Graduation Road Trip!

No postings for a day or two as the family heads to Huntsville for second daughter’s college graduation!

In preparation for the trip I’ve made a mad clean-up dash through the house so we come back to some semblance of “normal”.

Dishes done.  Laundry done.

And a fast declutter.  Here’s the list for yesterday and today:

  1. jeans with an unrepairable hole
  2. a linen shirt that’s moved past comfortable into just worn-out
  3. an empty storage container
  4. a fitted sheet with worn-out elastic
  5. pillowcase
  6. 2 bed pillows
  7. a book
  8. miscellaneous worn-out cloth napkins
  9. a pair of outgrown shoes
  10. more scrapbook paper

Later!

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Just more crap or looking for the beautiful underneath it all…

Found while working on the house today –

a lost can of Pringles turned ant farm underneath a bed

another stash of “special” hand-made paper squirreled away for the “perfect” project – being turned into art cards right now.  No more waiting for “perfect”

a bag of miscellaneous canned goods bought for Thanksgiving – obviously not needed.  Not things we use regularly so going to the food bank.

a stash of treasures that my dogs were hoarding under the sofa.  Ugh.  No further description provided.  You can thank me later.

three bags of clothes that someone gave me.  I forgot about them and need to go through them.  Or maybe not.  We’ll see if it ends up in the giveaway tomorrow.

another sack of plastic grocery bags to be recycled.  Why can’t I remember the reusable ones that I have?

a bee in a plastic bread bag that my dog dragged out of the trash.  Maybe the bee found me?  In any case I got stung.

Break time!

Also decluttered today – working in my son’s room as he ponders his life journey and what he needs and wants to carry with him on the way…

  1. 3 shirts
  2. a bulletin board
  3. 3 sweaters
  4. a winter hat leftover from his football and baseball days
  5. a storage box (contents tossed)

I just know that there is a simpler, more intentional life in our future.  I’m just hacking through the wilderness that is our present in search of the beautiful.

Honestly, most of the time, right now isn’t so bad.  There is beautiful along the way.  Sometimes it’s just hard to see underneath the clutter!

 

The Return of the Crud

I felt sooooo much better yesterday.  I got quite a lot done.  I made big plans for today.

Today, the “crud” returned.  Maybe the cold is gone and allergies have flared up.  The first cedar pollen bud watchers have reported that the buds are popping.  Yes, the allergies are so bad here that we have folks who watch out for this sort of thing.

In any case, the fever is back.  I lay down for a short rest and slept 3 hours.  Nothing much was accomplished…

– other than some school catch-up.

Math is killing us.  We just aren’t making noticeable progress.  I have a pretty stubborn kiddo and if I hear, “I hate Math” one more time…

I’m going to sweetly suggest that we give it another go.  Maybe.

I did spend some time reading blogs about folks who are decluttering and simplifying and reducing waste and growing and cooking all their own food.  No waste. No additives.  All from scratch.  While chopping their own firewood for the stove in the home they built themselves.  With their children who are already doing advanced calculus in 3rd grade.  After hiking in Nepal for summer break.  And making their own laundry detergent to wash their clothes that they make themselves – 100% cotton, of course.

I’m not judging.  More power to them!  I’d be right there with them if I could figure it out.  If I could declutter enough stuff.  If I could get out of debt.  If I had started 30 years ago. If I could remember to water the plants right by my front door, much less grow a garden.  If I didn’t take a 3 hour nap.  If.

But hey!  I’m in a better place right now than I was a year ago.  I’ve paid down over $2000.00 on our debt.  Loads of stuff has left and I’m not hauling it in anymore.  I’m not “running with the crowd” anymore without trying to be more intentional.

I’m thinking about it.

I’m trying.

I’m learning to be “me” and live my own life –

with what I have to work with.

More power to me!

