Living the life you’re in

Not all of us experience the dramatic moments that spur life-changing realizations.

We don’t find our spouse in bed with someone else and realize, suddenly, what a dog he is.

We don’t have a heart attack and quit our job because we see—in a blinding flash of pain–it is, literally, killing us.

Instead, we find our magazine basket overflowing. And see ourselves through a new lens.

At least, that is how it usually works for me.

These mundane events do not make for stellar cocktail party conversation but they hopefully save me from the more unpleasant dramatic moments and heart attacks that can ensue for people who ignore what the mundane has to offer us.

Back to the riveting details of my overflowing magazine basket (and next week, in another exciting installment, we can discuss the unmated socks in my laundry room) . . .

My cleaning woman likes to roll her eyes at me, moan and groan as she moves my magazine basket to vacuum underneath it. Sarcastically complimenting her on her flair for the dramatic, I asked why the fuss.

“Kristine, when will you ever find the time to read all of these magazines? You work all hours of the day and night, you have two boys to watch over and a crazy dog. And you’re the one cooking dinner and taking them to their activities.”

I don’t know why this day of all days it hit me, but I realized she was so very right. As I looked at a basket that had at least 50 magazines in it, I thought how ludicrous this was for a woman with my schedule.

I was still holding onto pieces of a life I was no longer living.

A decade ago, I was staying home with my kids and freelancing just here and there. I had time, at the end of a long day, to peruse my favorite magazines.

And now? Not so much. Let’s just say the Vanity Fair next to my bathtub might be considered vintage. (But at a moment’s notice, I could now dazzle you with my knowledge of what was hip, cool and happenin’ during the summer of 2013.)Many stack of book to read

I was so busy Moving On, with the large bits of life—adjusting to thinking of myself as a single mother, sole breadwinner, dating again after two decades—that I had not moved on in a daily sense. It was time to go easy on myself. To recycle the heap of magazines I could not previously bring myself to recycle. To tell myself that it was ok if, during a time of great change, I did not keep up on current events and fall fashions in equal measure.

Getting rid of those old magazines was as good as admitting failure. Or that’s what I had been telling myself. I’d see the pile and think, “I’ll get to those in my spare time.”

Only, guess what? Spare time went out the window with my marriage and a second income.

I am betting that each of you has areas of life that fit an old model. That, like me, old bits have crept on you, catching you unawares. And in a lightbulb moment, you realize it’s time to change—whether it’s the shower curtain you never liked or the boyfriend who never makes you a priority. A friend of mine recently gave away scads of gorgeous perennials, as she realized her life no longer supported time for the yard she used to have hours to attend to. She now makes due with some very low-maintenance shrubs—and her gal pals have added a bit of her showy splendor to their own gardens. Win/win.

The end of my story is as mundane as the beginning. My recycling bin was probably 25 pounds heavier than usual that week. My garbage man, I’m sure, cursed me under his breath.

As for me? I simply smile now when my cleaning woman vacuums the living room.

And that, dear hearts, is a welcome change.




36 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey Kay!

    Maybe it is not about the 50 magazines in the basket(maybe). It is about culling one or two from them. I know I have enough on my hands here too but I am trying, struggling and failing mostly to keep up. One day I succeed and others I don’t. But I know I just have to pick the right ones and not everything for the sake of doing things

    I hope you are well! 🙂

  2. srbottch says:

    Kristine (did I get it right, finally), you ‘did good’ uncluttering. As my wife says, ‘Less is more’ (as she seems to be buying every new door wreath TJMaxx gets in store). You can get all that mag stuff in a few good apps. But you still need a relaxing read time to time which is why my Rx is a blog named “S’amusing” (selfish promotion). You’re doing the right things (how should I know). Tomorrow, we’re changing wreaths in the doors. (ps. I wrote my sibling…thanks)

    1. candidkay says:

      First, so glad you wrote your sibling:). Love that. Second, yes–reading time is a must, particularly your stories. And third, never underestimate the power of a well-decorated door. (Us ladies have to stick together!). Kudos on the name! By jove, he’s got it:).

      1. srbottch says:

        ‘I think he’s got it’. As for the sibling, it’ll redevelop slowly but I did get a ‘thank you’…’Baby steps’ ((What About Bob?)

  3. I agree with this. It’s interesting how realities change and that is completely okay. It’s about adjusting and accepting our realities, and finding joy within them. Spring is coming. Out with the old and in with the new.

    1. candidkay says:

      Amen to spring and the new!

  4. I hear you. Just last week when I saw socks were only $25 for a pack of ten (it seems prices have come way down while I was busy dealing with ‘the big picture’), I wondered to myself why on earth I had a drawer full of odd socks waiting in vain for their pair to turn up. So I bought some nice new socks and threw ALL the odd ones out (and more). It did feel good.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s funny how we put ourselves last so many times, undeservedly. I’m glad you’re being good to yourself!

  5. Our magazines are the metaphor for the lives we cling to… mine goes apparently back to 2011.. my recycle bin will be heavier on Monday too!

