Simplify Saturday

Today I tackled my wardrobe.

Although I am currently under my pre-pregnancy weight (thank you, breastfeeding), many of my clothes still don’t fit, due to changes in my body. I decided that now that Oscar is a year old, these clothes are never going to fit, and it’s time to let them go. Hanging on to clothes that don’t fit creates a kind of psychic weight for me that I want to be rid of. Some people find this motivating, but for me it’s a burden.

So I ruthlessly paired down my clothing, asking myself the following questions:

  • Does it fit?
  • Does it flatter?
  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it regularly?

I took several bags of clothes to Goodwill, and now my closet and dresser feel so much lighter. I feel lighter too!

Last week I organized Oscar’s toys.

Perfect Moment Monday–Olympic Snow Driving

Last night I watched the premier of Olympic Ski Cross. Because there aren’t enough sports that make me hold my breath and bite my nails while routing for the underdog and simultaneously hoping somebody bites it…hard. Cuz I’m twisted like that.

One of the favorites, Chris Del Bosco from Canada, was in bronze metal position toward the end of the final race. As he headed toward the last jump he should have checked his speed, which in skiing terms means going into a little snow plow to slow down. However, as he later said during an interview, “I didn’t want the bronze, so I went for it.” He took HUGE air, and then biffed it bad. It was fantastic. It’s what the Olympics are all about.

This is why I am not an Olympic athlete. While driving through the snow on my way to work this morning, I wasn’t content with bronze metal position. I was content with last place. In bad weather, I drive so slowly that everyone passes me, throwing a look at me as they fly by that says, loser. That’s ok, because they don’t give medals for coming in first place.

I just drove slowly, enjoyed the beautiful snow in the trees, and let myself have a perfect moment.

I Capture Perfect Moments.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori

Simplify Saturday

I first heard about Simplify Saturday here. I love the idea of stepping back each week and taking a careful and critical look at my belongings, asking myself, “Do I really need this?” or “Do I really love this?” and “How often do I use this?”

When Oscar was born we were showered with many thoughtful, generous, beautiful, and practical gifts for our new baby. We will always be grateful for the ongoing generosity of our friends and family.

However, recently we have become victim to what a friend of mine refers to as “toy creep.” Oscar has more toys than we know what to do with and that we have room for. This week I made a decision to pare down and organize his toys. I’ve found that he will get really excited about toys that he hasn’t seen in awhile, so I took some toys to my office at work for him to play with there. I will rotate which toys become “work toys” so that Oscar gets a break from his toys and gets to rediscover forgotten toys.

We also hope to avoid too many plastic toys that make noise and need batteries, although I don’t mind the ones that are educational. My favorites are wooden toys, puzzles, books, and toys that inspire creativity and imaginative play.

This is Oscar’s current favorite:

A simple set of nesting blocks, purchased at a locally owned toy store and made from BPA-free plastic. Oscar will literally play with this for hours, and has recently learned how to fit the blocks into their holes.

My goal for now is to be able to fit his toys onto a bookcase, so that I can put them away at night. He does have more toys than this, as we keep some in the living room as well. However, I’ve found that the fewer toys he has access to, the more he plays with the ones he has.

Spam and Other Lunch Meats

My dear readers, unfortunately I’ve been getting a ton of this on my blog:

Personally, I prefer this:

In order to combat the spam, I’ve had to introduce captcha into my comment form. I apologize for the inconvenience, because I know it’s a pain to enter in those letters. However, as much as I LOVE comments from my bloggy friends (keep em coming!) I hate The Bots. The Bots are dead to me. They are no longer getting a Christmas card and they better not even THINK about showing up at the next family reunion.

Creating the Essential Writer’s Library

What are the books that you, as a writer, cannot live without?

I asked myself that recently while trying to downsize my book collection.  I took a look at the books I was using on a regular basis, and came up with this list of the essentials. Obviously, this list will vary depending on your writing goals.

Reference Books

Every writer should have a selection of reference books. I love my ancient, worn-out dictionary and thesaurus, but for many writers, their word-processing program does the job just fine. I also prefer to keep on hand a couple of old-fashioned reference books like a book of maps, a literature anthology, and The Joy of Cooking. For me, these have a certain authenticity you can’t get with Wikipedia.

The Fab Five

As far as I’m concerned, every writer worth their salt should have the following in their library:

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

On Writing by Stephen King

Page after Page by Heather Sellers

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty

Writer’s Memoirs

In addition to reading about the craft of writing, I think it’s important to read about writers’ lives.  Some of my favorite memoirs are those by Natalie Goldberg, Amy Tan, and Faulkner Fox.


Sometimes I don’t need advice on craft, I just need a little shot in the arm. For inspiration, two of my favorites borrow their wisdom from the East.

Dojo Wisdom for Writers: 100 Simple Ways to Become a More Inspired, Successful and Fearless Writer by Jennifer Lawler

Wabi Sabi For Writers: Find Inspiration. Respect Imperfection. Create Peerless Beauty by Richard Powell

I love the concept of wabi sabi, a Japanese philosophy that means “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” It’s how I view my writer’s library, always evolving and changing, and always in need of a new book.

Let me know what I’m missing!

Closer to Fine

It was the best of years; it was the worst of years.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

One year ago today was the last time I got a good night’s sleep.  I was hugely pregnant and desperate to give birth and meet my baby.

Today I am the mother of a little boy who will be one year old on Saturday.

Life is beautiful. Life is hard.

I’m tired and suffering from a year’s worth of sleep deprivation.

I’m broke and in debt.

I’m under tremendous pressure at work to write and publish scholarship for tenure, all while being asked to do more work for less money.

But this little monkey is my sidekick. Who could ask for anything more?

When I cry with frustration, he laughs, plants a wet kiss on my cheek, and hands me a toy.

Thank you, Oscar, for making my year.