Gone today:

  1. a piece of wall art
  2. two sweaters – one of which makes me look like a melting snowman.
  3. a worn-out pair of p.j. pants
  4. used up some hand-made paper that has been waiting around for years for the “perfect” project.  turned it into guerilla art cards
  5. 11 small bottles of colored glue leftover from an art class and the plastic box they are stored in.

Less and More

A second post today to list the declutter because it just didn’t seem to fit in my first topic.

Decluttering has been hard lately.

I haven’t been feeling well.

So much has gone already.

The next layer is requiring some thought.

Is it helping?

What next?

A lot of fear is involved.

Has this just become a crazy obsession?

Should I stop?

Is the fear motivated by change and what the next step might be?

Am I the frog staying in the metaphorical pot of boiling water or am I jumping out of the pan and into the fire?

Gone yesterday:

  1. a stoneware crock for holding a 5 gallon water bottle. Been under the house for years
  2. an outgrown jacket
  3. dried up acrylic paint
  4. a book
  5. 2 small plates

Today:

  1. 2 dead plants decorating the front entrance to our home
  2. a small Little Tikes gym “thing” sitting in the back of the yard from when my youngest was a toddler.  She’s 12.
  3. an extra shower curtain rod.  ??????? Don’t think I’m planning on adding another shower anytime soon.
  4. a computer box.  Just the box, no computer.  Left in the living room by my son two days ago when he was working on his computer.  I’m gonna assume he doesn’t need/want it.  It’s in the trash can if he wants it (and reads this post)
  5. 2 flower pots (not the ones the dead plants were in)

Grace

My fingers on the keyboard.

What to write?

So many things happening in the world and my life:  world tragedies, a college graduation, homeschool to catch up on, holiday preparation or lack thereof, housework or the lack thereof, illness, my last art class today and it’s lesson plan or lack thereof, 3 broken-down cars in the driveway, planning transportation for four people with only one car, politics, stupid people, a friend’s surgery, the fragility of life, priorities, a vivid idea for an art project in my head, kiddos coming home, kiddos leaving, finances..

All swirling around in my head.  What to do first?  What can wait?  What doesn’t need to be dealt with at all?  What can I do?  What should I do?

No wonder that it can seem easier to do nothing at all.  Anxiety complicates it all – depression takes hold.

So easy to say, “Simplify!”  But, what does that really mean?

Eliminate what’s not essential.  Figure out what matters most.  Prioritize.  Have realistic goals.  Have a plan.  Don’t buy what you don’t need.  Don’t do what you don’t need to do.  Don’t have what isn’t useful or what doesn’t bring you joy.

But, day to day, the whirlwind of the everyday can sweep away the plan, the priorities, the intent to live a more simple life.

Life isn’t simple.  People aren’t simple.  The unexpected happens.  People do stupid stuff that messes with the plan.  I do stupid stuff that knocks me off track.

What word do I want to type?

GRACE.

That’s the word I want to live into today – in all of it’s definitions.

The grace of forgiveness.

The short prayer of thanks.

The simple elegance or refinement of movement.

The courteous goodwill.

The attractively polite manner of behaving.

The bestowal of blessings.

To do honor or credit to…

GRACE for you, for me, for the whole world.

Amen.  (so be it)

Not Allergies

I’ve been feeling icky for days.  It started with feeling tired and then a come and go fever.  Congestion, sore throat, itchy cough and so on.  This morning – aches, a gunky cough and cold – oh so very cold.

I guess it’s not allergies.  It’s a cold.  I don’t know why the name matters.  I live in the allergy capital of the world.  Around here we just say it’s “just allergies” and soldier on.

And a cold?  Not earth-shattering.  Not the flu.  Not really sick enough to stop and rest.  Life must go on.

All least that’s how I grew up.  Don’t feel well?  Go to school anyway and call me if it gets worse.  I know you fell and your arm hurts.  Go to school and call me if it gets worse.  (that turned out to be a broken arm).

Not this time.  I’m going to listen to my body.  I’m going to put on pajamas and crawl onto the sofa with a down comforter.  I’m going to rest.

