Letting Go

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.”

Truth.

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”.

I plan on writing more about that tomorrow.

I plan on writing tomorrow.

 

Progress, not Perfection

Third post I’ve started for today.

Reality and perfectionism at odds in a big way.

This has kept me from writing for so long already.

I kept it simple yesterday.

A part of me needs the connections that I find here.

I’d like to think that it matters in some small way.

I have big thoughts and dreams and ideas.

But I am a small person.

Fragile right now.

I’m trying not to confuse that with weakness.

For I am strong.

I’ve made it this far.

Full of emotions and fear and hopes

and plans

Committed to taking small steps

Progress not perfection

and art…

lots more art

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The Studio

This room does not reflect who I am…

Or maybe it does represent the “me of the moment”…

It might be more accurate to say that this room does not reflect who I want to be and who I am intentionally trying to become.

I am so frustrated (and angry) at my lack of sustainable progress towards living a simpler, clutter free life.

I claim to want to make more art and this is what my studio always looks like!

I am adding a fourth word to my new year “slogan”.

That word is “Redefine”.

I am going to rethink, reimagine, reflect on and then redefine my goals and the plan of action to get there.

I want to make more art.

What do I need to do to make that happen?

Today, I attacked the studio.

A box of stuff is going to the thrift store…crafting and art supplies that I have outgrown and that no longer fit my style.  Leftover bits and pieces that were saved because I might be able to use them for something.  Things given to me that “might be useful”.

We had a bonfire.  Boxes of old art, old journal pages, letters, art cards, miscellaneous papers, leftovers, notes and so much much.

Those papers represent the past.  Guilt, things undone, friendships that are no more, items that have lost their relevance to who I am becoming.

Towards the end of the clean-up, it became easier and harder.

Easier to let go of things…

Harder to deal with the emotions of the change.

I survived.

I suspect there is more that could go.

I believe their are a lot more possibilities now than there were this morning.

I am excited by that notion.

I am drained and weary and a little afraid.

This is now…

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.

Empty Boxes

You know that you are making progress when the “declutter” for the day is empty boxes, storage containers, baskets and the like. That’s what left the house today.  Lots and lots of empty receptacles.  The family room/studio/classroom is decluttered and cleanish.

The only stuff that I didn’t deal with is my art.  Art that used to hang in a church:  art that was made for a life that is no longer the one I am living.  A lot of history including joy, growth and grief.  There are lot of emotions wrapped up in that art.  For now, it will remain tucked in the storage area covered by a quilt.  I know it’s there and I know that I need to make some decisions about it all, but not right now.  It’s out of sight, but not out of mind.  I’m learning to recognize when I’m avoiding an issue that is impeding my journey.  Something that is holding me back.

I keep reminding myself that this is a journey that cannot be traveled quickly.  For now, I’m exited about the progress that I’ve made.  A full pick-up load of stuff is gone to the thrift store and recycling.  The trash can was full yesterday and is already half-full today.

There is space in the room to set up my drying rack so I can cut down on my dryer use.  My art desk is clear.  There are two comfy chairs clear of clutter sitting next to the fireplace ready for winter snuggling.  The school stuff is organized and a plan is in place to read the books that we have on the shelves and to share them with other homeschoolers in the next few months.

I really and truly can’t find anything else in there to get rid of.  But that’s today.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  I may become a minimalist yet.

Um, probably not!

Lonely and alone

It’s quiet around here today.  I am home alone – but not lonely.  There’s a difference, ya’ know.

Hubby, youngest daughter and I tried a new church today.  I have a long and complicated history with church.  Long story short:  I used to and now I don’t.

I’m still a believer.  Just not an attendee – and not a believer in organized worship.  I’m not sure I ever will be again.  I don’t know.  My life and I have changed.  I do miss the community.  I don’t miss the scheduled worship (and meetings and busy-work).

My life seems more intentional now.  Worship is a moment, an observation, an experience – not an hour on Sunday morning.

Prayer is a continuous and ongoing conversation.

Service is a spontaneous reaction to circumstance and not planned.

The church service was strange.  I liked some things about it.  And I didn’t like a lot of things about it.  The worship environment was beautiful.  The message was good.  Worship was uncluttered and focused.

But it all seemed carefully planned.  And as I looked around the room, there was little diversity. Everyone looked happy.  The people in the seats didn’t look like the folks I spend my days with.  My husband and I were the oldest people in the room.  No one looked like they were worried about whether their next paycheck would be enough or if there would be another paycheck.  No one looked like they needed to be there.   Everything looked fine and good.  I’m sure they were perfectly nice people.   I’m sure that If I go back, I would enjoy getting to know some of them.

Maybe the timing wasn’t right.  Maybe it was just me.  Maybe my focus needs to remain where it is right now – on family, home, friends and self.

Will I go back and give it another try?  I don’t know.  I think I’ve reached an age and stage of life where appearances aren’t all that important.  I hope so anyway.  It’s what I’m striving for.  I want real.  I want tears and hugs.  I want fear and reassurance.  I want to know what the challenges are and to work to find solutions.  I want emotions and truth and sharing.  I want to be there for people who need me and I want someone to be there for me.  My life is messy and I want to be with people who are struggling just like I am.   I’m past trying to keep up a front and pretending like everything is just fine.  I grew up in that house and in that family – and everything wasn’t fine.

I felt lonely.

Except for two of my favorite people in the seats next to me, I felt like I was the only one in the room.

I enjoy being alone sometimes (maybe a lot).

I don’t like lonely.  It’s a big scary world out there…and sometimes right here, too.