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…

A Day in the Life/Wednesday Edition

So, in an effort to avoid the continuing drama out there in the big world, I’m going to share “a week in my life”…an exciting moment by moment chronicle of my simple life.  (The exciting reference was sarcasm by the way).  I’m going to focus on the part of the world where I have a tiny bit of control over what’s happening.  Sometimes the whole world is just to much to deal with for my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

Wednesday is a paid work day for me…at least the morning portion.  I shop with my sister to purchase food and necessities for a home for the mentally handicapped.  Up at 7:00 a.m. which is early for me, and out the door by 7:30 to go pick up the van and my sister and head out.  We start out at Wal-Mart and then head over to HEB to finish up.  The list is usually about the same each week and we’ve got a good routine going. Just normal stuff; meat/protein, lots and lots of produce and veggies, a few treats and other fixings. Usually two carts at Wal-Mart and four at HEB.  We shop both stores in an effort to get the best deals and keep expenses down.  We fill up the van and after stopping by Sonic for our usual, we head back to drop off the groceries.

While I’ve been out, my youngest daughter is expected to tidy up her room and start on school.  She has a reading list to work on and we use a couple of resources on the computer that she can work on while I’m gone.

When I get home about noon-time, we fix something for lunch and then relax for a bit. Yesterday was my husband’s day off and that can change up the afternoon a bit.

As I was eating lunch and catching up on my email and facebook, I saw a posting from a friend who volunteers at the Regional Animal Shelter.  She posted a picture of a nine year old Basset hound named Speedy.  I know what you might be thinking.  Believe me, I was thinking the same thing…there is no way in hell that I need another dog.  Especially not an old Basset hound.  But…I was also thinking “a nine year old Basset hound sure doesn’t need to be in “doggie jail” because his owner decided that he couldn’t afford him anymore and that he was too much trouble .  I told myself that someone else would surely adopt him.  He would be fine.  And then I told myself that I needed to go get that dog.  My youngest agreed after seeing his picture. My husband looked at me and picked up the car keys…I sure did marry a good man.

Off we went.  We agreed to just meet “Speedy” and see how it went.  Once we got there, it turns out that Speedy has a golf-ball sized tumor just under his tail that needs to be evaluated so we have him on a “medical foster”. That means they cover his medical expenses until the situation is resolved and then we can adopt him if we wish.

He is a sweetheart.  Totally Basset.  The world is his to explore and he will walk all day long on a leash.  He has instantly bonded and adopted  my youngest daughter.  He walked into her room, jumped up on her bed and settled in for a nap. Well, first thing he did was find the food dish, of course.  Youngest really wants a cat, but has decided that he’s a pretty good substitute since a cat can’t happen.  Second daughter’s fiance is deathly allergic to cats.

Unfortunately, Barret the dog, or B-dog as we’ve started calling him, is not taking too well to to the new addition yet.  Last night was spent taking the dog’s for a walk together in a non-threatening environment and periodically bringing Speedy out of the bedroom to see Barret in the living room.  Barret had to stay on the leash during these visits and pretty much acted as if Speedy was unwelcome (in a violently aggressive, teeth-gnashing, lunging, and terrifyingly vocal sort of way).  It wasn’t looking good.  Speedy spent the night in his room.  Barret spent the night in ours.  No blood was shed.

The day’s “plan” got derailed by my impulsive decision.  The laundry load-of-the-day didn’t get done.  The dishes didn’t get caught up.  I un-decluttered the one item out of the box – a worn-out sheet that is now being used as bedding for the new dog.

Nothing further got done on the yard.  The homeowner’s association is okay with the progress that we have made, but I have lots of ideas for projects that I want to work on now.  The work that we’ve gotten done has inspired me to keep on going.

Very little actual “school” got done unless you count visiting the animal shelter and seeing what that is like.  Youngest daughter had never been and now has a better idea about what happens to unwanted animals and pets and the very real struggle to deal with an impossible situation.  We talked about responsibility, ethics, solutions, and the possibility of volunteering.  We also discussed self-care, being responsible for ourselves and working out how to build strong boundaries to protect ourselves when dealing with the world.

There is so much that needs to be done to make the world a better place.  I often get overwhelmed and wonder if anything that I do is enough.

Looking back on Wednesday, I am okay with the day.

I lived into the needs of the day.

I didn’t save the world.

My house isn’t spotless.  Everything on the school to-do list didn’t get checked off.  I didn’t declutter anything.  I didn’t make progress on the extensive home improvement projects.   The laundry isn’t done.  We had cereal for dinner.  All potentially failures if I choose to look at it that way…

However, the residents at Hope House had what they needed to be cared for properly. A dog had a warm bed and a lot of attention instead of a concrete floor for the night.  I walked over ten thousand steps for the third day in row.  Everybody in the house had clean clothes to put on this morning and there was still cereal for breakfast.