I’m not so important that the world will stop without my active presence.

I am important enough that I should take care of myself.

This decision should not be so hard.  There shouldn’t be guilt involved.  It’s what I’d tell my husband to do.  It’s what I’d tell my kids to do.  It’s how I would care for a friend.

I’m going to be my own friend.  I’m going to listen to myself. I’m going to actually listen to my husband and stop.

This is huge progress for me folks.  I believe that change is actually happening around here.

Decluttered today:

  1. a broken birdfeeder
  2. a weather worn and torn hammock
  3. plastic bowls
  4. a winter scarf that’s ugly and itchy
  5. a winter hat that’s itchy and ugly

 

Hamster Wheel of Life

How has it been almost two days since I last posted?  It seems like time flies by so fast and yet nothing of significance has happened to write about.

…so busy running around the wheel of life like a hamster and never really getting anywhere.

But that’s not really true is it?

In terms of “significant” life-changing events, nothing has happened.

No cure for cancer found here.

No Mona Lisa painted.

Haven’t discovered the secret to world peace.

But the busyness of my life is the stuff of real life.  Things have to be done (sometimes over and over again) and although some of it doesn’t seem to be  all that important, life quickly becomes chaos if it is left undone.

Doing dishes, washing laundry, balancing the checkbook, paying bills, schoolwork, actually paying attention to loved ones, late night phone calls answering life questions (or pretending like you actually know the answers), running errands and dropping everything to fix a problem…

It all adds up to something important – this thing we call life.  One person doing what needs to be done in their life and touching another life in the process.  All connecting and getting things done and adding it all together to create something bigger and better.

I try to remember this.  I often fail.  Today I felt the tiny doubts and darkness start to creep in.  What’s the point?  I can’t “balance” anything when there is more need than supply.  I can’t keep up with all that needs to be done.  I’m losing ground and really tired.  I haven’t finished what needs to be done today and now it’s already tomorrow.

It is tomorrow.  Everything didn’t get done and yet the world hasn’t ended.  In the morning I can jump back on my wheel and start running.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I will choose to do each task as if it is taking me somewhere and not a pointless turn around the wheel.  I can choose to believe that my efforts are important and real and significant.

It is a choice isn’t it.

Not exciting.

Not glamorous.

Lots of dried on food, stains that won’t come out, missing socks, explaining a math concept again, chicken poop, dog hair, and someone asking, “where is my…”.

Or I can choose to see the home-cooked meal, running water, warm clothing, time spent with my child, fresh eggs, dogs that are excited when I come home and family that think I know more than I really do.

What’s happened since I last wrote?  Nothing much and everything!

I hope your journey around the sun tomorrow is more than just running on a hamster wheel.  I think we can change the world!

Decluttered on Thursday:

  1. plastic bowls
  2. a too-big sweater that I love, but someone else needs more than me
  3. 3 earrings – a pair that I never wear and one that has been waiting for a lost mate way too long
  4. a reusable grocery bag – got way too many
  5. a pen that only writes some of the time.  It seems to be the one that I always grab when I really need a pen

And today:

  1. underwear bought in the wrong size and never returned to the store
  2. an empty photo storage box
  3. a scarf – pretty, but I never wear it
  4. a pillowcase
  5. a shirt that I really, really want to fit, but no matter how many times I put it on is still too small

 

Letting Go

The hardest things to get rid of in my life seem to be the consequences and results of bad decisions and poor choices.  Sometimes the things I need to let go of are actual things…

  • New clothes that don’t fit right or just don’t get worn
  • Overbuying of food that goes to waste
  • On sale purchases that are made more because they were a good deal rather than an actual need
  • Impulse purchases
  • Duplicate items that were bought because the original couldn’t be found
  • Decorative items that I tire of
  • Holiday things that weren’t necessary and don’t add to the occasion
  • Things that have to be discarded because they weren’t cared for properly
  • Stocking up on things because they might be needed and then never get used
  • Extra money being spent to fix something because proper maintenance wasn’t done

The list could go on and on, but that’s just an example.  The true cost of these purchases isn’t even money (although that’s certainly a big part of it).

