What Drives Me

My childhood bike.


My Shelby English 3-speed bike I got when I was 7. I continued to ride it for many years and my toy fox terrier, Mitzie, didn't mind the ride either. I could ride it with no hands, even turn corners without holding on.

Running out of space

Money has never been in the forefront of what drives me. I am driven by curiosity, creativity and connections. Lately, however, I’ve been driven by letting go—letting go of stuff I’ve accumulated over 74 years. My house is bursting at the metaphorical seams and clutter has infringed on whatever sanity I may have left. Enough is enough.

I first noticed when I no longer had room in my closets, file cabinets, attic and garage. After all these years of more things coming in than going out, I had to act. My husband still keeps things piling up and what to do with it is up to him. But I could come up with a plan for my stuff. Some I would throw away; some I would give away; some I would sell. Once I took care of the first two methods, it was now time to see if other people thought my things were worth paying money for.

I had already tried eBay with limited success but I hated the time-consuming details of packing and shipping. So I decided to try a neighborhood site Next Door and Facebook Marketplace which limited posts to my area. People could come to my house with cash and relieve me of stuff that was swirling around my space and distracting me from focusing on my creative endeavors.  

Running out of gears and inches

So...let’s start with the garage that had two bikes. It had had two bikes for years—one a 21-speed bike, my older daughter’s hand-me-down to me, and my 3-speed girls English bike from my childhood as a second-grader. It still worked but at 74, I needed all the gear help I could get. Three speeds were not enough any more.












Ad as listed: Collectible. Antique. Shelby Travelers girls 3-speed English bike from 1950. My bike was manufactured in Birmingham, England. It has right squeeze style front brake and left squeeze style rear brake. Brakes work fine. It has a generator style headlight that works as long as the rear wheel is moving. The body definitely shows its age and badly needs cleaning. I've been riding this bike since 1950 until today when I thought it was time to get a new girls bike for my 74-year-old body. It has a new seat and the tires are about 2-3 years old. I cannot find a serial number. It works very well..smooth ride and good brakes! I was just riding it yesterday. Important when riding: Unlike modern bikes that require shift changes to be made while peddling, this old style must shift gears while coasting. It seems that both my bike and my aging body are showing signs of aging! $65 or make an offer...

It turns out that I no longer fit the one my older daughter gave to me. After losing 1 ½ inches in height and some agility in the aging process, I could no longer swing my leg over the middle bar unless I leaned against a wall. And then when I stopped, I had to have wall support in order to dismount safely. I traded it in for a 21-speed “step-through” bike that is understanding of my recent limited abilities.

Why was I still saving my rusted childhood bike? It was now time. I had to begin trading my sentimentality for space—and hopefully some cash.

The sale and rest of the story

I advertised on Facebook Marketplace after no success for pick-up only on eBay. It took several weeks but I eventually got a response from a man, Cory, who was interested. After arranging pick-up day and time, he showed up at my house with his wife. I opened my garage door so he could look at my antique to see if he still wanted it.

He did.

Cory said he would fix it up for his daughter so she could ride with her children

“This could be worth more than the $65 you are asking. Are you sure you still want to sell it?”

I assured him that I did. He said he would carefully refurbish it. Then he made another offer.

“I can see that you have a sentimental attachment to it so I want you to know that after I have refurbished it in a couple of weeks, if you change your mind and want it back, I’ll return it and you can return the $65 to me.” This man obviously loved restoring old things and understood how feelings mingle after many years. He loaded it into his car and I said goodbye to my old bike and hello to new space in the garage.

Not long after that, Cory sent me a message asking if I would like him to send photos documenting the restoration process of  my his bike. I said okay.

My childhood bike in pieces

Then he began messaging me with dozens of photos as he disassembled the entire bike and thoroughly cleaned all the parts. I could see this man was an artist of sorts who cared about the project he was working on. When he had finished, he told me he planned on giving it to his daughter for Christmas and did I want to take a final ride on it? He wanted my final approval of the hours of work he had devoted to giving new life to my second-grade childhood bike. I went to his house, took a ride on it and gave him a thumbs up.



Just a few days after Christmas, he sent one more photo. My his his daughter’s bike, like new and painted green instead of the original blue, stood on a kickstand in the foreground. In the background, his grown daughter was hugging him.

His last message—“She cried.”


Although I am not driven by money, in the end I did make some money. But I also learned about transformations, made a human connection with a "bike artist" and created some space. Not bad.

New life for my old bike.





Previous blog on decluttering.
https://bjschupp.blogspot.com/2019/01/



Decluttering



Feeling overwhelmed with STUFF? Need help? Read below.
Feeling overwhelmed? Has STUFF invaded your life? Don't know how to begin?

Here's the way I am decluttering and simplifying my household environment. (Warning: This is not an overnight solution. It could take several years but it is working.)




STEP ONE: This is the most important step and the hardest. Make the decision.  I decided to finally solve my clutter problem but with it came a feeling of being overwhelmed. I wanted a more simple life but how can I declutter without going crazy? I had to ask myself some hard questions as I tackled the second step.

STEP TWO: I created two piles: TO KEEP and TO GO. Here’s what I asked myself in deciding which pile.
  • If I die today and my daughters had to decide whether or not to keep this item, will either of them want it? And will the decision-making and decluttering add too much stress to their lives?
  • Did this item bring me joy at one time (ala Marie Kondo) and do I need its physicality in my life to continue that joy?
  • Do I want to keep it for sentimental reasons?
  • Would it make someone else happy?
  • Could it bring me some money?
Based on my answers, I added the items to one of the two piles. 

STEP THREE: I put the items in the TO KEEP pile back where they belong.

