Progress Report

I have made some progress. He helped me put together and set up bookcases to house my books and other items.  I love the way it turned out.  I have the rocking chair sitting at the bedroom window.  The view is of the woods at the south end of the house.  I get winter sun through this window.

I made my way through some areas of the washroom storage spaces. And I am pleased to report working through one kitchen cabinet.  I’m not sure how much actually went to the “out the door” pile. I did relieve some of the congestion in the space.

I am getting a clearer view of how I want the end result to turn out over all. I had cleared some areas in the washroom.  The next day, I went back because I had kept a couple of things that I really don’t want to keep.  They are now in the “out the door” pile.

I haven’t read the Konmari book. I have skimmed over blog posts and e-articles that discuss the ideas in the book.  At first, I was resistant to the concept.  And I did read an inquiry that asked how one is to manage something like a hammer or screwdriver type item.  It doesn’t “spark joy”, but it sure is useful to have around.  I suppose I would have to break down and read the book to see if that writer addresses mundane things or is she just discussing socks and how to fold tee shirts as has been related in above mentioned readings.

Somewhere along the line I have read some helpful things regarding this process on which I am working. One remark is about clutter being the result of indecision.  The idea for me at this point is simply to decide yes or no.  It is either definitely YES!! Or it is no.  There can be no maybe.  I confess I have never watched more than a few limited scenes of Star Wars.  I have heard Yoda get credit for a line that goes something like: do or do not.  There is no “try”.  I translated that to “yes” or “no”.  There is no maybe.  In this process, that means no more gray areas.  No more “we might need it later”.  Either I know we will use it and it is right to keep it or it goes away.

I will have some extra days at home next week. Those days should be the final push.  If I could complete this final process sooner than January 31, so much the better.  Then what will I do?  It will be time to dig deep and get serious about writing.  I will have to face the fear of feeling too deeply.  I will have to face the grief again.  I will have to face the demons that chase me through my dreams.  I have some special people waiting for a real story out of me.  I will have to face the possibility of them being disappointed in the story.  I will have to face the possibility of them not being disappointed in the story and pushing me to do more. To dig deeper. To pour out my soul onto the page.  To feel too deeply.  Am I brave enough to do it?

Let me get through January. In some ways, the task at hand is building my courage.  When I am able to put an object in a box to go away, I have to trust myself that it is the right decision.  February will know if I have been brave enough and bold enough.  If I have pushed my limits of comfort enough.  Everything is intertwined.  One thing builds on another.  If I can do this, I can do that.  That leads to those other things.  On and on.

There is a part of me that stands back and watches to see what I am doing. Judging me. Criticizing me.  Over the years, I have trained that part to be more compassionate toward myself about so many things.  That part of me is on the edge of her seat watching to see if I walk out on this limb and it breaks off.  She can laugh cruelly as I fall.  Compassion will be out the window on this one.  I am my cruelest adversary.

I rode up to a nearby park the day it was cold and sleeting here. The blackbirds were all over the ground.  Like a black cloud.  As I would approach, they would move is a retreating wave further along.  I was unable to capture the wave on video sufficiently to illustrate their movement.  Will I be able to capture my thoughts on paper sufficiently to illustrate my story?  I could only get a photo of them perched in the trees.  Black against a gray sky. Eventually, I will capture the stories black against a white screen.

 

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A Song

I have heard a couple of songs on the radio recently. One is a current hit. One is from several years ago.  The one from several years ago is about a woman questioning what she is doing with her life.  I struggled with that for years.  Why didn’t I finish college?  What career path should I have taken?

I married early and had children. I had ill parents to tend.  By the time, real opportunity came along for me to pursue something else, I didn’t have the resources to move on it.  Resources aren’t just money.  Time, energy, desire.

Perhaps it is the approach of middle age. Perhaps is it the imminent arrival of granddaughter number one and the fast approaching granddaughter number two.  I am losing the sense of loss over missed opportunities.

The current song just made me recall my original dream. I don’t even know what about the song made me think what I did.  All I ever wanted was to be a wife, mother and homemaker.  I did all that along with a 9-5.  My husband is my career and the 9-5 is a sideline.

I wouldn’t give myself a very good evaluation for my career performance right now. I have been sidetracked.  I have this terrible weakness of allowing media-books, magazines, Pinterest-influence my decisions too greatly.  I let the profit driven mass production world of commerce deceive me into thinking I am not in line with what is acceptable modern living.  The problem develops because I cannot keep up with their standards and actually provide an appropriate lifestyle or living conditions for our real life household.

