Aspiring to minimalist living, or my version of it

While hardly a true minimalist, I do love having as few possessions as possible. Either it appeals to the OCD side of me, knowing that everything is “in order” and “sorted”, or I really don’t care all that much about material stuff. Maybe it’s a bit of both. In any case, this article inspired me so much that I went through my entire house one weekend in an effort to declutter. I came away with half a recycle bin full of paper, mostly my 5yo’s artwork from the past year, a bag of trash and three bags of stuff to donate to the Salvo’s.

As I unceremoniously dumped a bag of the kid’s kinder artwork into the recycle bin, I remembered this quote from the article about memories not being in things. So true – mine are mostly in my head and hard drive, and besides, I honestly don’t think I’ll miss that stuff.

I read an interview with Will Smith in Esquire about how his son Jaden only has one pair of shoes, three pairs of pants and five shirts. A part of me wonders if it’s really true, but I admire the aspiration behind it all the same. Disclaimer: I love Will Smith, I think he’s all round one of the coolest people on the planet.

I know I will never be able to survive on just 100 items or whatever it is that minimalists do, but this is my version of living a minimalist life and I’m trying my best dammit. Also, I suspect most minimalists are not raising a 5yo in their super compact and trendy abodes.

The most important thing I’ve learned about priorities

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option,” said the very wise Maya Angelou.

This has probably been one of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn over the past couple of years. I imagine most people already know this, instinctively if not in so many words. But I’m loyal by nature – perhaps too much so – and it’s taken me far longer than it should have to realise this.

My loyalty means I will continue to make someone a priority because of what we experienced together once upon a time. It means I will remember the good times, and, on the basis of what was once good, defend someone who is no longer worth defending. It means I will keep on trying, even when it is apparent that the other person is not.

It meant… My loyalty meant… Because I can only hope that I’ve learned my lesson.

One year ago: One more star in heaven

One year on, you are remembered and cherished. You are missed. Every time I watch a show you enjoyed, every time I read about an actor you liked, every time something happens that, normally, before one year ago, I would have simply picked up my phone and texted you.

I often think of your big, big heart, your never-ending exuberance for life, and the way you brought a ragtag bunch of people together who otherwise wouldn’t be in each others’ lives the way we are. I guess what I’m trying to say is: you’re still an inspiration.

Much love, always.

Shonda Rhimes on dreams and being a powerful working woman who is also a mum

This Dartmouth commencement speech by Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s AnatomyPrivate Practice and Scandal, is awesome, and I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my heroes. Some highlights:

I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.” You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI … So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said — it was in The New York Times — and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.

Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life. If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost. Something is always missing.

Learning to grieve

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The very first time I attended a funeral, I was 30 years old. I suppose you could say I was kind of fortunate to have avoided an encounter with grief for so long, but I knew it was only a matter of time. The past year has been a crash course in loss and grief: a friend’s twin baby girls, my grandma, a close, dear colleague.

Today is Mei Ann‘s birthday; she would have been 33. I wasn’t able to attend her funeral, and maybe that’s why I occasionally have to remind/convince myself that she’s really gone. Her email address still pops up, her Facebook account is still there. Her number is still in my phone. But at least I’m not expecting her to text me and tell me what happened at her own funeral. Which, crazily enough, I did for about a week.

The thing about grief, as I’ve learned, is that it becomes easier to tap into the more you do it. And it is only when you lose someone you truly hold dear that words like ‘heaven’ and ‘resurrection’ really mean something.

One more star in heaven

I remember the first time we met, the last time we spoke. And all the moments in between, too many to count. More press conferences than I can recall, the dozens of interviews we did together. All those tennis events we covered – those were always extra special, somehow – that time we snuck into the VIP lounge at KLIA to get a photo with Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal. That was all you; I didn’t have a clue where they were. You always found a way, and that was just one of the many things I admired about you. Thanks for letting me tag along for the ride.

I never told you how lucky I felt to have known you, how grateful I was that our paths crossed. You were one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous people I had ever met. Doubt I’ll meet too many more like you. Sentimental to a fault, sure, but also arguably the single most patient human being that ever walked the face of this Earth. I’m not the only one who thinks so, and all of us can’t be wrong so it must be true. I hope you know how cherished you were, that even in your too-short time with us, you made such a big, big difference. Thanks for, well, everything.

Rest in peace always, Mei Ann. I’ll think of you often. You used to joke that we had a psychic link (“psycho link”, you called it). Does it still work? Because you are so fondly remembered, deeply loved and dearly missed.

Till we meet again.