First Monday

In August, I decided I would post on first Mondays.  I was preoccupied with Harvey for September’s first Monday.

I’ve been enjoying some time outside.  The intense heat and humidity has been a bit less.

I have been trying to decide on whether to expand a flower bed or not.  I have been moving toward simpler and now this would not be simpler. It would mean more to tend.  I’m not sure if I want to commit to taking care of twenty feet of border.  For years.

I read back over some posts from earlier this year.  I have continued to get rid of unneeded items.  I read the Kon Mari book.  My impression of the writer is that she has no clue what it means to be a traditional Southerner. Sentiment and keepsakes. Decorative trinkets and festive decor are part of life.  And our life has included households of deceased relatives to deal with.

He is not a minimalist.  He likes to have two and a spare for most things.  I have a problem with books and clothes I never wear among other things.

We have our daughter’s salvage from their apartment stacked here.  I can honestly say it has not stressed me having it everywhere.  If it was my stuff, I would be having a stress meltdown.

Our prayer is for she and her family to find a home quickly.  Not because of the stuff in the kitchen or the cats on the porch. But, because they need to get resettled from being displaced.  The Harvey flood effected so many.  And many of my dear loved ones.

Strength and resilience.  Now that the urgent phase is passing, the long haul through restoration is beginning.  Grief must be dealt with.  Then a new normal can grow into a renewed life.

I praise Him for being Grace and Mercy and Strength and Hope.

 

Deadline

Rather than resolutions, I have set a deadline. I have several “projects” similar to the snow village lined up to do.  I have a large ornate framed canvas with an oil painting I don’t like.  I only bought the piece for the frame.  I picked up a landscape picture about 20 by 40 inches.  There are some other things I can’t specifically recall at the moment.  Things lurking in the closets and on shelves.  I have particular plans for some of the items.  Some of the items are still awaiting inspiration.  The deadline has to do with actually completing things.

I am going to spend some moments gathering things. I will either complete the project at hand or get rid of the stuff February 1.  January 31 is the last day to complete things.  Let’s see if I can stick to this plan.

Additionally, I have set the same deadline to unload some excess dishes and kitchen items. With all my talk of decluttering, my kitchen is seldom mentioned.  Rather, I continue to add to my packed cabinets.  Dishes are like chairs for me.  Both represent hospitality and parties and a house full of people visiting.  They are occasionally irresistible. Particularly when they match or resemble things from the ancestors’ kitchens.

Another area that remains untouched is my jewelry collection. I don’t have any real stuff beyond a few rings and a pair or two of earrings.  I have piles of costume jewelry, though.  Some of it has to go.  And not to my daughter’s house.  She says it will go to the prop room at the school theater.  I’m not sure it will make it there.  She likes to collect as much as I do.

I intend to keep this scheduled deadline for several reasons. I want to resolve past projects. Either finish or eliminate them. I want to spend time working on the yard in February and March.  I am supposed to have a particular visitor coming in February as well.  By May, I will be fully engaged with another new Dream. This one a Texas Dream.

Incentive and motivation are so important in my venture. The incentive is increased physical space, less cleaning, easier cleaning, more energy, more free time, less wasting of mental energy on indecision.  Motivation is preparing for the new generation before they get going on their feet.

I have a slight hope that eliminating distractions will force me to write. Not this babbling. Not my journal scribbling.  I need to focus and write the stories.  Write the tales that haunt my dreams and drift in memories.  Write the tales that will be unfolding in the coming years.  Write the tales I want my grands to read.  Tales that will show them who we are. Show them the toughness and the love that brought us to this point in this race of beings.

Yes. I would say I have incentive and motivation to meet my self-imposed deadline. Now, if I can just pay attention long enough to get it done!

Happy New Year. May all our plans be guided by a Greater Hand and be filled with His Love.

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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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A Creative Tool

I don’t know who loves Pinterest more, my niece, my daughter, or me. I have regular boards, secret boards, shared private boards. I am bad about deleting entire boards, deleting pins from boards, resorting boards.

I used to collect images and articles from magazines and do the same thing. I still have to have a paper magazine at times. I just like magazines. But, I really like Pinterest.

My daughter and I use it instead of “googling” for information.

It has been a great resource of inspiration for me to make some changes. I have gone through a long process of evaluating, emulating and evaluating again. I am at a place in my process of questioning goals.

There are some goals I want to keep. But, there are many more I want to let go. Am I coming of age again? Is this what I wanted for turning 50? I think so. I feel liberated somehow. I feel validated.

I am fifty years old. Our children are grown and after Saturday, both will be married. He and I have been married over thirty one years. We have no elders to care for anymore. I am only a few years away from a full retirement (God willing.) I only have a few things on a “bucket list”. At least half are travel destinations.

I find myself using Pinterest to attempt to define and clarify my goals and ambitions. To develop my bucket list. To dream about things to come.

My niece says my pins indicate I live in a cluttered house! I am always pinning “get rid of clutter” pins. I actually have very little clutter. But, I am trying to figure out how little I can live with and feel comfortable. I am trying to learn how to not buy things just to buy things. I am trying to learn how to let go of things I have bought that don’t work for me.   I am trying to refine my ideas and dreams.

