Off to Iceland, Unmoored and Rootless

After months of anticipation and preparation, I found myself anxious and excited to meet my classmates at school and carpool to Toronto for our flight. Arriving at our gate, five hours of driving behind us, five hours of flying ahead of us, I started to get to know my classmates. Work was already far from my mind. My youngest child was in safe hands. I felt a rare sense of freedom…I was unmoored and ready to grow. Arriving in Reykjavik at 6:22 a.m. (2:22 a.m. back home), we piled into two vans and took off for our hostel. I never got to do a year or even a semester abroad when I was in engineering school. Now was my chance to experience life abroad as a student.


After settling in to the hostel, with strict instructions not to nap, we changed into many layers of clothing, piled back into the vans, and drove halfway back to the airport. We were at our first site. Our mission was to observe. I pulled out my waterproof field-book and a mechanical pencil and looked around. The landscape was alien…so alien that filmmakers often use it as a backdrop in movies that take place on Mars and other extra-terrestrial places.

I sketched the outcrop in front of me…I saw a dark band of dark basalt heaved up over red rock. I moved closer and looked at the rocks. I was clueless. I looked around and saw that classmates were climbing up the rocks. I took a deep breath and started climbing. I mostly looked at my feet…the way was steep and the footing unstable. I nervously climbed higher and higher. A new classmate reached out a hand to steady me. I accepted, feeling part grateful and part pitiful. Eventually, I could look back and see a circular depression…a volcano crater! Or so I thought…

One thing that I needed to learn was how to be safe. I flashed back to the first time I was in Colorado taking skiing lessons. Three times on one downhill run, I almost died. I was out of control. After the third time, I finally internalized the lesson that it did not matter how slowly I descended the mountain as long as I was in control. I thought of that often every day I was in Iceland.

Meanwhile, some of my classmates had wandered much farther afield. The landscape was full of many similar structures and they were off in the distance examining them. Meanwhile, I continued to observe. I wrote a lot of random things in my notebook. I did not feel very scientific…I couldn’t organize my observations or my thoughts. Eventually we gathered and our professor gave us some insight into the site. It turned out that we were observing a cluster of rootless cones.


Even though I’d been up for over 32 hours, I felt energized. I couldn’t believe that I was in Iceland. I had eleven more days of traveling with my class, holing up in the hostel at night, working with my two undergraduate teammates by day, exploring volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and everything else that I could absorb along the way.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and what an amazing journey it is!

Gearing Up for Iceland

I’ve already purchased the most important parts of my gear for my upcoming trip to Iceland…hiking boots, socks, and my geologic field book. I’ll wear the boots every day, hiking around volcanos, geothermal pools, and fault lines. The socks are also key. I got the best, warm socks with no seams which are knit to conform to your foot. The notebook was prescribed…a waterproof, bound book with geologic references in the back. Next up? Layers.

I bought my boots at REI. I don’t know what it is about them that drew me there, but I couldn’t even think of another place to go. Once there, I was surprised to learn that they are a co-op and that membership of $20 (which goes to local trails) gives you entrée to discounts and more. In my first trip, I got my boots, socks, and water shoes. The water shoes will be nice for the hostel shower, but I really bought them for fording streams (don’t you just love the adventure in those words?).

My second trip, I was in search of rain gear…my outer layer. The weather will be between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I will need to go out for the day with clothing that protects me from rain and snow and sun. I could head out in a snow squall, spend hours making observations in the rain, and then find myself at a geothermal pool ready to swim. The sun will be up for 20 hours and in twilight-mode for the other four hours. What to wear, what to wear!

The helpful folks at REI helped me find a rain jacket and rain pants. For some reason, the woman helping me thought I was going to Iceland with my husband, despite my correcting her multiple times. I told her I was traveling there with a class. Finally, she got it and apologized. Then she told the next associate that “the teacher” needed help finding a waterproof pen. I let that one slide. Yes, I am a 52 year old student…being mistaken for a teacher is an honor!

