if you notice dust…

kunj-parekh-392037-unsplashI don’t normally offer advice here since I feel that I am a barely functioning adult on my best days, but this is an exception.

if you buy a new LED desk lamp because you are having trouble seeing things on your desk and

if you manage to plug in said lamp because your daughter has super-organized all the cords at your desk and you can’t figure out which cord goes to the old desk lamp that you are replacing and

if you turn on the new lamp and it shines brightly on the extreme amount of dust built up on the computer keyboard because you couldn’t see all of it  in the dim light of the old lamp ( or maybe, honestly, I just managed to ignore it) and

if you try cleaning it with a paintbrush and

if big “stuff” starts falling out and

if you start wondering what all is underneath the keys…

do not under any circumstances attempt to visually inspect the keyboard any further because you will…

then pry up one of the keys and gasp and

then you will go get q-tips and

then you will spend an insane amount of time trying to clean the keyboard and

then you will be unable to properly put the space bar back on and

then your daughter will have to try to fix it and

then she will sigh loudly and start researching nursing homes again.

I’d advise either working in the dark, continuing to ignore the dust, or buying a new keyboard.

And now I am off to clean out the extra room so it can become purposeful and beautiful again.  Wish me luck…

and by the way, now the right shift key doesn’t work.  crap…

Peace.

Keep Life Simple

What the hell does that even mean?

I wish I had an answer or some profound advice to share with you.

I don’t.

What I do have is my stories and maybe that can help…

I’ve been writing for quite some time about my desire for a simpler, more intentional life.

I think I may have even written that exact sentence before.

Today, I am frustrated…

that the house is still a mess

that we are still in debt and struggling

that I always seem to have something to worry about

and that I seem to be making no progress towards my goal.

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And yet, as I look back over this year’s posts at this (almost) mid-point of the year, I realize that I have done a pretty good job of sticking with my “motto” –  being grateful and letting go.

I have become better about experiencing gratitude in the midst of life…even when it wasn’t easy.   I am more grateful for what I have and more patient with dealing with the challenges than I used to be.

(most of the time)

I’m still not grateful for dog hair…lots and lots of dog hair.

I am grateful for my dogs (again, most of the time)

I am grateful that my dogs are not bald…that they have hair, but once it comes off of them…

Not grateful (at all).

I suppose if I took up spinning yarn I could use the damn stuff, but I suspect the fibers are too short and then what the hell would I do with the stupid dog hair yarn?  I don’t knit or crochet and I sure don’t need any more projects…

Nope, not grateful for dog hair.

Maybe that gratitude will come with more practice.

I sincerely doubt it though.

And, as far as the house goes, I am still decluttering.

Sometimes, despite my best intentions, too much comes in.

But, I haven’t give up (totally).

Some days (weeks) I don’t even try.

But, some days I do a lot.

If I wasn’t decluttering at all, what a mess it would be!

Again, the journey continues.

I’m not standing still.

Although I’m doing a better job of resting when I need to.

So, it turns out that I needn’t be so frustrated today.

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I’m doing an okay job of moving forward on this journey and letting go of that which is heavy and for that…

I am grateful.

Peace

 

 

 

 

NO. Just no.

Today I woke up ready to do it all.

I wanted to de-clutter the house and move all this sh!t outta here.

Then I wanted to catch up the laundry, finish packing up the winter clothes, do all the dishes, mop the floors, clean the windows…

and mow the yard and hack out the weeds and finish the flower beds and…

Photo by Gemma Evans on UnsplashNO.  Just no.

The words “bipolar” may never have been officially written down in any medical records, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t live here – in a relatively mild form, but still something that needs to be acknowledged.  The doctors have known it and I have known it.  I just spent so many years without insurance that we’ve skirted around the issue.

As past history has shown this is all probably a reaction to dealing with some hard stuff last night and being really down.

And if I give in to the mood and don’t deal with it intentionally, it could start cycling and that’s just not fun for anybody.

