Please Love Me

Sitting at the car dealership today getting an oil change, the woman across from me was crying on the phone. All I could do was give her a smile.

Another lady was reading a Nora Roberts book. One woman just stared oddly out the window the whole time.

The technician gave me my keys to leave and I had a panic attack.  You know my issue with cars if you’ve been reading for a while.  I can’t find my Prius in a regular parking lot, let alone a parking lot FULL of Priuses.*  I looked at him and asked if he could walk me to my car in the sea of Priui.*

*I have no idea what the plural of a Prius is.

As I sat in the dealership I thought about our neighbor’s house that burned down last night. They think that the outside grill was left on.  A friend from the news asked if I might do an interview and I declined.  I just don’t feel comfortable talking about other people’s tragedies (unless someone says “hey, please talk about my tragedy”)

Fire in Palm Desert Calfire

I watched a PBS documentary on the Amish last night. Something the narrator said struck me:

They are in our world, but not of this world.
They are pilgrims passing through.
They don’t get attached to this world.
They don’t get attached to the things of this world.

I wish I could get closer to that place. I mean I don’t want to convert to Amish-ism, but there is a part of how the Amish live that is very appealing to me.

And sometimes I just shouldn’t talk to people.  In trying to reach out to the owners of the burnt house last night I said “well….it was a house.” The owner did a half smile and said, “yes, and we are all safe, that’s all that matters.” But then I thought how much my comment minimized what had just happened.  Stupid comment. Of course it was just a house…but full of years of memories, photos, etc.

I stood outside after most of the crowd had left and watched the firefighters work. They cut the roof out with saws. It was just me and a policeman blocking traffic.

Fire in Palm Desert Calfire January 2014

 

“Ma’am, step away from the hose please.”

Calfire house fire in south palm desert

All I could think was: What are they feeling right now? What if it had been my house? What would I have saved? How do you start from scratch? They don’t even have underwear.

And I checked the expiration date on our fire extinguisher.  And I told another neighbor that if he ever saw smoke from our house to please rescue the dog if no one was home.  And it made me think about things that I hoard and how those items intermingle too much with the items that I would want to save, how they dilute the things that are of special importance like photos, Boo’s drawings, etc. And how many copies do I need of a single photo? Can’t I just throw out all the duplicates?  Everything that isn’t in albums….can’t that stuff just go away?  Yes, probably. And why do I still keep my wedding dress? To show Boo one day?  It’s not like it’s vintage….it’s c. 2001.  It cost $800….and overpriced at that. I wish someone would just come in and get rid of all the excess without me knowing. I’d probably never notice.

Here’s what I’m thinking today:  Things are just things….except for a few special things worth saving and protecting. And if, God forbid, I lost even those few special things, life would go on.

I think I’ve said this before, but when my grandfather died, there were all these trinkets in his drawers that he had obviously kept because they were sentimental. But no one had a clue why they were sentimental. I went through my jewelry box recently and got rid of almost everything….and anything that was sentimental I put in baggies with a note as to where they were from and why I kept them.  Part of me thinks: yay, when I’m gone someone will appreciate that I kept this….but the other part of me thinks: I have now made this a burden for someone because they will feel like they can’t throw it out. This is a problem. People own too many things now. We consume and we consume. Remember when people could fit all of their belongings into a single trunk?  I used to take a trunk to camp, it had almost my whole life in it!  Now I would need 4,893 trunks if I estimate off the top of my head…just for my books and paperwork.  Although, Mr. LBB and I did go through boxes and boxes of paper work the other day and sent six file boxes to the shredder. We are officially SIX file boxes lighter this week.  Congratulations to us.

I want more joy….not more things. Things take energy. I only have so much energy.

So, what do I do? I make more things, because that makes sense right?  More stuff.  Like some “Banksy” inspired art:

Please Love Me is what we are saying when we accumulate and accumulate. Because that’s the only thing we really need. Love. And that’s really our only assignment in life right? To love others. And when love is missing we fill it with things.