In the end, I chose the low-end products for my outer layer. You can spend a fortune on this stuff, but I’ll only need it for a couple of weeks. I need to buy bigger sizes so that I can wear a light jacket and pants over at least two other layers for warmth. When the associates tried to get me to buy other layers, I demurred. I have tons of running gear and I’m pretty sure that I can fill my suitcase with my winter running tights, running jackets and long-sleeved T’s. I don’t need backpacking-specific clothes when I already have similar gear for running.Buff

I did succumb to something called a “Buff”. This turned out to be $20 for $5 dollar worth of fabric. I bought into the concept of a lightweight loop of fabric that I could wear around my neck and use to warm my neck, face, and/or head just by shifting the fabric.

In the end, it’s not about fashion. It’s about flexibility. I’m not ready to pack yet, but I am thinking ahead to when I will. I need a few new things…hopefully things I can continue to use after my trip. In the meantime…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and remember, you can’t go wrong with layers!



My Addiction to Office Supplies Goes Outdoors

New school supplies still make me happy. When I started college as an engineer, I graduated from loose leaf paper and spiral notebooks to logbooks. I learned that a scientist has to use a bound book so that evidence is documented in a tamper-proof way. I liked that. Ok, I loved that! Then, I discovered logbooks with page numbers and graph paper pages. Ah, heaven. Soon I justified buying a scale instead of a plain ruler and next thing you know I had a few French curves and a lot of colored pencils to my name.

Now, as I prepare for my journey to Iceland (sounds awfully adventurous!) I was instructed to buy a geological field book. This notebook, my professor explained, would be turned in for grading at the end of the course. It needs to have accurate drawings (uh oh) and be kept in chronological order documenting all of the sites we visit. The date, GPS coordinates, and observed weather must be recorded along with geological observations.

I ordered my notebook online. I learned that there are many profession-specific field books. They are rain-proof, as long as you use a pencil or a waterproof pen. I scoped out the proper notebook and added two mechanical pencils, one red and one black. I wanted blue and maybe even green and yellow, but they didn’t offer anything but black and red. I also found a cover to keep the notebook and pencils together.Geologic Fieldbook

Looking at this notebook, the epitome of all scientific notebooks, I think about why I am so drawn to it. The empty notebook is a new beginning, the blank pages waiting to be filled with new experiences. Back in college, I began each new semester as an adventure and a challenge. It was tough going and as I progressed through the years, I started to count down the remaining semesters at each new start. Better to just enjoy the journey, tough as it may be.

My new notebook has a table of contents. I like the orderliness of this. Life is chaotic, but with this notebook, this one aspect of my life will be chronicled in an orderly way. Built into the back of the book are twenty pages of reference materials. These aren’t the random references that some notebooks capture, but information very specific to geology. When I am out in the field, with no internet, this will be my only reference. It’s nice to know that most of the basics are already at hand. Before I leave, I will add references of my own, particularly a map of Iceland.

Opening up the notebook, I find that each left-hand page is a blank table and each right hand page is graph paper. I wonder if my observations will fit neatly into this format. I doubt it, but this is where I need to be flexible. Hidden in the back of the notebook, I find a treasure…a scale! It’s flat and waterproof with an arrow and a big N. In the field, I can set it next to a geologic feature and point it north. Then when I take a photo of the feature, I will know its exact size and orientation.

It’s often said that planning a vacation is more fun than the actual trip. I hope that they are equally pleasurable, but I do know that I am enjoying the preparations for my next adventure. I have my precious notebook and I intend to follow up with my professor to get it back after he grades it. I am already making plans to take his fieldwork class next year…Cypress or Puerto Rico.

Who knew that a passion for notebooks could mesh with my newly unleased passion for adventure! Find the Joy in the Journey…What’s your next adventure?


These Boots Are Made For Hiking…

I’m the poster child for late bloomers…but I like to think of myself as a perennial. I go through cycles of blooming and live to bloom another day. I bloomed a couple of years ago with my long-distance running. That’s not to say I won any awards (ok, ok, I did come in second in a small 10k), but I did run four half-marathons and live to tell the tale.

