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Minimizing love?

Marc and I have had many hours of conversation about minimalizing relationships. And we understand that some people find the idea of relationship pruning to be a little harsh, but for us it’s a matter of self-defense. Because we’re suckers. We find gratification in helping people. We want to be of service. We enjoy being of use. We like to give. Therefore, naturally, we attract takers. Users. People who are only too willing to be given to, served, and helped (and helped and helped) without the burden of reciprocation. Over time we have gradually minimized those relationships out of our lives and we’re better off for it.

Minimizing that kind of interaction makes sense. But (I believe) a minimalist pursuit has a lot to do with finding balance. So, what about the other end of the spectrum? Being surrounded by takers and users can be exhausting, but can an overabundance of love also be a burden? If so, then Marc’s in trouble.

See, I love actively. Energetically. Tenaciously. Some would even say ferociously. There’s really not a word in our language that can adequately describe the flow, the current, the intensity of love that pours out of me. Sometimes it brims, sometimes it gushes, but there’s always an overflow because the amount of love I have for my husband, my family, my friends… well, it’s immense. Immeasurable. And I’ve often wondered (worried) what it might be like to be on the receiving end of Lisa love.

Being in a toxic relationship where you give, give, give–with little return–isn’t good for you. But if balance is something we seek, then isn’t too much of a good thing just as bad? I wonder if the people I love would all be better off if I mellowed me a bit. Should I look into minimizing love?

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Minimizing yes.

I’ve been thinking about minimalism. A lot. Every day. I think about it.

Yep. Thinking. Minimalism. A lot. About our minimalist journey and how I’ve lost my way. See, for a while I was a minimalist machine. During the move from Dallas to Houston over the summer I gave away, sold, and trashed way more than I moved. And then after the move I gave away, sold, and trashed even more as we unpacked. We were hot. We were on FIRE with our minimalist progress. During the summer, we rocked it. But not this past month. Nope. Not really.

In fact, in the past almost-two-months life has become increasingly complicated. Sure, the move is over and we’re mostly settled in, but now we’re in the life-building stage. New home, new town, new activities, new friends. I’ve got homeschool going full-swing. And it seems like virtually every night we have somewhere to go, usually in a rush. This is not how we’d envisioned living life together. Too busy. Not enough down time. And it’s making us grumpy.

But, here’s the question. What do we cut? We have one kid who is in a robotics program that started out the season meeting every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and then all day on Saturday. We knew that was a big time commitment, but agreed that it was worth the sacrifice. Our kid is meeting some great people and having experiences that contribute to real character building and skill building. She is flourishing. And it is totally worth the time. Three days a week. But now, toward competition time, they’re meeting every day, and we’re not getting home until after 10pm. Exhausted. Each day a little farther behind in everything else.

And then we have another kid who is buried in homework every weeknight. He comes home from school, takes a few minutes to catch his breath, and then it’s homework time for hours. Sometimes all the way to bedtime, with only a break long enough to eat family dinner. I don’t approve of homework. That’s a whole other post for a whole other blog. I think public schools need to do their job on their time and leave kids alone to enjoy their families once school is dismissed. Instead, we work on homework for HOURS. But, just as with robotics, the time spent is totally worth it because he’s started coming into his own in subjects that were more difficult for him a while back. Progress is being made. But, still, it takes hours away from family time. Almost every day.

Robotics. Homework. Both of these activities are important to and for our kids. But both use up precious family time. What do we cut? I don’t like the idea of everyone going their own way, doing their own thing, and not seeing each other for more time than it takes to wave hello and goodbye as we pass in the hallway. If we were willing to divide and conquer then we could get more done… but we don’t want to go our separate ways. We worked long and hard through eighteen months–seven of those months as a married couple–of a long-distance relationship before we were finally able to combine households. We want to be together. Not apart.

So, I ask myself again. What do we cut? How can we minimize our activities so that we have more down time at home? I know the extreme answer. Just do it. Just make it happen. Say no more often than we say yes. Find balance. Set guidelines and stick to them. Prioritize, and then follow that list of priorities. Just do it. Make it happen.

So much easier said than done! Especially the “say no more often than yes” part.

Whoa!! Wait!! I think I just answered my own question right there. I think I know where to cut!! “No” is where I need to start. I’ve been a life-long yes-sayer. That word yes just pops right out of my mouth before my brain even processes the request. It’s a difficult habit to have, and an even more difficult habit to break. But, now’s a good time since we’re new to town. People I meet now don’t need to know me as a people-pleasing yes-sayer. I can still be friendly, supportive, and generous without being a sucker. I need to be consciously aware that every time I say yes when asked to come early, stay late, or spend money on an extra-curricular activity I’m taking something–time, attention, energy, money–from my family and giving it elsewhere. I like to help people out, but I need to do so carefully and intentionally. My next minimalizing task needs to be learning to use the word yes carefully while at the same time learning to say no and meaning it.

