Back to Basics

The thing about the beach is that everyone wants to be here, even folks who don’t have the means to rent an apartment, much less own a house. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s expensive and out of reach for most.

On the path to Dog Beach someone had set up camp in the bushes, creating their own ocean side home for free. It was there a few days and then got torn down, presumably by the cops, and this is what was left:

Back to Basics

It reminded me of hauling a hide-a-bed to the beach, except much, much grimier.

What also struck me was the simplicity of it. The chair, the pizza box, the teddy bear. What else does a person need? Okay, maybe an actual roof, but I’d argue that this was a good representation of the basics: somewhere to rest your bones, food to eat, and something soft and comforting.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in the next few years, and I’ve got a ton of travel and project ideas. It’s both exciting and overwhelming, since I’d like to do them all as soon as possible, thank you very much, and to my great disappointment this is not, in fact, possible. Not if I hope to do any of them well or with any level of sanity. Piling on too much, too fast is crazy-making for sure.

Which is what I did in the last six months or so, and I lost my way. I also tried to mold myself into someone else, someone more conventional, based on what I thought I was supposed to want rather than what’s in my heart. I put some of those exciting plans on hold, which felt sad and hollow. Add to that shifting family dynamics which are good but overwhelming, and a body that won’t obey no matter what I do (damn you, aging!), and suddenly I was adrift, depressed, and out of shape.

Has this ever happened to you? Things are going along swimmingly, and then a chain of events takes you so far off course you’re wondering if you accidentally slid into a wormhole? I’m guessing it has. It’s the stuff of life.

This isn’t the first time for me, so here I am again, figuring out how to get back to shore. And for me, as always, the first step is radical simplicity. Deciding what’s the first, most important thing I need to focus on to get back on track.

Despite how this post started, this does not involve recliners, take-out, or stuffed toys. It’s getting my lean, healthy body back, because if I don’t feel physically well, I won’t feel mentally or spiritually well, and my exciting plans won’t ever become reality. I need energy, agility, and stamina to move forward, as well as the emotional boost I get from caring for myself and turning this around. Agency and progress.

This involves replacing bad habits with good, and also getting a clear vision of my new and improved being. I say out loud, “I’m a person who nourishes herself in body and spirit.” I picture her – me – with a lean, flexible body and a glow of vibrance and health. Bright eyes, strong core, and an ass that won’t quit.

That last one is a metaphor, but you get my drift.

Here’s my radical simplicity, which involves three small habits I’m practicing every single day: drink a smoothie, move my body, and meditate for five minutes. That’s all I have to do. And as I do these things every day, not only does my body become leaner and lighter, my spirit becomes the same. Less weight, tangible and otherwise.

Have you ever had to get back to basics, to find your own radical simplicity? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Susan February 15, 2018 at 9:46 am #

    You did it! As you wrote your unfolding crankiness about doing too much, but not quite enough, and needing this or that, but maybe not after all, then seeing the sun shine through to that really important piece about feeling good is everything, you hit pay dirt about honoring the conventional part of you too! But the truth is, my friend, I see so much of your promise in your creativity and those of us who wear that crown have a flashy quirkiness of our own. Keep using the radical simplicity methodology, Deonne. It works for me too and I am light years older than you are. Believe in the process, especially in these difficult and changing times. It is not worth pushing through too hard. Hold on when it feels good, let go when it doesn’t. The universe will support us.

    • deonne February 15, 2018 at 10:57 am #

      Susan – What a wise, wonderful post, thank you. So glad we’re walking the flashy, quirky path together! 🙂

  2. Ron Hagg February 15, 2018 at 9:56 am #

    I was living in Fresno. Terrible place – polluted, racist, hot. I was working as an advocate for migrant farm labor students in the schools. Schools that did not want them. A very hard life for these kids. It was very depressing to see the injustice done to these kids. I hated Fresno. I said to myself that it’s an important task – helping these kids. But one day looking in the mirror I saw my big gut. I also saw that I was FAR from good looking. Then I made the decision. I’m here – I hate it, the job is so overwhelming, I do not feel healthy. Then I said to myself – I may be living in a terrible place, I may be ugly, but there’s one thing I can give myself – good health. In college I had been on the water polo team – we were 8th in the nation. After I left college I stopped swimming. In Fresno, I joined the YMCA and got back into the pool. The best thing I’ve ever done. I swim at least 5 days a week. I swim HARD – pulse above 180. I push myself. It helps that I love being in the water. this is my story.

    • deonne February 15, 2018 at 10:58 am #

      Ron, I love this! So glad you took your physical health back and embraced swimming. You inspire me. 🙂

  3. Sherry February 15, 2018 at 8:22 pm #

    You just summed up my last year and then some. Maybe the teddy bear would help. I am struggling right now so not quite as far along as you are but hopeful!

    • deonne February 16, 2018 at 8:30 am #

      Sherry, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a rough year and are still struggling. The “getting back to basics” approach is working for me, and maybe it’ll work for you too? Regardless, please make sure you’re taking good care of yourself physically. And yes, cuddling with something or someone cute can’t hurt. 🙂

      • Sherry February 17, 2018 at 11:26 am #

        Oh I think the weather this winter and the job is most of it. Not enough outdoors so am doing as you are, walking again if even n the treadmill and getting busy with stuff I enjoy (a little anti anxirty supplement doesn’t hurt either)!

  4. rob toscano February 16, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    I want to steal something from Susan that struck a chord with me. Joshua Kennon wrote a blurb entitled Radical Simplicity, and I think it’s a perfect response. He also mentions The Checklist Manifesto which I would like to pick up.

    Simplifying output while maximizing organizing. My biggest problems to date, health and a clean organized desk workspace for writing, and painting.

    I recently purchased Virtual Reality system to stay in the cutting edge of technology. Here I am able to exercise in a virtual world, meditate and contemplate. I am also able to travel and converse without ever leaving the house. I remember when Deonne had a webcast and allowed her voice to be heard as well as presentation. The Deonne posted a few videos from the RV. Futuristic if I found her Avatar in a chat room for writing advice.

    • deonne February 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm #

      Rob – Thanks for the references. I agree with Joshua Kennon that simplicity is beautiful. I can’t settle down to work if my desk cluttered, much less all the other stuff he mentions. And I’m a huge Atul Gawande fan but hadn’t read Checklist, so I’ll pick it up. How could your health habits be simplified? And don’t worry, I won’t be invading your VR space anytime soon. 🙂

  5. Emilie Vardaman February 16, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    I have found that inactivity breeds further inactivity, and the inverse is also true. I was doing little for years but then began walking. I was up to 6-7 miles daily and feeling great! I’d lost weight, my cholesterol and sugars were down, etc.
    Then – I got sick. Nearly deadly sick. since then I’ve been unable to do much, physically. And doing little has caused me to gain weight, and my cholesterol and sugars are way up.
    I am starting – finally! – to feel better, but two+ years of inactivity is hard to overcome at 71. I need a walking/workout partner!!
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted…Corolla Wild Horses!My Profile

    • deonne February 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm #

      Emilie – Totally agree with your opening statement. It does get harder as we get older, and especially after a huge illness like you had. So glad you’re starting to feel better, though! All we can do is adopt good habits and start chipping away at it, every day. Process over goals. I’d walk with you if I were there. 🙂

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