What Would I Save?

Yesterday, I woke up to the sound of rain and a husband who may or may not have been cussing.  The words were indistinguishable, but the tone wasn’t.  Problem!  I opened the front door to darkness and the sound of rushing water.  The night before we got home late and parked the truck so that the headlights shone on the chicken coop.  That way we could see to make sure they were all locked up tight for the night.  We are having a raccoon problem – more specifically a raccoon eating chickens problem.

And now, the truck was stuck.  Very, very stuck.  Up to the hubcap in calf-deep running water stuck.  And husband is late for work.  And we have one vehicle and two different work schedules to deal with.  Yep, he was probably cussing.

He grabs the keys to our son’s Jeep and heads out to work.  I go in to check the news about the weather (I already know that it’s raining, of course).

Sure enough, bad situation around these parts.  We’re getting heavy rain and the yard is swamped, but farther south in Austin and beyond….holy crap.  We were flooded in by rising creeks and impassable roads, but that was minor compared to others.

We’d already had heavy rain the weekend before.  Rivers rose fast.  Massive flooding.  As I was watching the news coverage, I looked around and wondered what I would try to save if we had to evacuate?  That kind of news puts things in proper perspective.

So this happened…

IMAG1096 (1)…clothes, a lamp, games, towels, and I’ve already forgotten what else.  Two boxes stuffed full and I can’t even remember what I put in them?  Crazy.  Out of here, gone.

There is also a pile of trash on the porch waiting for the yard to dry out enough to haul to the can.  Yea!

In a small corner of my brain I’m wondering if I’ll ever be done.  How much stuff is enough?  How much needs to go?  Will our life be better if I get rid of the stuff.  The house cleaner? The stress reduced?  Is this a good plan?  Is the clutter a symptom or the problem?  More questions than answers for sure.

Our neighbor jokingly calls us the “bad-luck Barrows”.  It does seem to be one thing after another.  Mostly small, irritating stuff.  It’s the continual stress that’s hard.  Waiting for the next crisis.  Not a good way for me to live.  I’m trying to look for the next good thing instead.  A change of attitude is what I need.  I’m working on it.  I’m working on a lot of things.

My daughter is playing a song for me…”Hold on for one more day…break free from the chains…things are going to go your way…”

It’s true.  Good things are happening all the time.  A friend came and helped us “un-stick” the truck.  Lots of stuff has been de-cluttered this week.  I’ve made some art.  My daughter is home this weekend.  It’s Halloween and the kid’s costume is ready.  We’re going to spend the evening with some friends.

Oh yea – it’s 50 cent corn dog day at Sonic.  That’s a good thing!

Doing the Happy Friday Dance

It’s Friday and I’m so happy!  Friday is the only day of the week when I don’t have anything I have to leave the house to do.  No class to teach, no office to clean, and no grocery shopping job to do.  Just me and my choices.  What to do today?  Opportunity awaits.   I’m thinking a nap because the decluttering decisions have already been made:

IMAG1095Another storage basket that was going to solve a problem – donate.  Some more clothes that we are dealing with as they come out of the laundry (that is finally caught up, again) – donate.  A pair of shoes that have been outgrown.  This was mentioned by the wearer on the way home from the shopping trip to replenish her outgrown wardrobe.  Next check and these will be replaced. These will be donated.  A bag of assorted fabric and other craft supplies that aren’t loved – donate.  And finally, a pile of excess kitchen towels.  The more towels I have is directly related to the length of time between laundry loads.  If we only have a few, I will need to keep up with the laundry.  That’s the plan anyway.  Also donate.

Another trip to the thrift store, but only to drop things off.  I’m not buying anything.  I promise myself.  Less in and more out.  On our way to a simpler, less cluttered life.  I can rest easier knowing that progress is being made!

I walk by this counter every day – multiple times a day.  The counter sits atop cabinets in the hallway.  There are cabinets above.  These cabinets provide valuable storage space for stuff that we actually use:  linens, computer and electronic essentials, paperwork that needs to be accessible, but out of sight, etc.

The countertop – not so much.  It is and has always been a dumping ground for stuff, crap and junk.  Stuff that doesn’t have a home.  Crap that I can’t make a decision about.  Junk that I don’t know what to do with.

I walked by it this morning and looked, and paused, and kept going.  And then I went back and sighed and took a deep breath…and started dealing with it.  A stack of baseball pictures and frames from last year that I’ve been meaning to put together.  Hardware waiting to be put on some drawers.  A stack of IKEA fabric that have been curtains, but we aren’t using right now.  I really like the fabric, so I don’t want to get rid of it.  It needs a home.  Two pieces of art that need to be stored away somewhere.  A can of paint and some paintbrushes waiting to be used.  And more…

A little mini-tableau of my life.  Projects undone.  Decisions unmade.  Procrastination and hesitation.  Decisions will need to be made today.  I am going to get it cleared off – again.  This is not the first time I’ve tried to work on this.  It probably won’t be the last.  I’ll just keep trying.  Today.