I am changing that already. I have made some decisions and some behavioral changes.   I am having success with them.  I feel better about a lot of things.  My self-evaluation is having a positive effect of change.

Just be happy. He and his son have told me that.  I am glad that line is sticking in my mind rather than the old one from a corny old movie. “Find and fulfil your destiny.”  Nope.  Create my destiny.  Just be happy.  Be wife. Be mama. Be granny. Be housekeeper. Be aunt. Be niece. Be cousin. Be sister. Be me.

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Two Days

I have Friday off from work. And nothing scheduled Saturday. Two days.  I am working out things to have both days to devote to home keeping.  Not housework.  That should be completed by Thursday’s bedtime.  The activity to which I am referring is more like making things pretty.

I have several projects lined up to create ornamental objects for the house. One is actually for Christmas decorating. I won’t reveal that at this time.  I will have to see how it turns out before I publish it.  A long while back I purchased some very large framed oil paintings super cheap from the thrift store.  The subject matter is not why I bought them.  I wanted the frames and the large sized canvases.  I intend to gesso over them and put my own creations in place.  I have no thought to do a painting.  But, I do have an idea with which I want to experiment.

The weather is predicted to be pleasant enough to work outside. I hope to do a lot of catching up on the yard work.  Every area is behind on care.  I have good layer of pine straw in the front yard.  I want to clean the azalea bed and mulch with the fresh straw.  The purple jew is overflowing its area and I want to move it to a better spot.  Weeds, weeds, weeds. I don’t even want to think about that topic right now.  Yard work is excellent therapy for the mind and soul.

Part of my working out being able to stay home the two days was seeing someone this evening. Someone I love is in the hospital.  I needed to see her tonight so I could have my two days without fretting about her.  She seems a little improved.  I told her I was coming.  She said I didn’t need to go all that way.  I told her I was coming anyway and could I bring her anything.  A coke from Sonic.

I hope my coming helped her. It helped me.  I recently saw a meme that reads: Find your tribe. Love them hard.  I am defining my tribe. Redefining, I suppose.  I want her to be part of it.  So I needed to do something to connect.  She always reminds us that we are strong women from a long line of strong women.  She has to be the strongest of us, though.  Frail, delicate, brave, and tougher than old shoe leather.

I appreciate him for supporting my going. I appreciate how much he supports me in so many ways for so many things.  I appreciate his never giving up on his crazy wife.  My half-baked ideas and goofy schemes make him shake his head.

The walking is going well.   I have been getting some photographs along the way.  There is so much to see and things change constantly.  Leaves turning, flowers, the sky, the light on the water.  Then, there are the trees themselves.  So beautiful and so often overlooked.  Seen as window dressing rather than a focal point.  A frame around the view.  But, I love the trees.  See…….black lace.

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More Clutter-busting

I worry about what I will do when I get rid of all the clutter and extra stuff such as arts and crafts supplies and sewing stuff. And home decorations. Undone projects. Extra potted plants. Excess home keeping gear.  Superfluous books and printed materials. Cumbersome furniture items.  Costume jewelry. Scarves. Yes, even scarves.

I will do more or less what I do now. Read, watch television, web surf. And I will still have coloring and embroidery to do.  I was coloring for stress relief long before it became vogue.  I have a Disneyland coloring book at least 20 years old I have been working my way through.  I pick it up from time to time and do another page.

What will I not have to do when I get everything cleared out?  I won’t have to move this to get to that. I won’t have overloaded cabinets, pantries and drawers.  I will easily see what I have and what I need to replenish and so avoid buying something of which I already have a good supply.  I won’t expend energy shuffling boxes of stuff around.  I won’t waste valuable square footage of real estate holding onto “Made in China” junk, “got it for a dollar” junk, “Walmart” junk, “Dollar Store” junk.  What didn’t get unloaded onto me at the passing of a loved one probably came from one of those sources.  Even most of the inherited things came from similarly mass produced lines of goods.

I don’t own much that is rare. I have a few things that are very special to me personally, but certainly not valuable antiques.  I practice an exercise periodically.  I imagine a wildfire is approaching and I only have three hours to load all I can in my little car and perhaps the back of his truck.  What would I load up to haul to safety?  Of what was left behind, on what would I spend the money to replace?  Items not making either of these lists become good candidates for the charity shop donation box.  The things that would not get loaded and would likely not get replaced can certainly be removed from my housekeeping ménage.

