
As I figure things out (or not) I may be absent from this blog for a while.
Or I may have another great run and want to tell you all about it.
I did 4.4 joyful miles Monday morning, and 3.25 not-so-joyful miles this morning. I was having trouble being in the moment and running when all around me the known world was collapsing, and I’d only had 4 hours of sleep last night. If it had been a race I would have risen to the occasion, but this morning it was just a slog. So I’ll try again on Friday — and I do always look forward to my Friday runs as they herald the coming of the weekend.
A friend of a friend died of lung cancer this morning. My wounds are still too fresh; this news ripped my heart open again. This was not the source of my current anger and disillusionment; rather, those experiences left me wide open to the pain. If you smoke, please stop. If you truly love someone who is a smoker, please nag them to stop. Life is too short and precious to waste in such a stupid, senseless way. All we have are moments, and I want all of us to live as many moments as possible.
It’s been an eventful 24 hours in my life, the details of which I’m not yet ready to share. Yesterday’s post was an initial attempt to figure out what things might be worth investing my time in doing, during the so-called “second half” of my life. Wouldn’t it be great to have another 56 years in this beautiful world? Well, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of “big hairy audacious goals” (BHAGs), so why not dream such dreams?
One of the comments on my last post (thanks, Patty) led me to revisit my personal purpose statement. My earliest attempt to put this down in writing (or at least, the earliest version that I still have on my current computer) dates to the year 2000. The last time I revised this statement was 2005 — but in re-reading it just now, I’m not sure I would change a word. All I need to do now is simply to move toward fully living it.
Three core values lie at the core of my personal purpose statement. All the rest of it is just details.
In my professional role as a leadership educator and coach, I have often led others through a values clarification exercise in which people sorted and prioritized a list of potential values including things like “achievement,” “spirituality,” and “wealth” — the whole gamut of a hundred or so things that my work colleague and I could imagine that someone might hold dear — and winnow the list down to just three. The key feature of this exercise is that the person has to not only choose three core values, but also must define exactly what they mean to him or her. The next step, then, would be to write a life goal statement or high-level “mission” incorporating those core values.
Every time I have tried to do this exercise for myself, I identify the same three values, so I think I have the right ones, the values that truly resonate with me and help me to stay true to myself in whatever circumstances and decision points I may face.
So… here they are:
Learning: continuous, lifelong growth of knowledge, awareness, wisdom, and creative action
Harmony: living at peace, in beauty, in balance, and at home in the world and in myself, in action and in stillness
Wholeness: absolute commitment to a whole life truthfully lived in creative relationships with an interconnected world.
That’s it; that’s me; that’s what I’m here to do. The really cool thing is, everything I wrote yesterday aligns perfectly with these core values. In the process of doing whatever I might do in the future, I hope to make the world a better place in whatever small ways I may be able to make a difference. As I continue on whatever paths I may decide to follow, I’m going to keep doing, showing, living, and being those values.
It’s a great feeling to come home to and re-embrace one’s deepest values. Everything is going to be all right.
Oh yeah, all that and another PR at the Palm Springs half marathon in just a few weeks from now. 🙂
How would I invest my time?
This is a question that is starting to arise in me. At the center of this whole idea of “life goes on,” “creating a new life,” “finding my way one step at a time,” and all those things I’ve been writing about (when you thought you had signed up for a blog about grief, or running, or whatever brought you here), there is a deeper question that is starting to emerge.
What do I really want to do with my life?
What adventures are waiting for me, things that I have not yet done, been prevented from doing, been forced to postpone? What dreams are still boxed up gathering dust on some shelf somewhere that I meant to get back to but could never find the time? Are any of them still worth pursuing? Or what new dreams (and realities) might unfold if I could clear away all of the dust that surrounds my present life?
Well, I think I have at least two books waiting to be written. There is a book that will come out of my dissertation research and all the thinking I have done since then about the experience of being in a place. There is a book about what it’s really like to be a caregiver for a terminally ill loved one (and I have a wealth of data from my blogs to draw upon for that one). Maybe there is even a book about running and/or blogging one’s way toward a new life. So if I suddenly found myself with an endlessly blank calendar, the first thing I would do is block out a few hours a day for some serious writing.
No, wait! The first thing I’d do is block out at least eight hours a night for sleeping. I’ve lived on 4-6 hours of sleep a night for so long, I can’t even imagine how much energy I might have if I ever got caught up on sleep. My natural body clock would love to go to bed about 2:00 AM and get out of bed around 10:00 AM. So the writing would be #2 on my to-do list, after staying up as late as I want and sleeping in as late as I want.