My latest blooming, or rather struggling to dig my roots in and raise my leaves to the sun, is to go back to school at night for a masters in environmental science. If I were going to college now, I would pick it as an undergraduate, but back when I went to college it really wasn’t an option. No worries…I believe in reinventing myself at every age.

I started my new degree a little over a year ago. I took a groundwater modeling class just because it was the only class offered in my degree. Last Fall, I took a course in restoration ecology and fulfilled one of two prerequisites, geology. Now I’m taking environmental communications and environmental chemistry. It’s more of a struggle than I would like to admit…

In all of this, though, is a wonderful adventure…the other prerequisite that I need is a field course. So, I’m going to Iceland. Yes, pity poor me, I “have” to go to Iceland! I will study the geology of volcanoes and glaciers in the place where the earth is visibly tearing apart. I will hike up volcanoes, ford streams, swim in geothermal pools, and sketch land forms into a notebook as the wind and sleet assail me.

The first thing I’ve done to prepare myself physically, is to buy my first pair of hiking boots. Off I went to REI…I joined the team as a member…which means $20 to be used to support local trail systems. I bought my first pair of hiking boots, and a pair of water shoes…for those times when I need to ford a stream. I bought hiking socks too. My premise is that if my feet are happy, I will do well.


Back home, I put on my socks and boots and went for a “hike” around the neighborhood to break in my boots. Three miles later, I felt as if I’d made little progress in breaking in my boots. The next morning, however, I felt differently. I had shin splints. My calves, and various and sundry other muscles, were inexplicably sore. I had expected to get blisters as part of the breaking-in process, but apparently it wasn’t really the boots that needed to “break in”, but my own body that needs to prepare for my trip.

I woke up sore today, but after work I put my hiking boots on and headed out for a walk. This time I only went two miles, but I felt as if I were wearing ski boots. Each step felt heavy and filled with import.

Now my boots are five miles into breaking in…and so is my body! I can easily walk, or even run a few miles with no negative effects, but hiking must be a different experience all together. Good thing I am starting two months in advance to prepare my body for my next, big adventure!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and never stop finding new journeys!


The Courage to Start Over Again

I find myself “back at square one” when it comes to my fitness goals. After a year of limited ability to exercise, followed by surgery, followed by recovery, I find myself with the ok to exercise from my doctor and no motivation to do so. I did go out one day and I ran three miles. I felt as if it were a half-marathon and that I was under-prepared. I was sore for four days afterward. Apparently I’m not ready for that and need to start slower.

Dejected and unmotivated, I decided to re-read my blog to see how I was able to get started the last time. Not only did I find my initial posts motivational, I found that I have left a record that, if not beneficial to anyone else, is a goldmine for me.  I struggled just as much back then just to get started walking on my treadmill. The difference is that I know just how far I got from that humble start. I need to do it again, and I need to find the courage to do it. I think I just did.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that I already did this and shouldn’t have to do it again (the “poor me” trap), or the trap of thinking that I am just not the fitness “type”, or the trap that it just doesn’t matter. I do have to do it all again, but hopefully this time I will learn from past lessons and not get discouraged or take too many false steps.

I am the fitness type, because I’ve been fit and I loved it. I learned this late in life, not having been much of an athlete as a child. I learned that strength training makes me more stable…more graceful (I was never a graceful child). Running, eventually, makes me feel healthy and energized…at least the shorter runs do. The longer runs make me feel powerful in a whole different way…conquering my fears and proving to myself that I can do it.

It does matter. Being fit and healthy is a gift that only I can give myself and one that will extend my life and enhance my quality of life as I get older. It matters because it makes me better at all I do, provides me with endurance, energy, and perspective. It gives me confidence. I was getting used to the words, “I am a long-distance runner”, now I’ve removed all my “13.1” magnets from my car because they made me feel like a fraud. I earned them with blood (not much), sweat (a whole lot), and a few tears.

It won’t be easy, but what worthwhile goal ever is? I have new commitments that will make it harder for me to find time for fitness, but I’m used to scheduling challenges. I have my own, personal record of how to get to my goals, and I will…

Find the Joy in the Journey!

