Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cleaning

It's that time of the year when I'm thoroughly disgusted by the amount of junk I have in my home, and I am anxious to get rid of it.  I remember our home in Petaluma, that darling little one-bedroom, one-bathroom duplex, and I guarantee all the things we have now would've never fit in that tiny place.  Why do we always fill the space we live?  Sam and I survived just fine in our "'Luma Loft" (nay, we thrived), and we have accumulated much more stuff in that time, stuff that we assume we "need".  I had the smallest, itty-bitty closet in Petaluma, and suddenly I think my walk-in closet is too small for all my clothes, shoes, and hats.  Reality check: it's time to get rid of the excess.

I love the cleaning out, the paring down, the simplifying.  It's freeing to not be tied down with belongings I haven't used in a year and forgot I even owned.  Maybe it's because of how often we've moved in our nearly twenty months of marriage, but when I look around at everything in our home, all I can think about is what a headache it will be to pack it all up and move it again.  (Sidenote: I am utterly amazed when I encounter a couple who have been married about as long as we have been, or longer, and they're still living in the same home as when they first married.  What must that be like?  To be able to fully settle in, never once considering the fact that in six months or a year you may be someplace new?  Dear wives who've been granted this luxury, enjoy it.  You can fully decorate without the least bit of hesitation!  I am, obviously, jealous of your position.)

Forgive my digression.  Back to spring cleaning.

All this cleaning makes me want to do a cleanse of all the other "unnecessaries" (is that a word?) in my life.  I want to stop eating so much sugar.  (Dear Lord, if only sugar had gluten in it, I would be fine!)  I want to stop watching mindless television and reading nonsense online.  I'd rather fill myself with whole, healthy food, and fill my mind with insightful words with depth and wisdom.  More literature, fewer magazines.  I want to rid myself of the waste to make room for the meaningful, the necessary, the healthy.

Yesterday I was in the middle of cleaning out my closet.  Clothes were in piles all over my bed - to keep, to give away, to decide whether or not to keep or give away - and I had a pile of clean, unfolded laundry on the floor.  That morning, while getting ready for church, I pulled a little too hard on my dresser drawer and it toppled to the ground, scattering socks and exercise shirts everywhere.  Sam and I had just returned from spending the morning at church and the afternoon running errands when some new friends from church stopped by.  It was the first time they'd been to our house, and of course, it was in shambles.  Even though 90% of the time my house is in order, it seems people only come over in that other 10%.

As I gave my new friend a tour, I found myself wanting to explain that it didn't usually look like this, that I was cleaning everything out, that I swear I'm not a slob.  I knew she wouldn't care, but I was bummed she was seeing my home for the first time in the shape it was in.  It was especially mortifying because I had just been to her home a week earlier, and it was spotless.  And adorable.

I wanted it to appear that I was a great homemaker, but I realized that I don't have to play those games, always trying to look perfect.  My long-time friends know all the ugly parts and love me anyway, and that level of comfort is refreshing.  With new friends, it's easy to want to hide those less-than-perfect aspects of our lives until it's impossible to hide them anymore, until we feel safe.  I've had friends, or acquaintances, who've never fully dropped all their facades of perfection, so I've never known them on a real level.  I want to be known, and pretending to have a perfectly together life is exhausting.  I'm actually relieved to be past that point, and I think friendships can be forged more quickly when we drop the act and just be real.

So sometimes my house is messy.  And that's why I want to give most of the mess away.  That, and because I'm not convinced mine and Sam's moving days are over.  The only things I want to keep accumulating are more friends, more wisdom, and more people to love.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A silly post about hair and goodie bars

So...my hair is currently the lightest it has been in seven years.  See?


(I actually just think the cats look hilarious in these pictures, which is why I took pictures with them.  And notice Sam hanging out in the background?)

I'm slowly but surely going to be a blonde.  It will take a few more appointments at the salon to break through all the other color(s) of my hair (none of which are natural) but my stylist promised me she can eventually get me blonde.  For those of you who remember my blonde disaster of 2005, rest assured, it won't look like that.  I hope.  And the only reason it is straight is because it looks ridiculous curly - with each curl containing about seven different hair colors.

I don't know what prompted me to change my hair color yet again, though I think it has something to do with missing the sunshine and California.  I miss being warm.  I don't remember the last time I was warm.  I miss wearing flip flops and shorts.  And no, this isn't just the normal "I'm ready for summer" feeling, it's the "I miss central valley weather".  Perhaps this new fascination with blonde is just my feeble attempt to pretend like it is the sunshine that has lightened my hair.  (Perhaps that's also why I bought a bunch of beach-themed candles at Bath & Body works.) I'll just pretend like I'm at Avila Beach all through the cold Oregon spring.

Perhaps this new color will actually help me look like I am, indeed, related to my siblings, all of whom have retained their flaxen hair.  ("One of these things is not like the others...")

