Losing It!

Last week ended on a rough note. I kinda lost it. I was so frustrated with life that I just blew. All the little (and some big) things that I’ve been dealing with pretty well, just started to seem like insurmountable hurdles…

The washer?  I’ve been okay with waiting on a new one or a new to us one and have been pretty patient – maybe not happy but working on a plan to get a new one. Until – Matilda the Basset Hound ate a whole lotta cream cheese that she stole off of the counter and threw up all over the sofa. Every stinking sofa cushion. And the stinking is an adjective in more ways than one. Yuck. The washer may sound better with our “poverty fix”, but it’s not washing very well. Yuck. I could only wash a slipcover or two at a time and even then they didn’t look or smell much better. I confess that I took the stick out that holds the washer at the appropriate angle and tried to beat the washer to death.  Didn’t even dent the washer – shattered the stick. Might have scared a few family members in the process.  Sorry guys.

The bad mood continued for two days. Bad moods aren’t productive. They happen because we are human, but they don’t solve any problems. They just create more – like guilt, anger, hurt feelings and headaches. I’ve gotten back to work on the three biggest issues that are causing our life to be less than perfect – the three main obstacles to a simpler, more intentional life:

  • Clutter and it’s contribution to an untidy, less than serene home
  • A diet and exercise that contributes to better health and to us feeling better mentally and physically
  • Financial well-being which includes better money management, a savings account and paid-off debt.

On Friday, we went to Houston to help our second daughter move into her first home post-graduation from college.  She moved from a suburb of Houston to almost down-town.  She did a lot of research and found a cute little apartment in a great neighborhood at a reasonable price.  Very proud of her.  Did I mention that it’s on the third floor?  She decluttered a lot of stuff, but the apartment is still on the third floor. A big thank you goes out to family in Houston that dropped everything on a Saturday and came to help haul stuff up. Up to the third floor in case I forgot to mention it.

She has inspired me to come home and recommence the decluttering effort. I can’t imagine (and don’t want to) what it would take to move us at this point. More has gotta go.

Anyway, I’m working on trimming down the budget some more to increase our debt snowball plan. I went back to look at the totals when we first started so I could feel a little bit more encouraged about the whole process and we have made some!

I’ve re-subscribed to The Fresh 20 meal that we used to use. I’m not advertising here, but I find it to be really helpful. I got an email for 40% off the subscription and it seemed like a good omen. I like it for three reasons:

  1. It helps limit the amount of groceries I buy. I tend to overbuy and we waste some food or just have too much in the pantry. I’d rather have just what we need and use the extra cash to pay on a bill.
  2. It includes a lot of veggies and fruit so we eat healthier. It’s reviewed by a dietician so I feel better about our diet.
  3. The main reason. I don’t have to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner.  That’s less stress for me and we are less likely to eat out at the last minute because I didn’t have a plan.

I’m getting closer to an actual budget (as opposed to a spending record).  I’m using You Need a Budget  which I find to be very friendly for a non-numbers person like me. The subscription is $5 monthly which is worth it for me because it helps keep me on track (and does the math for me). I just found out about Mint which is a free online budget. I’m trying it out, but am struggling with it a bit. It doesn’t track debts as well that are closed credit accounts or medical debts. It links to open credit accounts and automatically tracks payments, interest, and balances. Once again, not an advertisement – just information on what’s working for me.

And that’s why this post is titled Losing It.

Last week, I lost it and had a complete meltdown.  That sucked and was not helpful.

Now I’m to lose it in a good way:

  1. Lose more stuff!
  2. Lose food waste, unhealthy food and lose weight!
  3. Lose unnecessary budget expenses and debt!

Life is all about choices.  I’m going to keep trying to make good ones.

Journey

Where have I been the last couple of days?  Basically, having a really hard week on the decluttering front that has resulted in a big breakthrough!  I’ve felt like I hit a wall on making progress in my home.  I’ve had doubts that the stuff was the real problem – is stuff causing the stress or is stress causing the stuff?  Am I making any progress or is dealing with the stuff a diversion to avoid real problems.  Just a lot of doubt.

