Streamlining Life


Streamlining Life

board-142741_640As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have an intention to "streamline" our home in preparation for the next season of caregiving, and I have been using the paradigm suggested by Marie Kondo, organizing consultant in Japan and author of The  Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. 

She suggests having around you in your home those things which spark joy. That may not be 100% achievable, but I have found it to be an intriguing goal. (See my other post, Streamlining Home, and my post called Organizing Paradigm on the new Get Organized forum. Saves me needing to repeat myself here.)

Anyway, that started me thinking. What about streamlining life? Am I being careful to welcome the experiences, friendships, forums, etc that spark joy?

As always, maybe it isn't 100% achievable (we're not about perfection, right?). We might not see any ways a doctor appointment could spark joy but on the other hand, could the drive with our loved one, or the lunch we share after, or our contact with a compassionate receptionist or medical professional? And, if my contact with a medical professional leaves me discouraged and depleted, perhaps I might consider finding another if possible?

I located a couple of "support groups" before this one who should have been called "discouragement groups"--I was going there for specific information on my husband's disease, but the cost wasn't worth it. It left me discouraged and fearful. (That's a major clue for me--if I leave a conversation fearful, pay attention and see if that contact can be eliminated or limited in my life.) I would, in fact, use the words "toxic" and "damaging" for my experiences there, and thank God (I mean it) I made my exit promptly, but not before being battered by the members and even the administrator of the site for my cluelessness regarding how utterly awful being a caregiver is, and my inappropriate conduct of pointing a person to support resources in their county rather than letting them vent about verbally abusing their caree. True story.

By contrast, the answer to the question, "Does spark joy?" is for me a resounding yes.  I can hardly get enough of the rich companionship and encouragement I find here.

So what of our friendships, even those we have enjoyed decades? And can we streamline even family relationships? Oh, what a tricky one. We want to maintain what has been poured into. But in this season, I have to be selective. Those friends who leave me depleted, discouraged, or fearful (and there are a few) may not be worth the toll those contacts take. I may be able to coach them a little on what is helpful to me, but if they continue to repeat the message of the toxic "support" group that this journey is awful, and they feel so sorry for me, etc--I need to be proactive in limiting the contact or the topics of conversation on my own behalf. Fear is deadly to me as a caregiver, it comes through every pore and takes away my ability to think clearly and creatively.

Not everyone is equipped to share this particular sacred ground with us. I understand, and some people think that pity is helpful. But I need to be tuned it at this time to whether my contact with this person "sparks joy."

That's the emotionally hard work, just like the emotionally hard work of streamlining belongings. But oh, the joy that remains when we surround ourselves with belongings, people, and relationships that are soul-filling and soul-building to us.

It will take courage to streamline life. It will take being compassionate toward myself and advocating for my needs. And, I believe, it will be worth it.

So, I'll keep you "posted" on how this goes.

Please, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well!

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