Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Let's face it.   Goodbyes are difficult.   Sure, the “goodbyes I'll see you next time” can be difficult but I'm talking about the “goodbyes I'll never see you again in this lifetime” goodbyes.

I said goodbye last week to one of my son’s best friends.  A great young man who died suddenly—just 42 years old.  He seemed healthy and he was doing good things in the world.  He was studying Audio Engineering and really knew how to touch people through mixing music and just being his happy, silly self.  He was a great dad to two little girls and a loving son, brother and friend.

I remembered the day in 2007 that my daughter, Rashida, called me.  At that time she was living in New York and I was in North Carolina.  She told me that she was walking down a New York City street and passed Urban Outfitters a hip, urban clothing store.  Well she actually didn’t pass it, she went in.  What prompted her to go in was the most incredible music spilling out of the open doors.  As she walked towards the music she was shocked to see Christian at the DJ podium—rocking the sounds.  The store was packed, people were vibing to the music and they were buying stuff!  She stopped to give him a hug—she hadn’t seen him in many years.  He was making people happy.

Christian and my son grew up together and as I sat at another funeral of a young man gone too soon, I was catapulted right back to the day my son died two years ago.   As I sat in the memorial service for Christian and listened to all the lives he’d impacted and the work he was doing in the music field I felt heartened because just like Lateef, even though he's gone from this planet, his work lives on.  His friends have committed to continuing to produce the awe-inspiring music they all collaborated on.  His spirit and joy of life lives on in his children and for that we can be grateful.

Though currently we think about him with sadness, there will be a time when we can think about him and a smile will break through the sadness.   There will be a time when memories of him will make us laugh as we think about some of the pranks and sticky spots he and the rest of his buddies managed to get into.  Perhaps not today, but someday.  Today it is just enough to be grateful that we even knew him, that we got to hear his funny laugh and see his megawatt smile—that we knew him for as many years as we were fortunate to have him.

Rest in Peace, Christian.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Tiny House State of Mind

I’ve been thinking lately that I could live in a tiny house—a house somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 square feet. There’s a movement afoot—an entire community of people who want to live more simply and are proving it by downsizing to homes anywhere from 100 to 400 square feet.  Some even live off the grid by using solar panels to provide their electricity.  They save a ton of money, have more freedom and impact the earth a lot less.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my creature comforts but I’ve always been interested in simple living.  I’m not sure where the simple living mantra went in my mid-thirties when I, like everyone else I knew, was busy climbing the corporate ladder and accumulating stuff as I went. 

As I got older though I noticed that I really didn’t want to accumulate stuff anymore.  Do you remember George Carlin?  He was a really funny comedian and he had a monologue about “Stuff”.  Part of the monologue was “ If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house, you could just walk around all day”.  It cracked me up and then I got to thinking about how right he was.  It might be nice to just walk around all day.

After my husband and son died, and I was moving to New York City, I divested myself of so many belongings so fast, it would make your head spin.  Losing so much that was so dear to me made me really see how unimportant this stuff was that I was hauling around from house to house, state to state, city to city.  So I went about getting rid of as much of it as I could.  The rest I put into 2 storage units and paid monthly on those units for 1.5 years.

Living in a tiny New York City apartment (400 square feet) was liberating.  I couldn’t buy much because there was no place to put it.  Everything either had a purpose or it did not make it through the front door.  Just being “cute” or “pretty” did not make the cut.

Now I’ve moved back to North Carolina to a 2,000 square foot home, one of the smallest I’ve lived in and it still feels too big.  I’m down from 2 storage units to 1 with the goal to have none by the end of 2016. 

Will I move into a tiny house?  First I have to cultivate a tiny house state of mind.  I’m working on that.