Work with What You’ve Got

September 18, 2011

As autumn returns to the Northern Hemisphere, I always get extreme nesting symptoms to the beat of the descending leaves that blanket my lawn. It is also the time of year in which local communities hold children’s bazaars to earn money for schools or charity projects. In return, we get a stand somewhere on an auditorium floor to sell our kids’ old things.

“Time to batten down the hatches, mates!” I bellowed with mop in hand recently. The kids got that fearful look in their eyes.

“Oh no. Mom’s on another purging spree.”

After an entire year of toy domination in one particular part of our house, I was ready to reclaim the space as the reading nook it was meant to be (and has never been). My daughter wanted to earn some cash for a new cell phone so I asked her what skill sets she had and how she planned to earn the money to buy one. She came up with some impressive ideas, including pet sitting, baby sitting and helping around the house more. Then she eyed her most valuable toys that had done a great job gathering dust over the last twelve months.

“Let’s sell all my Playmobil stuff.” And so we set about putting all the hundreds of pieces in their right order, each belonging to a specific set, and put them on eBay. People are bidding like crazy and my daughter has well exceeded her financial goal.

“Work with what you’ve got,” I told her as we manned the bazaar booth that showcased her old clothes. She worked the people, offering fashion advice and giving away a free children’s magazine for every purchase made, no matter how small. I was quite proud of her for her slow crawl to financial freedom.

As I cast a view across the dozens of tables that overflowed with things, I realized the less we possess, the more we have.

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Digital Drama

September 14, 2009

The veiled powers of slow were at work once again today.

Actually, it started yesterday when I decided to spend the morning with a friend. Her husband had just moved to China for a six-month assignment. I thought I’d cheer her up and invite her for a power walk in the sunshine. cell phoneAfterwards, we shared a cup of coffee and lots of laughter. As I bemoaned about what a shame it was to have to spend the rest of this beautiful day indoors working on my presentation on time abundance, she replied,

“You can do it when the sun goes down!”

It seemed just the right thing to do. Why not? I’ve been so productive lately. After all, it was Sunday. In a rare moment of putting off the inevitable, I decided to live a little ‘seize the day’. Why not invite the kids on a bike ride to the local outdoor café instead?

My daughter decided to stay home so it was just the three of us.

My husband tends to take the long way around, to enjoy what he calls ‘the scenery’. Mind you, I had power-walked 7 KM just an hour before so trampling up and down steep hills on my mountain bike felt like a personal stretch.

But no matter! I had new vigor and vim. I was committed to getting fit and staying there. We took my cell phone just in case our daughter needed us.

Again, I delegated my gadget to my husband, fulling trusting he would keep it safely tucked in his pocket. We called our daughter when we got to the café, then set on our way to return an hour later. Somewhere in between calling her and coming home through the woods, the cell phone was lost.

I didn’t realize it until 1 pm today. I looked high and low for it. It was nowhere to be found. My biggest concern was the TV production company was supposed to call me tomorrow on my cell phone. So I contacted them via email to let them know they’d have to call my land line with the production details. I also called customer service to get the phone blocked. They promised to send me a new card rerouted to my old number in three days. Essentially, other than the device itself, I had only lost 72 hours. But in essence, I had won so much more.

I dug out my old cell phone that had a pre-paid card in it. It would have to do.

As I talked to the cell phone service on the phone, I realized I really never liked my newer, fancier cell phone that I had bought on eBay. Oh sure, it had all the fancy wizardry you can imagine ~ Internet, a video camera, a still-shot one, etc. But somehow, as I thumbed my old device, I realized I only used the features that the old one had, too.

My digital drama turned out to be a gift. Back to the old black and white screen of my dinosaur Nokia, I am somehow happy to be back to simpler times. Who really needs a sexy screen or rose wallpaper design? You need to call me? The Nokia will connect you, too.

And you know what? I’d take that bike ride again in a heartbeat. The presentation got done after sundown just as well. And I’m no longer as attached to the gadget that’s most certainly rusting on the forest floor as we speak.

Farewell, ye trusty gadget of yesterday. Thank you for the liberation your departure brings!

The Brain Rules

April 8, 2009

John Medina, author of Brain Rules, is utterly brilliant. Take a look at one of his videos on multitasking and why talking on your cell phone while driving is not a good idea.