So instead of trying to do it all and failing miserably and being miserable and making everyone around me miserable…

This is today’s list:

  • Sort the mountain of laundry in the hall and work on it – taking care to fold or hang up everything as it finishes in the dryer.  No more piles everywhere.
  • Pick up obvious trash laying around and remove it from the house.
  • Gather all of my art card supplies that are scattered about the house and organize them in order to work on them.  This will clear numerous surfaces and help the overall appearance of the house.
  • Make some handmade paper from the plants I started drying last fall.  They are officially dry and shedding all over the studio. If it works, store the dried plants neatly away.  If not, compost them and try again another time.  I need to stop pushing art making to the bottom of the list – only to be done when everything else is finished.
  • Tidy up the paper-making station when done so as not to add more mess.
  • If I come across anything to de-clutter, add it to the box (after I put away the clean laundry that got dumped there when trying to clear the table for a family meal).
  • Remember that tomorrow is another day and don’t stress about what isn’t on this list or what is on the list and doesn’t get done.

And lastly, before I move on to other things…I found this quote while doing my morning reading and thought it quite appropriate following yesterday’s post…

Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things. Dick Van Dyke

Peace.

Just Enough

I am good with just enough today.

The house is almost picked up.  There is just enough done to enjoy Christmas day.  The important parts are cleaned up.  We can cook.  There are places to sit.  I am not going to spend today becoming exhausted and stressed out trying to make everything perfect.

Perfect is not happening here.

There is plywood and boxes of tile and paneling and…lots of other stuff everywhere.

Wedding decorations and check-lists are stuffed in every nook and cranny.

Christmas has exploded and landed on every flat surface.

That’s okay.

This year I am determined to remember that my house is not me.  It does not tell the full story of who I am.  I am going to focus on what is most important.  I am going to do just enough to get the job done.

I am not going to lose my cool over undone lists.

I am not going to get so tired that I don’t enjoy myself.

I am going to prioritize and let the rest go.

The perfect holiday has nothing to do with all the ornaments being on the tree or the house being spotless.

It’s all about the smiles and memories.

On a decluttering front…I let go of a whole lotta wood and building materials that had been stored in the tool room (2nd master bedroom closet) and in the new apartment area,

I had held onto it because it had potential. It “might” have been useful for “something”.  That thinking is good up to a point, but when the objects’ potential interferes  with my potential, I need to let go.

Those piles of wood have been moved countless times during the renovation projects this year.  Enough.  It is gone and I felt great relief at it’s leaving.

Once again, why is it so hard to let go of things? Why is it so hard to choose simplicity over things?

Today is not the day to worry about the mysteries of the universe.

I am going to focus on what is important and joyful.

I am going to do “just enough” of the mundane and let the rest go…

Common Thread

So, here’s some observations from my Saturday morning.  Daughter is away at a sleepover…Hubby is sleeping after working an overtime night shift.  I am enjoying some quiet and thinking and observing life…

  • When making art, the space clearing and tidying up can be just as important as the actual creating part.  Clutter and lost stuff hinders effective art making.
  • It is probably a good idea to clean out the fridge more than once every three months or so – no matter how busy you are.  Avoiding the fridge because you aren’t sure what you might find inside (science experiment wise) complicates life immensely.
  • Clean sheets and a welcoming bed make life so much more pleasant even if you think you haven’t time for the effort.  Sleep is important.
  • If you forget to water your plants over a period of time because of higher activities on the priority list, drenching them to try and make up for it doesn’t work.  A dead plant is still dead after you water it…it’s just really wet. This also seems to apply to relationships that are neglected during said busy times (except for the whole watering and wet part).
  • Your children never really move out.  For months after the big move, you will keep finding stuff and the new guest room becomes a holding area – kind of like the lost luggage area at an airport.