Today’s de-clutter:

IMAG1094 (1)More boxes of old business paperwork – recycle.  Dishes we don’t need – donate.  A shower curtain – only one shower, we probably don’t need two curtains – donate.  Two cabinet doors from a cabinet we removed above the hallway desk.  They’ve been sitting in the hallway for a month.  We probably don’t need doors for a cabinet that doesn’t exist anymore – burn pile.

As I look at the box of things I’ve chosen to declutter this week, it’s interesting to note that there is not a thing that I would choose to pull out and keep.  If I saw any of it in a thrift store, I wouldn’t be inclined to purchase it.  It’s just not stuff I care about.  Why was the decision to declutter it so hard?  Why didn’t I see that it was sitting there waiting to be dealt with?  Why is it so difficult to clear it out?

Just questions.  The answers will come.  The decisions will be made.  The space will be cleared.  I can and will do this.

When the Target is Not What You’re Aiming For

Yesterday, I took my youngest shopping at Target.  Over the last few days I’ve decluttered just about every piece of clothing the kid owns.  Target is a good place to find her some new duds.  She’s at that age where she’s too big and too old for children’s clothes, but not really old enough to be wearing “junior” sizes.  Some of the stuff is just too “grown-up” for a twelve year old (in my opinion – not judging how anyone chooses to dress their child).  Being an adult comes soon enough – I’m not going to rush it.

Anyway, they were changing out their displays and getting ready for the imminent holiday season (sarcasm intended).  I still haven’t pulled out my Halloween decorations (both of them).  Armed with my one-hour-a-week, part-time teacher’s paycheck, we started shopping.  Luckily they had just put a ton of stuff on clearance.  We were able to get some cute clothing at a not too outrageous price.

Still, I said “no” a lot more than I was happy about.  She never complained and didn’t ask for anything outrageous, but it’s just hard for me not to give her everything she wants.

One voice in my head was saying, “Remember, we are striving to be responsible consumers and not over-buying.  Less is more.  We are working to get rid of stuff.  Think about want versus need.  How much does she really need? Etc…….”

The other voice was saying, “Why shouldn’t she have that really cute pale-pink tulle skirt that only cost $20 and will probably snag the first time she wears it and where do we go that she would wear it anyway?  But, it’s so cute and I just want to buy it for her.  And that faux fur jacket that doesn’t even have sleeves so it wouldn’t keep her warm, but…..”

I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation by the voices in my head.

Ultimately, the winning voice was the one that said, “Buying stuff doesn’t equal love, we are trying to get out of debt, and buying too much stuff is one of the behaviors you are trying to change.”

That’s my love/hate relationship with Target.   I shop there, but not too often.  I love a lot of their stuff and I want to buy it.  I just know that it will make my house prettier, me look better, my life easier.  Those curtains, that picture, that journal, those organizational supplies, those cleaning products that smell so good…    All my problems solved.

Lies!  Lies that marketing works so hard to convince me of and lies that I tell myself.

My house will be prettier if I keep it uncluttered, tidy and clean.  I will look better if I am less stressed and can find clean clothes to wear.  My life will be easier if I don’t have so much stuff.

I am aiming for a simpler, less hectic, and more intentional life.  That’s the target I need to keep my eye on.  That’s the goal that I’m aiming for.

And to that end, here is today’s declutter:IMAG1093Two boxes and one bag of old business documents, a stack of magazines, and an old science workbook that I never used for my first three kids so I probably won’t use it for the last one – headed to recycling tomorrow.  A wooden salad bowl set that I intended to paint.  Never got around to it – time’s up – heading to the thrift store along with an antique crockery pitcher.  I’m already looking around for tomorrow’s discards. Happy de-cluttering!

Almost Midnight

It’s 11:35 p.m.  I must type fast or I’ll miss posting my five “get-rid-of” items for the dayIMAG1092A collection of old radio show CD’s that must have been a gift to my husband at some point.  He used to spend a lot of time driving and likes to listen to audio books.  This isn’t an audio book, we don’t remember where it came from, and it was stuffed into the bathroom cabinet behind the towels.  This is also a cabinet I cleaned out not too long ago.  Don’t know why I looked at this and thought, “hey, this belongs here and is something that we want to keep.”  Donate.