On the advice of a friend, I’ve been kinder to myself and just boxed up some stuff that I can’t deal with right now.  I didn’t want to use that route for everything though.  I’ve been dealing with ten items at a time – pick it up and make a decision – it either goes or if it stays it finds a permanent home.  Then I’ve taken breaks.  Lots of breaks and lots of decisions!

0512161407a.jpg

All this went to the thrift store today.  Storage “solutions” that didn’t work or weren’t needed anymore and lots of random stuff that just isn’t needed.

Usually, when the stuff has hit the box, I’ve wondered why I even kept it at all.  This time, I realized that if I saw some of this stuff at the thrift store, I might  consider purchasing it.  I’m letting go of stuff that I actually like and that I still see potential in.  I’m letting it go anyway.  I feel like that is a big step.

Yesterday, while “supervising” me (keeping me on task), my oldest daughter asked a question out of the blue…

“Mom, did you ever feel like you had a home growing up?”

I didn’t answer.

She continued on…

“Is that why you work so hard to make a home and worry so much about it?”

Talk about a real therapy moment – if you’ve ever spent any time with a therapist you know what I’m talking about.  You spend 45 minutes talking about a subject aimlessly and the therapist sums it up for you in one sentence.

The answer would be that no, I don’t suppose that I ever really felt comfortable, secure and safe in any of the places that I lived growing up.  I knew that none of it was permanent – we moved every year.  My parents had a challenging relationship.  I didn’t have close friends and we weren’t close to any family.

The point of the journey that I’ve been partially documenting and sharing here, is to find some simplicity, peace, and intentionality in my life.

I’d have to say that I’ve logged a lot of steps in my journey this week.  I’ve gained understanding, been reminded to be kinder to myself, and shed a lot of guilt and possessions.

Just as in life, the hardest parts of the journey result in the best views.

Peace.

Perfection Isn’t Necessary

Friends are awesome.  Even (let’s change that to especially) friends that live across the country and you’ve only actually met in person a handful of times, but still have in your life through the magic of the internet.

I realize that the internet isn’t magic, but it appears to be if you’re a liberal arts person with absolutely no understanding of how most things work.  It’s not just that I don’t understand how computers, television, telephones, radio or my microwave work – I don’t want to know.  I like to live in a world where a certain element of mystery and magic exist.

Words, paint, and glue, I understand.  That’s enough for me.

Anyway, back to friends.  This particular friend (who needs to move to Texas and live next door to me) commented on my post about decluttering the hard stuff.

She said, “perfection isn’t necessary for your emotions or for your storage.”

Whoa.  Let’s sit and think about that one for a minute…or forever.

Me, trying for perfection?  Oh yea.   I am a perfectionist.  Sometimes I’m aware of it and work hard to control it.  Other times I get so caught up in what I’m doing that I don’t even notice that I’m working in a impossible manner towards an impossible goal.  Perfection isn’t necessary.  Good enough is good enough.  I keep trying to cut all the way through this process of decluttering and simplification.  There is no shortcut and there is no fast way to work through this process.  It’s a process…

I’ve read blogs where the writer says, “I got rid of 90% of my belongings and now I feel so much lighter.  My life is so much better.”  Yea for them – really and seriously.

What I want to know is how they got there.  It’s not so easy.  Especially if you’re trying for perfect!

Today, I’m not trying for perfect.  I’m going to take care of my chickens and dogs and family.  Not necessarily in that order.  And I’m going to take care of myself.  I’m going to sort through the rest of the hard stuff and make the best decisions that I can.  Some stuff is going to end up stored away.  I may deal with it at a later date.  Or it may stay stored away for awhile or forever and my kids can deal with it.

What’s important is that some stuff will leave and that’s a step in the right direction.