 

P.S. As I cleaned out my purse today I found this fortune at the bottom:

Fortune: your laugh and enthusiasm

Love and joy are pretty much the only things that can please people around us.

 

The Year of Joy Recap: So I skipped a few days here and there…

Day 1: The Year of Joy: You are deserving of joy. Many times we confuse joy with happiness. They are two separate things. Happiness comes from circumstances, but joy is an attitude that defies circumstances.

Day 2: A Bigger Target: Focus changes everything. Our goal in life should be to be much, not to have much.

Day 3: Make Room for Joy: Quit Something Every Thursday: So how do we become deep people? Don’t let time fillers dilute your life, intrude and thin out your joy.

Day 4: Availability is the Greatest Ability: I so often think I’m available, but really my mind is wandering around in the margins of life.

Day 5: People Gifting Cadillacs: So many lessons to learn in letting go. As well as giving and gifting. Some are so grateful to find a great treasure at any cost.

Day 6: Nothing is More Real than Nothing: These are the times that I just ask for grace and accept that I may have over-committed…just a little.

Day 7: Making my World Smaller: I am finding joy in becoming increasingly unattached to things.

Day 8: A Bonus Check: It might not seem like it, but you too are making small strides. We all are. Look for your bonus checks, and share the wealth with others.

Day 9: 25 Quotes of Joy: Joy does not simply happen to us.

Day 10: The Joy of Energy: Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness….

Day 11: Top 10 DIY Projects from 2013: The joy for me comes out of creating and mostly sharing.

Day 12: Vulnerability is Liberating: And on the other side of this screen I’m barely keeping my head above water, it’s like I’m in a tangled web of worldly messes that have to be dealt with.

Day 13: That Was Not Love, That Was a Greeting Card: I’m still learning, but I do know this…love leads the way.

Day 14: The Tangible Evidence of Hope: Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, right? Well, some of them.

Day 15: Rainbow Alert: Surround yourself with people that make you laugh.

Day 16: Trending Joy: http://www.lilblueboo.com/2014/01/trending-joy.html

Day 21: Where We Forget to Count the Days: http://www.lilblueboo.com/2014/01/where-we-forget-to-count-the-days.html

Day 23: For the Love of Money: http://www.lilblueboo.com/2014/01/for-the-love-of-money.html

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Comments

  1. 1

    What would we each do if we had to start over? Like the people of my home state New Jersey, and the Tri-State area after their homes were destroyed by Sandy? It’s truly wonderful and heartwarming when people can go through such a misfortune and still see the good in that they are still alive, and their most prized possessions (each other) still exist in this world.

    I went to a wake for a childhood friend last night and saw friends that I had lost touch with for almost 20 years. Still, all I could think of while I was waiting in the line of people there to pay respects to her parents and brothers – this woman (as a child) and her family made such an impression on me and in my life that I could never forget their humility. The reason that brought me to that funeral home, validated itself very quickly as I reintroduced my sister and myself to her mother, who quickly remembered us. Her brothers (who I hadn’t spoken to in forever), were now men greeting us with open arms and open hearts. We were received with nothing less than extreme appreciation for bringing ourselves to remember and celebrate their baby sister’s life with them.

    It is that spirit that I hope to see in all of the lives I come across, in this new chance at life I’ve been given. One where things used to rule, and now appreciation for my greatest gifts of life and love take precedence over all. Thank you for helping to spread that message in your own way, today.

  2. 2

    What a wonderful post! I sometimes think I’m probably odd for having the exact thoughts you expressed. I’ve always tried to be careful about purchases….do I need it, will I use it, do I just like it or LOVE it? But after clearing out my parents’ home a few years ago of SO. MUCH. STUFF., I’ve become even more selective about what I buy.

    Last summer we were evacuated from our home due to a forest fire. We were fortunate to have had about two hours notice and got out the necessities plus a little more . But in the end it was the pets, paperwork, and photos that were irreplaceable.. Everything else truly is “just stuff” and can be replaced in a heartbeat.

