Dealing With Difficult People

(image source: emdot)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships, as in when is it OK to end a relationship that is no longer fulfilling.

And, does that change when it’s family?

The other night, my father-in-law told me my butt is flat.

Squirrel told me not to take it personally which struck me as funny because it hadn’t even occurred to me to take it personally. I was too busy trying to figure out how someone drops “your butt is flat” into casual conversation.

He said it so matter-of-factly – as though he was commenting on the weather or the football score.

I tried to remember a time when I gave his butt any thought, but nothing came to me.

I wondered whether there was a deeper message here. Was he reflecting back to me a part of myself I hadn’t completely accepted?

Then, I remembered a quote I once read – the only quote on dealing with difficult people that ever made sense to me:

I am thankful for the difficult people in my life.  They have shown me exactly who I don’t want to be.

-unknown

So, I’ve taken his comment as a sign of sorts, to let go of judgement and vanity and focus on creating a fuller, rounder, more pert inner life.

He probably won’t notice that at the next family gathering, but at least I’ll have something to be thankful for.

How do you deal with difficult relationships?
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My (sort of) Simple Christmas

I originally wanted to adorn this wreath with an owl having fallen in love with all the owls in the shop windows this Christmas, but I’m wary of trends lest come next year owls are so last year. Imagine my excitement upon finding another decorative woodland creature that never gets old around here.

The snowflakes are made from some card stock I was going to declutter and a snowflake punch I bought last year when I decided to take on papercrafting.

What is it with me and Christmas and papercrafting? You think I’d learn. This year I saw a “how to” for making paper ornaments and decided immediately that I had to have fifty of them in white hanging from my ceiling.

They covered my table and window sills for a week. My hands were never idle. In an incident I hardly care to relive, Squirrel even sat on a bag of small ones.

That evening as he teetered precariously on the ladder (the great irony of my “Squirrel” is that he’s 6’6″ 230 lbs), I wondered if I was taking this craft a little too far. After the circus feat of installing the second row, I called him down. In the end I decided that I could live with twenty-five ornaments. My compromise sparked the beginning of a family tradition.

When I slipped an LED tea light into one, just to see what it looked like, my oldest son exclaimed:

It looks beautiful, just like a glowing snowball.

And the tradition of the Advent Snowballs was born. We (I should say, I) decided to light one snowball in the window every evening leading up to Christmas every single year because that was the most painstaking, paper cutting, tedious, tangling craft I have ever attempted and I will need to squeeze years of joy from it just to get over it. Happy Holidays!

To continue with the snowy theme that will be the family theme for years to come, my kids allowed me to adorn our tree with white lights this year. My youngest encouraged me as I strung hundreds of cotton balls onto translucent thread to give it a wintry look.

Now you might be wondering, as I am, how I found time to declutter amidst  this decorating flurry, but I did. Here’s the first 9 things I got rid of:

The tenth was a decorating casualty.

Off to the thrift shop with the frame. Someone who hasn’t drained all their creative juices papercrafting might have a vision for it.

Are you keeping it simple this season? Or not?

A Minimalist Facelift For An Aging Sofa

A few days of rest was enough to remind me why I chose the structure of 100 things a day. I can’t believe how easy it is to do absolutely nothing while looking (and feeling) busy. I take that back. I’m a Mom. Meals were made, homework was done, clothes were laundered, groceries were bought, play dates were supervised, Christmas crafts were attempted and skateparks were visited.

In fact, when I sat down to write this. There was a mass protest from all three of my boys (Squirrel included):

But, you’re finished!

They seem to like me without three bags hanging off my wrist.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, it’s so easy to lose sight of your goals when you’re the epicentre of a busy family. I wanted to drop off the rest of the clutter, list the remaining items on craigslist, clean the house, redecorate etc. etc.

Instead I focussed on what kind of throw pillows would look best on the couch in the family room. Granted I needed a bit of a rest after purging 10,000 things, but I did not need to spend 10,000 hours imagining how a carefully chosen pillow would transform our lives for the better.

Minimalism? It didn’t occur to me until later to listen to my own advice. On Day 43, I vowed not to buy anything I wouldn’t want to maintain forever. That probably doesn’t include chartreuse throw pillows.

So, I reevaluated where exactly I was going with my endeavour and I realized I was trying to transform a much-loved, comfortable, middle-aged sofa with lots of life left in it, into a fresh young thing out of the pages of Architectural Digest.

Here it is:

clean light coloured leather

Does’t Squirrel look comfortable?

I realized that toss pillows weren’t going to solve my problem and that what I really wanted was a new sofa, exactly the same as this one, but cleaner. I knew what I had to do:

I wiped it down with water with a drop of dish soap in it. It looks much better but I’ve since learned that using a water based leather cleaner is more effective on light coloured leathers. I may give it a second go round before my friends arrive in December.

Until then, I’ve rethought my throw pillow dilemma through the eyes of a minimalist. What would we use the pillows for? Battling each other and tossing them on the floor (the boys). Lying down to watch TV and propping up the laptop (Squirrel and I).

So, what we really need is two good quality pillows in a soft but durable, washable fabric that I can see myself maintaining forever. And, I decided to go with a neutral colour because what really makes this couch special is the view outside the window.

As you can see, my photography skills haven’t gotten any better. I’ll post another photo when I make my pillow decision. In the meantime, has anyone had any success cleaning light coloured leather?