How Can I Lead A Simple Life?

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING published in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel week of  January 11, 2016 ©Julie Seedorf


As much as I dislike routines, I have one routine in the morning that centers me for the day. I sit down in the quiet of the morning, journal, write in my gratitude journal and take time for inspiration from a book and author who might inspire me to live my life better.

This morning one sentence from Joyce Meyer’s book “Seven Things That Steal Your

Joy,” popped out and hit me straight between the eyes. The sentence was this: “Keep it simple.” Joyce Meyer’s section this day was devoted to having guests over. She described the way we try and make everything so perfect we don’t enjoy the time with our guests. We worry about the state of our house, our food, our appearance and whether we might measure up to our guests standards.

The reason these words stood out to me was because I had those very worries the day before. It is our turn to host our monthly Bible study or book group. We are trying to find a time when it works for all of us to get together. It happens to fall on a day later in the month when I will be out of town for a few days, coming home the very afternoon we are going to entertain the group. I said we would make it work. In the back of my mind I already began to be stressed. I knew I needed to clean before I left, but I also have my shysters who occasionally get into mischief while I am gone, and there is no guarantee I would not have a few remnants from their mischief to clean up when I came home.

Food was another issue. The hosting home provides the main meal and everyone else brings something to add to the meal. All my friends are great cooks and we usually have something delicious, homemade and wonderful. Would I be able to do that in the time I had after I got home? One of my friends offered to bring the main meal, but I felt that wasn’t fair.

Do any of you stress about company? I never used to. The reading in my morning devotion reminded me of our first married years. We started out in a rented house, with secondhand rented furniture, and I decorated using what we had. It was homey and comfy and I loved my home. It felt like home. I didn’t hesitate to invite people over and friends dropped in unannounced. It was a simple time in our lives. We were starting to build a life, and we didn’t have a lot of stuff. Since our friends were in the same position, their houses matched mine.

The years have passed and our lifestyles have changed. Some of our friends are the same friends, and we have met new ones along the way. Our lifestyle change has also included houses. Many of my friends have beautiful new modern houses with manicured yards, and the homes are tastefully decorated. They are beautiful. We always feel welcome in their homes.

I too, have a nice older home. I too try and stay up-to-date with my decorating and make sure it looks great when people are over. Thus, my anxiety when I have company because I want to measure up. I want to make it clear, my friends do not make me feel I have to do this. It has come with the territory of society, growing older, a change of lifestyle and possibly media. And perhaps my own insecurity about the rough edges showing up in my older home.

I have seen the criticism in our newspapers and media judging those whose homes are old and need some repair. But perhaps the people that live in these houses have simply found the secret to contentment because they live life without the trappings we all fall into. I used to feel contentment at living in an old home the first years of my marriage until I believed I needed to keep up with what society bellowed to me. My most comfortable and peaceful place in my life was my grandma’s old house, with the floor furnace, plastic drapes and an old cook stove in the kitchen. It was simplicity.

Joyce Meyer talks about the simplicity of fellowship. How often on the spur of the moment do we invite people over for a BBQ even if all we have is hot dogs and potato chips? How often do we ask people to drop in without calling? Our door used to always be open to drop-ins in our earlier married years. Now, the doorbell is silent unless we invite someone in, and we don’t do that anymore spontaneously because we might not be ready for company.

We have made the simple act of friendship and fellowship complicated. I miss the days when my walls were covered with old signs, and we sat on the floor around an old trunk and sipped coffee or had a drink of wine, and I didn’t care if the bed wasn’t made or there were dishes in the sink. Neither did my company and we enjoyed our conversation and our time together.

I miss the times when we would say, “Stay for supper. I don’t know what we’re having. t might be peanut butter sandwiches.” It didn’t matter, and we had fun anyway. I enjoyed my company without worrying about all the trappings. I have forgotten to keep it simple and because of that my home has become more quiet and silent.

I miss the days when I didn’t care what was on my walls or the condition my furniture was in or the fact that my food was simple. And it is no one’s fault but mine that I bought into the hype. My friends don’t make me feel this way, I take ownership for those feelings.

In my old age I have finally come to realize I feel more comfortable in old homes. I feel more comfortable visiting where a home feels lived in and used. And that statement takes me to having company. I am grateful for my devotion this morning that reminded me of what is important when visiting with friends. From now on out, I am going to keep it simple. Let the dust accumulate while I’m gone, the shysters make their mischief and the food be simple. What is most important is the conversation and sharing that will happen at my table.

