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May 02, 2019

Less Choices, More Chill, No Matter How Much Work is Involved

Edisto Island is the most wonderful place on earth, especially when you need a break from decision-making, which I do.

Depending on what study you read, women make 70 to 83 percent of purchasing decisions, and an even larger percentage of household decisions, like what to have for dinner, how to manage children and jobs, how to invest for education and retirement, and even “what we’re doing this weekend.” We are tired, and some of us are sick of deciding.

On Edisto, choices are limited, the available choices are excellent, and when there is no choice, you make do with what you have. Minimizing decisions is like meditation for me. I went to the island for a recent work week to get the house ready for renters, and not even work could destroy my chill, not even a little. Sure, there were yard jobs involving clippers and a ladder, plenty of cooking, mild plumbing and carpentry, lots of sweeping, several hours of cleaning wood-paneled walls and wiping down fans, an afternoon spent cleaning out the laundry room and hosing down all the beach chairs and toys therein, several loads of laundry including bedspreads, lots of managing and list-making, and golf. (Oops. The golf wasn’t work, just a recently adopted hobby, and the fees to play the Edisto course aren’t that bad, especially if you only play nine holes. Bonus: You may have to run from an alligator, which is free exercise.) Anyhow.

We had to replace a chair. My resourceful son converted the chair box into a chipping practice station, cutting off part of the top and making an indentation in it to hold the practice ball. As mentioned, you make do with what you have, and this turned into hours of entertainment. It warms my heart to see him learning so early.

His occupation also gave me plenty of uninterrupted time to make a list of everything I needed to do. In assessing the yard, I was tickled to see my little rosemary plant from the year before was thriving and hadn’t been mowed over. Planting herbs at a vacation rental house, even if you don’t own it, is a great way to save money and pay it forward to the next guest. A lot of herbs will keep growing, at least through the summer, and buying one plant is always cheaper than buying a clamshell box of basil that can only be used once.

Rosemary does well in the ground, but less hardy herbs are better in pots, where they won’t fall prey to an over-zealous lawn mower. This year, I’m trying oregano and thyme. They’re both useful and versatile in the kitchen, but they’ve also both survived winter in my yard in the midlands. How? No idea. I put things in the ground. If they live, they live, and if not? Plant something else. I threw in a Gerbera daisy because, against all odds, there’s one in my planter at home that keeps coming back. They aren’t supposed to do that, but who am I to argue with nature?

Maybe the next guest at the beach house will feel breathe a small sigh of happiness when they see oregano in the planter. Maybe they would have preferred marjoram, but if going with oregano means saving money and a trip to the store, hooray for making do. 

Shopping at Goodwill is like going to Edisto – a meditation. Because there are less choices, a trip to Goodwill stirs creativity. If I need to replace a tablecloth, maybe a curtain will do the job. A search for a blender might net a food processor instead. And occasionally, you find the exact right thing, which is nothing short of thrilling. How do you relax when the decision-making gets to be too much? Tell me your secrets!

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