Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hopeful Thoughts: Gifts vs Goals

Something insanely exciting happened since we last hung out. Something that I have been working towards for years. Years, people! Blood, sweat, and tears o'plenty. So would you like to know what happened? What made me feel like a rock star and a domestic goddess and a reasonable adult all at the same time?

Here, I'll just show you.

My entire house is clean. 
All at the same time. 

Well at least all the public areas. It's a miracle, I tell you. Cue the angel voices.

Come on and  check it out: 

Here's the basement.

Yes, I admit it is a little insane to take pictures of my entire house, just to prove it was all clean at the same time. But you have no idea how much I have put into this endeavor. I have been trying to make this possible for the last 15 years, and I have spent the last 2 years putting ALL my free time towards this goal. 

I know I sound like I'm at Messy House Annonmous, "Hi, I'm CM Shaw and I can't get my house clean..." and I'm OK with that. But I wanted to show everyone I know all you guys that attaining your goals is possible. Even hard ones. I love things but I can't be bothered to clean regularly so this was a huge one for me. 

Unfortunately, if was fleeting. About 20 min after the above photos were taken it looked like this:

We fed the entire Varsity Girl's Soccer Team. 

It's cool. My goal wasn't actually to maintain a clean house. I despise my children when my house is clean, becuase I know they are going to mess it up the second they walk in. For  the sake of family health and harmony, my goal was for it to be possible to clean my entire house in less than a week. 

It took me 4 days.  I was stunned. Completely speechless. I don't know that I ever thought through how I would feel if I actually made it happen. I'll be honest. There were tears. And a triumphant call to my mother. And a post on Instagram. I know. Ridiculous. But let me remind you where I started, when I was living in Before

I bring all this up, firstly for total self aggrandizement, but mostly because I have been thinking a lot about goals. I set the goal to get my house "magazine shoot" beautiful at least 4 years ago. And while I still have a bit more left to hit that lofty goal, I am getting pretty close. So of course, I have launched off on another huge goal: to design and decorate my sister's house in Portland, Oregon by the middle of August.

She bought her house 2 or 3 years ago, but never really moved into it. She was working a lot and had roommates with furniture and tons of debris, so she just kind of slept there and ignored it all. She recently went through a huge round of soul searching and decided it was time to get rid of the roommates and their stuff and make her cute little ranch house her own. Now I will probably be telling you more about this project in the future, so forgive me for not going into much more detail today. 

Today we are going to talk about her office.

It's the smallest room in the house, but it is perfect for her to work from home and actually get something done. And she has a great love for all things Alice in Wonderland, so that is our theme.

And in my feverish Pinteresting our calm and measured design conversations, we decided to go with a color scheme like the above movie poster. While looking for wall colors, I found this awesome pin from Living With Lupus . (I tried to pull it up here, but alas, I am not super tech savvy.) Anyway, the point is light blue-grey-green walls, waterfall of fantastic plates, clocks, and over-scale flowers. Very "Wonderland meets Productivity", right? 

So, still flush with my recent cleaning success, I dove right in. I have been to every thrift shop within 20 miles of my house in the last three days. Yes, there has been dinner. No the laundry's not folded and most things are no longer clean. But look what I have found!

So many beauties!

I scored at almost every location I went to. And they were mostly $3 or less. 

By this point, I had decided I was the best "wall plate finder for a plate waterfall over a desk" ever. 

Then I started looking for red plates and purple plates. And clocks. 

Nothing. Nada. No juice anywhere.

And it stopped being fun. Finding these things RIGHT NOW was all I could think about. I scoured the internet seeing what I could find. I thought about building clocks or if Ikea sold them cheap. I looked on Ebay for red plates and found that I hated all of them as they were either plain red, or Christmas themed. Boo. I was thinking about plates as I went to sleep at night and as I woke up I was frantic to start looking again. 

Yesterday, as I was driving to my third thrift shop of the day, I thought to myself, 
 "Am I working this a little too hard?" 

Um...Yes. Yes you are. 
Obsession anyone? 

And that's when I realized there are Goals...and there are Gifts.

Goals are the things we want to accomplish. They take effort and planning and time and energy. And sometimes money. And you are pretty much in control of whether they happen or not. 

Then there are the Gifts.

Gifts are the things that fall out of the sky and help you achieve your goals. Things like cheap, pretty plates at thrift shops in just the colors you were looking for. Or the exact piece of furniture you were hoping to find on the side of the road. Just waiting for you to save it.

The thing about Gifts, is that you have NO CONTROL of them. 
They just happen to you. 
You find them. 

And I had gotten cocky...and ...dare I say it...Greedy.

Yes, I assumed the Universe would grant me what ever I asked of it, at least in the plate department, RIGHT NOW. Because it always works that way...right?

NO! No, it  never works that way. You have to wait for it. 

And that, my friend, is the difference between Gifts and Goals. This disparity becomes relevant mostly because we are a productive, focused lot. We like to finish Today. We don't like it when things are In. The. Way. We want things to wrap up nicely and neatly. And as soon as possible. No loose ends here.

When they don't, we get frustrated. We think, "Why isn't this stupid thing done yet? Freaking Sistine Chapel!" And we apply ourselves even harder. We try to steal the Gifts, by forcing it. By going anywhere we think they might be. By spending all night on Craigslist. By putting in too much effort. And we lose the fun and the wonder of it all in our search for completion and working through our List. 

Well, the good news is, I came to my senses and I am not doing any more plate hunting until the day after tomorrow, when there are about a billion garage sales in my area. But another funny thing has happened since I stopped looking. I realized there were other things going on in my life, that I had forgotten about. Like watering my recently transplanted trees. I love to water them and see how my garden changes from day to day. I had been so busy seeking, that I forgot to look at my garden, which is a daily Gift. And I forgot to read Harry Potter to my 8 year old. Another Gift. And I almost forgot to watch "Fixer Upper." Gasp! I know, right? I told you I was obsessed.

As I drop the obsession, I can see that abundance which fills my life. 

So if you are pushing really hard on something, and find yourself getting frustrated, take a second and ask yourself, "Am I trying to steal a Gift? Or am I working through a Goal?" If you are stealing a Gift, take a step back and just relax a little. Look around and see what else you could do to keep yourself busy until the Gift chooses to reveal itself. Or you could always work on another Goal. I always have plenty to spare. Keep the effort going to the things you can control. And have patience and faith to wait for the things that you can't.

Do you guys ever find Gifts? 

Or get wrapped in in seeking things? 

I'd love to hear your stories.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

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