Friday, July 29, 2011

A Declaration of Freedom

Back in 2009 I came to a realization about my life and where I wanted it to go, or more appropriately, where I did NOT want it to go. Since Blogger removed my old blog, I felt inspired to repost the entry here. Though some details are out of date, the sentiment still rings true. It was in that moment I realized the unbelievable... I did not want what I thought I wanted.

For the encore presentation...

Recently I paused for a moment in my “busy” life, and I asked myself, “What am I doing?” I looked around my crowded abode, and I could not understand how things had gotten so out of control.

In our society, we are programmed to want. We want money, a prestigious job, the newest gadgets (Yes I know I was the worst on that front), the greatest car, you name it. What all that boils down to, is that what we really want is for everyone else to think we are important. By having all these things, by rushing around like a mad person in our swanky cars, we appear to be, somehow, more vital. However, this is not usually the truth. This is just a mind game we play with ourselves, and truth be told, everyone might see you as more important if you have all those things, but it will not change how you really see yourself.

That is what I came to realize. All this time I had been striving to climb that corporate ladder, and when I searched for my real motivation, I discovered that I did not really know or understand it at all. I was trying to show the world that I was OK, that I was just as valid as everyone else. That realization floored me. How could I think so little of myself?

For it is not my job, car, or clothes that define who I am, and they definitely do not define who I want to be. I honestly asked myself, when I look back at my life, what do I want to see. I realized that none of those ideals and goals I had for what I considered success, even made the cut. I was not living MY life; I was living the life I thought I was supposed to be living. That ends now.

The fact is; I am tired of playing this game. I do not care if you make more money than I do, and have a Lexus and a 3000 sq foot home in Great Falls. Acquiring things will no longer be my motor. Instead, I plan to achieve the ideals to which I have always wanted to aspire. I want to slice away the unnecessary excess and release myself from the bonds of avarice. I no longer need things to define who I am.

In the past, I based my worth on outside validation at work, etc. I believe this revelation about my life came from a recent hiccup in my upward climb in the corporate world. I hit a wall, maybe two, and it shredded me. It was then I realized why all this crap kept happening to me, and how I could get it to stop. The things that kept falling in my path were a message that I was doing it all wrong and for all the wrong reasons. I had to stop looking to the outside world to validate my life and me.

You might ask yourself, “How does she plan to accomplish this task?” Well, nosey, I will tell you. I have decided to take up a practice called Voluntary Simplicity. This “movement” is not easily definable. It means different things to different people. There are varying degrees of voluntary simplicity. One definition that I think encompasses it best for me is, a lifestyle characterized by minimizing the 'more-is-better' pursuit of wealth and consumption. Adherents may choose simple living for a variety of personal reasons, such as spirituality, health, increase in 'quality time' for family and friends, stress reduction, personal taste or frugality. I would also add environmental impact to that list.

Very soon, I will be ridding myself of the burden of excessive possessions at the Reston Association annual garage sale. I think I will find this endeavor liberating and satisfying on many levels. I no longer wish to receive physical gifts, for any occasion. I think a gift card to Target for every day needs, or a donation in my name, would be more appropriate. I am not saying you have to buy me gifts, this is just on the off chance, you feel like doing so.

There is only one item I am pining for right now, and that is a professional grade camera. I have taken up hobbies again, such as photography, this will be the first time I have done so in many years. It is exciting to want to enrich my life with activities not work related. For so long my self esteem had been wrapped up in work, well no more.

I have always wanted to do my part to improve the world, so I am returning to a love I had not seen in a while, volunteering. I occasionally volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Maryland, and I will be helping the feline rescue group where I adopted my sweet little furry babies (Feline Network in Springfield). It feels good to have a positive influence on this world we currently inhabit. It feels like coming home…. Maybe you wish to join me on this quest, and maybe not, I will keep a warm seat by the fire for you when you are ready.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Siren's Song

It begins with a garden. A beautiful iris garden. One I gazed with wonder as a child from the comfort of a moving car.

Brilliant explosions of blue and yellow, purple and pink, and colors I am not sure they have found names to describe its beauty.

Every time we'd drive West Ox. Whether we went to fair oaks or some other destination beyond, that garden, seen from the road, was always the highlight of my trip.

Many years pass. I move away and return. And that garden, though stored lovingly on the dusty shelves of my mind, remains a permanent memory.

Only now do I finally learn the history of this place that teased my imagination, and it turns out I was not alone.

This heaven on earth did belong to someone, a woman. Though hers, she did not greedily keep it only for herself. All were welcome to come and linger in the beauty and color. Artists came to paint it, and photograph it, in desperate attempts to capture one moment in time.

For 46 years that garden grew. Each year luring poets of brush and pen, like a siren's call. Till that song fell quiet this year. With the passing of Margaret Thomas, a shadow was cast on that garden that now lays bare of the color and is overgrown with weeds.

With its guardian gone, the future of this influential spot is in danger of being assimilated into the generica of our everyday world, where before it was 5 acre heaven, its sole purpose to transport you out of the harsh realities of the now and abrasive walls we call "real" life.

How many lives had she changed by simply allowing this haven to exist. Now I, like so many others, might never step on the fertile soil where Margaret's garden grew.

She wanted the land preserved as park land, so more lives would change, and her labor of love would continue firing the imaginations of those who graced its path. If only those who govern would hear. She calls them still, do not let this niche of Beauty that I carved out for the world be swallowed never to be seen again. Do not let the siren's song cease.