Living Lightly

Susan Vogt on living more simply but abundantly

Browsing Posts published by Susan Vogt

This has always been a dilemma for me. Both time and money are valuable and sometimes it makes more sense to spend money in order to save time. For example, I spend way too much time shopping for the best price for groceries, books, or air travel. Sometimes it saves money, sometimes it wastes time I should have spent working or with my family. It’s a constant discernment.

I overslept this morning. Got a new battery when I got home from the retreat. All is well. 2 ½ weeks till Lent begins and I actually have to give something away each day.

My watch broke today. It probably just needs a battery but I’m on retreat this weekend and won’t have time to get a new battery. If a time conscious person like me needs to be without a watch, I suppose being on retreat is a good time for it to happen. Even though I can just follow the group to know when it’s time to move from one activity to another, it’s been disconcerting not to know the time.

… a zipper. Finally, I’m able to actually get rid of something tangible. The zipper on my robe broke today. It’s been going bad for awhile but now it seems irreparably broken and putting in a new zipper is above my pay grade. It’s clear I need to throw out this garment. Today’s dilemma? My daughter left a perfectly good white terry cloth robe in her closet. Since she’ll be in Afghanistan for at least one more year, there’s no way she will use it. BUT, I don’t particularly like this plain robe. Do I wear it anyway rather than replacing it? I’ve put it in my closet and will see if I warm to the idea.

Today I was in the midst of writing an article. I tend to go into hibernation and not want to be disturbed when focusing on my writing. Jim was cooking dinner and realized he didn’t have any salsa. When he asked if I’d run to the store and get some, I remembered all the inconvenient favors he’s done for me and decided to let go of some of my time to help him out. (Since he was cooking dinner for us, it was really helping both of us out.)

Today is the President’s State of the Union message. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it. I decided that today I would let go of my upsetness with the government and Congress. It’s not something I can touch, but it’s eating away at me and I can tell it’s not good to hang on to this attitude.

Today was garbage day and I noticed that Jim had put several old shirts in the trash. At first I thought that was a shame, he should have at least given them to the Viet Vets who pick up stuff once a month or Goodwill. He said he had a separate pile of clothes to give to Goodwill and that those shirts were too worn and the sweater had a hole in it. “You shouldn’t give stuff away that is in bad condition,” he said. I disagreed since I thought a sweater with a tiny hole would be better than nothing for people in Haiti who had nothing or others who were cold. This got me thinking though about the morality of giving things away to others that we think are not suitable for us to wear. I also found myself cutting off all the buttons from one shirt in case I would need that size later. Then I thought that that shirt would have been very usable if I had just left the buttons on. Oh, what to do…

Haiti is my motivation. As I thought about throwing out papers from one of our file cabinets yesterday, I realized today that even HAVING a file cabinet would be a luxury to most Haitians. Even if they had one, all those “precious” papers would probably have been lost in the earthquake. It puts my possessions and concerns in perspective, doesn’t it.

Update: Reading about the tragic Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has a similar sobering impact on me. Why am I worrying about my internet glitches and relatively minor health problems when people are dying in squalor, often without tender human care.

I planned to start this blog on Ash Wednesday and continue giving/throwing away something each day during Lent. Unfortunately, my husband just got on a “Let’s clear out some of our clutter” streak yesterday and it involved me. He decided to go through a couple file cabinet drawers and throw out obsolete files. This was also not what I intended since I find it harder to sort through papers deciding whether we should save that 20 year old list of ways to make household cleaners from scratch or that endearing letter one of our kids sent us during high school. Pruning the clothes in my closet would have been easier. I did, however, reluctantly part with many of our kids grade school and high school awards, diplomas, etc. Even if they do become president one day, I figured archivists wouldn’t care to go back that far. The silver lining of this chore was finding one son’s college application essay. I didn’t remember how good it was and how much insight it showed at age 17. It’s a keeper.