Things that I grew up with stay with me. You start a certain way, and then you spend your whole life trying to find a certain simplicity that you had. It’s less about staying in childhood than keeping a certain spirit of seeing things in a different way.


Granny’s Favorite Things! Countdown To Christmas -Gordon Lynch and His Wall of Art!

I and my character Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt (Granny) fall in love with certain artists, companies, places and their products. On my website, Julie Seedorf, I will be adding a page featuring my Favorite Things. I know I am not Oprah and I am sorry I can’t afford to give away some of My Favorite Things. What I can do is share them with you so they can become your Favorite Things and you can enjoy them too. During the end of November and the month of December I will be sharing art, books, artists and other items I have on my list of Favorite things.  Join me in my journey. I will add to the pages on my Blog and website the favorite things I highlight here.
I am starting my journey of sharing with someone I met this summer in Osakis, Minnesota, his name is Gordon Lynch. I can’t resist antique stores and as I wander through them looking to find whatever my eye catches. On the day I snooped in Antiques Osakis what caught my eye was artwork by Gordon. Not only can he draw but uses old records to create stunning pictures of celebrities that complement his drawing. My impression of his is that he is a very humble man. He graciously granted me an interview. Make sure you stop at the slide show and look at a few pictures I took that impressed me.

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Who is Gordon Lynch?
Born Osakis, grew up on small farm near Eagle Bend. Went to Alex Tech for advertising art, worked in Jamestown, ND and Sleepy Eye, MN in advertising. Married Rosemary in 1983 and moved back to Osakis. Built our home while working for Fingerhut and when they closed I went back to college for my Bachelor of Fine Art in painting at St. Cloud State University. Also have degrees in microcomputer and general business. Ran a couple of businesses and wound up as a HR manager for about 12 years until I decided to semi-retire and pursue other interests. We have three grown children. Katie teaches spanish at Strive Academy in St. Cloud; Erin has a post-doctorate position at UC Davis in California; and Zachary is majoring in business at St. Cloud State University.
How did you end up in an Antique Store in Osakis?
Well, my wife started as a dealer there several years ago and after I came up with this technique I’m using I thought I’d display a few paintings there. As a lot of people showed interest in them and they sold I started painting more. That was about 3 seasons ago.
When did you start painting and drawing?
I started drawing early, as a child probably 4 or 5. In those days we didn’t have a lot of toys, but I could draw things like rockets or cars etc. and I drew all through school. In high school we had a visiting artist during my junior and senior year that helped me become interested in art in general and that’s when I first painted with oil paints.
What gave you your idea to create art out of old records?
I really don’t know exactly. But, at least for me, when I’m seriously interested in something it’s always in the back of my mind. That’s when the ideas come along – this one worked – most don’t.
What are the missteps you made along the way to hone your talent?
Too many to mention, I’ve tried a lot of things.
How do you decide your subjects?
I listen to a lot of music and normally paint musicians that I like. I have done a few commisions and will do more, but this is a hobby and a pastime for me so I don’t want to turn it into a job.
What other type of art do you create?
Nothing at the moment.
Where can we find your artwork?
I will be showing them at Antiques Osakis again next season, starting in May. I may possibly show some this winter at Bumbledee’s Antiques and Art in St. Cloud, MN.
Anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Thank you, I appreciate your interest in my artwork.
I would like to thank Gordon for granting me this interview. It was a blessing to meet someone with this gift.

Leaving a Legacy of Faith

1 don’t usually blog about my faith. I don’t think I wear it on my sleeve and there are moments when I don’t feel I am a good example of my faith so I don’t broadcast it. But today I am going to write about faith, not mine, but the examples I have had in my life.

Recently I lost four people, one as recent as last night, who have been a shining examples in my life. They didn’t shout it to the rooftops but they quietly influenced others in the way we should live our lives.

I wrote my column earlier this week on three of them, but last night God needed another angel in heaven.  His name was Gerald.

I first met Gerald when I was Sunday School superintendent many years ago. He taught for almost as many years as I had been alive. That might be an exaggeration but not by much. He cared about the kids, took them on many trips to the Boundary Waters to experience God’s creation and interacted with everyone young and old in our congregation. His sense of humor made us all smile. He was a fixture, always there, not preaching but leading and being a friend to all.  I never heard him say an unkind word to anyone and I always remember him having a smile on his face. He inspired all of us in his quiet way to treat people kindly.

