Small Town, Georgia, Girl

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           I have a new baseball cap that labels me as exactly who I am. It says “Small Town Girl”. It has a map of Georgia embroidered on it with a star designating my approximate location in the state. It was a gift, and I love it!

I guess I’ve always been a small town girl, even though I was born in Piedmont Hospital in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in 1948. But even though I was born in a large hospital in Georgia’s capital city, I never claimed Atlanta as my own.

I grew up in Decatur, Georgia, which during the 50s and 60s was indeed a small town. We were six miles from downtown Atlanta, which to the child that I was seemed like an awfully long way from home. It was too far to walk, so we had to take the trolley if we wanted to go downtown to go shopping at Rich’s. My mother didn’t drive a car, meaning that most of our shopping was done right there in Decatur. It was when Mama needed patterns and fabric to make clothes for my sister and me that we dressed up like we were going to Sunday School, hopped on the trolley near the Decatur train station three blocks from our house, and spent the entire day downtown, getting off the trolley back home in Decatur late in the afternoon, just in time for Mama to prepare our family supper. Sometime in my adolescent years, Decatur lost her small town status to become part of Metropolitan Atlanta. But she remained a small town for me until long after I moved away at the age of sixteen. Today, even though Decatur retains much of her small town charm, the traffic congestion and difficulty in finding a place to park that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, along with the variety of pricey restaurants, remind me that she really doesn’t qualify for “small town” status in my mind anymore. Even the houses on the street where I grew up are now priced so far out of my reach when they go on the market to be sold, I could never afford to live there these days!

Enter Monroe, Georgia, the small town I have called home for the past five years. Now, this little town reminds me more of the Decatur where I grew up than any place I know. Yes, we have our traffic snarls on Broad Street, especially when the big trucks are trying to get through town on their way from one of the interstates to the other, and when I am trying to come out of the Walmart parking lot during rush hour or on Saturday. It’s a lovely little town, with friendly people, welcoming churches, a terrific little community theater, a Saturday farmer’s market, lots of small shops for browsing and purchasing interesting items of all kinds, safe places to walk my little dog Sunshine, a strong medical community, and the warm touch of Georgia hospitality. People here wave as they drive by, and they pause on the sidewalk to say hello to my dog. They don’t ignore me as I walk past and will look at me and greet me with a smile.

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be living in Monroe, Georgia, I probably would have shaken my head, pondered in my mind just where Monroe is on the Georgia map, furrowed my brow, and asked, “Where? Why?” It isn’t important why or how I landed in Monroe, but I am happy that I did. I was even able to purchase a small home – one that I could afford – to set down a root or two. I am making this my home for awhile and claim this little town as my own, even though I am a transplant.

Small Town, Georgia, is a good place for someone like me. I live a simple life, enjoy listening to the birds singing in the trees around my home and watching the deer in the park, appreciate that nothing that I need is further than 10 minutes away by car (and I could walk if I had to!), and have made some very good friends. All this, and more, are what make me a true blue “Small Town Girl.”

In the novel that I wrote, “Fishbowls and Birdcages,” the main character was someone like me, a person who moved around from town to town, never quite belonging, and never sure just where Home was. She finally found her place, and it, too, was in Small Town, Georgia, although hers was a fictional town. She learned that the saying, “bloom where you are planted,” had a positive meaning for her as she developed her own identity and strength through her faith in God. Fran found her place, and I have found mine.

Yes, I am now officially a Small Town Georgia Girl. My new hat is proof of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Minimalist

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I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about this subject recently. It seems to be the “in” thing these days. After reading a Facebook challenge listing things to do each day for a month to become a minimalist, I realized that this is what I have been doing and becoming for the past two years. I’m not there yet, but here are some of my accomplishments.

My drawers (with the exception of my sock drawer – I can’t be a minimalist there yet), are now neat, uncluttered, and easy to shut without catching something attempting to escape. I even have a couple of drawers in my dresser that are empty.

I can easily find what I am looking for in my closet, and my clothes aren’t all bunched up and shoved in close together. I can actually see and identify what is in there.

I also have a place for each pair of shoes. I love shoes, but I have given away all but the ones that I wear on a regular basis. I have one set for spring and summer, and one set for fall and winter, along with a couple of pairs of boots, and a pair of dressy heels – just in case!

I have cleaned out my linen closet, and have kept only the sheets, towels, and blankets that I need for myself, plus one set for visitors, should someone ever come to spend the night in my home.

My medicine cabinet is almost bare. I threw away everything with an expired date and kept only those medicines and other items that I need and use. I have something for a headache, muscle soreness, upset stomach, in addition to my daily medications, as well as a box of assorted band-aids, a tube of antibiotic cream and a bottle of alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. That’s just about it.

I no longer keep eye shadow, blush, eye liner, foundation, or any other face paint. I use ordinary lotion on my face, dash a bit of mascara on my eyes in the morning, and I’m done for the day! For rosy cheeks, I splash cold water on my face.

My kitchen is still a work in progress. When I moved into my home, I had nothing at all. Many of my friends and family members donated items for my kitchen, helping me stock it very well. I recently looked at everything I have with the point of identifying what I really need and what isn’t being used, and took a box to Goodwill  before the end of the year.

Last year, a man I was dating came over to my home for dinner. When he opened my refrigerator door, he exclaimed, “My God, you’re starving!” There was very little in it, except for what I used and ate daily. And most of what he saw was healthy food – no beer, no packaged sandwich meat, no soft drinks, no containers of leftovers. We didn’t date for long. Besides my not having a lot of snack foods in my home, he didn’t like the fact that I don’t have television service. He couldn’t veg out at my house in front of the t.v. So much for romance, I guess!

I am still puzzling over Christmas decorations. I realized this year that I have far more than I need or want, but I couldn’t bring myself to part with any of them. This will be a project for another day.

Becoming a minimalist is a challenge and something I have to work on constantly. I don’t want to become a fanatic about it, but because I live in a small home, I really can’t afford the luxury of saving a lot of things, with the thought that I might need them someday.  I stop to seriously think about what I am going to save, where I will put something that I buy, and what can go when something new comes into my home. But it is also more than living a Spartan life with few possessions. I still have plenty of things in my home, and these things are what make it my home. I have what I need and want. Everything I own is here for a reason, and is something that I have made a conscious decision to keep.

Yet, it also includes a new way of thinking and of living, and has rubbed off onto who I am, and not just what I own.  I find that my religious beliefs have become less complicated and burdensome, my ideas about how to have a good time have become streamlined, and my lifestyle is quite simple and easy-going.

Now, if I could only do the same with my brain and all of the thoughts and ideas making their way across the back of my eyes all the time. It stays jammed packed, much like a rush hour traffic snarl of thoughts! Meditation is addressing this predicament, but that is a blog for another day.