Short and Bittersweet

Today’s post will be short, I think.  All the storage spots in our house have been emptied as we remove cabinets and re-imagine our home to be.  My studio/2nd living area has been the dumping ground up until this point.  I really want to get back to work on some creative projects so today I am plunging into the fray.

I am trying the “pick it up and make a decision plan” in dealing with a lot of memorabilia and stuff that’s just been put away until a decision could be made – basically this stuff is procrastination central.

The pile includes things like my Mom’s Bible (she passed away years ago) and my kid’s artwork.  Boxes and stacks of stuff with significant memories (good & bad) attached.  I read somewhere last week that we hold onto stuff because of an inability to let go of the past or a fear of the future.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that!

So, I’ve already lost it once and started yelling at anybody who got near me.  I’m really frustrated at the amount of stuff there is to make decisions on and my seeming inability to make progress once and for all.  This decluttering business truly is like peeling an onion.  You can’t just cut into it and find the most important stuff.  At least, I can’t.  There’s a lot of emotional involvement for me and I can only deal with so much at a time.

This process of becoming a stronger person living a more intentional life is hard work.  Right now, I’m thinking that it would be easier to just forget the whole mess and shove it back into storage.

What “normal” person cries when decluttering?

Who else struggles this much with stuff?

Will I ever get finished?

Still, I have the dream plan and we truly are making progress.

I know that most of the time.  Sometimes I forget.

One thing at a time.  A decision made.  Two boxes reduced to one box neatly labeled with it’s contents.

Another bag of trash.

Another box to the thrift store.

Dreams are easy.

Implementing plans to make the dream a reality – not so easy.

No Longer Needed

Today I am working in my hallway.  Its almost a room, square footage size, with a short hallway coming off of the living room and opening up into a “space” as it moves towards the second living area which we use as a classroom and studio space.  Well, a storage area right now, but keep an eye on the dream.

This space has three bedroom doors, a bathroom door, the laundry room door and living area door opening off of it.  It also holds a built in desk and countertop with cabinets above and below.  The desk had cabinets above it also.

The whole space is dark, cramped and pretty much useless.  The cabinets have always held a disorganized, random amount of junk and the countertop – always piled high with stuff.

I’ve tried stronger light bulbs, lamps, under counting lighting – you name it.  Still dark and depressing.  A couple of months ago I was sitting at the desk and looked up at the cabinets looming above me.  They were semi-full of books nobody ever looked at and miscellaneous papers and “office” supplies.  I pitched or donated 90% of it.  Haven’t missed any of it.  I’d planned on putting up shelves, but realized that I didn’t have anything to put on them.

So now, it’s bright and white with a few family photographs and a picture I love.

As the declutter has progressed, I realized that the other upper cabinet had never really been used on a regular basis as storage for anything.  We just stuck stuff there when we didn’t know what else to do with it.  Tore it our yesterday.  The bottom cabinet is staying to store all the computer related stuff that has to go somewhere:  cords, games, gadgets and gizmos.

Shelves are going above the cabinet to house my daughter’s collection of books that she is reading or is going to read or can’t bear to part with yet.  They are currently stashed all over the place and can’t always be found when needed.   I think there will also be room for the few movies that we are keeping.  We have Netflix so a lot of them are going to the thrift store since we never watch them.

Of course, I forgot to take a “before” picture, but I’ll remember an “after” picture (I hope).

It’s definitely a sign of progress and a changing attitude that the cabinets are ripped out.  One of the reasons that I was attracted to this house in the first place was all the storage space.  Now, I’m seeing it as a definite negative!  The storage space is just no longer needed.

Back to painting!

Watching

Today, I was back in my studio determined to give it another go.  I pulled out a small box of papers – you know, the kind of stuff mixed media artists collect – small images, bits of color and pattern, quotes, and other bits of ephemera that might be useful somewhere, sometime.  Talk about micro-managing.  I’m hip-deep in unmade decisions regarding canvases and half-finished works and I’m sorting through bits of paper that are inspiring new projects.