And my parents, though, sorry Dad, your hair is just gray now. :)  (Don't worry, you're going to be a cute old man!)

Maybe I just want to somehow maintain my identity as a Wuth, now that I live a state away from the rest of them.  And, happily, I'll fit in more with my Scandinavian in-laws, too.

And that's enough of the psychological inquisition as to why I dye my hair...

Guess what I realized?  I can make Goodie Bars with Corn Chex (gluten-free) instead of Corn Flakes (which I think contain barley malt, which would make me sick) and they taste about the same.  Even better, they are vegan!!!!  The only four blessed ingredients are honey, peanut butter, sugar and now Corn Chex, so we've got a gluten-free, vegan dessert on our hands!  Are they healthy?  Absolutely not - far from it, in fact.  They have way too much sugar to be healthy.  But I memorized the recipe years ago and altered it so that I can make a small serving - about an eighth of a batch - to enjoy when I just need a goodie bar fix and don't want to tempt myself with a whole pyrex of them.  Still shouldn't be eating it, but oh my, so yummy.  You can click here to get the full recipe, but if you just want a little bowlful, boil 1/8 of a cup of honey with 1/3 of a cup of sugar.  Remove from heat, add 1/3 of a cup of peanut butter, stir really well, and then add 1 cup of cereal.  Stir, flatten with waxed paper, and eat up. 

Now don't you want a goodie bar?  You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Balance.

Monday night as I tried to fall asleep, all sorts of blog ideas finally started rolling through my head.  Thanks, mind, for waiting until I'm half asleep to finally decide to unleash some ideas.  Not to mention, I had to be at work by 4:15 on Tuesday morning, so I desperately needed to fall asleep.  Why do I always feel so productive and alert when I should be sleeping?  And when I should be productive, why do I just want to sleep?  Someone tell me it's not just me.

Months ago, when I was lamenting about my writer's block, I begged for some inspiration, some blog ideas for anyone who would offer any.  JulieAnn requested I write about balance in life.  So here's what I know about how to balance life.

Absolutely nothing.

Unfortunately, this blog has nothing to offer other than perhaps some comfort to others who find balance so elusive.  Just wanted to forewarn anyone who thought I might be offering some wisdom.

I completely envy those who seem to have found ways to make all their responsibilities and hobbies align in harmony in their lives.  My attention is all over the place, and I tend to focus on one thing at a time in bits and pieces.  When I was in school, I was focused on reading, learning, and had tons of inspiration for writing.  I was constantly being propelled into creativity through my professors and fellow students, as well as the incredible works of literature I was responsible for reading.  But when it came to health, I failed.  I couldn't find the time to cook healthy meals, and exercising was the last thing on my mind.

Now that I'm working and not in school (I never thought I would miss being in school so much), my reading and writing has shamefully been reduced to mostly magazines and blogs.  True, I have more time now to focus on health (and being diagnosed with a gluten allergy sort of forced that), but my writing has been put on the back burner.  And that exercising still doesn't happen as often as it should.

I've noticed that in my own life, it comes down to time management.  I focus so much on new, important priorities, that I neglect budgeting enough time for those other activities I still want or need to do.  I haven't figured out how to add in new priorities and balance those with the old ones.  How do I decide when it's okay to relax for a bit, and when I have relaxed too much (like, say, watching seven episodes of The Office in a row on Hulu)?  And why can't my idea of relaxation be cleaning the house and cooking?  I wish I was one of those people that did those things for fun or to wind down, but cooking and cleaning are simply chores for me.

Lately my biggest regret is not making enough time for studying the Bible and spending time in prayer and worship.  I feel the effects of that more than anything, in my attitude and level of contentment.  The funny thing is, I know that when I make my spiritual and physical health a priority, the emotional health follows.  I feel so much better, and have such an easier time dealing with more difficult issues in my day-to-day life.  When I'm not taking care of myself, and when I'm not spending time with God on a regular basis, I'm much more unhappy, and I'm easily irritated.  Redirecting my focus to Jesus, walking with Him daily, with a grateful attitude for His many blessings somehow helps with balance.  When I give my day to God, allowing Him to direct me into the activities that are most important for that day, then I feel peace.

I doubt I'll ever have a grasp on this idea of balance, and I'm sure things in my life will continue to be neglected for a season, only to be focused on at a different stage in life.  The only thing I can think to do is to start my day with my Creator, trusting that He will provide me with everything I need, and to do my best to maintain at least a little discipline in my time management.  I also highly recommend Jesus Calling, a devotional my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas.  It's a great way to begin the morning, to get the focus to where it needs to be, on Christ and off of myself.

Maybe that's the key to balance?  Stop worrying so much about myself and focusing inward and instead direct all thoughts to God and how great He is?  Thoughts?
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