My last post was about my addiction to the feeling new things bring. Thanks for the comments and responses. It’s nice to know it’s not just me, I’m not the only one.
I was scrolling through my twitter feed today and someone tweeted something to the effect of, “Stop discarding and start living.”
That’s the challenge isn’t it?
Discarding, downsizing and organizing can become addictive as much as buying new things. It’s easy to get caught up in the eddy of the process and never really start living.
The challenge is to find the same enjoyment in living that we’ve found in getting new things or throwing old things out.
As I mentioned before, I see a lot of people come to minimalism after a crisis, as a way to sort through their lives and find peace and meaning. Minimalism isn’t the peace and meaning but a process to filter out the things that are blocking, interrupting, taking up too much of our time and space so that we can enjoy our lives.
The challenge is to move from the process to the living.
It’s not as easy as you would think, especially if you’ve lived life with pain and hurt. Maybe you didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol or sex or other popular addictions to numb the pain, maybe you collected, purged, hoarded, lived austerely. Anything that kept your attention away from hurt.
However, if you’ve come this far and rid yourself of the distraction and you’re left with yourself, the temptation is to go back, stay in the eddy of process where you were safe and it felt good.
The unfiltered, undistracted life is a little raw and real.
All the stuff and activity kept us cushioned and padded from the hurt.
To live without the padding takes time. Like when air hits a scrape, it stings, we recoil but the more you expose it to the air the less it hurts in time.
It takes time to learn to enjoy life’s flavor without all the condiments. The footage without all the CG. The photos without the filters.
Life with #nofilterneeded is a wonderful goal, can we get there? Is it possible?
I’ve mentioned Virtual Photo Walks before and I’ll probably keep mentioning it because I think it is SO great!
When I was in my 30’s my older sister was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given a few months to live. Being a stubborn, disciplined person, she did everything the doctor told her to do and she lived 6 years longer than they expected. I was one of her main caregivers. Having 2 small kids and caring for her was quite a challenge. My kids spent much of those 6 years in waiting rooms, hanging out with my sister as she gradually became housebound. We watched a lot of TV. We watched all of the O.J. Simpson trial. All of it. (Can you detect my sigh and eye rolling?)
Fast forward to 2015. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like my sister, I walked by her side until she passed. Again, I spent many hours and days in waiting rooms and hanging out at her house watching TV and dreaming of trips we could take if we could.
I don’t know how I forgot about Virtual Photo Walks, but I did. Too many things on my mind, I think.
I remember when I initially found it I thought, “This is the greatest idea ever!” And when I ever have time I’m going to volunteer to be a photographer for them.
Since I’ve “retired” I have started volunteering with them and I want to spread the word, that’s why I’m writing another post about it.
What Is Virtual Photo Walks?
VPW is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are passionate about giving those isolated by illness, age or disability the chance to “escape” their isolation and travel the world!
John Butterill, the founder, organizes the walks through a video conferencing app called Zoom. Photographers from all over the world work with John and plan walks and visits to sites from archaeological digs in Russia to volcanoes in Hawaii to sites in Japan. John sets up the video conferencing meeting and connects the participants who may be in their homes or rehabs, day care centers, nursing homes or are in the hospital and they connect with their computers to participate in the walk.
“The Secret Sauce”
The magic of Virtual Photo Walks is the live, real time interaction the participants can have with the photographer and also the others who are on the walk with them.
The participants can talk to the photographer, ask questions and make requests like, “Can we see what’s to your right?” or “Can you take a photo of that tree?” Everyone laughs together and are amazed together in real time. It is a completely different experience than watching a video.
I joined a walk to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago from my office. It was so moving to be with the other participants as we saw the mountains and a beautiful waterfall together. On another walk to an archaeological dig in Russia we had participants from Israel and Japan. It was so interesting.
What VPW Can Do
I remember spending endless hours, days, months and years indoors with my sister and later, my best friend. Too weak to go out and sometimes even to leave the bed. Both of them had to restrict their exposure to germs so even though they might have felt okay, it was too dangerous for them to go out. It was isolating! They were lonely!
Virtual Photo Walks can give people who are isolated a chance to travel to another place and do it with a community of people! Nobody cares what you look like – you can cut the camera off to yourself so no one sees you if you’re worried. Everyone is just glad you joined. And away you go to some beautiful or interesting place together to get away from your bed or hospital room for an hour.
It really does carry you away for a while. It’s magical.
Here is a great video about VPW. Please share with people you know. Share on social media!
As I said, VPW is a non-profit organization. It’s free to join. The participant just needs internet access to their computer.
You are required to make a request to join because John makes sure all the participants are safe and he protects their privacy.
If you or someone you know would like to participate in a walk, you can join here:
I’ve been under the impression most of my life that as someone ages the more they become sure of who they are. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that maturing, like every other phase of life requires me to start over again and figure out how I fit, how to function and how I can contribute.