I’m seeing a common thread here…

It involves my less than stellar approach to cleaning up, and housekeeping in general.  It’s a good thing that I’m having a good day and am able to realize that I have other good qualities besides housework.

And that’s why I’m going to go back to making some stuff right now…

…right after I clean up the work table in my studio because I can’t seem to find a single bottle of glue in this entire house.

Some Days

Some days, I’m ready to take on the world.  I work the budget, earn a bit of money, do a few dishes, get a meal on the table, run the laundry, teach my kid(s) a thing or two, and watch a show with the hubby on T.V.

Some days, the world takes me on.  I manage to get out of bed….that’s about it.  There isn’t any more happening.

What’s the difference in those two types of days you may be wondering.  Hmmmm…me too.  I have no clue.  It doesn’t seem to be the amount of sleep I get or the events of the day.  The stress level doesn’t appear to change significantly.

Some days, I get it done.

Other days, I don’t.

Sometimes, I even manage to make it through the list of to-do’s that I’ve planned for myself.  It seems to take all of my energy and concentration to accomplish that though.  I’m more easily distracted and less inclined to do anything extra – like decluttering or being creative.

I’ve decided that those days are okay.  And I’m learning to accept myself as I am and acknowledge that it’s alright that I’m not able to do it all.  I am my own worst critic and project those expectations onto those around.  When I’m frustrated with myself for not being “good” enough, I start to believe that everyone around me is expecting better of me as well.  I feel guilty and get defensive.  Then I get stressed and angry.  Then I yell.

One of the things that I’m working on is not trying to figure our what everyone around me is thinking and feeling all the time.   That’s not my job.  I know that behavior is rooted in a childhood of angry parents and constant discord.

I need to feel my own emotions and let others work out their own feelings.  If I have a problem with me than I need to work on that.  If someone else has a problem with me, they need to express it and we need to work on it.

Some days I just feel overwhelmed by the stress I’m dealing with.  I’m coming to believe that a lot of that stress is self-initiated.  I’m creating it by having unrealistic expectations of my own making.

It all boils down to being kinder…to myself and those around me.

I am a work in progress.

Decluttered the last couple of days:  nothing.

Created the last few days:  nothing.

That’s okay.  I’ve spent time with family, shown up for jury duty, cooked three full meals, cleaned the toilet, done 5 loads of laundry, said yes to my son adopting a dog, let said dog in and out 3,000 times, fed said dog 300 times, mopped up said dog’s sloppy water drinking puddles too many times to count, worked on math with youngest daughter, and written one blog post.

Good enough.

I hope that you gift yourself some peace today.  We are enough, we have enough, we do enough.

 

 

 

When Laundry is Fun

0603161257The new washer is here!  Researched and pondered upon and paid for with cash.  My original intent was to purchase the cheapest washer available, but then wiser heads provided counsel.  Thank you family.  We purchased a more expensive washer, but one that will last considerably longer and is very energy efficient.  If you do an average of 6 loads of laundry a week on the cold setting, the washer has an estimated energy cost of $11 annually.  Of course, I did 6 loads of laundry the first day!  Still, it should save us money in the long run.  Purchased on Memorial Day weekend, there were all kinds of sales, specials and rebates applied, so I am happy with the expense.

Our special needs budget is depleted and we go back to saving for the next item on the list.  It’s a rather long list, but the “joy” factor in saving, waiting and anticipating is well worth it.  It’s also new to me.  I grew up in an environment where if you needed (wanted) it you went and got it.  I am proud of the intentionality of this purchase.

The washer has been named “Tony” by my youngest daughter because it sounds like Iron Man when it fires up.  She has spent considerable time watching the clothes spin and slosh around.  “It’s like a fish bowl, but you don’t have to worry about the fish dying.”  The first load found us all huddled around the washer watching for longer than I care to admit.

