Thursday, November 20, 2014

Save Our Post Office

My home post office is undergoing changes. I'm not much into politics, so I can't speak with knowledge about the inner workings of why things happen, but it seems to me like the most important American institutions are undergoing cuts and changes (police, teachers, post offices).

I am a big proponent of keeping things the same for as long as possible. I know that we are all technologically inclined (not something that I am thrilled about), but some things really should remain as they are. For example, writing. More and more, schools aren't teaching cursive writing, which, to me, is astounding. People write thank you notes and birthday wishes via text and social media. Not only is this less personal, it's less permanent.

The amazing Mountain Lakes Post Office.
While visiting my town's post office today (a friendly, efficient place where everybody knows everybody), I was informed that our carriers will now be working out of a neighboring post office, Parsippany. There will be a few people at the clerk window, but that's it. This is devastating to me. Our mail is sorted through Newark. Less and less is happening at our post office, and soon, if things don't change, it will close.

What kind of America do you want? I want one with small towns and privately owned shops. I want spaces where people feel welcome and others know them by name, creating a sense of familiarity. I don't want more Target Greatlands; I don't want more malls. I want a life with daily interactions that matter, rather than generic checkouts. I want moments to remember. I want a paper trail.

I have letters that my grandparents have written, also cards and old postcards. These things show the character of the writer. Writing style is noted, penmanship, paper choice, all give a peek into the character of the writer. Postcards sent from a specific location show where the person has travelled. Yes, we all post our photos on Instagram/facebook/twitter (whatever), but how can we save those photos to show our grandchildren? Sending mail is imperative.

Had this been an email or a text, it never would have survived.

I asked the local postmaster who I could contact to let them know how much I love our post office and to tell them that I would like it to stay the way that it is, and the postmaster said that while it was fine to try, the wheels of change were already in motion.

I will try.

Please, if you care about writing, sending letters, and maintaining an American tradition, please start walking into your local post office to mail your letters. Buy your stamps at your local P.O. by walking up to the counter and making the transaction with a person (as opposed to buying online).  Write a note, letter, or card today and send it to a friend, via the USPS. (Feel free to send me a letter: Domestic Goddess Files, PO Box 243, Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046)

And if you live in Mountain Lakes and would like to keep our post office alive and thriving, write a letter and let the district postmaster know how much our post office means to you. I know that you are busy, but taking 15 minutes out of your day to write to potentially save our post office is worth it, don't you think?

Send your letter to:
George Flood
USPS Northeast Area Communication Programs Specialist
21 Kilmer Road
Edison, NJ 08899

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Tis the Season for Saying No

The holiday season is one in which we get invited to parties, asked to volunteer at school, attend cookie swaps, and buy gifts for family, friends, co-workers (the list goes on). It's tough saying no to these sorts of festive (expected) events.

In an effort to remove stress from my life, I've decided to start saying no. (I'm not sure how yet, or to what, but it has been decided.) The seed was planted by my yoga teacher, Janice Molinari, last week, when she began our class with the practice of saying "no", something she said is uncommon in yoga (I think she said it's usually the yoga of yes) . She explained -- my translation may not be exact -- that saying no to some things of our choosing, gives us space to say yes to other, more important, soul feeding things. Saying no makes space in our life for the good things that are ahead, even if we have no idea what they are. At her workshop at Purple Om on Saturday, she spoke about reducing stress by creating healthy boundaries, one of which was getting enough sleep (there were others, but this has been particularly challenging for me). I decided that I would make a bedtime and value that boundary, regardless of what else might come up. 

The message came through again, last night, when another of my wonderful yoga teachers, Erika Sherger, spoke about aligning your outsides with your insides. She spoke of an accountant who had done yoga teacher training with her and, during training, she quit her job having realized it wasn't matching who she was anymore. This really began to resonate with me. The same message, twice, in as many weeks.

Processing this message with my friend, Tray (whom I attended these classes with, who has brought me back to yoga), she mentioned that she is making changes to her Christmas decorating schedule and shopping plan. She's taking care of herself while still getting things done; she's just doing them in a different way. To the old way, she's said no.

I am playing with where I will choose to say no, being mindful of what I'm choosing and why, and finding boundaries to support my yes choices. The task is something I've chosen not to take lightly, and will be thinking about over the coming weeks.

What might you say no to?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Only What You Love

Are you living the life you love? Are you happy/peaceful/content/excited with the pieces that compose your life? If the answer is no, some of the time, or hmm... I think so, then read on.

Staying at a beautiful hotel or visiting a fabulous restaurant with friends and loved ones brings radiant bouts of happiness. It's not because you are dining out (well, sure, in part it is), it's because you are with people who make you happy in a place that's pleasing to you. 

Every day, we make choices that define how we are going to feel. We choose where we live, work, who we live with, what to wear, and the things that surround us. All choices. And we may think we need to live, work, or wear what we do, but we can make changes. Can we just walk away from our job, or buy an entirely new wardrobe? Well, no. Not all at once. But, as my yoga teacher has said, we need to make space in our lives for what's ahead. And sometimes, that means taking an uncomfortable leap of faith.

I've been there. I stayed in a shitty, somewhat emotionally abusive and confining relationship with someone who really didn't offer me much. Yet we didn't live together, share finances, or do much that kept us bound together. I loved his family and his children, and because of that, I was terrified to let go. I was worried I'd never find love again, never have a big family. I was a 42 year old single mom, and the possibilities of meeting someone new, who had awesome kids, seemed limited. In the end, I found myself choosing my emotional and physical (the stress was literally beginning to kill me) well-being over the fear of loss, and I left. A year later, I found the love of my life, who happens to have three great kids and a wonderful extended family. I'd never have thought it possible, and now it's mine.

It's the same with anything. Jobs, homes, friendships. Most of us can't revamp our lives at the snap of a finger. Our budgets (and our hearts) don't allow. But we can slowly replace things (and release toxic friends), piece by piece. In regards to living space, begin by getting rid of what you don't absolutely love. Your space may look bare. That's okay. (I've recently done it... be warned, it's initially overwhelming.) Allow the space to remain open until you find something you really love to fill it.

I've sold lots of things, lately. Not a fan of Craigslist, I started a facebook page that is basically an online yard sale, and I've kept it local. Having it local is easy for transactions to occur, and is generally safe (we live in a pretty small, quiet area). In this group, I've sold hundreds of dollars worth of items, and bought other people's things (at a fraction of the retail value) that suit my home. Most recently, I found two vintage copper pots at a neighbor's house sale; one was used for washing clothes, the other as a garbage bin. They just happen to perfectly match the copper of my mailbox and are now holding firewood on my front porch. I couldn't have hoped for anything this perfect. Search for things that make you feel good, and when you find something that does, even one piece (even if it goes with nothing else), buy it. Designers always say that if your house is filled with things you love, the space will flow. 

Toxic friendships/relationships aren't as easy to drop. Walking away from someone you've been friends with forever, or for six months, isn't as easy as donating old clothes or selling a car. At some point though, you have to honor your spirit, despite what they may feel. If someone is draining you, making you feel bad, or using you, why keep them in your life?

Honoring who you are will make you a happier, healthier person. As I get older, I've begun to realize that life is too short to be in a place that doesn't feed your soul. Create the life you desire by starting now. Get rid of one thing, however small, that doesn't make you feel good. There you will have put into motion the change you wish to occur in your life.