Anyway, about that time I heard the roaring rumble of the trash truck pulling around in our cul-de-sac.  I stepped to the window and watched.  Watched as the two guys labored tossing my five extra trash bags (as allowed by our trash service) into the pit of the truck and then attached our giant can full of debris onto the ramp and dumped it in with the rest of my discards.  Watched as the mechanism smashed it and compacted it with the rest of my neighbors trash.  Thought about my next door neighbors tiny little bag of trash.  Thought about how much I was sending to the landfill.  Knowing that I had recycled and donated what I could and there was still so much…

So much stuff.  So many regrets.  Wondering what the trash guys thought of me and my piles of bags each week.

I watched as they drove away with the stuff I had thrown away and the emotions that trailed behind them – sadness, regret, anxiety, fear, loss.

And stood there with the remnants of those emotions, but mainly with a feeling of relief, pride, and a sense of accomplishment.  And felt so much lighter.

It’s all well and good to proclaim that it’s just stuff – that we are not our belongings, but…

for a lot of us, the stuff is just a symptom of past trauma and abuse.  It’s  the way we coped with things we didn’t understand and couldn’t deal with.  The decluttering effort is therapy.  There is no quick solution.  It’s laborious and difficult and challenging.  It’s tears and anger, sorrow and grieving.

But, today as I was watching that big truck pull out of sight around the corner…those five bags transformed into “just stuff” as I finally let them go.

Stuck

So I’m  stuck in one place today.  The studio.  My goal is to spend more time making art.  Therefore, I need to make the studio a more inviting, functional space.

I’m doing okay on dumping the old projects and supplies that didn’t rock my world.

I’ve sorted out scraps and leftovers from finished projects for my art class.  Art journals are packed away but accessible for future perusing and inspiration.

Art pieces from the past?

Filling up a storage cabinet and numerous plastic tubs and basically piled all over the place.

Some aren’t too bad.  Some are crap.  Some I like, but don’t want to clutter up wall space with.  Some have been claimed by children and others, but are stored here.

What the hell do I do with them?

Part of me thinks that a giant bonfire might be a symbolic and therapeutic way to deal with the crappy ones.  However, my family and I don’t always agree about what’s good and what’s not.

There is time, resources and emotions worked into every piece.  The time and resources, I am at peace with.  The emotions?  That’s another story.

I don’t even know how to work through the stress, tension and anxiety that flows to the surface as I contemplate some of the pieces and what to do with them.

Storing them away to be dealt with sometime in the future seems to be the easy way out.  I don’t know that the “easy” way is the best way.  Maybe it’s just not time to deal with it all.

Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and get rid of it.

Like I said –

Stuck.

I don’t want to be stuck.  I want to move.  I want to move forward and be free.

Anybody want some art?

Declaration

 

 

  

Declaration:  a formal or explicit statement or announcement

For the last eight weekends I have been packed up and hitting the road this time every Friday to head to Sherwood Forest Faire.  I’ve been working in an Italian Restaurant preparing sauces, washing dishes, working on the food service line and anything else that needed to be done that nobody else was doing.
It was hard work and the hours were sometimes long.  I initially took the job as a chance to earn some extra money to help out around here.
It wasn’t long before I started looking forward to going.  In addition to some extra cash, I discovered community – community populated by some awesome people who accepted me for who I was and not who I normally pretended to be.  There were few preconceived notions about how I should behave, what I believed or what I should spend my time doing.  Pretty much a judgement-free zone.  In some ways, a brutally honest place.
I’ve been learning to deal with questions like:
  • What difference does your age make?
  • Why do it if it doesn’t make you happy?
  • Why aren’t you doing it if it makes you happy?
  • Who told you that you needed to live that way?
  • Why not change the way you are living your life?
  • Who (or what) is stopping you?
  • How long are you going to wait to start doing…

 

I can’t imagine hitting the road and becoming a full-time “Rennie” anytime soon.  I am a homebody at heart.  But, as I’ve been repeatedly reminded, houseless and homeless are not the same thing.  I have a good life here.  I don’t want to ditch it all and start over.