Today, I am reminded of the simple joy to be found in doing laundry.  Taking a pile of dirty, smelly wrinkled clothing and transforming it.  Being mindful in the transformative process.  Sorting and filling the washer, measuring out the soap, watching it tumble…transferring the wet load to the dryer.  Pulling out the warm, fresh items and carefully folding them into a neat stack.  Quietly doing a task that I’ve done a thousand times before, but taking the time (and effort) to realize that even such a menial and mundane task is a blessing to others and a luxury that most of the world will never know.

Remembering that I am privileged to have as much as I have – electricity, a washer and dryer, a home to shelter it in, clothing and linens in an abundance, family to make things dirty, and the burgeoning ability to manage it financially with more wisdom.

Over time, it’s possible that washing will become a mindless task again…one in a list of many that I struggle through, but maybe not.

Perhaps, this very intentional purchase signals a significant change around here.  That would be a blessing indeed.

Traveling to a Mythical Destination

Today I’m thinking about my journey and doing a bit of re-evaluating.  Tweaking the steps and direction just a bit to accommodate that little thing  we like to call reality.  Mostly, I’m refiguring the whole journey versus destination dynamic in an effort to be a little kinder and gentler to myself and those that I love.

Perfectionists (say it isn’t so!) don’t live squarely in reality.  We tend to envision a world that is equal parts imagination and myth.  When confronted with reality we tend to react with disbelief and anger that turns into self-recrimination and weariness…just a few short steps from hopelessness, frustration and self-defeat.

A To-Do list two pages long written in colorful markers with tasks written in specific categories?  You bet.

Maybe even rewritten a time or two so that it looks good and nothing is forgotten.  Not that I would ever do the latter.  Nope, not me.

Carefully checking off the completed tasks and marveling at how great things are going to be when the list is completed.  Confident that this list will enable us to get everything done.

Surprised when it doesn’t all get done and with a feeling of great self-awareness we comment, “Maybe the list was a little long.”

Surprised when our eldest daughter comments, “Duh, you think?”

How’s this for profound?  This journey of life isn’t done until I’m dead.  I can’t get it all done, completed, finished.  Duh.  Why am I racing in an effort to get to that mythical place called “done”.  It doesn’t exist or at least not in the way that I’m imagining it.  No amount of mapping, or planning or list-making will make that destination possible in the sense that I can sit back and say, “I’m done.  I can sit and relax now.  I did it!”

As I dust, more dust is forming and falling.  As I wash, dry and fold a load of laundry more is being dirtied…

(unless we become nudists which isn’t happening.  Not that I have anything against nudists…each to his own…I try not to judge…but honestly that would be hard to do if we were all running around naked.  Comparison would seem to be inevitable, I imagine and I prefer to leave all of that to the imagination.  Not in a creepy way though.  I don’t walk around imaging everyone naked.  If we ever meet and for those I do see, I’m really not imagining you naked.  I promise.  Honestly, there are a couple of people I think about being naked, but they aren’t anyone that I know in person – just a couple of celebrities, you know.  Not that you would be unattractive naked – I don’t want to be insulting.  The human body is a marvelous and beautiful thing.  I just don’t think about it…except for those few exceptions that I mentioned previously.)

But, back to the point I was trying to make…housecleaning will never be done, and that includes decluttering.  The yard doesn’t stay mowed.  Raising and nurturing children doesn’t really ever finish – our tasks and responsibilities just evolve.  Errands are never all done. The healthy lifestyle is ongoing.  As problems are solved, new ones crop up.  Appliances wear out and need to be replaced.  Stuff happens and is happening…

“Done” doesn’t exist.  I can’t get there.

I can travel a journey that has less stuff and clutter and stress so that the traveling can be easier and more spontaneous.  I can carry less and be more aware of the sights and experiences along the way.  By spending less and getting out of debt, I can worry less about how to fund my life journey.  That will give me more options when deciding where I want to go.  By being more realistic about the steps I take, I can be more optimistic and at peace, instead of traveling (or stopping altogether) with a negative attitude.