Of Duct Tape and Driveways

When I undertook to renovate my 1892 home back in 2005, I thought I’d budgeted for everything. It turned out that I didn’t have budget for replacing all the studs on the second floor (ancient roof fire), digging-out a brick septic tank (hazardous material removal), and a fourteen-month delay due to living next door to the President of the City Council’s brother (inexplicable retraction of building permits, corruption, secret meeting violations, etc.). At the end of the project, I was left with several hard-rock choices. I chose not to renovate the original bathroom; not to repair the destruction of the driveway caused by excavation; and not to replace the original front door which is custom built, hardwood, and leaky. I also chose to use cheaper cabinets in the kitchen and use built-in-place Formica counters rather than the soapstone of which I dreamed (I am a Chemical Engineer by education…I just really wanted them!).

So, ten years in, when cracks appeared in the new portion of the basement, I girded myself to tackle the first of these delayed projects, and the most expensive. I have a Michigan Basement…but my new construction was lower than that. Michigan basements are high, due to the high water table, half-way above ground with windows. I added a small portion to the basement at the back of my house to move the staircase and add a living space that can be used as a bedroom. I also got lots of closets, and a small room that I’ve used to store many of my books on metal bookcases. It also houses a sump pump. After ten years, I discovered that the floor had cracked and water was pushing its way up into the space.

I immediately implicated the damage to the driveway, just adjacent to the sump pump, to the damage to the basement floor. I called my contractor and had them replace my driveway and deal with all the water-drainage issues. This included not only the driveway drainage, but the drainage from half of my large roof. Everything was draining to a single point next to my house where the damage had occurred.

A week and many thousands of dollars later, I had a lovely new driveway. A storm hit, and all the water, now diverted to the other side of my driveway, was easily absorbed into the ground rather than back into my house. I thought this was success…but a few days later it dawned on me to check out the water situation in my basement. Sadly, not only was it still wet, it seemed worse than before!

I met with my contractor to finalize the project. I showed him my wet basement space. I stood there as we brainstormed what the problem could be. We both agreed that the driveway project had been much needed and had been successful for the most part. Then the sump pump kicked in and my contractor exclaimed, “did you see that?!”. No, I hadn’t, but it turned out that when the sump pump kicked in, a leak in the piping gave way to a solid squirt of water back into my basement!

My contractor is sending over someone to replace the leaky fittings…but in the meantime I took a scrap of duct tape from my younger daughter’s craft supplies and a used, one-gallon, zip-top bag, and taped a make-shift water shield to the leaky fixture. My basement is now dry. No longer does half the water that hits my roof plus all the water that hits the driveway dump towards my basement…and no longer does my sump pump pump a fraction of that water directly back into my basement.

I know I needed to replace my driveway, but I am still left thinking that the immediate crisis was actually fixed for free…

Find the Joy in the Journey…have a sense of humor, it always helps!

Adventures in Spain: My Search for Mi Amiga

This is my third attempt at writing this post. The first one was just so-so. I set it aside. I started afresh and kept returning to the piece until I finally felt that it was exactly what I wanted to say. Then, as I searched for the perfect photo for the perfect piece, the final draft of my post vanished. This has happened to me before, but usually I can dig around in cyber-space and find my work eventually. I’ve looked and looked to no avail, and ultimately waited six weeks to admit defeat. Time to snatch victory from the arms of defeat. I will start once more…

Many years ago, twenty-three-and-a-half to be exact, I was the new home-owner of a 100 year-old,Queen Anne Victorian house. I was also pregnant, although I didn’t know it yet. Once I learned of my joyous condition, my biggest concern was what to do about childcare. Immediately, I thought of having an au pair. I had the room in my big-old house…although the house needed a lot of work…I called it The Money Pit after the old Carey Grant movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. With a downstairs bedroom adjacent to a full bath, it was the ideal house to have a live-in babysitter. I didn’t want, nor could I afford, a live-in nanny at $15-$20 an hour. What I wanted was a young woman on a cultural exchange program who would share my home and family life for room, board, tuition money, and a modest salary in exchange for minding my children and sharing her culture with my family.