We all made it through the day healthily and happily.  Our needs were met.  We hung out together and had some fun.  We cleaned up some dog poop.  We watched some T.V.  We cleaned up a little more dog poop.  We met a new neighbor on one of our walks.  The dog pooped outside.

We did no harm and did a little bit of good.

I’m learning to be okay with that.

I want to fix the world.  I want to stop injustice, and right wrongs, and heal the world.  I want everything and everyone to be happy and have what they need.  I want people to stop being mean to each other.  That’s all part of my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

It’s a little unrealistic.

I am learning to find balance and live with imperfection.

…start with me and work out from there…doing no harm and being kind

 

 

And Again…

So, I found the before pictures for my earlier post and they got me motivated to do one more step for “cabinet #2”.  I’m so ready for these to be finished.  I’m not a patient person and really hate to paint.  I know, weird for an artist, but I like the finishing part much more than the early layers of a project.  I much more enjoy the “coming together” part!

Anyway, here are the before and after pictures for cabinet #1:

And the one that I’m finishing up tonight – before…0425161846a (1)

and after…

I was attempting to make it look less like a built-in and more like an old hutch that was put into an alcove.  The counter is pieced together wood scraps painted in several layers and distressed.  I moved the glass cabinet doors down to the bottom and left the top shelves open.  The legs that are “holding” up the  upper shelves are from our first dining room table.  That table top is being used as our new butcher block island in the center of the kitchen – next project, next payday.  I’m working on an idea for the lower cabinet hardware and still need to finish up a bit of trim work and finish painting the walls.  I can’t find the pitcher to complete the set up on top of the hutch.  Who knows where it’s hiding.  Lots of boxes of keep and give-away stacked around here!  The clutter, project pieces and tools are driving me a bit crazy (crazier).

I love that the two cabinet projects reflect our different personalities, but that they work together.  So excited to be ditching the fear of expressing ourselves and really turning this into our home!  Less manufactured housing and more unique and loft-like.

Home, Sweet Home!

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!

Weekend

We’re hustling and bustling around getting ready for a busy weekend.  Always so much to do on the weekends.

Hubby and son are working at their jobs and planning on some home improvement projects.  They are hoping to splash some paint on the walls of our main living area – a clean and bright white shade to lighten things up.   Plywood “flooring” has also been purchased.  It’s going to be installed in full sheets over the existing floor and coated with some shiny polyurethane. I’m hoping for a clean and simple “Scandinavian” look.   We’ve researched and pondered many different flooring types and decided that this is an affordable (and therefore, possible) option.  If we get rich later on in life (HA) we can just floor over the plywood.

This has been a good learning and growth experience for me.  I’ve had to think about what I need and what I want.  I’ve had to discern what I can be happy with and let go of what others might think of my choices and decisions.  It all comes down to what will make us happy when we walk in our front door. In my struggle to be “normal” and balance that desire with who I really am, I’m constantly comparing myself to others.  But, that’s changing.  Yea!

I’m happy with our new floor plan.  But, more importantly, I’m comfortable with it.  It’s a good decision for us.  I think it’s going to look great and suit our lifestyle.  Even better, it’s not going to cost a fortune.  We’ve saved up the cash to pay for it outright.  As we save more money, we can continue it throughout the rest of the house and not have to worry about matching the flooring. No debt.  No overextending ourselves.

While the family is slaving away here at the homestead, I will be off once again to Sherwood Forest Faire for another weekend of fun and merriment.  Well, mainly I’ll be slaving away in the kitchen while others are making merry.  Never fear, though.  I’ve managed to have a bit of fun myself. 

I don’t watch a lot of television. (I thought about not sharing this and fostering an image of an intellectual who reads the classics and eschews television in favor of more life-enriching experiences.)

But, the fact is, I freakin’ love Supernatural.  It’s just about the only show that I watch, other than British mysteries.  And I have an embarrassing infatuation with Dean Winchester.   And this happened last Sunday!  I always hoped that I’d be the mature individual who saw a celebrity and calmly walked past without becoming a flaming idiot.  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  I turned into a crazy, stalker-fan.  Sigh.  At least I haven’t printed it out and framed it…yet.  It would look great next to my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Jensen Ackles that currently lives in my studio.  For the record, I didn’t purchase said item.  It was a Christmas gift from my son.

Well, off to another adventure filled weekend in the Forest.  Wonder what will happen this weekend?

 

A cue from Mary Poppins!

This week I’m taking the advice of Mary Poppins in my de-cluttering ventures!

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

 And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree!
It’s very clear to see

That a…
Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go dow-own
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way

A robin feathering his nest
Has very little time to rest
While gathering his
Bits of twine and twig

Though quite intent in his pursuit
He has a merry tune to toot
He knows a song
Will move the job along

Since I’m a big fan of birds and have been working on “feathering my nest” to make it simpler, more welcoming, and more intentional it seemed a good fit.

