Geeky Girl Speaks – Everything That Remains

TED talks make me think. Often they make me take action which is exactly why I share them. However, sharing does not mean I necessarily endorse all philosophies being offered. In this case though, I do endorse the gist of the message. Sharing TED talks with you is like us having a conversation about big things in the world — important things. And maybe it is one more way for you all to peek inside the mind of the geeky, quirky, off-center woman writing the books you’re reading.

If you do listen to this… I think I was one of the first followers of the minimalists blog. The simple truth is I find many younger people inspiring, especially those who aren’t rushing out to buy new cars, etc. I go looking for the most vocal among them so I can hear their perspectives. I like that they are pursuing balance. What they say about adding value to the world strikes me as the key to our survival on this planet. I like to think my books are one way I do so. Faithfully recycling is another. It’s like living the parable of the “talents” in scripture. It’s not what you have, but what you do with what you have that matters. Or at least I tell myself this.

And by the way, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus have a book too. The blurb and links are on the blog’s homepage. It is called Everything That Remains: A Memoir.

Inside the “normal” of my life, I have always lived a little off-center. This is the truth even though I’ve walked many traditional paths. Yes, I went to college… but at 32. Yes, I had an 18 year career… which I wept with joy to be let go from so I could at least try to write. I married and had three children… but left after 23 years to find a more suitable partner. Rebelling against social norms was enough in my 20’s and 30’s to make me feel like I was taking positive action to better my life. Yes, I was off-center, but I was also pretty much at peace with myself the whole time.

Then I started getting older. I turned 40. I turned 50. I became afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle things any more. I lost jobs and material things. Death came to collect people I cared about, including one of my children. I lost faith in nearly everything. I certainly lost my peace. One day… just on the other side of the big-five-o… I also realized I had lost myself. Everything that remains for me now is a woman very similar to the frightened 17 year old I thought I had put very, very far behind me.

Like both these young men in this TED talk, the need to get authentic found me giving away whole rooms of furniture when it hit. The trend apparently continues in my life. This year I sold my house before I had another place to go. But don’t start nodding your head sympathetically too soon. I put over 30 large clear containers in storage all marked as “Donna’s Clothes”.

When the movers were carrying out all those containers, I remember thinking how obscene it was to have all those things and never use a fraction of them. I bought them to wear to events I never have time for or situations that no longer exist. Why am I  holding on to them if I don’t use them for anything? I have no answer for you. Those containers are simply one more giant arrow pointing to how far I have to go.

Authenticity is what I crave and I am cognizant that it will come only at the price of giving up even more of my “normal”.  I whine internally every time I look in the mirror because it’s going to take many months just to grow out my hair to its natural color.

This year has been difficult, but it’s also forcing me to address the woman I am now. What does she want? And better question… What is she willing to do to get it?

Life keeps throwing challenges up in front of my writing time. I will not be meeting my lofty 2015 publishing goals… at least not the goals I started the year with. But everything that remains in my work, everything beyond the plans and goals, is the deep, driving desire to go back to writing my books as soon as I can. I celebrate that now when I’m counting my blessings. Writing is the one pocket of authenticity I have completely nailed down.


  1. THIS is why I’m so drawn to you!! The TED talk was great, but your story is beautiful! And I’m cracking up imagining the clear tubs of clothes. I have so many “work” clothes form my corporate job that I never touch anymore, but I keep just because I might need them someday. (I occasionally wear one of the dresses to church.) It’s probably time to let go of those clothes. I have no intention of needing the majority of them in the future.

    I consider myself on my way to being a minimalist. I’ve visited this site many times. 🙂

  2. The clothes are mostly from “attempts” I made over the last five years to redefine my image. That started when I ditched my corporate wardrobe. I remember the first time I bought a pair of great fitting yoga pants that were discreet enough to wear in public and I recall being shocked at how much they cost. I should have bought stock in Gaim, Athleta, etc. BUT my yoga clothes are the clothes I live in daily. They fit my life and go from writing to running errands to meeting friends. My choice of top determines how dressed up I get–lol. Those are practical. On the other hand, I have jeans that fit three versions of me, probably fifteen or more pairs. I have some things from 20 or even 30 years ago that I have kept for sentimental reasons… because what I’m packing these days is never getting back into any of that. The worst part is that I have about twenty percent of what I had five or six years ago. I will have to go through the purging process several more times to really get my clothing down to a reasonable amount.


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