The major problem I face is the selection of items that belonged to ancestors. Some are not practical.  Some I do not have the courage to unload.  With grandchildren on the way, I am increasing my consideration of those things.  I don’t want my descendants to have the same kind of problem I have.  I worry about the challenges he or our children would face after I am gone.  If I were to not see today’s sunset, what am I leaving for them to clean up and disperse?  I would rather not have very much for the charity shop to haul away after an estate sale.  A few useful or sentimental things for them to take home and some things I need now to keep house that they won’t need are all I really want to keep.

When I read about decluttering, some much of the lists are simply trash. Broken this and piles of rusted that. I don’t have that problem. Occasionally, I keep a lamp in need of repair a little longer than usual before I give up and get rid of it.  If an article of clothing gets into the mending pile, it is doomed unless our daughter rescues it and does her magic trick to repair it.  I try to get around to it.  I just don’t make it. Magazines and billing statements can sometimes get a little much.  Candles, nail polish and lipstick are problem areas for me. They are still good items.  But, I have more than I will use in a reasonable timeframe.

My trouble is more that the excess is useful and usable stuff. Not necessarily useful for me.  Each time I come home from a shopping trip, I evaluate what non-essential items I have purchased.  These days, even food is reviewed for non-essentials (chips, ice cream, cookies). I ask myself if I have bought more fresh produce than the two of us will consume before it loses its freshness.  Cooking for two is still a major challenge.  What about toiletries and kitchen gadgets? Magazines? Cup towels? Rugs? Storage boxes? I would rather not face my purse, shoe, book and coffee addiction just yet.  But, it will come.  Sooner or later, I will deal with those things, too.

I used to watch Clean Sweep and Hoarders.  Don Aslett’s books about clutter are on my bookshelf. I have read through them several times.  I saw a small portion of Oprah’s trip to India.  A woman, her husband and their three daughters lived without despair in an eight by eight room.  Water and latrines were down the hall in a communal area.  All of these sources have helped me work through to what is essential for well-being.

Each person has a well-being setting. Mine happens to be clear, open and streamlined.  Lots of sunlight and bright spots of colors are in the plan.  Looking at the space around me in this room, I have more work to do. However, I will not berate myself for not being finished.  I will commend myself for all I have done for the past couple of weeks and over the past 25 years.

My little nieces have helped me see things more clearly, too. The time they spend here helps me see how better to make things for them and the ones coming after them.  They show me that snuggles under the covers watching Scooby Doo after a Barbie Doll bubble bath are the best!

I want to have a minimal house so I can have maximum time, energy and money to spend with them, with him and with the Dreams coming true. In the day to day, I want time and energy to spend on my true career, housekeeping. Housekeeping is not shuffling clutter around.  It is cooking and cleaning, dusting and sweeping, washing and folding. Polishing the place we gather to live together.  I want time and energy and love to spend on him.  With him. Twirling around to a song on the radio across a clean wide open floor. Or bouncing along in the buggy down a wildflower trail…………..

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Me:

Me:

I will write it out.  May not be exactly the plan for you. We are in such different life stages.  But, the ideas may cross over.  I have been struggling about blog topics.  Maybe this could be a two or three part series.

My friend:

Will you start this week or next?

Me:

I am writing on Wednesday’s now.  So, for tomorrow, I could do part one.  Describe and define the problems and then next week start the resolution phase.  If I get inspired before then, I will send you private previews!

My friend:

I will pray for you. Any specifics in prayers?

Me:

I want to let go of what I think my life should have been and embrace what my life is.  I want to let go of actual physical belongings that don’t add to my quality of life but rather cause anxiety and concern.  I want to let things be the way they are without feeling I should “fix” me to make things seem better.

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So, I had a great post going and my computer decided to auto shut down and update Windows. I am going to try to restart.  Pretty sure this will not be a good as all I lost.

Here goes:

Last week I loaded four bags of clothes and hauled them off to the charity shop. I took some things to our daughter.  She kept part and sent part back with me.  I will refill the box and haul it off this week.  I have a couple of boxes loaded in the turtle hull already.  I have another bag almost full of clothes ready to go.