I’ve been stalled on making much progress (by stalled I mean discouraged, feeling hopeless, and considering giving up).

But, it’s just not in my nature to give up for long – so….

…a game it is.

I know someone who is moving into a fancy-dancy awesome new place and while I’m not jealous, (I’m happy for her because she’s worked hard and truly deserves this blessing) I’m a bit sad that I don’t have the option to “start over”.

So…I decided to make it an option of sorts – starting over that is.

Room by room as I follow my cleaning list, I’m going to envision what that room might look like if it were a new room in a new home that I was moving to.  What would the room look like?  What would I take with me to my new place?  What would I get rid of so as not to move clutter into my new space?  I’m taking notes on what renovations/repairs I would like to see including paint color, etc.  Then we have a to-do list to work from as funds and time become available.

Today is Master Bathroom day.  My husband is installing a new sink faucet that we’ve had, but never installed.  On the list of future improvements is a new shower unit.  Our shower has a crack that isn’t leaking yet, but…  I’d like new flooring because the old flooring is worn out.  And I think a bright coat of white paint is in order.  Bright and clean and spacious.

New lights above the sinks would be nice.  The ones we have came with the house and are boring.  That’s fairly far down on the list, but this is a wish list.

Having a list of needed/wanted items will help us out in searching down bargains.  We’ll know what we need when we spot it.  The list will also help us make repairs and updates in a more timely fashion.  A plan is a good thing!

In the discard pile are some old cosmetics that I never use.  Truly, I don’t know why they are still there and have made it through past de-clutters.  Also gone are my youngest daughter’s bath/shower toys.  She’s outgrown them, but I don’t know which of us is more reluctant to part with them.  Everything in the bathroom is useful or loved.  Nothing extra.

Our old towels are staying and not on the list to be replaced.  They are still more fabric than holes and perfectly functional.  Keeping in mind that I want to simplify and reduce waste, I find that I see a simple beauty in them.  They serve a purpose and there is no reason to run out and buy new ones.

I’ve finished up with a good scrub-down of the room – right down to the baseboards and trash can.  Less stuff = faster cleaning.

The game is on!

Gross

I had some free labor available today, so we switched rooms.  Now, we’re working in the living room!

And…the carpet and pad is all pulled up!  One word to describe it:

GROSS.

I will never, ever, ever live in a place with carpet again.  With or without pets.  But, especially with pets.  Going to do you a favor and not post a before or after picture.  The dust may have been the worst of it.  I repeat:

GROSS.

I am so happy it is gone – or almost gone.  Out of the house at least.

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Home (Life) improvement massively underway.  Who knew having a plan (and actually working on it) could result in such progress!

Life is good.

I’ve had it…and I don’t want it anymore!

At Christmastime I realized that I was done with clutter.  This is not the first time that I’ve felt this way.  I’ve been “decluttering” for years.   I’ve even devoted time to the subject here.  I’ve devoted a lot of time to decluttering, and to organizing, and “cleaning” and “clearing…and all the other “ings” that go along with having possessions.

Years old journal page
Years old journal page

I’ve long since dealt with the issues that compel me to collect things – or thought that I had.  During one of our recent “we need to change things” discussions, my husband pointed out that maybe I was afraid of not having the major decluttering project to fall back on.  That maybe having something like that to do, that only I could do, gave me a purpose.

Could it be that I was afraid of having “nothing” to do?  Could I fear what I would need to do to fill the time that was being taken up with dealing with all the stuff?  Make more art, take on another project that I wasn’t as familiar with.  Open my home to others because I didn’t need to say, “…if the house was clean”?  Hmmmm……

All I know for sure, is that at Christmastime, I was really done with the stuff being in the way of enjoying time with my family.  I kept seeing things that I felt needed to be done before I could sit down and really “be” with everyone.

Something clicked.  Since then I have been sorting, donating, and pitching like crazy.

Our bedroom was first.  We have only the furniture we need.  Gone is the chair nobody ever sat in.  Gone are the blankets stored away in case the Dallas Cowboys needed a place to sleep and chose our home.  Gone is the extra art on the walls that it turns out no one liked anyway.  Gone are the extra clothes saved in case I ever gained weight again.  That one was a no-brainer.  But, actually, it all was. With the exception of extra toilet paper, what was I trying to be prepared for?

We ripped up the ten year old carpet that was really, really gross and painted the sub-floor white.  That will do until we can afford a “real” floor.  We’ve talked about doing something for years, but couldn’t do it the right way so we did nothing at all and were unhappy about it.

IMAG0186IMAG0187

That has all changed.  The bedroom isn’t perfect.  There are some things I would still like to do, but it has stayed clean and tidy for two weeks!  I have made progress and that makes me happy.