Finding Lagom

Purple Pincushion plants at the Wilbur D May Arboretum, Reno, Nevada

A while back, I was writing about resetting my life. I was changing inside and a new season was starting. I started clearing out the cobwebs and unused items in my life.

This isn’t that annual de-cluttering, it was more like closing out a chapter and going on to the next one in my personal life book. I’ve done lots of resetting in the past. Usually after big events like getting married, getting divorced, getting married again, and when I moved to a new state. So it didn’t surprise me that after going through a cancer journey and then pandemic, that I felt the need to re-set.

I was feeling out of whack, I guess. Nothing seemed to be quite right. I was kind of like Goldilocks looking for the comfy chair to sit in, and just not finding it. Everything seemed too hard or too soft. Nothing was just right.

For me, going through my things once in awhile feels good. It clears my head. It is amazing the amount of belongings that regularly travel through this house! What surprised me even more, was the sheer volume of things I was willing to let go of.

When I first started this blog 4-1/2 years ago, I wrote about how I had finally decluttered the house. I wrote about letting go all of my inherited things and letting go of all of the guilt that went with it. With everything I had gotten rid of then, I really thought I was done any major purging.

But I was wrong.

I forgot about life and how it can change you.

I also didn’t realize how much I had changed during this cancer journey.

Cancer is a hard thing to explain. It’s not your average disease. It’s not like getting the mumps, where it’s one and done, and totally predictable. You know be sick for a week and then after a couple of weeks, you’ll be back to normal.

 Cancer can be a one off. But for many, it isn’t. And even after you are told you are finished with your treatment and the demon is gone, you are still left in limbo and full of questions. “Will it come back? Is there more I should be doing to stay healthy and alive? When will the side effects of chemo go away? Will they go away? Will I ever get my strength back? Will I ever feel like “me” again?”

Anyway, during the past two years, I found that I had brought things into my life that I felt were necessary, only to realize that I out grew them in just a few short months. I was really hard on myself about it. I felt guilty about caving and getting little trinkets or starting a hobby, only to lose interest in it.

Greg was much more understanding and kind to me about my purchases than I was to myself. I guess it was because he could see what I couldn’t. That these purchases and hobbies were things that were helping me cope and grow  and just survive my situation.

I had lost a lot of weight prior to my treatment and even more right after my surgery. Part of me was really excited to be smaller, so I bought some new clothes to cheer me up. But after starting chemo, the steroids precipitated a weight gain, and my pretty clothes stopped fitting. I mentally kicked myself thinking about the money I’d spent.

I bought projects to help pass the time, but a lot of time I had a hard time focusing on the fine details required to do them. The treatment gave me numb fingers and trying to crochet a pretty winter scarf was a clumsy effort at best.  I made the scarf and used it, but the anticipated joy of creating something lovely was lost on me. My joy of hand embroidery went the same route.

The numbness went away, but my enthusiasm for handcrafting wasn’t there. And my weight gain stayed, so a year later, a lot of those items still didn’t fit. Sadness joined in the fray and for awhile, all I could see was that I wasn’t the person I used to be anymore.

As I said, I was way too hard on myself.

Like every other challenge I’ve faced, I gradually found ways to pull out of it. And after getting a reminder of how the simple act of practicing gratitude solves a multitude of problems, I started to come around.

I began to forgive myself. I began to acknowledge everything my body and soul has gone through on this journey. I began to be grateful. I found grace.

And best of all, I began to heal.

I’m still healing.

I made a few more discoveries on this latest re-setting.

In the past, I’ve gone to You Tube for decluttering inspiration; looking for gentle reminders on how to purge when I’m feeling stuck or unsure. And this reset was no different in that respect.

But it didn’t seem to matter just how many simplicity videos, or minimalist videos, or kick out the trash videos I watched, they didn’t seem to help this time.

It wasn’t until I began to re-read my Marie Kondo tidying books that I understood why this time was so hard.

Marie suggests that you should keep only what you love, and what serves a purpose. But to do that, you really have to know yourself.

And that was why I was stuck.

I had changed so much, that I didn’t know me anymore.

That’s where the forgiving, the acknowledging and the gratitude came in. And it really did make a difference for me. It allowed me to understand that while I needed to find a way to fit myself back into life, I was also still healing.  And that maybe some of the things I need now, I won’t need in a few more months.

And that’s just the way things are right now.

It’s an incredibly freeing thought: knowing that it is ok to let go. Knowing that my right choice is absolutely, wonderfully different from someone else. And that, that is the way it should be.

The Swedes have a saying. Lagom. Loosely translated, it means “just enough.” Having too much is stress, is just as bad as having too little. When you have just what you need, there is peace; in your home and in your heart.

It takes some mindfulness to get to that place of lagom. It takes some active learning about who you are now, at this moment in time. You have to think about if you are staying in this mind and body “place” for a while, or if it’s just a moment of time when you catch your breath and pause to renew.

Then, and only then, you can take a tiny step, and see how it feels.

So, I am trying it this way, now. And it feels, better. It feels less confusing and more peaceful.

I wish you lagom. I wish you enough. I wish you peace and joy.

Till next time,


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