I recorded a thought in my journal the other day. If a ship is sinking, plug the leak to stop the flood then bail like crazy.  I am trying to plug the leak, but by bailing like crazy, I hope to strengthen my resolve to not let the flooding continue.

Why am I obsessed with minimalism? I don’t really know. I just want to have less stuff to clean, store and shuffle through when looking for the stuff I really use.

What is acceptable for storage? This is highly subjective and personal.  Holiday decorations.  I have an artificial tree because it is less mess and easier to put up and take down than a live tree.  I have minimal decorations to go on the tree.  I also like to do a large table center piece using antlers, candles and silk flowers and greenery.  I don’t do outdoor decorations because we live at the end of a very quiet dead end street.  Maybe when the grands get old enough to enjoy such a thing, I will add them.  For Hallowe’en, Valentine’s and Easter, I do a simple table decoration.

What else to store? I have a few extra-large pots and things for bigger gatherings that we no longer host.  I haven’t quite decided to give up on that idea.  Things may expand again someday.  I don’t like the idea of  storing clothes out of season simply because I don’t want to have so many clothes they need to be stored in rotation.  I should be able to put summer things in the back end of the rack and fall things in the front.  I can do that.  My closet’s hanging rod is long enough for that.

I considered getting another shed. My shed was overtaken by a chupacabra (see previous post about a pack rat).  We cleared up big daddy, but I discovered junior has moved in, recently.  I don’t have anything stored in the attic.  I like it that way.  I am physically hindered from accessing things in the attic. (getting too old and arthritic to climb and haul up and down that ladder) My things are in the washroom, the back room closet and in those under the bed storage boxes.  Even as I write this, I am mindful of the things in the boxes I could eliminate.

One of my favorite de-cluttering writers suggests eliminating activities that don’t have adequate rewards to justify the baggage and resources they use. In other words, consider the activities I pursue.  Do I actually enjoy the activity enough to provide space to do the activity and store the items used in the activity?  Do I just do it because I should do something?  Is it something I used to enjoy, but I have lost interest?

Or is it like sewing? I know how to sew.  I am pretty good at it.  I used to sew. My mother loved to sew.  I should want to sew.  Right?  I don’t think I want to sew.  I just want to feel my mother’s presence again.  Sit with her digging through the fabrics and patterns.  Hear the machine whirring as she stitches up a beautiful dress for me to wear.

I would love to have a tiny box with a couple of needles, some basic thread colors, a pair of tiny scissors. Just enough to repair a button or hem.  I have a little more than that.  Not a lot more. But more than I will ever use.  I don’t see myself sewing, again.  Or maybe, after writing this, I see the truth of the thing.  Sewing is something I once enjoyed.  When Mother could no longer sew, I could no longer enjoy it for myself.  Even now, the process gouges too deeply at the wound of losing her.  The big empty place in my life.

I guess I will keep on with my piddling and sorting and hauling off and acquiring. Till someday I latch on to something that doesn’t hurt so much to do.  I didn’t know I was still hurting so much.  I don’t know what I will do with this revelation.

He had to comfort me earlier when the computer went down in the middle of things. He always comes to my rescue when the dragons threaten.  I hear the pounding hooves of his white charger even before I click “publish”…….

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Weeds

Every spring we plant a garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash and peppers are regulars.  We did this year as usual, along with eggplant.  We had greens earlier in the season. Every year, I promise myself I will keep up with the weeding.  And every year, I don’t.  Including this year.

I spent time yesterday trying to restore order from the chaos among the tomatoes and peppers. I will work on it some more over the next few days.  I ask myself why I even bother to plant.  Of course, we have fresh vegetables to eat.  Usually we have enough to put extra in the freezer.  I always make pickles.

Along the same lines, I got a dozen herbs and potted them. During the days of neglecting the garden, I also neglected the herbs.  I didn’t get them watered in time and lost a couple.  Why?  I ask myself.

It is because I don’t keep up with the weeding and watering. I let the grass grow in the tomatoes and the pots go dry on the carport and my life get overcrowded and parched as well.

So often I plan a project, prepare for it, launch it, progress with it. Then suddenly I look up and it has fallen by the way and been overrun with weeds.  In the past few years, I have been less productive. I have also launched fewer projects.

My main project at this point is editing. Even with the garden and flower beds and yard care, I am working toward less to maintain.  I am looking for beautifully streamlined set ups.  Yard care, home care, personal care, self-entertainment.  Streamlining and editing the things that must be done to make room for the things that are a joy to do.

