Paring down

A sign of the times: a recent issue of “Cooking Light” magazine gives tips to improve readers’ ability to handle stress. These include 1) moving your focus away from undone tasks, 2) limiting your fretting to situations you can control, and 3) not aiming for perfection.

The article directs readers to several sources, which I checked out from my neighborhood library. The one I’ve skimmed is, “SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life.” As I opened the book I thought, here we go again. Another useless guide to cleaning out my closets, useless because I never do anything the experts prescribe for getting organized.

But reading about shedding turned out better than I expected. Yes, the clutter focus is here. Author Julie Morgenstern lists ten  example of “physical burdens,” two of which I know I’ll be able to shed. “Excessive memorabilia” is the first on my list of contenders for tossing, old recipes is the second. And this morning, after trying to find something in my kitchen “junk drawer,” I decided that will come next.

What’s more interesting, is that the book also speaks to shedding “time burdens” and “habit burdens.” Both made me stop and think. Under the former, I admit that more often than not, when asked to volunteer, I may mouth the word “no” but no real sound leaves my lips. My problem is worse than just saying yes. Recently, I finished a volunteer project for an organization I belong to and within minutes came up with ideas for two more.  Luckily, I didn’t share them with anyone, so I’m safe…for now.

The list is shorter for habit burdens — for which I’m thankful — but eliminating some of the behaviors on it will require serious work. I’ll start with “mindless escapes,” which includes “TV, email, internet.” I imagine “internet” applies to Facebook, Instagram, and checking news websites daily to learn what new perils our national leaders are dragging us into. My husband and I started talking about giving up on TV. I’m investigating that option by interviewing friends who have made the break, while I still keep up my nightly TV watching schedule. Meanwhile, I’ll work on the other stress reducers in the Cooking Light article.  I’ll start with avoiding attempts to do things perfectly.  That should be easy.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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5 Responses to Paring down

  1. Martha says:

    No – I can’t give up recipes! I have three recipe boxes that date back to mostly recipes from my mother. Several binders full, including a thick one of my “best recipes.” And then there’s the stack of clippings, printed pages, etc. I can never find anything in that stack, so maybe I could at least cull there. Maybe a start.

    • stillalife says:

      My mother was a terrible cook. And the recipes I’m talking about were those I clipped from the newspaper and never tried. I just culled most of those, though still kept some for no good reason. Shows you how difficult it is to get rid of stuff.

    • stillalife says:

      I’ve culled recipes, cleaned out a few drawers, took a few things to Goodwill, but when I think about eventually having to move, the paring down seems nearly impossible. Good luck on your paring.

  2. Darlene says:

    Yes, I could throw away excessive memorabilia and tend to those junk drawers, but old recipes? Some of those from my mother and grandmother would be hard to give up. Perhaps the recipes move categories—are they now memorabilia? Great blog as usual, Ann. 😊

  3. This arrived just in time—I’m currently trying to accomplish a paring down, which became necessary after a newly stressful period in my life! So helpful! Thanks for this!

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