The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia is next.   I’m sure that it’s full of useful information that would be invaluable in my quest to live a healthier life, but I’m just as sure that I’m unlikely to sit down and read it anytime soon.  If I truly need to look up what the uses of “Bladder Wrack” are, I’ll just have to resort to looking it up on the computer.

Just because I know that you are now just as curious as I was, Bladder wrack is

“highly regarded as an effective medicine for obesity, hypothyroid function and edema.  It is not, however, a diuretic as its name suggests.  Wraec is an old English word for seaweed, and bladder refers to its swollen, bladderlike frond tips.  Bladder wrack has a pleasing, sweet flavor but its slippery gel is a texture most people don’t like,  It is used primarily in stock or as an ingredient in food supplements.  Bladder wrack is available by mail order.”

As you might have guessed, this information is courtesy of The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  If you’d like to know more, don’t ask me.  I’m donating this to my local thrift store.

The last three items are more outgrown clothes from my daughter’s now very depleted wardrobe.  We’re still sorting through things so there’s probably more that needs to go.  Out it goes as we come across it.  The laundry may be a little behind.  Please don’t judge.

It’s 11:53.  I actually had something else that I wanted to talk about today, but it will have to wait.  It was a long day and we got lots done, but now I am tired.

Tomorrow, I will share a personal observation about me, shopping, wants, needs, and in-betweens.  I know you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation, but it will have to wait.

Now it’s 11:58 – good night!

Is It Bedtime Yet?

I overslept.

I forgot to charge my phone.

I had no car to get to work.

I was teaching my class and subbing for another teacher today.  Twice the kiddos.

Lesson plan?  No, of course not.

Thawed something for dinner?  Nope.

Any clothing even remotely appropriate, clean, and ready to wear to class?  Can you guess the answer to that one?  (No)

A dog puking up something on the floor?  Yes.

Did I forget to make the bed and did the muddy dogs made themselves at home on the pillows?  Yes.

Was it a bad day?  No, not really.

I found a ride to class.  I managed to get enough charge on my phone to make it through.  We had a “free-for-all” art class and everyone seemed to have fun.  Hubby’s bringing home something for dinner.  It turned out to be a dress-up day at school so no one cared what I was wearing.  The washer and dryer are both working so in the sheets go.  The dog puke?  Nothing good to make of that…so we’ll just clean it up and let that go.

And – I managed to find 10 things to get rid of today.

Eight pieces of outgrown clothing from youngest daughter.  Sharing the good stuff with a friend and pitching the worn-out stuff.

And, from under the bathroom sink – not one, but two cans of out-of-date athlete’s foot medication.  Both expired in early 2014.  We evidently don’t have a big problem with fungus around here, but if we do, I don’t think we’ll treat it with medication that is almost two years out of date.  What’s strange is that I distinctly remember cleaning out underneath that sink not so long ago.


Decluttering is all about peeling away the layers, I tell you.  There is always something else that can go.  Good riddance!

Until tomorrow…

Day’s End

This Sunday is coming to a close.

We had breakfast:  bacon, sausage, biscuits (from scratch, not that I’m bragging), eggs, and grits.  I didn’t do the dishes or clear the table for that matter because…

daughter is home from college and had art homework to do so…

being the supportive mother that I am, I made art with her.

There is; therefore, no amazing “after” photo of the cleaned studio.  No apologies.  I stand by my decision.  Art first.  Dishes later.

I did manage to declutter my five for today:

IMAG1065A storage tote that used to hold something that I don’t have anymore.  I’ve been saving it and moving it from pile to stack just in case I could use it to organize something that I probably don’t need to keep.  Donate.

A pair of scissors that used to belong to a math teacher friend.  She gave them to me at least 13 years ago.  I’ve used them for art classes since then.  They are bent and cut on a curve.  I don’t need a pair of scissors that cut a curve.  Any art students I have don’t need them either.  Why did I keep them?  Just in case I didn’t have enough scissors one day?  Trash.

An almost empty and almost dried up can of paint in a shade of yellow that nobody could love.  Even me, and I love yellow.  Why was I keeping it?  I guess just in case I wanted to do a partial, bad paint job in a color that I don’t like so that I could make something I would end up hating and have to throw away.  Or not throw away because I might be able to fix it.  On the deck to finish drying out and then into the trash.

And a bowl that my oldest daughter found and bought last weekend.  It was beautiful and she was going to use it in her trailer/home as a wash basin. It came home from the thrift store and was carefully placed on the kitchen counter – with a package of hot dog buns in it.  CRASH!  Our master thief and acrobatic basset hound who loves bread in any shape or form knocked it off the counter and made off with the buns.   I saved the pieces in hopes that I could put it back together in some creative way and fix the damage.  In reality, all we would end up with is a patched together broken bowl and a memory of what could have been.  Letting it go.

