One of the things that happened during my time away from writing here was a step towards being a zero-waste home.
I’d always said that it wasn’t possible for us and then postponed working towards the goal because of that “perfection” thing again. We’d recycle on and off, but never really committed to the ideal.
I guess you could say that my mantra for this year is:
Don’t let perfect get in the way of better, or good, or good enough.
Almost two months ago we got busy. I researched recycling in our area and gathered information. We don’t have curbside recycling, but do have a recycling center relatively close. I typed up a detailed list of what can and can’t be recycled in our area. It’s attached to the top of our recycling can.
And speaking of our recycling can…
The big can used to be our trash can and the little one our recycling. They have now switched service.
Our big blue curbside trash can was always stuffed full on pick-up day with at least two more big black bags stacked alongside.
Since tackling our trash problem, we rarely have more than two small white trash bags of garbage each week. And that’s for eight people living in the house (one in diapers). I know, cloth diapers are a thing. I’ve tried in the past and maybe we’ll try again. Baby steps…
We’ve become more aware of what we are buying. There have been times that we looked at a product and decided to find an alternative because there was too much packaging that needed to be dealt with.
Driving to the recycling center is kind of a pain, but we are working it into our schedule. We store the recycling in big tubs (that we already had because of our decluttering efforts). They stack in the hallways until they are full to cut down on trips.
Our compost pile is filling up and our chickens eat any food that isn’t suitable for the compost pile. We have accomplished zero food waste.
We aren’t doing it all perfectly, but we are doing better!
You were thinking that I’d disappeared again, but never fear…
I am here.
I’m hanging in there although I have indeed slipped down into the “is it time for a nap even though I just dragged my a## out of bed” mode.
I’m sticking with the plan though and have kept the dining room table cleared off and used it’s available surface to lay out the baby quilt that I need to get busy on for my first grandchild due in August.
The hallway area and the living room are in the process of being sorted, de-cluttered, organized and cleaned. Not working as fast as I’d like but I don’t live in “perfect” so I’ll do the best that I can.
The desk is cleared and all of the bills are stacked and waiting for my lottery win to be taken care of. I don’t play the lottery, so it’s unlikely that I will win, but if a miracle occurs, I’m ready.
Of note, a good thing happened this week, or a bad thing didn’t happen…
I guess it depends on if you are a glass half full of water or half empty type of thinker.
My husband, daughter and I returned home from our cleaning job at dusk on Thursday.
My husband stopped the car at the end of the driveway and let my daughter out to grab the trash can and pull it up to the house.
As he pulled up in the driveway we heard her cry out.
And then she yelled, “Get the gun!”
She was less than a foot away from a three foot long rattlesnake.
My husband took it’s head off with the first shot.
There is no picture to share and no need to say thank you…you are welcome.
It’s the first one we’ve ever seen out here since we moved in 12 years ago. They’ve been spotted elsewhere in the neighborhood and we’ve seen plenty of other snakes, but not a rattler.
We’re pretty much a live and let live type of country dweller.
We’ve killed a couple of rat snakes and a raccoon that become persistently fond of our chicken eggs and chickens.
Possums and armadillos are welcome to dwell and forage. I just fill the holes back in and replant the plants.
Vermin are left undisturbed as long as they live outdoors and don’t take up residence in my pantry.
I try to be tolerant of scorpions and fire ants as long as they keep their distance and don’t mess with me. That means that they maintain a healthy perimeter away from my residence. If they become threatening, I bring out the diatomaceous earth for the ants and the black light flashlight for the scorpions and level the playing field.
Deer are given free reign over the vegetation.
BUT, I draw the line at rattlesnakes. There is no negotiation or tolerance.
Dead. Dead. Dead.
I don’t care about their importance in the whole cycle of life thing.
A foot away from my daughter! If I had gotten out of the car to get the trash can, I wouldn’t have been able to spot it in the dim light. It never rattled. Scary stuff.
We are going to consider this a great week.
Depression and anxiety are manageable with a bit of intention.
A funny thing happened yesterday during the enactment of my plan. Not funny as in “Ha Ha”, but funny in the curious “who knew” kind of way.
I started in the dining room which is the first room that you see as you step into our house. It is also the most used and the most difficult to keep tidy. We eat at the table and play games there (when it’s not too cluttered with stuff). Things tend to get dumped there when folks come in. Groceries land there along with keys, lunch bags, and clean laundry to be folded.
