Monday, December 15, 2008

4 juice glasses...not enough

My son and I have been in transition over the last three months. October, the townhome I owned finally short saled after 4 months of walking through inches of paperwork with my lenders, the buyers lenders and snafus galore. Short sales are very complicated, designed to push one over the edge if not persistant. I am grateful that my home sold instead of foreclosed. I lived with recurring dreams of the sheriff coming one morning and putting my stuff on the street....

That has been the issue. We have way too much stuff. Ever since our move from Central Valley California to the North Bay, I have been in a massive downsizing mode. I grew up with parents who spent their childhoods in the depression. Folks who resused stuff, stored stuff like chipmunks. They always worried about a rainy day. Good for when you have storage space... not so good for smaller spaces.

I moved three years ago from a 1800 sq foot home in the Central Valley. My dream home with 24 windows, copious basement and garage storage space. Before moving, I had the requisite garage sale, gave away all sorts of stuff. Could barely fit everything into the moving van and my small SUV. We were moving into a 1500 sq foot rental before buying the 1300 square foot townhome. Both had built-in storage, AKA garages.

I knew that decluttering was a necessity. Did I really need 6 Feng Shui books on decluttering? Was every scrap of paper from my closed pediatric practice necessary? 12 boxes of books sold to the local used bookstore, many more books donated. Office supplies donated to community clinics in my town and overseas. The process of downsizing continued as my employment situation became more unstable. More bartering, more selling of furniture to make ends meet.

When we finally moved out of the townhouse in October, a 12 foot PODS and a 8 x 12 foot storage room held the bulk of our belongings. Dear friends opened their home to us so we had a place to stay for 5 weeks until finding a rental. I knew again that I STILL had too much stuff. Past travel to Japan and Germany reminded me that 'Mericans live in too large places with more stuff than families overseas. Every moment I thought about complaining about my "plight", I remembered that I could leave my home with more than the clothes on my back, without bullets flying and family intact. I have much to be grateful for.

Several years of watching, "Clean House" and "Clean Sweep" helped me to break through the denial of being a clutter diva. My hot mess needed transformation.
So as I am unpacking in our new 1000 foot sq rental (without garage), I am confronting reality.
How much stuff do we really need? How many things sit unused in my home that could be used by someone else?

I made a few severe choices-- decided that if we had fewer dishes and pots to clean, the sink would stay cleaner:) I gave away more than half of my kitchen, refrigerator and washer dryer to friends who helped us to pack and move. I made a bit of a strategic error. 4 juice cups.... probably not enough. I have had an epiphany. If I bring one thing in, two things have to go out.
Repair first rather than replace. Reuse and Recycle among friends and local community groups.

Feeling lighter already.... and my carpet is showing empty areas:)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soccer Mama for Obama

Time to put it out there!
With less than 5 weeks to the election, I have decided to make sure there is no confusion about where I am coming from.
No need for a disclaimer. I was born and raised in Chicago by activist parents who covered the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. My idea of fun was going to the local A + P to participate in a boycott to change discriminatory hiring practices, marching in Chicago and Mississippi. I was old enough to meet many of the powerhouses of the movement in my parent's living room and at many a hall.
For me, community activism is not a dirty word but what you do to pay rent for being on earth. In medical school, I was energized by the Harold Washington campaign for mayor of Chicago, I worked with my Latino grad school colleagues to forge a Black Latino alliance that was part of Washington's success. I immersed myself in the peace and solidarity movements of the eighties, stayed abreast of the Anti Apartheid movements.
At times I have "retired" from activism to focus on just making my local piece of the world a better place. Three years in the National Health Service Corps working with patients in need in Nevada and Central Valley California convinced me that I need not go overseas to find third world health conditions. Becoming a mother of a child with special health care needs has highlighted for me the failures of our educational and health care systems. Every child deserves to be cherished and nourished. No throw away kids. We must redirect our focus on coming together and giving a hand out to those in need.
So on the brink of turning 51 (October 3rd), I know it is time to stand up and be counted. My 11 year old said it best during the California Primary, "mama of course you are voting for Obama!"
Hope is not a dirty word; social change and bring diverse people together is not just a pipe dream.
Vote Obama, vote in your local elections. Don't stop the day after the election....
We need to keep on keepin' on...
I don't need no stinkin' lipstick.... but a manicure/pedicure and massage will do me just fine...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saving the good stuff for submissions or....

having massive writers block while experiencing a bit of life on life's terms.

Yes, it has been 9 months since writing on this blog. Many work changes- short term part time work, looking for full time work without success, filing for unemployment and medicaid for my son. Hearing more often than not, "you are a doctor, why are you unemployment."

My son has several chronic mental health problems. Psychiatric hospitalization number 4 during June of this year. Number 5 first two weeks of September. 2 and a half years of sorting out what he has, (bipolar disorder, Tourette's disorder and partial seizures with a bit of asthma). Spending much of my waking hours advocating for resources for school, after school and home, often settling for "hurry up and wait." I am making the hard decisions about residential placement as he is nearly 12 and increasingly out of control.

So, I have dabbled a little with my writing. One of my poems was published this fall in the 2008 Vintage Voices and Vines Anthology by the Redwood Writers Guild. I submitted an essay called, "I believe in coffee" to the NPR program, "This I Believe." It wasn't selected for reading, but was put on the NPR website.

I am hearing the several times weekly refrain from my bibliotherapist,Art, my sisterfriend, Aurora and several others to write, write, write.

Just letting y'all know, I have heard and am making that commitment! My stethoscope is a bit dusty since March 08. Gettin' that 'puter and pen warmed up.

Let the games begin!