Friday, March 3, 2017

Where Do I Go From Here?

Hello Dear Readers,

The family health crisis has passed for the time being. But while that was going on ... THE ELECTION HAPPENED!!!!! I had stopped really being interested in fashion/style/beauty while my sister wasn't doing well, but the 2016 Election and the subsequent result, really blew it all out of the water. I mean, yeah, I like to look nice, but it's more important to me that I have things like healthcare, mental healthcare, health insurance, my Social Security Disability (yes, I'm disabled), and the other governmental social safety nets that make life in a civilized society worth living. I'm just like anyone else, all I want is food on the table, healthcare, a place to live, and as much meaningful activity as I can manage to do, and I don't want my civil rights and the rights guaranteed to me in the Constitution of the United States to be violated. This didn't seem like too much to ask in the past, but now that no one seems to know which end is up and what's coming down the pike, as far as Washington, D.C. goes, life suddenly seems less secure and the benefits of living in a free society seem to have fallen under a cloud.

So yeah, it's hard to pay attention to what's going on in New York's Fashion Week, or Fashion Week in Paris, when other, more pressing matters of survival take precedence. I just don't care.

However, life goes on, and I'm doing other things. I stopped volunteering for the National Alliance on  Mental Illness, Staten Island affiliate, but I still give talks to students (high school and college), mental health professionals, and the general public. It's just that the Program Coordinator work that I was doing got to be too much, and I wasn't handling the stress well. Part of my job was coming up with guest speakers for the monthly information meetings, as well as special events for Mental Health Week in October and Mental Health Month in May. It was hectic and a lot of work, and my own health was not doing well. Something had to give, so I resigned from that position (which was a volunteer position) last year. I took some time off, but this past week, I spoke with some high school students about stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health diagnoses, and the response was positive. I'll be doing an In Our Own Voice* presentation in a couple of weeks, to students at a local college, so I'm slowly getting back into action.

In other, domestic news, I started doing the KonMari Method, or as I like to call it "The KonMari Process." It really is a process of changing the way you think about your stuff. I thought I might blog about that, but, then there's the problems I've been having with Blogger/Blogspot itself. It's just not working for me anymore.

It started with my Polyvore sets. You might have noticed that the last Polyvore set I published to the blog had no text with it. That's because suddenly, out of the blue, I couldn't type text in a blog post with a Polyvore set. I could have a Polyvore set, or text, but not both. If anyone else has had this problem, please let me know if you solved it and how, because I do not know what is up with that.

The other thing that prevented me from blogging regularly was the lack of a computer. My computer died back in July. My brother John very kindly and generously stepped up and bought me an HP Notebook computer in November, and it's been a godsend. I bought the Microsoft Office Suite. As you may know, MS Office comes with Word, which comes with templates. One of those templates is a Blog template, and supposedly you can post directly to your blog from the Word document. Unless, of course, you have Blogger/Blogspot, in which case, you are out of luck! Because it won't work.

So rather than beat my head against a wall repeatedly trying to resolve these problems which are beyond my technical expertise, I think I'll just start up another blog somewhere else, which will hopefully have fewer technical problems. I don't know what the focus of that blog will be, if I even decide to create another blog. Some people have suggested I write about mental health, since it is in my field of expertise, but there are a lot of mental health blogs out there, written by better people than me. I would have to feel like I had something positive and necessary to contribute to the conversation. I'm considering blogging about household organization, because let's face it, we all feel like we could use improvement in that area, no matter how organized we seem to be to other people. I've also rekindled my interest and ability to do embroidery, and I think I might like to blog about that. Politics is an interest of mine as well, but I'm not sure I want to add my voice to the cacophony of opinions that are out there in the Blog-o-Sphere. It's also not a subject I feel qualified to speak on as an expert - although that doesn't seem to stop people. As one of my friends says, "Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone's got one." I wouldn't count on mine holding a lot of weight in the mass of information out there.