  3. 3

    Aaaah I TOTALLY resonate! In fact I had my own crisis of material possessions about 1.5 years ago. Long story short, we went on a bunch of road trips, came back, had a couple yard sales, and then sold our house.

    IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING.

    We’re actually seriously considering long term traveling now- as in living on the road like vagabond gypsies. We just sold our reliable car for a vintage VW vanagon and are in process of that. Kinda scary, kinda crazy, but hopefully good things to come :]

  4. 4

    We had a fire a little over 2 weeks ago. We didn’t lose everything, but we are living in a hotel with 3 kids 4 and under until at least April, likely longer. We took what we needed (a few clothes and some of the kids toys from Christmas). *Everything* else was taken to be cleaned. They told us they honestly have no clue when we’ll get it all back. We’ve said many times, it’s hard to complain. It could have been so much worse. It’s mainly an inconvenience. Especially with the kids. We’ve also said how we really don’t need all the things they took to clean. If we can live without them for a few months or indefinitely, we probably don’t need the possessions anyways. You know, we always had the conversation of ‘in the case of a fire what do you save? What’s the one or few things you grab?’ Well, having now experienced it first hand I can strongly say ‘people’. It’s all that matters. We didn’t have shoes on and it was below freezing. The ground was wet with snow and ice from the day before. As our feet grew numb, I had such clarity that we got everything that matters out. Yes, it would have sucked to lose pictures from our computers, sentimental items. But we have the memories in our minds and hearts and our babies in our arms.

    • 5

      Oh my gosh Tessa I’m so sorry. As I wrote this I wondered if anyone would relate. I’m so glad everyone is safe. Can you send me your email? ashley at lilblueboo dot com.

  5. 6

    This is why I practice the safe grill technique of, 1. Preheat your grill and while you pre-heat your grill hold a spatchula in your hand – pre heat for 15 minutes. 2. Grill your food. 3. Turn it right off – move away from the deck or house. (Best to turn them right off so you don’t forget). And always a good tip even cooking in the house, set timers but just walk around with a spatchula in your hand, that way you remember somethings in the kitchen! :-)

  6. 7

    Maybe look at kindredofthequietway.blogspot.com…she knows quiet and simple. Love.

  7. 8

    Well timed. I’m beginning my move out of my home and marriage of 25 years and I’m coming across “stuff” I haven’t seen in 17 years (our last major move, still packed) and I just don’t care. I wish someone else would come and toss it for me. I don’t want to bring all that baggage into the new home. As for the wedding dress? I think I’m going to let my daughter cut it up and make doll clothes with it :-D

  8. 9

    Please don’t base your entire view on the Amish from the PBS documentary. I was really disappointed in the documentary as a whole. they really focused on the physical attributes and not on the emotional attributes. I’m a Mennonite and have lots of Amish friends. They do have value to material things. They hand bibles down from generation to generation, they have hope chests filled with belonging for when they get married, to adorn their homes. They do have clocks, wall hangings, handcrafted furniture. And I’m sure they would be saddened to lose belongings, just like all of would. But as children of God, they know that everything but life is replaceable.