What else? I’d get more exercise. I’d walk or hike or bike on the days when I don’t run. I would drive less. I would spend more time among mountains, beaches, forests, and other wild places.
I’d get more serious about gardening. As a vegetarian, I’m curious to learn how much of my own food I could actually grow, given time to devote to it. I’ll never be able to eat completely locally in Washington state (I love lemons too much!), but my bioregion is amazingly diverse in terms of what can be grown. I’d like to learn how to make growing things thrive, and I can see myself teaching (or at least inspiring) others to make growing things thrive.
I’d make more friends. I’d get involved in local community-building and volunteer activiities. I’d dabble in art, music, and/or theatre. I have no idea where my beyond-writing muse(s) might lurk, but I want to try things. I see a local arts scene beginning to grow in my remote small town, and I think we have a shared interest in nurturing this growth.
I would take a whole bunch of photographs of the meeting of earth and sky, and of the way light pervades and transforms spaces.
I would spend money more intentionally, and I would recycle/resuse more carefully. While I may always be a gadget geek, there are no rules that say I have to hold onto every single obsolete, unused gadget… or collectible object or keepsake for that matter. I would get rid of a lot of stuff and create more space in my life for experiences.
I would live as consciously as possible in the moment, in each moment, because I know that the number of our moments is finite.
I would laugh more. I would play more. I would hope to love again. I would have fun.
Looking back at what I have just written, I wonder… what am I waiting for?
What about you? If you had “all the the time you needed” (along with the awareness that your time is, in fact, precious and finite), how would you invest your time?
I’ve been very busy the past several days, trying to meet short-term work deadlines and making other preparations for a few days of the luxury that I am now experiencing… a gift to myself of time, space, and the company of a community that is very dear to me.
I’m in a California coastal city for an annual gathering of students and faculty at the university where I did my PhD. Coming back here as an alumna, I don’t have to attend seminars or dissertation committee meetings. I can drink in the energy around me without absorbing any of the stress. This is one of the few places where I can talk about Dasein without getting blank stares in return. I spent some time in the bar last night discussing the finer points of a single essay by Heidegger, with a group of students who treated me like a rock star. I need this sort of occasional reminder that, in the arcane world of the academy, I can legitimately claim to be the global expert on one minuscule piece of humanity’s knowledge base. That’s very cool, on the totally cerebral plane.
Yet I’m also here to soak in the sight, sound, and smell of the ocean. I’m here to sleep in late and then go for a run along the beach. I’m here to practice this experience of being alive and present. Right here, right now.
So this is a short post, and I may not be able to respond to comments quickly. I’m going out now to walk on the beach and decide which direction I want to run. Or maybe I’ll decide to simply walk today. Either way, I shall have fun.
I hadn’t planned to write tonight. The process of making and then acting on decisions is emotionally wrenching for me. Last night I went to bed late and slept poorly. Although I obeyed the alarms on both iDevices and got up early enough this morning, I could not find the will to go running. I decided that since it was the Friday before that most famous of winter holidays, most of my colleagues were only going to work a half day and I could safely take off early and run this afternoon.
I wanted to tell you that as of today I’d met my goal of 500 miles in 2011, but I had to cut short both my Wednesday and Friday runs this week due to highly unusual side stitches that, I suspect, are related to my current stress. Mind, body — although I sometimes wish I could, I cannot experience these as separated, divided entities. So as of tonight I have run 498.5 miles this year. I should easily surpass 500 miles on Sunday — but I felt distressed that I couldn’t do it as planned today.
Yes, I know I am too hard on myself. But mind/body has spoken and forced me to listen.
It should have been a lovely run this afternoon. It was 70 degrees and I wore my wonderful new orange shorts. I may need to buy another pair — they were indeed that awesome. I enjoy being able to like the way I look in short shorts! Especially knowing how hard I’ve worked to be able to say that.
The title of tonight’s post came by way of a friend who commented offline (what’s that?) on my last post. Apparently that was Colin Chapman’s design mantra. Not being an English car person I confess I had to google the phrase and learned that he created the Lotus car and that this principle explicitly guided the design of the Europa.
It seems like a good design principle for life, doesn’t it?
Simplify, then add lightness. I need less stuff and more lightness. Less stress and more sky. Less stuff and more smiles. Less pain and more joy. Life is good and getting better. One step at a time.