Anyway, I started there. Armed with three plastic storage boxes leftover from a previous de-clutter, I jumped in.
I packed away almost all of the blankets from the cabinet we keep them in for the winter months into a large trunk that serves as a table in the living room. I left out enough for my sister who is always cold and the occasional sleep-over guest, but I moved them to the cabinet in the dining room.
I sorted through the games that had been in that cabinet (now housing the blankets) and moved the games to the cabinet that had been home to the blankets. I’m sure there is a better way to explain that, but let’s continue on and not worry about perfection.
As I worked through the room, I dusted and sorted and got rid of…
Here’s the funny part.
As it turns out, once I made the decision to store stuff away, I went ahead and got rid of most of it. I didn’t feel the need to think about it.
In getting rid of things, I had more than enough room to store stuff that we don’t use very often in the cabinet with the blankets…mostly dishes that have a purpose, but not every day.
I was also able to tuck all the photos that we are working on getting into albums neatly into the cabinet so we can get to them, but they aren’t hanging out everywhere.
A box and a bag are on the way to the thrift store.
A bag ready for the trash man and a bag for recycling.
The table and counter are cleared.
Seven spiders are no longer living with us. The arachnaphobe living with me is much happier.
And the three plastic storage boxes are still empty.
Today will be the living room and hallway desk area that serves as our office and classroom.
P.S. The dining room table has attracted more stuff, but that’s real life. As soon as I’m done here I’m going to go deal with it.
It’s been so long since I wrote that I had to log back into WordPress
which means I had to find my login information
which meant rummaging through my desk
which is a huge, neglected mess.
I’ve spent the better part of late November and December sitting in my chair and ignoring most of my life.
I did the essential stuff (some of it).
Thanks to my family we decorated for and celebrated the holidays with success. I’ve just felt rather distant and disconnected.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my life, but as my wise husband pointed out, “You can’t spend so much time thinking about life that you forget to live it.”
It has become evident during the last few months that this depression and accompanying anger is bigger than I am. I’ve made the decision to start up therapy again and attempt to deal with the emotions that I work so hard to ignore and deny. They are a part of who I am and many of the manifestations that I have been working so hard to deal with and overcome are residuals of my childhood. I can’t continue to just deal with the physical clutter without dealing with the emotional clutter also. And I can’t do it alone.
I’ve visited a church a couple of times in the past weeks. During the first visit the message could have been written directly for me. I both hate and love when that happens. Entitled the “Unexpected Christmas” it dealt with letting go of things and allowing time for grief and coping with the unexpected.
I guess that’s what I’ve been doing these past weeks…grieving the losses and the unexpected and the memories of the past.
It’s both the forgiveness and the letting go that I’m struggling with…both for others and myself.
A continual theme of any decluttering show or feature is that the hoarding and clutter started with a loss and the person got stuck. I now see that this is true for me also.
I’m a pretty insightful and resourceful person, and I’ve made progress.
And I hate to admit that I’m not strong enough or just plain “enough” to get through this.
But I’m going to ask for help and start seeking answers to the “real” problems and not just the side effects.
Every year I develop a saying that I use during the New Year to focus on my journey. This year will be the year of “Being Grateful and Letting Go”.
So today I will attempt to list ten things that I am grateful for…but with a twist. Since I am in a creative mood today, I have decided that I will not fill the list with the easy things like family and health and friends.
(Not that there is anything wrong with being thankful for these things and no judgment is intended. These are certainly valid things to be grateful for, but they will not find a place on my list today.)
And by writing this list and joining in on the season of thanksgiving, I am not condoning or validating the original Thanksgiving celebration which may or may not be represented correctly in our traditional telling of the Thanksgiving tale. I wasn’t actually at “the first Thanksgiving” and I do not know anyone who was so I don’t have anything factual to contribute to that debate, nor do we discuss it over dinner on a certain Thursday in November in our home.
Those legalities being out of the way, here goes:
I am grateful that I may have broken my toe on Sunday when I tripped over the vacuum cleaner cord that I left lying on the hallway floor. I am grateful because I normally only think about my feet when I happen to glance down and observe that they are not particularly attractive. Having a toe that is painful and not functioning optimally reminds me that I am fortunate to have toes and feet that work perfectly well most of the time. There are many who are not so fortunate.
I am grateful for slightly smelly shelter dogs (including the one who is frequently incontinent and the one that barks randomly at nothing at all hours of the day and night). These dogs of mine of profoundly imperfect and loyal beyond all imaginings. They love without reserve and forgive all. They remind me on a daily basis that I’ve got the imperfect part down pat, but have work to do on the rest.