  9. 11

    I’ve been in a serious de-cluttering phase, since I just purchased a condo (yay for being a homeowner, boourns for mortgage payments :P), which is 850 sq feet large, totally enough for me, but I am moving from a 1,250 sq foot rental. So, lots of furniture to get rid of, & lots of junk in general. I’ve cleaned out about 4,000 pounds of clothes from my closet and actually feel like I have MORE to wear now.
    As I find more clothes that don’t fit with tags on them, more dishes I rarely used, more DVDs I never watch, more electronics I never use, I feel so guilty over all the money I’ve spent on myself, and guilty over the total waste of it all. I mean I’m grateful I’m able to donate it all to people who will actually use it, but I just think of the thousands of dollars spent over the years so frivolously. It would have come in handy for the down payment, ha!
    I was talking to my sister the other day about what we would save in a fire. I couldn’t think of anything. Other than my computer, which has all my photos & music on it, which would be really sad to lose. I know it’s ok that I’m not attached to stuff, but I think there is some value in having a few things to hold on to and pass down. I would LOVE to have my future grandchildren discover my handwritten journals (that I haven’t written yet, lol), or have a worn, marked up Bible passed down generation after generation. Material possessions, yes, but ones that bless others instead of be a burden.
    Wow, sorry for the long ass comment. I should probably speak to people more during the day, I usually try to be much more succinct on the internet :)

  10. 12

    I love reading your posts. This one made me sad, worry, laugh, and just smile.

  11. 13

    When my health got to the point of not being able to stand over a sink of dishes or clean, I hired a Mennonite lady to clean for me, than along came one to help her. On the last cleaning day it was the other one’s sister and her daughter. But I was impressed when she said that the reason that the one woman couldn’t come was their sister had a baby in Peru that died at birth and the mother had had a very hard time physically as well, so my cleaning lady went down to Peru on a moment’s notice to help her sister as she recovers. Two things were surprising about the situation. One being the attitude about the death of a longed for child, that the baby is already in a better place and won’t have to go through the trouble that this world brings. I thought of how I would like a grandchild, and yet see what is going on in our world as not the place I would like to see a child growing up in at this point. the other thing I thought interesting, is most people would have seen a death in the family a good excuse to not come and do their job. these ladies came and they know how the minister to me by helping me do the things that are difficult to do. I suspect eventually I’ll know every Mennonite lady in our area.

    It is too easy to get trapped into the accumulation of stuff, instead of seeing what we can do for others. We forget to show love in the midst constantly trying to keep up with the Jones.

  12. 14

    I just read the BEST book about this same thing (and reviewed it on my blog)…it’s called “clutterfree with kids”. The author basically encourages readers to do an emotional reprioritization and figure out how much of our finite resources (time, energy, money) is spent on gaining and managing possessions instead of on family, service and making memories. It struck home for me and today we had a massive garage sale where I got rid of almost everything that I didn’t need or love. I’m focusing on minimalism as far as “things” are concerned so I can maximize my life as far as people are concerned!! Highly recommend the book :)

  13. 15

    Ashley, I absolutely love your blog! I too am getting rid of stuff. It sometimes is hard and I also think if someone was to go just get rid of it, I would probably never notice. I follow a website that helps sidetracked people establish routines in their home and get rid their clutter. I love it, and her biggest deal is decluttering and getting rid of the extra stuff. That is my goal. Clutter causes stress. I don’t want to be remembered by the stuff but by my personality and what I gave to others. Your blog has really made me think a lot lately.
    Please don’t ever stop voicing your opinions and thoughts. I am commenting on several posts I guess, but you mentioned in another post about when you could have said no but you said yes. The other night I was dropping off a friend and sat in her driveway and talked and some guy in a wheelchair barely moving himself along went past us and my friend wanted to help him but we didn’t know him and he could have been dangerous and so we didn’t. It was dark and he could have been dangerous, but he was an older man and he had hospital bags on his wheel chair and he was moving only a few feet at a time. He definitely could have used my help. I should have said yes, but I didn’t. I said no. I can’t get him out of my mind. I will say yes next time. There was enough people nearby that if it got dangerous, we could have got help.
    Another post on nothing is more real than nothing. I have thought about that post more than i care to mention. I’m pretty into God and church and all i could think about was how that God can do anything with nothing, and He has done it so many times for me. And then a couple church services later a preacher mentioned that it says in Job somewhere that God hung the world on nothing. and I guess thinking about your post and all the thoughts I had on nothing after that and that comment. All I could do was cry. B/c God is so awesome. He needs nothing to supply all of our needs. He hung the world on nothing.
    :)