Along with the excess stuff comes the emotional component – the stress, the guilt, and the self-recrimination.

“What a waste! Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do that?  If I had only…!  If only I hadn’t!  What do I do now?”

It’s easier to just ignore the stuff than face the facts and deal with it all.

Just pretend the wasted food isn’t in the fridge by not opening it and looking at it…let’s go out to dinner.

Pull out clothes to wear and they don’t fit right – throw them in a corner and don’t make decisions about them.  Then the dog sleeps on them and its all dirty laundry to be dealt with and the cycle continues.

Do without something rather than replace it when it’s ruined by being left out in the rain.  Then deal with the consequences.

Why is it so hard to forgive myself (and I’m sure I’m not the only one)?  I made a mistake.  Clean it up, sort it out, toss it or whatever it takes to move on.  Let it go and try to learn from the experience.  Let go of the “thing”, the guilt, the sorrow, the anger…all of it.  Start anew.

Just let it go!

Today’s declutter:

  1. a large glass jar for making tea.  Already have two others – probably only need one!  We’ll see.  Donate
  2. books that are sitting on the shelf and maybe make me look like I’m smart and spiritual.  Probably better to actually be smart and spiritual.  Donate
  3. a luggage carrier that goes on top of the car.  Left under the house improperly stored and has dry rot. Trash
  4. an air mattress with a hole in it.  The patch didn’t work.  Why was I keeping it?  Maybe just in case someone I didn’t like was spending the night and I wanted them to wake up in the morning on the hard floor in a puddle of vinyl.  Trash
  5. two sweatshirts that are too short that would look good if I was thinner and did a million sit-ups a day.  As if…

 

 

Festivities

Hello!

Did you miss me?

I’ve thought about writing many times over the past days, but was busy with the festivities and then recovering from them.

But, I’m back (sorta).

We had a great Thanksgiving celebration.  We sat nineteen celebrants at one long feast table that my son helped me create out of tables, desks and a door.  The food was plentiful and almost all good. Nothing is ever perfect, but it was close.

It was a fun mixture of family, old friends and new ones.  We played games, watched football, may have decluttered the inventory in the booze cabinet and…

for entertainment we had a guy breath fire and twirl a fire staff.  Betcha can’t top that!

I was fairly successful at keeping my perfectionism at bay and controlling my stress level.  Lots of cleaning didn’t get done and the house is a fair disaster now.  I do think the decluttering helped a lot.

I think I’m going to continue on with the game of decluttering five items.  There is definitely stuff that I have in readiness for a big meal or lots of guest that I never used last week:  dishes, linens, towels and the like.  Those can probably go.  And now that we are fully into cold weather, I’m finding some clothes that I don’t wear.  I pull them out, try them on, and take them back off again.

My health is moving to the forefront of my attention now.  Over the last six months or so I’ve been paying less attention to what I eat and one day of not walking become two and then a week and then a month.  During the holidays I ate whatever I wanted and can really tell the difference in the way I feel.  The fitbit is back on.  The veggies are back in the fridge. The carbs are going into someone else’s mouth.  I miss feeling good.  This tired, sluggish feeling sucks.

Celebrations are good.  Normal (boring) routine is also good.  I’m actually ready to cook a small meal, do some school, make some art, and read a book.  And definitely take a nap.

But first, I need to go finish the Thanksgiving dishes – don’t judge.  Most of them are done!  There’s just the odd glass here and maybe a few pans that needed to soak.  Maybe not for five days, but hey, I’m trying.  Remember, we are all works in progress.  Imperfect, but making an effort.

Decluttered today:

  1. 3 sweaters that are itchy (and ugly)
  2. 2 dessert plates
  3. some socks with no matches
  4. a wooden gate that is missing pieces and therefore doesn’t actually work as a gate at all.
  5. a box of thumb tacks