I want my house to be tidy and clean all the time. I want my flower beds and vegetable garden to always be in great shape. I want my chores and personal care to be perfectly current.  I want time to read and watch movies.  I want to cook delicious meals for him.  I want to feel energetic and enthusiastic all the time.  I want time to paint my walls and redecorate my house.  I want time to fish and to go swimming. I want time to go visit family and friends.  I want to visit museums and parks and go to the zoo.

I want so much and reach for so much, I don’t have time or opportunity or energy to keep up. The weeds invariably grow in some areas.  Streamlining.  That is my current project.  I am streamlining as many processes and areas as possible.  Get rid of this to make time for that.  Weed out this just because it isn’t worth the place it takes in my home or my life to keep up.  This includes hobbies I thought I wanted to pursue.  I have gotten rid of more arts and crafts things.  I do still backslide in this area. But, I am quicker to notice and redirect my path.  Even getting rid of or returning items I have purchased very soon after acquisition.

Weeding. My life, my home, my heart, my mind.  Digging out things that don’t belong and making space for things that bring forth fruits of joy and satisfaction. I am happy with my progress.  I see more and more ways to make a difference, to improve my allocations of resources.  I enjoy the process of housekeeping.  I simply want to be sure the house I am keeping is one of my choosing and not what I have allowed to creep in like the weeds in my garden.

There is a reason growing in California to increase my rate of progress toward my goals these days. I need to get my life, my home and my resources in order. She won’t be here in this house for a good long while. But, she is already taking over my heart and my mind like a weed!  She is one weed I will keep!

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Housekeeping

Long hours sitting in the woods have helped some.  Just time without having to do anything.  I always take my journal so I can write.  I read over past entries.  I ponder things.  I am forced to be present with my thoughts.

It is a very good thing.

I have reconnected with some things of which I had lost sight.  I let myself get distracted by media driven ideas of what I should be doing.  On what I should be expending resources.

At my nine to five, I will have to do all over again tomorrow the tasks I have done today.  The sense of satisfaction is void.  I keep a to-do list at work to help relieve the strain of feeling I never get anything done at my desk.  I keep work in folders that are fluid.  Papers move from one to the next, helping me feel I am getting someplace.  But nothing at my nine to five feels as good as my clean house.

My true vocation is home keeping. I was born to be a housewife. It suits my temperament. I like the tasks and the sense of accomplishment I feel when the counters are clear and the floor is clean. Yes. It will need to be done all over again tomorrow or maybe before the day is out.  But, there is satisfaction in it for me.

I have complained about the constant business I conduct, moving piles from here to there.  Getting rid of things, accumulating things.  Sorting and resorting. Arranging and rearranging.  I am feathering and refeathering my nest.  A natural born nester.  That is me.

Even in my deer stand, I nest.  I have three chairs in each. One is for shooting.  One is for napping.  One is alternately a foot stool or a table. I have a blanket, too.  I haul a thermos full of coffee going in, empty coming out.  Writing materials, my precious lists, a pen and two back up pens.  I don’t take reading material.  I want to be forced to hear my own voice, see the images in my own mind.

The last evening I was sitting, I wrote a page of fiction including dialogue.  Is it the beginning of a story?  Maybe.  I will have to do as my little friend at church says.  It’s okay to be afraid but still be brave.  Be brave enough to face the demons of the past and the pain of death’s sharp sting.  Having expended such enormous energy to put all that pain in a place I can manage, it will be terrifying to pull it out and go through it again.  That is what I will have to do.  But, this time, it will simply be the memory of the pain. I have lived through the disasters.  Now I will simply recall them.  They did not destroy me the first time.  The memory of them will certainly not destroy me now.

The comfort afforded me by my home and the constancy of my simple housekeeping will serve to keep me grounded. My home is filled with reminders of my long gone loved ones. The house itself is a reminder of the joy and agony of the past. Perhaps the story I need to write echoes here in these walls.

Today as I performed the tasks relevant to providing our evening meal and provisioning our future meals, I thought of the long legacy I have. Since Eve have my ancestral mothers kept house. Ensuring meals and clothing, bedding and warmth were present. I like to think they provided with love and generosity the things a housekeeper does to make a place of abode a home of refuge. They have an epic story to tell.

I am writing this satisfied. My counters are clear and so is my conscience as I prepare for sleep. No fear of Mab, tonight.

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