    1. candidkay says:

      Good for you! I hope with every bit pitched into that then you feel a little lighter:).

  6. I get you on this one. A few years ago I gave up gardening. I used to love it and enjoyed all the work of toiling in the soil but life changed and it became drudgery. I didn’t have time to keep up on it so I grew more weeds than produce and it was just depressing. But I realized that part of my life was over and I’m okay with that. It’s freeing to let things of the past time go and move on to new things.
    Love these words! Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too! Gardening, that is. I do the minimum but my lifestyle no longer affords me the time. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

  7. heyjude6119 says:

    This was good for me to read as I contemplate cleaning out my craft room.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, a brave endeavor:). I don’t have a craft room but I can imagine there are a lot of emotional ties to what’s in it.

  8. Roy McCarthy says:

    So true. It’s often difficult to even recognise the ruts one finds oneself in. Then, in your words, the light bulb moment. That can be liberating.

    1. candidkay says:

      And isn’t it amazing how easily staying in our comfort zone becomes a rut?

  9. There’s nothing simple about this wisdom. The elegance of your writing illuminates a profound lesson in an overlooked corner of everyday life.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you very much:). It’s so easy to overlook as we rush from bit to bit. I’m trying to be more intentional in my days.

  10. Sometimes, life moves too fast for us to keep up. Things are left undone because something else is more pressing. I hope one day you will find the time again to read your magazines if it is something you truly enjoy. If not, I hope something just as enjoyable replaces it.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I hope so too:). Slowing down is something a lot of us could stand to do.

  11. Judy says:

    “Getting rid of those old magazines was as good as admitting failure.” That hit me because I’ve been there. This time it came with a glaring lightbulb: Why is it failure? Who said it was failure? I’m busy doing other things I enjoy. If I truly wanted to read those magazines, I would have taken the time. Other things meant more to me. That isn’t failure; that’s recognizing my priorities. I have other things besides magazines I need to recognize are not priorities and let them go. Thanks for the insight.

    1. candidkay says:

      So very true. We classify as a failure not meeting a standard that no longer applies to our current situation–not realizing we have the freedom to change the standard.

  12. If we knew how good letting go felt, we would never avoid it! Still I agree, it’s often those small parts of our life that keep us holding on for some strange reason. Well done for lightening your load, it adds a skip in our step along the path. 🙂

  13. Those ‘little’ bits in our lives are our ‘safety places’. They keep telling us its all safe and everything is fine…until that moment creeps up on us and we finally have to admit that those things are no longer us…and it is time to do that thing we have avoided….move on.
    Yes, they can be fearful, exciting and everything in between….but in truth they are doing the one thing that it all leads to…being loving to ourselves by removing what no longer is us.
    You are doing it in spades Kay, opened yourself to so many ‘new’ things and gained much strength and love because of it. Well done, they are not easy 🙂
    They are just bundle’s of the past Kay, you will be pleasantly surprised each time you release one, in how it does make you feel deep within…free 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      “Bundles of the past” is a great way to put it, Mark:). Makes me see how letting go of each moves me into the present.

  14. But if you’re like me, you keep the best of the mags and re-read your favorite articles once a year or two.

    1. candidkay says:

      Alas, no! I barely find the time to read them the first time around:).

  15. Cindy Dadik says:

    I use to spend my air miles on magazine subscriptions that I never had time to read. And for some strange reason I’d feel guilty every time I’d look at that pile of magazines. Now I just let those magazine miles go and buy a magazine when I know I’ll have time to read it…at the airport. 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      Wise woman! I must agree, a plane is magazine time . . . nothing else (usually) you feel you can accomplish in that time. What a sweet relief.

  16. suemclaren24 says:

    I leave my gently used magazines at the hospital. You never know what you’ll find in an older magazine that might distract you from whatever drama has you at the hospital.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, you’re channeling my mother:). She used to do the same, as she worked at a hospital. And I’m sure what she brought in beat the issues years out of date they kept in the waiting areas. Good for you–one small way to spread a little light. Love that.

  17. Amy says:

    Mundane will never be a descriptive term in my lexicon for anything associated with you! The dreamer in me looks with shimmering admiration at the realist in you. As always, you are a light for my path. Thank you for this post – lucid, well-written, spot on. You’ve underscored for me the wisdom of seeing what IS and the irrationality of continuing to trip over or trek around what WAS. Way to be alert and in the moment, my friend! You are a breath of fresh air and a continual source of inspiration. xoxox

    1. candidkay says:

      You always make me feel so good-even about my inadequacies! Thank you:). Is and Was are tricky places, aren’t they?

  18. I used to buy piles of glossy magazines until I realised they made me feel bad about myself with the constant themes of self-improvement. Now the magazines I buy are about writing, art and nature and this fits much better with the way I now feel about life 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, do share your title list:). I promise not to subscribe until I find free time again! Lol. And I hear you on the feeling bad. Real Simple does that to me. I’ll never own a label maker.

      1. Step away from the subscriptions – no titles for you until you can prove you’ve beat your addiction 🙂

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