We had our good, bad, and decidedly ugly moments, but in the 16 year span that followed, I never regretted my decision to welcome au pairs into my home. Three, in particular, became close friends to me. This was an added benefit, as friendship was never the real goal. But, these three…I treasure them like dear sisters. Two, I’ve kept in close contact with over the years…and attended their weddings. I hope to be known to their children as their US Auntie someday…But one, one I lost. As much as I tried to reach her, my messages were lost in cyber-space.

She was Spanish, from Pamplona. At one point, I found her on Facebook, but she didn’t accept my friend request. Sometimes she’d send me Yahoo greeting cards and I would reply to the attached e-mail address with a note. She never responded. Eventually, I decided that she’d lost all of her English. That wasn’t far from the truth.

The first moment I met her, she stepped off the plane from New York, fresh from her au pair training, and fell into my arms. That just may have been the moment in my life when I went from being a non-hugger to being a hugger. She was so relieved to have arrived, after several days of dis-orientation, into the arms of her new “mother”. I was pregnant, just a month…something I needed to tell her, although in the end, she was on her way home before I finished my maternity leave.

Somewhere along the way, she learned enough English to converse…I on the other hand, didn’t learn much in the way of Spanish. When she returned to Pamplona, she didn’t practice her English for 14 years. She had a job where being on Facebook was a liability, so, she put up a profile, then took it down again. Years went by. Sometimes my son, who became fluent in Spanish in high school, was able to converse with her briefly, but for the most part, she was lost to me.

When my older daughter decided to spend a semester at her university’s campus in Madrid, I encouraged her to reach out to our former au pairs in Europe, and several of their au pair friends whom we’d met. She had no luck with our friend in Pamplona, who watched her from the age of 3 and a half to 4 and a half…until the very day that I flew over to spend a week with her. She was seven months pregnant and over joyed to see us.

I arrived in Spain and met my daughter. We took the Metro and she showed me the home she shared with a host mother and roommates…not so dissimilar to our au pair experiences. We walked to her school and she shared her art projects with me. Then we went to the train station and bought tickets to Pamplona. We couldn’t get seats on the train we wanted, so we had tapas before catching the train. I worried that we were keeping our hostess out too late…but, ah! Spain!

I napped briefly on the train…the only sleep I’d had in two days. As we pulled in to the station, I looked expectantly out the train windows for mi amiga. I didn’t see her. We disembarked onto the platform with our bags and looked anxiously around. We proceeded into the station itself and looked around. There she was, time slipping away from me, I saw the same girl from 15 years ago. I ran into her arms and my daughter soon joined the embrace. Tears of joy blurred my vision.

So, try and try and try again. Whether it is getting that perfect draft or finally reaching a long-lost friend, never give up!

Find the Joy in the Journey! This Journey is just beginning!

The Procrastinating De-Clutterer

I have limited energy these days, but lots of time (this seems to be a common problem…you have one or the other, never both.). So, I am continuing my quest to cull my closet (oh, and my drawers, and the multiple laundry baskets in my bedroom and closet, and multiple Sterlite bins in my closet and in the attic, and other various and sundry locations where my clothes are hiding). It is a major task, and one that I’ve avoided like crazy over the years. Recently, however, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. So, I am using the book as inspiration…but not, as it turns out, as a strict instruction manual.

So far, I’ve only gone through folded clothes…T-shirts, shorts, jeans, underwear, pajamas, sweaters, etc. I have so much more to go through; I have clothes dating back to my teens. I find that I cannot go strictly by Ms. Kondo’s directions. As it turns out, she’s been throwing out her things (and those of her family members) since she was a child. How much more could she have to discard? I, on the other-hand, have five decades of stuff…plus the left-behind stuff of my ex…another fifty years worth of stuff. Oh my goodness! When you look at it that way, I have over 100 years of stuff to sort not counting all the stuff my three children have accumulated.