I am grateful for being able to write that I am grateful for anything today. In periods of depression – sometimes profoundly dark – I am often unable to think in terms of gratitude or thanksgiving. In those times it is not a choice. Today, it is and I can so I will.
I am grateful for books and blog posts to read and connections to be made. I am grateful that today I have eyes that work well enough to read. I am also grateful for being hopeful that in the course of my reading and connecting I will find answers to my health issues. (I think I threw in enough gratitude that this does not simply mean that I am thankful for my health.)
I am grateful for running water and flushing toilets. I think we take this for granted all too often. For years we had an issue with toilets that stopped working often…usually when we had a house full of friends. Many cold and dark evenings were spent trying to clear septic lines. Eventually it turned out to be a toilet paper issue. A simple solution to a really crappy problem. Yes, I went there.
I am grateful for a regular trash pick-up service. I don’t realistically think that we will ever be a zero-waste home, but you never know. We are recycling regularly and have reduced our trash by about half. We are thinking about packaging and ways to avoid producing garbage much more than we used to. Still, garbage happens. I am thankful that I have a place to put it and for someone to pick it up and take it away.
I am grateful for my washer and dryer. I have washed clothing on a concrete washboard with carried water. I have helped my mom wash clothes in a wringer washer on the front porch. I have carted laundry to the laundromat. I have hung clothes on the line to dry (and actually enjoy it although not in the rain when clothes have to be draped on every available surface throughout the house and you wear damp jeans – enough said). Washers and dryers are awesome.
I am grateful for being able to cook. I learned from my mom who learned to cook during the depression. She taught me (not from recipes) but how to make something edible (and sometimes even delicious) from what you had available. There have been many times when that ability has served me well. Empty pantries or lack of transportation to the store doesn’t mean that we won’t have a meal on the table. Thanks Mom.
I am grateful to live in these United States of America. Don’t ever talk bad about this country around me. It isn’t perfect and how could it be when it provides a home for a diverse group of people who have a multitude of rights and opportunities and choices. The very things that makes this a great country are the ones that can result in less than optimal situations. Given a choice, I would rather live here and have the freedom to solve problems than live with no freedom and choices.
I am grateful for all the luxuries that I enjoy: a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in and a blanket to cover myself with. I have electricity and running water. I have clothes to wear and a closet to hang them in. I have a car in the driveway and access to gas to fuel it. If I lost my home, I could find a place to go for shelter. There are days when I worry about having enough and days when I compare my life to others and find it lacking in material things. On those days I try to remember that I am comparing my life to a select group and not the whole world.
There you have it. My list.
I thought it might be hard to fill, but in reality, since I started writing this I have continued to think of more and more and more.
Gratitude is good.
An awareness of all my blessings is even better.
I think I’ll start a list and keep on adding to it.
Maybe in the times when I can’t find joy I can refer to it and be thankful.
This post consists of some observations that swirled about in my head last night as I sought sleep. It is not meant to be too political or controversial or in any other way annoying.
It is brought about by a real life events in my “neck of the woods” and the resulting thoughts that accompanied it.
First…last night on our neighborhood social media page we were alerted to the fact that a sheriff’s department chase involving the pursuit of criminals resulted in an accident. The two suspects escaped on foot in very close proximity to our home.
A lot of information, but not a lot of information at the same time. What were they suspected of doing? How dangerous were they? What direction were they going?
It was recommended that we secure our homes and arm ourselves.
Depending on where you live you may have a different viewpoint on this recommendation. We live on a county line out in the country. This occurred in the county next to us. Our county is quite large and depending on where the deputies are an any given time and their call load, can have a response time to a 911 call of 20 minutes to 40 minutes or more (give or take, just an estimate) That’s a lot of time in an emergency.
We’ve got a gun. I’m okay with it. I’m also okay with using it if the circumstances warrant it.
Again, your circumstances may be different as may be your choices.
Hence, these ramblings…
Observation # 1: Life is not fair.
While growing up, my kids were not allowed to say “it’s not fair”.
I wanted them to become grown-ups who understood that sometimes, despite your best efforts, shit happens…
Sometimes you work really hard for something and do your best and you don’t get what you want or deserve. Work hard anyway.
Sometimes good people die in a senseless way before their time and you won’t understand why. Grieve and live in a way that honors the memory of those lost.