But, there are some things that I am going to change though.  Since coming back home last Monday, I have been dealing with the chaos of being away from home for all that time.  Normal housekeeping compounded with the mess of home renovations.  I’ve been sorting out and decluttering and organizing.  And all the questions from Faire have been echoing in my tired and stressed brain.

Enough.

Hence, the declaration!

I want to make art.  I want to sell art.  I want to give away art.  I want to stop dealing with material possessions at the cost of spending time with the people I love doing the stuff I enjoy.  I have one life.  I am 54 years old.  I’m not too old to change my life, but realistically I don’t have forever.  I need to make changes now.  Permanent changes.  Less stuff, more experiences.  More community.  More fun.  More being me and less living for the opinions of other people.  The unnecessary layers are going.

Excuse my language, but this shit has got to stop.  I’ve been working towards this point for a long time.  My whole life, I suppose.

Now, I feel like I’ve been challenged to change.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and didn’t like everything that I saw when I came back to where I started.

Stuff doesn’t make me happy.  It makes me unhappy.  I’m tired of decluttering and organizing.  Half a pick-up truck load went to the thrift store yesterday.  A full can of trash and 5 additional items left on trash day.

A queen mattress set also went away.  It was worn out.  I had held onto it in case we needed it.  You know what, if that many people need to sleep here, we’ll figure it out.  Holding onto that mattress is a symptom of trying to be prepared for every situation in the future instead of living right now.

Next up, my closet.  I’m ridding myself of all the “costumes” that I’ve purchased and held onto to.  I’m talking about the clothes that I own that fit the roles I’ve been trying to play.  The teacher clothes, the Mom clothes, the artist clothes, the mature woman clothes and the woman with a weight issue clothes.  I’m just going to keep the “me” clothes. Yes, all those roles are a part of who I am, but I am so much more than that.

I’m packing up a great deal of our belongings to make the new floor installation easier.  Only the essentials are staying out.  If we don’t love it or need it, it’s going away.  When each box is unpacked in the “new” room, we’ll re-valuate whether it stays or goes.

Change is good.

 

 

 

 

Being in the Right Spot

Someone gave me a plant several months ago.  I don’t do plants very well.  I like them well enough.  I’ve read that they are good for a healthy home environment – that they clean the air and lend an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

In my “if” life (the life I imagine I could have “if” I had time, energy, money, etc.) my home is filled with lush, green vegetation.

In reality, any plant that I have tend to get forgotten.  Most days, I deem successful if I water and feed me and my family.

During one of my past decluttering sessions I got rid of several sickly looking plants – mostly consisting of sticks and dried leaves.  The pots went too.  I was done with plants.

Then this one showed up.  It moved around quite a bit and finally landed on the table in the entryway.  I like it there.  If someone shows up at my door, they can see the plant and know that I have made an attempt at decorating.  My hope is that they will see the plant and overlook the pile of shoes, jackets, dog hair and bags full of who-knows-what that typically fill said entryway.

The plants sits in a very visible spot so I remember to water it.  Okay, to be totally honest, I can see when it’s wilted to a point that I remember to water it.

It’s in a good spot for me.

Lately I have noticed that the plant is leaning – reaching out away from the wall towards the center of the room – towards the light of the window.  I turned it around so it would straighten up.  It still reaches towards the window.

The plant knows what it needs to stand straight and to grow.  It’s not concerned with being in the right spot to “look good” or satisfy a shallow need to keep up appearances.

The plant knows where it needs to be and what it needs to be the best possible plant that it can be.

A simple lesson for me from the humblest of places.  Today I am wondering and thinking about what I need to be the best possible me.  Where do I need to be?  What do I need to do?    What is in my way?  What is keeping me from the light?

What unnecessary things and actions are keeping me from standing up straight and growing fully?

I’ve moved the plant in a place of honor in front of a window. And gave it water.