So, rather than having three categories for my clothes (discard, donate, keep) I’ve made my own categories. I still have discard and donate, but as for “keep”, I’ve given myself the following:

  • Keep until I can sell it…This is something that I no longer want or need, but which is still in fashion, still in good shape, and is worth the effort to try to sell
  • Keep because I still love it and even though it is too small for me, it fit me just last year. Now that I’m getting back to my usual level of activity, I’m sure it will fit me again by next year.
  • Keep because I still love it and even though it is way too small for me, I have a reasonable weight-loss goal that will get me back into it within a year or two.
  • Keep because my daughter saw it in my discard pile and decided that she loved it.
  • Keep because it has sentimental value and according to the book, I should save sentimental items until the end of the process.

The way I look at it is that I have procrastinated way too long in de-cluttering my closet and I need to accept the inspiration the book gives me and reject the parts that put me off of the whole thing. Truly, the more stuff I can get rid of or compartmentalize into easily discarded lots, the better.

So, now I have a second garbage bag of discarded clothes (I must be pretty good at discarding-as-I-go) and an ever-growing pile of donations. I am quickly moving to the most dreaded part of this task…the hanging clothes. Before I had children, I had a penchant for buying high-end clothing…some of it is classics and some is just stuff I paid a lot for and hate to toss or donate. I will need to employ the “thank you for bringing me joy” method of disposing of such items as explained in the book. I’m sure it will bring me happy memories, so, onward I go!

Find the Joy in the Journey…Joy is rarely found in objects, so keep those that do bring you Joy and don’t feel bad for letting the rest go.

Related Posts:

Can Tidying-Up Change Your Life?

Can Tidying-Up Change Your Life?

I recently read Marie Kondo’s book, the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Of all the many books and articles I’ve read about de-cluttering, this one has struck a real chord with me. She advocates going through your things by category and instead of discarding what you don’t want, keep only what brings you joy.

She also advises to start with your clothes…and that has been something I’ve procrastinated about forever. It’s on the top of my list of de-cluttering tasks and yet I always have reasons why it’s not the right time to tackle it. No more. Like most women, I have clothing in multiple sizes. The idea of following all the best advice, to throw out what you haven’t worn in a year and to never keep things that are too small for you on the if-come that they will fit again, sent me into a procrastinating spin. So, naturally, I’ve modified the rules to break my procrastination cycle.

A few years ago, I lost a nice amount of weight. Then, with continued running and training for a few half-marathons, my body changed shape and that was a good thing. I got rid of some worn “big girl” clothes and felt pretty good about it.Since then, I’ve kept a box in my closet where I throw nice things that are now too big for me for eventual donating or selling. Then, after all that healthful living, I started having some physical issues that slowed me down significantly and interfered with my running. Then winter hit with a few of those nasty polar vortexes and my weight crept up. According to my younger daughter, I was still looking good…the muscle I’d built up really helped!

Two weeks ago, I had surgery to fix my problem. I’m healing up nicely and with some time on my hands while on short-term disability, it’s finally time to tackle my closet. Ms. Kondo recommends breaking clothing down into categories if you have a lot of items. Oh, yes, that applies to me. I have had to create way more sub-categories than even Ms. Kondo recommended!  I decided to start with socks. Yes, socks. I have no emotional attachment to my socks, so this was a good place to start! After sorting out about a hundred pairs of socks, I found that I have a lot of sports-related socks. I tossed all socks with stretched-out or dried-out elastic or that had stains or holes. I also had no problem tossing some older socks into the donate bin…like the Nike socks I wore the last time I was on a golf league…20 years ago! I’ll hand it to Nike, those socks were still white and stretchy, just like new!

After my success with socks, I moved onto underwear with similar success. Then, naturally, I moved on to pajamas. This is where things started to get tough. I love pajamas! When I pick up each one and ask myself if this item of clothing gives me joy, the answer is more often yes than no. This is also where I first had to deal with size…what fits me now and what doesn’t. I decided on two additional categories to the “Konmari” method…Clothes that fit me last year and clothes that were smaller than that…that I’d planned to fit into before my physical issues overwhelmed me. My accommodation for having multiple sizes is to segregate them and to keep the smaller items out of my closet until they fit me or until I “give up” on ever fitting into them.