IMAG1058And number 5:  a door that used to separate what is now the studio/classroom from the rest of the house.  We installed it when the oldest girls used it as a bedroom when they first started school and were living at home.  That was at least three years ago.  We cut it in half because I thought that it might be neat to make a…I don’t know…a cut-in-half-door that didn’t actually close off a room that we didn’t need to close off anyway.  That was almost nine months ago.  Out of here and on the burn pile.


Not Complaining

Another quiet Sunday.

The only other two occupants of the house are my son and his best friend (home from college).  They pulled an all-nighter on the computer and are now gently snoring under piles of blankets.  What a good feeling.  I’ve missed having the two of them together on the weekend.  Kids grow up and we can’t go back, but we can have brief interludes of the old days every now and again.  Whenever they wake up, I’ll cook breakfast and hold on to the memory – of today and all the other breakfast meals we have shared.

It’s raining and I’m not complaining.  We really do need the rain.  I choose to live here – in the land of all or nothing.  Drought or flood.  That’s just the way it is.  My chickens on the other hand – they are complaining.  They’ve had enough of the rain, the drips, the wind and the chill.  We’ve hooked up the warming light for them.  They venture out of a snack, squawk, ruffle their feathers and huddle back together under the warmth of the light in the coop.  They are so cranky that they are refusing to cooperate and take a decent photo.  Usually they smile and “ham” it up for the camera.  Not today.


And the focus of the day.  The studio…

IMAG1055 (1)IMAG1054Sigh…  I know.  It’s more of a storage room right now.  Storage for materials, supplies, possibilities, and ideas.  Those things are important to have, but basically useless without a workable environment to utilize them.  I’d like to be making art, but first I’d better make room.

No doubt, I will find five things to declutter from this space today.  Wish me luck!

Feeling good!

Today is an awesome day.  Hey, I’m not perfect, but I kinda like myself today.  What’s the difference in today and the days I don’t like myself?  Beats me…got no clue, but that’s okay.  I’m just going to enjoy the day!

First thing, got a little confidence in myself and upgraded this to my own personal domain.  I guess that makes me a “real” blogger now.  The main change will be that my soon-to-be Graphic Designer, BFA graduate daughter can fancy things up a bit and make some improvements to the look of the blog.

Next, I just wrote for the first time in a long time on my unearthedart site.  I’m going to start making the art cards again.  It’s been too long and I need to get busy.

And now for today’s topic:  I couldn’t get to sleep last night and stumbled upon a blog, dailydeclutter.com – I stayed up wayyyyy too late reading.  This guy posted every day about decluttering his life.  Every day was a post with a  story about what he was getting rid of.  Sounds boring, but…he wrote well and it was pretty interesting and really funny at times.  Most of the stuff he was getting rid of was stuff I wouldn’t have had in the first place.  Getting rid of any of it would have been a no-brainer for me.  But, we all have our own struggles and no matter what the crap we are surrounded by, the struggle is real.  Why is it all here, where did it come from, what do I do with it, and how do I keep more from coming in?

And, as I am coming more and more to realize, the stuff is just a symptom of other problems and issues.  My journey continues and I will deal with it all…cause and symptom.

Last December was a sort of tipping point for me.  I went into the holidays with a lot of family and guests coming in and a lot of clutter and mess already here.  I vowed that it was time for the stuff to go…it could no longer be taking up space that should be welcoming those I love.

Have I made progress?  I think so.  In my current, optimistic mood, I’m going to say that I’ve dealt a lot with the root issues in the past 10 months.

Am I cured?  Have I reached my goal?  Not so much.  But, I will never become a completely different individual.  The issues and problems that I deal with are part of who I am and not always in a bad way.  I can change and make progress and become better and I will continue to work towards positive growth.

There is no actual destination…it’s a journey!

The new game, project, challenge….whatever you wanna call it – is this.  Between now and Christmas Day, I will consciously declutter 5 items a day and document it here.  I’m always on the look-out for stuff to get rid of, but I’m going to make it a “thing”. I’m going to pay attention to it and share the experience.  Probably won’t be as funny as the blog I read through last night, but that’s okay.  We’ll see what I can do.

Today, finished going through the winter clothing.  Youngest daughter has grown a lot…five shirts and a skirt that we’ll share with a friend.    Also gone – a sweatshirt leftover from an ugly sweater dress-up day at work that my son gave to the cause – going to the thrift store.  IMAG1052IMAG1051Seven things gone on Day 1.

And now since the rain continues and is unlikely to stop anytime soon…I’m going to find a snuggly blanket, a snuggly dog and the company of my hubby and enjoy some Netflix.  Then, I’m going to paint and create.  And that’s just about the perfect day.