Wow. This is gonna be tough. I’ll need reminders and support. Maybe even need some carefully placed nagging from time to time. Because minimizing yes will be easier said than done.

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Minimalist fatigue.

I enjoy reading minimalist blogs. They’re a good source of inspiration and motivation. And it FEELS good to read statements and philosophies that resonate in me. I like to feel good. So, yeah, I do enjoy reading minimalist blogs. But, sometimes–like today–those upbeat, inspiring, motivating blogs are more of a beat down than a pick-me-up. Because today, I’m tired. And I’m looking to see if anyone else out there is tired, too. Too tired to cook real food. Too tired to sort and organize and dispose of… stuff. I’m reading these blogs and looking for an indication that other minimalist-minded people get tired, too. But it doesn’t look like they do. It would seem that other minimalists never get tired. Or apathetic. Or discouraged. Ever. But, on this day, right now, I’m all three. And that makes me feel weak. Like I’m an ineffectual minimalist. A failure.

I don’t like feeling I’m a failure. But, sometimes–like today–I come to a point where I’m done. I’m just over it. Mind-numb and apathetic. I have an intellectual understanding that minimalism works, and that it’s a journey worth making, but there’s a heavy fog that prevents me from seeing any progress made. Am I making tracks, or falling behind? I know that if I continue to strive for purposeful living I’ll be happier. Right? I mean, once I get out from under the crush of materialism life will be breezy and weightless. Right? That’s the appeal, at least. For me.

But, sometimes–like today–I simply can’t see that far ahead. This is when chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheez start looking like viable options again. This is when processed and easy are most appealing. This is when walking around the last five boxes of unpacking left in the hallway seems to make more sense than spending what little energy I have unpacking them one-by-one.

The minimalism march is rocky sometimes. I’d like to take a break, but inertia is a bitch. Once I stop climbing the mountain, I become the mountain. So, I read the blogs and I keep moving, one foot in front of the other. Just wish I knew I wasn’t alone in my minimalist fatigue.

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Owning, and being owned.

I miss my room. The one I had as a child, in my childhood home. It wasn’t very big–just 10’ x 12’–but it was mine. At least I thought it was mine. Everyone in the house seemed to agree that it was mine. I now know that it wasn’t technically mine, that it really belonged to my parents’ bank, and then to my parents once they paid off their $23,ooo morgtage. But the entire time I lived in that house, I thought that little room belonged to me. I decorated it with record album covers and pictures of 1980s teen heartthrobs. My mom purchased, at a garage sale, thick bordello-pink faux velvet curtains trimmed with dangly pinkish poofy balls for me to hang in my window. And my dad installed a locking doorknob to keep my brother out. Everything I owned was in that one little room.

Yeah, I miss my room. But, it’s not the actual space that I miss, or the stuff contained therein. No, what I really miss about my childhood bedroom is the simplicity in life that came from owning very little, and the glorious freedom I felt as a result of being owned by nothing. Because possessions can own you. And they can be a harsh mistress, requiring too much time and energy to maintain, often with diminishing returns. When I lived in that little room, I was nearly free of possessions. My parents owned most everything I had. They bought it, and they had it fixed or replaced–or not–when it broke or was outgrown or got lost. And life was simple that way. I didn’t know it at the time, but I enjoyed owning–and being owned by–just a very few things. And now I miss it.

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Minimalist bacon.

I don’t particularly enjoy making bacon in the traditional way–by frying it four or five pieces at a time in a skillet on the stove top. I’ll still prepare it that way when time is short and my family is hungry, but cooking it in a pan makes me grumpy inside.

I don’t like to babysit bacon. I don’t like bacon slime on my hands as I fry multiple batches. I don’t like getting all greasy and burned from bacon grease splattering all over me. And I especially don’t like the way the bacon curls and gets perfectly crunchy in the middle but stays fatty and chewy on the ends. And then there’s the temptation… all that cooked bacon lying on a nearby plate. Tasty, yummy, perfectly textured meaty deliciousness, waiting for me to finish up frying its friends. I don’t allow myself to snatch a piece or three when nobody is looking because that would be taking bacon right out of the mouths of my family, which I will not do. So I stand there, and I wait, and I suffer. Yeah, for me, the bacon-frying process is stressful and irritating and well worth some minimalist treatment.

So, when I have the luxury of time, I avoid a lot of slime, injury, and temptation by laying the bacon strips on a cast iron griddle and sliding the whole meal’s worth of meat candy into a cold oven. Then I turn up the heat to 400 degrees and I’m free, for the next 30 minutes or so, to walk away from the kitchen to do other things while bacon aroma stirs everyone in the house. I’ve found that’s the a much more enjoyable way to cook bacon. Minimalist bacon.

 

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Pleased to meet ya.