Or I might decide not to blog at all! I would have to have a really good, solid reason to have a public blog, because otherwise it's just not worth the effort. I started this blog sort of as a lark, to have something to do, and also because I wanted a break from mental health (which is a consuming passion of mine, but I need a break now and then), and back in 2010, it just seemed to be "the thing to do." Everyone had a blog, why not me? Well, now I need a really good reason, because blogging is Serious Biznizz, and not to be entered into lightly. It's highly competitive, and to do it just for the fun of it seems frivolous, and there are other ways I could spend my time. Like reading! I love reading, and computer time and TV time take away from Reading Time.

So there are a lot of things to do in this life. Blogging is just one, and maybe it's time I moved on in another direction.

Thank you, loyal readers, and I hope you have enjoyed reading my entries as much as I've enjoyed reading yours. Take care of yourselves. Remember: Living well is the best revenge, and always make room for a little beauty, and serendipity, because into that serendipitous moment, your future path may open before you, and opportunities that you hadn't considered will make themselves known to you. Choose wisely. May peace and compassion be with you on your journey.

*In Our Own Voice is a NAMI Signature Program wherein people with mental health diagnoses talk to members of the community about what it's like to live with a diagnosis. It's presented in five parts: Dark Days, Acceptance, Coping, Treatment and Successes, Hopes and Dreams. The idea is to bring the audience along on the journey from the first, or most recent, episode of the illness, through accepting the help that's offered, learning to cope and live well with the condition, the effects of treatment, and life in recovery. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo

Title: Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo, translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano, illustrations copyright 2012, 2015 by Masako Inoue
Publishing Date: 2016.
Publisher: Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, New York. Originally published 2012 and 2015, by Sunmark Publishing, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.
Pages: 292, including Index and Copyright page
Date Purchased: March 18, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-60774-972-1
Reading Dates: June 10-July 1, 2016

The book is divided into two parts, of three chapters each: Part I encompasses "Master Tips," which is a "how-to" guide on the more subtle points of the KonMari method. Part II is the "Encyclopedia," which covers the more practical aspects of organizing and tidying up following the KonMari method.

The book is not too different from most organizing books I've read, including those written by Peter Walsh. The thing that separates this book from the average organizing book is the added spiritual dimension that KonMari gives her method, which is based on the practice of the Japanese animistic religion of Shinto. In the Shinto spiritual belief system, all things, including what we in the West would consider "inanimate" objects, are considered to be imbued with spirits. Kondo encourages her readers to respect these spirits by thanking and saying good-bye to any items they may be discarding or donating.

This may seem strange to the Western mind, and to practitioners of monotheistic religions, but the way she describes it, Kondo's explanation makes sense. I would suggest that if you don't feel comfortable thanking and saying good-bye to your things, then maybe thanking the deity of your belief system for allowing you to have enough wealth to provide such things might be preferable. Then thank the deity for allowing you to have more things to replace or use in place of the objects you are discarding. We in the developed world tend to forget how lucky we are to have enough and even more than enough than we need, so being grateful for our things would not be out of order.

One of the things that I liked about this book, more so than her previous book, was her humbleness and her willingness to admit when she was wrong and made a mistake and that she would work to rectify it. I think that is one of the qualities that has won Marie Kondo fans around the world.

As a book on organizing, I found it inspiring, though not inspiring enough to plunge into KonMari-ing my apartment. I'm going to think long and hard about that, since I have a roommate and shared spaces to consider. That said, Marie Kondo lays out her method in detail in this book, and many of the questions and contradictions that were raised in her last book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, are answered and clarified.

Whether or not you decide to undertake the KonMari process and apply it to your work or living space, I would recommend discussing your plans ahead of time with anyone with whom you share your space, so they know what's going on, if it affects them. It seems to me that's the polite thing to do. However, don't let their reaction stop you from undertaking the process, as far as it relates to your own things and space.