When I started college back in the Ice Age I was required to take a personality test. I don’t remember the results and in my arrogance, I didn’t quite see the purpose. Later, in my 30’s I went back to college and was required to take another personality test. My results were surprisingly accurate. In a course I took I was required to administer and interpret personality tests for 20 different people. The results were freakishly spot on.
Since taking that course I have administered tests to many people, most of them college bound students, like I was, who needed a little direction in their new phase of life.
So, how are older adults any different? Just like the new college student, we are entering into a new chapter of adulthood. As a college student we were entering into a new phase of life, taking on new relationships, moving into a different living situation and community and so, I think, as an adult I’m not so different. I’m learning to parent adults, adjusting to new family members as an in-law and grandparent. I’m considering a new career, albeit a 2nd or 3rd one. Many of us are moving to new communities to retire, navigating health issues, losing loved ones and making new friends. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to stop and revisit who we are at this point?
I understand that some people don’t like personality tests, I think they equate them to horoscopes or palm reading. I also think some people don’t like them because they don’t like to have “their mail read” so to speak. They find it disconcerting that a test can reveal tendencies or weaknesses about them that they are trying hard to hide or ignore. As in anything in life, if we look for the negative we will find it. If we look for the positive, we will find that, too.
I would encourage you to take a personality test as an adult. I think we can’t truly appreciate the accuracy of personality tests until we get older and can see how spot on they are. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. Taking a personality test as an adult can be very revealing and encouraging. You may find that you actually gravitated toward a career that best suited your personality type. Or that you naturally found ways to overcome your personality’s weaknesses in creative ways. You might even discover that you navigated relationships very similar to others with your personality type and did it quite well.
If you took a test as a college student you will most likely find that you are not the same type as an older adult. We have changed and adapted to our circumstances. We have been affected by life and experiences. Not only can a test help you discover who you are now but it can encourage you and affirm the person you have become.
I have found that revisiting personality tests at this point in my life, as an older adult, has been very helpful in several ways.
In considering a 2nd career, volunteering and choosing how to spend my time, knowing my personality type helps me direct my work and effort in areas that are most compatible with my type. Not to say that exploration and failure can’t be good experiences, and they have been, but I want to “cut to the chase” at this point.
Revisiting my personality type has given me an upper hand in navigating new family relationships and new communities. Seeing myself more clearly helps me be more authentic. Knowing other types helps me identify others, potential conflicts and potential friends.
Knowing my personality type and my needs has allowed me to cut myself some slack. I find that my personality needs time alone to recharge. Knowing that gives me permission to do just that and not feel guilty about it.
Not only has knowing myself allowed me to cut myself some slack but I find it easier to cut others slack, too. It’s easier for me to recognize and appreciate our differences and not be so judgmental. This is vital when navigating new relationships.
Knowing myself at this point in my life gives me confidence and boldness while stepping into these new experiences. I know what I’m good at, how I can best contribute to community, and what my limitations are.
We’ve lived life, we’ve adapted, we are resilient. Our experiences have made us stronger and smarter. We’ve thrown off the weights and are looking to pursue a brighter future! And I think taking a personality test, as an adult can encourage and help us enter into this chapter will confidence and boldness.
Here are a couple of links to some free tests, but you can also search for yourself.
My mother-in-law gave me this vase when she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. Yes, she gave me a gift. She gave it to me, gosh, years ago. She passed away last year. I have not had that vase out of the box since she gave it to me. I had it stored in a closet.
I’ve been discarding, weeding out and lightening up for a year now and that vase keeps getting shuffled from place to place. It’s one of those sentimental, emotionally charged items I’ve talked about. I couldn’t give it away. I couldn’t sell it and I just haven’t had the time or presence of mind to be that person who keeps fresh, cut flowers in their home. I used to be, but life got too crazy for me to keep up that practice.
But I keep challenging myself with 2 ideas: Every thing must have a place (not shoved in the back of a closet) and If I own something I want it to be used or out where I can see it and enjoy it.
So, after making another sweep in the storage closet, after years of being in its box, I pulled the vase out and said, “If I’m going to keep this I’m going to enjoy it.” I know my mother-in-law didn’t give it to me just to hide it in a closet. So, I put it on the island in my kitchen (which happens to be like the epicenter of my home). And for the first time in, probably years, I bought a bouquet of yellow, happy flowers and put it in the vase.
Picking out those flowers, putting them in the vase, seeing the sun spark life in that beautiful glass vase and thinking about my mother-in-law and how much she loved flowers brought such peace and joy to my heart.
In the busy-ness, sadness and constant change of my life over the past few years I have had to become the person others needed me to be. I have put aside parts of myself to care for others. I didn’t have time to buy flowers, change out water and replace them with fresh ones. That would be just another annoying item on my to-do list.
But yesterday that vase (and my mother-in-law) have reminded me that there’s a part of who I am – the person who enjoys having fresh flowers in the house – that I need to welcome back into my life.