When I heard of my friend’s death last night I thought about these four people who influenced my life and I wondered; will our younger generation have examples of faith as I have had? In this world it seems we may have lost our way and the examples we have make up  the reality of our times. We seek examples in other places besides the quiet people we know that live their lives walking beside us as an example of how we should treat other people. Will our younger people look back at the age I am and see the quiet influence of those in our life who have walked the walk and talked the talk of faith?

I share my column to honor my other three friends too.

Here’s my column. from the Albert Lea Tribune the week of October 26.

There are people in our lives who influence us in a silent way when we are with them. They make us laugh. They make us think. They help us experience life in a different way through the way they live their lives. It is so silent we don’t realize the impact they have on us, but when we walk away from spending time with them or talking with them on the phone or messaging with them on Facebook we are better people for interacting with them.

This week my heart is sad, but yet it is filled with hope. In the past few weeks there have been three people in my life who have left this earth and left their legacy behind. One I have known since I was teenager; his name was Dave. Another I met in the past 20 years because her parents were good friends of ours, and she became a good friend, too. Her name was Shannon. The third was an author friend, a Facebook friend, and touched my life from afar even though I never met her but spent time messaging and chatting with her on Facebook. Her name was Joyce.

Dave touched my life when I was teenager. I remember at that time thinking that he and his wife had the love story we always hope for when we get married. It didn’t mean there would not be tough times but love would conquer all. I was reminded as I sat listening to his family at the funeral that Dave always had a smile for everyone, always made the person he was talking to feel special and always let his family and friends know what they meant to him in his life. He touched my life in ways I did not realize until he was gone. His faith inspires me even after he has left this earth. I will remember it always.

Shannon battled ovarian cancer for 12 1/2 years. All the while she was going through her journey with this disease she took care of her family, she ran her business and she did it with a smile, a sense of humor, hope in her heart and she saw beauty in every day and she shared that beauty with all of us. She was courageous and beautiful inside and out. She believed in the goodness of God’s love, and she shared that faith with her family and friends on a daily basis. She loved us, and she was deeply loved and she will continue to inspire us the rest of the days of our life.

Joyce LaVene and her husband, Jim, are the authors of over 60 books in the mystery genre. The books are whimsical, fun and mysterious. Joyce died suddenly, and the writing world mourns her death. I can’t tell you exactly when Joyce entered my life. The first time I became aware that she was in my life she had shared some of my posts and my tweets. Soon we messaged, and I found out she had lived in Minnesota at one time. We had something in common. She became a regular part of my online life and I looked forward each day to sharing tweets and was always surprised when she promoted my books because in my eyes she is famous. Joyce was generous and kind with all her author friends and her readers. She took time to know us, to help us, and she made us feel we were special part of her life. I will miss her sparkling personality and our connection.

As I contemplate the sadness I feel at losing these people I also feel blessed for their presence in my life. We take those in our life for granted. Each one of these people touched my life, inspire me to be a better person and left me a legacy of hope that I inspire others the same way these three people inspired me. They shaped part of my life silently by their example.

I realize I have written lately about death, but in death there is life. The way we live our lives influences those around us without us knowing it.

These people weren’t saints. These people had their flaws as we all do, but they were genuinely beautiful people inside and out. It doesn’t mean they didn’t get mad, didn’t hurt and didn’t vent their frustrations because they were human. What they left for us was how to handle those moments with grace, dignity and love. They knew how to make others feel special. They knew the importance of giving of themselves to help others. They didn’t set out trying to be an example, and I don’t think they thought of themselves as examples, but unknowingly they touched my life.

A recent conversation with a woman who was a child when I was a teenager reminded me actions are remembered. One day she wanted to tag along with me and my teenage friends. We weren’t so kind that day and I feel ashamed thinking of it. I remembered it and so did she 50 years later. I apologized. It took me 50 years to do it. The way I treated someone 50 years ago still lived in the memory of the person I was unkind to 50 years later.

I think of what I say to people on a daily basis. I think of how I interact with those I love. I am not always kind. I am not always patient. Would I be ashamed of what my last words would be to the person I am speaking to if something happened to me or to them? Another conversation I had a year or so ago with a friend reminds me of that.  The last words remembered by this friend coming from the person who now was deceased, were angry cutting words directed towards my friend.

I feel blessed to have known these three people who inspired me to try to live my life better in the future. May you rest in peace, Dave, Shannon and Joyce. Thank you for the memories.