Every time I tell Marc how amazing he is, or how awesome he is, or how smart/patient/kind/loving/dedicated/giving he is, his response is the same. He looks at me with those deep blue eyes, lifts his eyebrows, points to himself, and exaggeratedly mouths the word “NORMAL!!” in an attempt to convince me that he’s really not all that amazing. Well, I don’t believe him, and neither should you. He’s nowhere near normal. And neither am I.

Hi. My name is Lisa Morgan, and I’m not normal. I homeschool my kids. I don’t wear makeup, and I don’t obsess about my hair. I like tiedye, and I wear it often. I dislike shopping and I have little tolerance for consumerism, marketing , or the media. I prefer well made, handmade goods and tools, and will pay more for them because they last longer, perform better, and feel good in my hands. I’ll also pay more for local, organic, free-range, and/or humanely-raised foods, when I can find them. I think for myself, and I tend to let everything spill out of me when I write. I feel too deeply, I care too much, and I love Marc Morgan with a ferocity that frequently gives me goosebumps and makes me smile out loud.

I am Mrs. Marc Morgan and I’m driven toward living an intentional, meaningful, minimalist life. This blog is where I hope to organize my thoughts and explore our family’s direction. It’s where I’ll share our struggles and our successes in our always well-meaning–but sometimes awkward–attempts at minimalism in marriage, in parenting, in education, and in recreation. And I hope that by doing all of this thinking and wondering and dreaming publicly, in this virtual place, that something I say might strike a chord and resonate with you. If, through this blog, Marc and I can help, or amuse, or inspire, then our little corner of the world will be brighter for it.

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I Need to Introduce MY Wife

After my divorce, I was of the opinion that I would never marry again. I really thought that there wasn’t a single person on Earth who could change my mind about this.

I was wrong. Oh my, how wrong I was!

Lisa happened.

Love comes at you from places that you never expect. “Our Story” started 30 years ago. We went to school together. Both middle school and high school. But we never had a single class together. We passed each other for seven years in the halls of these large Dallas area schools. But never had a single conversation. On top of that, her mother was my 9th grade English teacher. I saw her on occassions because of that. She was tall for her age and had REALLY big red hair (it was the 80s). I remember her. We had the same dentist. I shopped at a small store where she woked at. Our first children, were born in the same hospital and discharged the same time frame. We must have walked by each other several times there. Just all kinds of near misses.

We tell ourselves that we are lucky that we didn’t know each other in high school. Because now we wouldn’t be married if we were. We had to not know each other, live our lives, marry, have kids and mature a little before we could fall in love.

How did we finally meet? The answer is almost funny. Facebook.

Well I share my life with her now. I’d like to share my blog too.

EVERYONE I’d like to introduce my wife Lisa Morgan!

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Time for Excuses

I’ve taken a few months off from my blog. It is hard to stay focused sometimes. Here is some of my excuses:

  1. Summer vacations started
  2. A week vacation to Maine
  3. Finally moving my wife and her kids into my house
  4. Trying to sell a house, that is in a city four hours away
  5. The death of a dear family member
  6. etc….

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. – Pope John Paul II

I’ll be post much more frequent from now on.

Plus I will be introducing my wife as a co-blogger soon.

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Local Farms

Over the weekend I visited a small local farm (http://gramenfarm.com) with myLove. I thought a farm would look a little prettier and have more animals. There were no cool tractors or big red barns. There was no farm house with a wrap around porch. The neighbors were not miles away, they were really close. I was just kind of disappointed as I exited my vehicle.

As a child I spent one of my favorite summers at my uncle’s farm in Missouri. He had over 500 acres. So I guess I had different picture in my head of what a farm should look like.

So I hesitantly entered the one real building and there was Grant, the owner. He had a warm, genuine smile and he welcomed us to his humble farm. He said that its only 32 acres. But there are a lot of happy animals and happy customers here.

We toured the building. Learned a lot about small farms, raw milk and the daily activities. Grant was very passionate and informative. It is amazing how much can be done with so little space.

We bought some fresh eggs and butter. What a dream to cook with. Amazing flavor!

Next we moved out to the fields! We spent some quality time with the animals that made this farm special.

It was a lot of fun. It makes me want to get some land and do something similar.

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Live for the Future

Don’t ever dwell in your memories and regret the past. Everything that happened to you in the past is what made you who you are today!

Childhood friends, grade school teachers, sporting events, parents, holidays, church, love, hate, sex, pain, lies, noise, silence, weddings, funerals, music, revenge, weather, promises…..

All of these affect us and influence the decisions we make.

But you decide who you are everyday. You may think that you have no control of your life. But your wrong. You decide where you go, what you say and who you spend time with.

If your life is happy, then do the same thing everyday and enjoy it.

But if your life is not what you want it to be, then only you can change it. Don’t be miserable doing the same thing everyday. Change simple, subtle things in your life to improve it. Over time these little changes will improve your whole life.

Learn from your past. Improve yourself daily. Be present in your present. Live for your future.

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