I need to quit looking at that mythical destination and focus more on the journey…

This magical trip we call life…I want to smell the flowers (but not necessarily plant them), watch my children grow, pet my dog, hug my husband, hear what people have to say, rest when I’m weary, make stuff, and absorb every bit of it.

There are too many things that I neglect doing because I’m going to do it when “I’m done”… done with housework, when we’re out of debt, when I have time…

When “I’m done” is too late.  When I’m “done”, I’ll be dead.

Life is now in all it’s imperfection.

The journey is real and what’s important.

The destination can wait.

As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies is a pretty common saying around here.  We really just live a few miles from a state highway if you look at a map, but it’s about 15 miles driving distance.

A friend once hiked it as the crow flies on the recommendation of my daughter while looking for a lost dog.  This was a bad idea for two reasons.  My daughter is both direction and distance impaired on a major scale and cross-country involves two river crossings, wildlife fences, wildlife including snakes and wild hogs, and ranches with gun-loving owners.  Luckily the friend looking for the dog has advanced military training, enjoyed seeing a zebra in real life and only suffered a spider bite.

Anyway, I’m using this phrase to refer to my decluttering journey.  As the crow flies is a simple enough plan.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t want or need, find a place for the stuff you keep and regularly pick up after yourself and clean afterwards.  Simple, right?

Today, I’m in the master bedroom.  After a fit of sneezing last night, I took a good look around the room.  (No judgement right?)  Piles of stuff, dog hair, dust, spider webs, a few dead June bugs, and more dust.  I had considered this room fairly decluttered.

Found on top of the blanket trunk

  •   three comforters that are used when it’s cold around the house and by spontaneous over-night guests.  It’s summer and we don’t have central air-conditioning right now.  How many blankets do we need?  More importantly, why didn’t whoever used the blankets fold them and put them up?  Two comforters gone to the thrift store. But first, I have to wash and dry them – in the poverty washer.  That’s more than a few miles or a few minutes.  I also found two pillows that look pretty on the bed but we don’t actually sleep with. That’s why they are in the pile.  Gone into the trash.  I’m living in real life, not a magazine!

Found on top of the dresser

  •   a lot of pens which explains why I can never find one at the desk.
  • Various earrings with no matches. Hmmm?  Did I take my earrings off in two different places?  In the jewelry organizer to try to match up.  I need to re-evaluate what’s in there.  I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.
  • A phone charger that I moved to the drawer that holds electronic stuff – most of which I can’t identify.  I need to ask one of the kid’s to figure out what’s good and what’s not.
  • Stuff the kids made me that I don’t know what to do with.  Obviously I’ve just been moving this stuff from one place to another to avoid making a decision.  The easy answer is to keep the kids and get rid of the stuff.  It’s not easy.  I’ve started a plastic storage box labeled “treasures” and placed it in the new storage space.
  • My missing hair brush, two pair of scissors, a Hercules hook, a pile of change and the change bank that I should be collecting it in, batteries, a Band-Aid (new, thank goodness), hair ties, two clean socks with no mates, expired coupons for free salads, and my missing bra

Under the bed

  • a long-sleeved shirt that I bought for the winter never worn with tags (yes, months ago)
  • 6 dirty socks.  3 of them belonging to my children and why are my children’s dirty socks under my bed?  None of them have mates.
  • two more phone chargers which explains why we can never find one.  I guess I need to apologize to my kids for accusing them of stealing mine.
  • coat hangers
  • two food storage containers and a paper plate – all licked clean.  That would be Matilda the Basset Hound and thief extraordinaire.
  • three books that I’ve already read and thought went to the thrift store

Okay, not a lot gone unless you count the dog hair and dust:  a couple of blankets, some jewelry, chewed up storage containers, 3 books and two pillows.

Total time is almost two hours.  The room is clean and tidy. Some more stuff is gone.  I’ll sleep better.  This is not a journey as the crow flies.  I’m definitely taking the long way ’round.