IMG_0740Next I moved on to sweatshirts…turns out I only have eight. My younger daughter commandeered 2 right away. One was a softball sweatshirt from her school, and one of the Tower of London (any remote connection to One Direction gets her attention…even just the country of origin). I kept three…an oddly short-sleeved sweatshirt from my undergraduate university, a Cardinals Baseball sweatshirt, and an 826Michigan sweatshirt. The discarded three are, a $4 grey Hanes sweatshirt from Target…no clue why I bought that. A Hard Rock Cafe Pheonix sweatshirt in hot pink that I don’t recall buying and that my younger daughter declared, “so hilariously 90’s, Mom!”, and a college sweatshirt from Germany that my father-in-law gave me years and years ago, even before I was married. It is horribly stained, but my younger daughter has her eye on it anyway…she wants me to soak it in Oxyclean and see if it is salvageable before I toss it.

So, two days into this project, I have one bag of trash (it’s at the curb, I promise!), a large box of donations, two stacks of PJ’s that are too small for me but which I really like, and the tiny hint of added closet space. I’m into this…I do believe it will change my life and help me meet other goals.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in focusing on what you truly love and letting go of the rest!

Related Posts:

The Procrastinating De-Clutterer

My First Mass Mob

Last year, I read with interest that a few people had organized the first Mass Mob in Detroit. They got the idea from a similar effort in Buffalo. It’s not what you might think…it’s a flash mob at a chosen church. The intent is to fill up the pews, and the coffers, in support of a parish in need of a boost. There are so many beautiful, historic churches in the city and keeping them open is a mission to some.

This past Sunday was the first Mass Mob of 2015 in Detroit. It was held at Old Saint Mary’s in Greektown. Two of my friends and I decided to go, and we left before 10 for a noon Mass. Upon arrival, we were directed to a nearby parking garage at Greektown Casino. The casino had donated the parking for the event. We had to wait outside for the 10 a.m. service to let out and then had to sit for almost an hour waiting for the start of the Mass Mob. It was exhilarating.Old Saint Mary's

The event was very well orchestrated which made it seem spontaneous even though it was planned. As more and more people poured into the church, we all “squeezed in” to make room. Estimates are that 1600 to 1700 people shared the experience.

We chatted with the visitors around us. In front of me was a couple coming from 50 miles away. They had been married in this very church three decades prior. Other stories were told around us as we awaited the start of Mass. The Knights of Columbus led the procession of the celebrants into the church.

We were blessed to have the Archbishop preside, and I warmed to him right away. He told us that some of us might be there as a sort of Catholic tourism…but he was okay with that. His deeper hope was that we were part of a new evangelism in spreading our Faith.

When the time came to take up the collection, I noticed that a security firm had been hired to watch over the process. They wore black jackets with a discrete logo and plain khaki pants. As the ushers moved down the aisle, one came with a large, medicine-bag-style briefcase, collecting the money and moving it off to one of the guards as the ushers worked their way back through the church. When the offering was brought up, rest assured that the money had already been secreted away and the focus was on the bread, water, and wine.

Inside Old Saint Mary'sAfter Mass, my friends and I wandered out into the sunshine and past quite a few drunken Millennials in green T-shirts. They were coming from the St. Patrick’s day parade…such an odd juxtaposition of events that day. It reminded me of Thomas Cahill’s book, How The Irish Saved Civilization. Much of it is focused on St. Patrick. It is a delightful and educational telling of a part of world history that is often neglected. St. Patrick wasn’t much for green beer and corned beef, but he was an integral part of saving the Western World’s culture, and with it the Catholic church. Now, modern believers are offered the opportunity through these Mass Mob, grass-roots efforts to save some of the cultural touchstones of our Faith for the next generation.

Find the Joy in the Journey…