STEP FOUR: I divided the TO GO items into three sub piles.
  • THROW AWAY. Put it in trash, recycling or make a trip to the local dump.
  • GIVE AWAY. If it might be useful to someone else, then I donate it to Partners in Care's upscale second-hand boutique that offers programs and services to support the independence of seniors in their homes. I also give to Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
  • SELL. These are items often with historical value. After inheriting estate items from various family members over the years, I have quite a collection of things with little sentimental value but which might bring in some money. And, since I was born more than 70 years ago, I have quite a personal collection I’ve saved over the years. This is where the real work begins.

(1)   Yard sale? Too much work and too little profit.
(2)   Consignment shops? Sometimes. I’ve sold a few items through Savvy Consignment in Severna Park.
(3)   Sell on eBay? I tried eBay in the past and had some minor success but hated all the detailed worked involved, including packing and sending. It is a huge headache.
(4)   Lately I’ve tried Facebook Marketplace with much more success and collected more than $1,000 which I used toward my trip to Hawaii at the beginning of this month. I'd much rather have experiences than clutter!

The next step.




9 Steps on How to Scapegoat




Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019. Today I think about the strategy for scapegoating. Never forget.


1. Identify collective problems. Rising crime, drug addition and job opportunities.

2. Create a common enemy and name the group you say is responsible for these problems. Illegal immigrants.

3. Instill fear. These people rape your daughters, kill your families and take your jobs.

4. Build up your followers.  Compliment them. You deserve better. Our country can be great again.Offer religion. You are good Christians with family values we need to protect.

5. Create division. Them versus us.

6. Offer a simple solution. A wall.

7. Announce your strength. You are the only one who can take care of this problem.

8. Encourage chants for your admiring crowds. What are we going to build? A wall. Who’s going to pay for it? Mexico.

9. Repeat lies to strengthen your case against your scapegoats.

For a more scholarly piece on scapegoating, read this Psychology Today article:


"The ego defense of displacement plays an important role in scapegoating, in which uncomfortable feelings such as anger, frustration, envy, guilt, shame, and insecurity are displaced or redirected onto another, often more vulnerable, person or group. The scapegoats—outsiders, immigrants, minorities, deviants—are then persecuted, enabling the scapegoaters to discharge and distract from their negative feelings, which are replaced or overtaken by a crude but consoling sense of affirmation and self-righteous indignation."










Seven Brief Thoughts...on women and power


 October 2018

A hundred years ago when my mother was born, women did not yet have the right to vote.

I was born a mere 24 years after women gained the right to vote.

I’ve voted in every election since I was old enough. When I was out of town at college, I voted by absentee ballot.

Now, 98 years after women were granted the right to vote, we still do not have political and workplace power equal to men.

I hope to live long enough that women will not have to march in the streets to be heard.

I hope to live long enough to see the glass ceiling broken with the election of a female president.

This is our country and each one of us has not only the right but the responsibility to VOTE!  














Consent?


September 21, 2018

https://www.centerstage.org/plays-and-events/bernard-black-box/wasted

Wasted, a play at Baltimore’s Center Stage through tomorrow, strikes a current chord of controversy and thrusts sharp questions into our complacency about consent in relationships. It raises new uncertainties in an increasing muddied arena.

When I bought tickets to this play, I had a feeling that it would be unlike any other stage performance I had seen. First of all, the audience arrived and walked onto the stage where we ordered and paid for drinks from a bar that was part of the set, and meandered talking with other audience members in a disco atmosphere of music and moving spotlights.

At 7:30, the audience was still on the stage when the play began with two characters making an entrance into the “bar” and beginning their dialogue. When the “bar” closed, everyone was told to leave and go home, at which point the audience went down a few steps and watched the rest of the performance from the seats.

Will Hearle plays Oli and Serena Jennings plays Emma in the play written and directed by Kat Woods. They also skillfully play other characters in the narrative such as friends, Oli’s mother and officials involved with rape investigation. Stage setting is minimalist, as well as costumes. The strength in the production is the script, directing and acting. It is definitely worth seeing.

This play is especially relevant considering the #metoo movement and accusations of sexual misconduct (perhaps attempted rape) at a teenage party several decades ago made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Jurist Kavanaugh’s boyhood friend Mark Judge writes about their social teen life of drunken parties. Kavanaugh and Judge deny Ford’s allegations.

But back to Wasted, where two young people get wasted with booze that leads them to dark places with consequences that can affect them for years. The next morning, Emma can’t remember what happened but has a bad feeling. Her friend suggests that Oli had sex with her without her consent while she was passed out. Then things go down the rabbit hole.

Like the purported Kavanaugh teen party, both of these stories begin with alcohol—way too much. Things happen, some of which players do not remember. Emma blames herself and Oli is shocked when it is suggested that he had raped someone. Kavanaugh alleges that it never happened and that he doesn’t remember the party. Ford says she remembers being held down, hands pulling at her clothes and a hand over her mouth, and these memories have remained with her across decades, even while trying to forget.

Playwright Woods does not judge but, rather, presents the story from different perspectives. The audience holds empathy for both characters because truth is sometimes murky. She leaves it up to the audience to come up with their own answers.

The big question is how to define consent and this was addressed after the play in a Q&A between the audience, cast members, playwright and Katie Wicklund a legal advocate from the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

When I was growing up, there was no sex education in schools, but this has gradually changed. Wicklund says sex education is evolving into consent education, eventually to be taught age-appropriately to kindergarten through college.

We’ve come a long way and now understand that we need to define consent and communicate this to young people. There have been too many lives wasted because no one knows the definition.