Sometimes even when you do the right thing, you get in trouble…in this world there is a difference between legal and moral. Choose to live with honor.
Sometimes no matter how much you believe that what you believe is absolutely right, it isn’t. You are one person in millions. Discern the facts and seek truth.
Sometimes people are impossible to deal with and love is hard. Loneliness is harder. Love others anyway, but first of all manage to love yourself.
Sometimes the people in charge appear to be incompetent because they aren’t doing the task at hand the way you would do it. Always remember, that until you have walked in their shoes, you can’t fully understand their decisions.
Sometimes people will mock you or ridicule you for your beliefs. Stand up for and uphold those beliefs, but don’t denigrate theirs in the process.
Sometimes violence happens. There are bullies in the world and they come in all sizes and different guises. Don’t start the fight, but once it is unavoidable, fight to win.
Observation # 2
There are 3 kinds of people in this world.
People who generally share the same opinions and beliefs that I do.
People with whom I appear to have nothing in common with.
People who don’t appear to have any opinions about anything and don’t really seem to believe in much either.
I try to remember this saying that is written on the wall at Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast:
“If we had been born where they were born
and taught what they were taught,
we would believe what they believe.”
That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them. Or like them. Or hang out with them. Or argue with them to try convince them that they are wrong and I am right.
It just means that there are people different than me.
And that is a good thing.
Even if I don’t always like it or if it tends to make me uncomfortable or just really makes me angry sometimes.
Observation # 3
In my opinion, the world was a better place before instant and continuous coverage of events. I’m not going to use the word “news” here because I don’t even know what that means anymore.
Opinions printed as facts.
Stories before the facts are even known.
Speculation and exploitation.
So many words.
Sent out to a massive faceless audience overwhelmed by the vast unfairness of it all.
Life is not fair.
We will never all agree.
Some of it cannot be fixed.
And yelling more and yelling louder at each other isn’t helping.
In conclusion, what’s the point of these words.
I would like to live in a world where there were not guns and violence and criminals, and mental illness.
I do not.
I would like to live in a world where we could all peacefully come to a mutually agreeable solution to the above mentioned problems.
I do not.
I am here.
And you are here.
We live in this world. The one we have in all it’s imperfect glory.
I will continue to seek out joy to the best of my ability.
I will seek truth.
I will listen with respect.
I will try to patiently understand our differences or learn to be tolerant of them.
It’s not that I don’t have definite ideas about how the world should work.
I just prefer to share my stories and sow some seeds.
There are plenty of other people out there shouting about what everyone else should be doing, thinking, feeling or believing.
I have trouble enough managing my own life, thank you very much. I’ll leave the advice giving to others.
Except for the occasional moment of serendipity…like today.
Mondays are hard for me. The weekend is over. It’s time for a new week of accomplishment and there is always so much to do.
I’m having a sort of creative revival at the moment so there is really a lot of pressure to accomplish.
I didn’t want to miss blogging for a day because I’ve go a streak going so…
I asked my son what to write today (after sharing my thoughts about what I wanted to say).
You know that face your kid makes when he’s little and you explain to him what needs to be done? The one that, without a word, makes it clear that you are a clueless idiot that is totally out of touch with reality?
Well, yea, they never stop making that face.
He told me to just say “hello” instead.
So I did.
Then, just a few minutes later as I was clearing space in my studio to work, I came across a note that was in pile of things to deal with later…from many years ago.
A handwritten note that was left for me to find at an art retreat I went to years ago. It was from a guy I met and shared studio time with.
This is a gift.
A gift then and a gift now as I reread it.
Someone took the time to connect with me and say hello…that I mattered.
I write a post that says “hello” and I find a handwritten note from years ago that reminds me of a time that I “connected” with someone.
So, I know you are busy today with a lot of things that need to be done.
But, despite our constant “connectedness” we, as human beings, are more isolated and lonely than ever before.
Surely something on your “to do” list can wait.
Take a moment and write someone a note.
It doesn’t have to be on a beautiful hand-made card or an expensive Hallmark purchase. You don’t have to make a special trip to the store to do this.
Grab a scrap piece of paper and tell someone hello. Send it in the mail.
Or send an email.
Jot a note on the back of a store receipt to tell a cashier that you appreciate their effort.
Hit the like button on a blog post and write a comment.
Use your imagination and listen to your heart.
Enough people are writing words about what’s wrong with the world and what needs to be done to fix it.
Let’s write some words that are real and personal and directed to a real human being that has somehow touched our lives.