That leads to creating a new board, sorting pins. Repinning to the new board and then deleting the old board. So I like to warn those who follow my boards. You better repin anything you like on my boards. If you look for it later, it might not be there!

I need to wrap this up. I have a few minutes before lights out to surf Pinterest! Happy Pinning, my friends!

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Diversion

I have a simple diversion tactic. Keep pushing stuff around in the house.  Makes me feel like I have done something.  All I have done is move junk from one place to another.  Purpose?  Diversion.  For twenty years, I have done this.  If I am pretending like I am getting organized and getting rid of clutter, I don’t have to think about other things.  Things like how much I miss my children.  How much I miss my parents and my grandparents. How much I miss other relatives either gone from this world or living too far distant.  How little I seem to have to do other than go to my 9 to 5 and do a little housework.  Yes.  I need to read last week’s post. But……….

I am at a loss as to what to do with myself right now. My mind rushes along, but my body can’t keep up.  My thought processes are not focused.  I have found myself working through another cycle of grief.  It is different from cycles in the past.  It is more than true about each person having to grieve in their own way and time.  I never expected to deal with this so many years later.  I am just sad about all of it all over again.  Yes. There have been some private issues surfacing that may have triggered this.  First one thing then another.  Then, something else.

But, you know what? I can get through this.  I will feel better soon.  He will help me.  I am letting go of some material things and some irrelevant ideas.  I am letting go of things that are holding me back.  What am I being held back from?  My cousin knows.  She told me what I should do.  I am about ready to get started.

Meanwhile, a certain little girl and her baby sister occupy my happy thoughts and bring me great hope. I found the thing to make her giggle.  My Hallowe’en decoration:

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The fish don’t seem to mind!  The cat looks surprised!

Do NOT Give Up.

That is what I keep telling myself.  Do not give up the fight or give in to the darkness.  I have intentions.  I have desires.  I have wishes.  I am trying to make myself let go of the side of the pool and swim across the deep end.

What does that involve?  Letting some things go and focusing on the main things.  Focus.  That is the struggle.  If I focus on this thing, what happens to that thing?  I care about it, too.  I like too many things.  I want too many things.

I have for years read about simplifying and de-cluttering.  I have done a ton of work doing just that.  Even to look into my closets, most would be surprised at how little I really have in them.  None of my closets are packed.  They are fairly organized and tidy.  I have spent ages eliminating all sorts of things in my life.

The problem, as I said recently, may lie in the goals.  I have too many goals.  Too many things to distract me.  How do I get to the point of letting go of ideas?  I don’t have too much trouble letting go of things.  But, letting go of creative ideas is another struggle.

Even this weekend, I found some items for a project.  Spent a whole dollar at a yard sale on them.  It will take five or ten more dollars to have supplies to do the project.  How in the world do I get around to doing it?

Basic living seems to take up all of my time and energy.  And still I have not found a spot to allow myself to actually do some messy work.  I don’t have a work space.  I will set out some things and work a few hours.  Then, other things have to be done.  The work doesn’t continue.  The mess is in the way.  Back to the bins and closets it will go.

I am at a standstill.  No progress since last week.  I don’t know what to do or how to get through this block.  The basic steps would be get off the computer.  Get out the tools and supplies for one project.  Set up on the dining table.  Sit down and work.  Whoops.  My mind just raced off to worry about not getting the project completed and having to leave the mess out for a day or two.

I do believe I am ridiculous in my way of thinking.  I do believe there is a deeper issue.  I do believe I may break through to the real issue someday.  Therein lies the fear.  What if the real issue is something I cannot deal with?  What if it is too deep and too painful to deal with?  What if I go over the edge?  Into that black chasm?

My aunt asked me what I do to overcome the depression.  Riding it out.  Knowing it will pass.  It always does.  He holds on to me until I can hold on again.  I write a lot that is never read by others.  The darkest goes into the fire.  The darkness is less dark than in years past.  I do not use medication.

I do not lose touch with reality.  I know that is the greatest fear.  I have looked insanity in the eyes and called him Daddy.  He could not be reached in that dark place.  I associate creative pursuit with an unstable mind.  If I don’t get carried away with creativity, I won’t get carried away.

Understanding this behemoth does not slay the dragon.  I have not yet found the sword that will do the task.  It takes more than identifying and understanding and defining the problem to solve it.  A plan of action, resources to implement the plan, a time line to follow for the plan are not enough either.

There is another element needed.  Courage.  Daring.  Audacity. What it is called doesn’t matter.  Guts to jump off the high dive.  Guts to jump off the river bank.  What is the worst thing that could happen?  Yes, all of those things.  Look them in the eye and jump.  Plunge into the icy cold unknown.  Someone is waiting to reach out and pull me back in if the struggle is too much.  He has been doing so for more than thirty years.  When I am in too deep, he calls upon his Friend to help.

Maybe this week, I will have the audacity…………………….

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