Friday, March 16, 2018

Daily Declutter

Well, I haven't made a lot of progress with home items, but I have finished a huge project for the shop! I have finally priced everything that needed pricing, and I get my living room back! I know I've worked toward this goal before (and I'm sure I'll get overrun again), but for now I'm back on the ball.

All I really need is to move the baby chickens out of the house, and I'll feel really back on my game. But the point of minimalism (I remind myself over and over) is to make room for the things that really matter. My children really matter to me, and chickens really matter to them.

But as soon as the weather warms up and the rain stops, the chickens are moving out. We'll have a clean, tidy living room, with no poultry in the house, and I'll be able to start clearing up the things my father-in-law sent home when he moved out. <sigh>

And once again, I remind myself that life is a journey, not a destination.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Daily Declutter

I have been working on outside tasks, so I haven't been making forward progress the way I would like.

I have several items I would like to post on ebay, but the weather has not been auspicious for photography. I get better pictures outside, when the sun is shining, but we have been having rain and intermittent rain the last week. I'd rather have the rain than take the photos, so my clutter will sit around, waiting for a picture taking opportunity.

By greatest victory remains my menu planning. I am down to minimal food in the fridge (read: minimal for feeding a teenage boy) and today is shopping day. Very little waste, no excess trips to the grocery, time saved!

Yesterday was one of those days that really make my long for my fantasy life. You know, the easy one with access to good public transit and only one car. The day before my car simply wouldn't start when I tried -- even though it worked fine and hour before. The tow truck driver got it to the garage, and yesterday I was able to pick it up. But I had to get up early to dive my husband in to work, and pick him up later, and pay more than was fun to (hopefully) assure the car will function in the future. Fantasy me doesn't have to worry, because she lives in a smaller house with good buses nearby, and she can maintain a new, fuel efficient car rather than try to maintain the beast. But we got through. And I will continue working on the steps that I need to move forward into my fantasy life. Like selling the clutter, paying off the car, and preparing for a move in a part of town with good public transit!

(When I was in school I lived right by a bus stop, with a beautiful, clean, frequent bus. I loved taking the bus back then! I grocery shopped, worked, did everything off the bus. I know every bus isn't like that, but this is my fantasy life and I get to do what I like here.)

I'm almost done sorting the good clothes from the bad, for the shop. When we bought the shop it came with a bunch of clothes, and we have replaced the un-purchased goods with fresh stock. I am sorting through it, and finding a lot of the things that were left are stained, damaged or otherwise unsuitable. Again, my house looks like the opposite of the clean, uncluttered home I desire. But I am optimistic I can complete this task today, and clear out the boxes from the house! (The damaged clothes will be clearanced for play clothes. Please, please, if you have little kids, buy second hand, and use damaged clothes for play-clothes! Play clothes -- not allowed in public -- allow kids to get messy without worrying what Mom will say. And there are So. Many. Clothes. already out there. We do not need to create more, and we do not need to buy new every time!)

I'm telling myself that, as soon as I get the clothes from the shop sorted, I will get the house in order. I'm not sure I believe myself. But I do know that the bits I have done are better than where we were before! If you're going on this journey with me, and especially if you're just beginning, I want to encourage you to do something -- even a little bit -- every day.

Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Laureate and environmental activist, told a story about a person who found she was on the wrong bus, going the wrong direction on her travels. She said the person had a number of options when she found that she was going the wrong way, but the best reaction was to get off the bus so she can catch a new bus. This is where I am. I have gotten off the bus, and I am walking to where I want to go. Hopefully, I will catch another bus while I am walking, a bus going the correct direction. But in the meantime I am moving toward where I want to go, and I am no longer on the wrong bus!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Change is not simple...but it can be good!

Yesterday, my daughter got her haircut! It is her first haircut, ever, and she is fast approaching her teen years. We got through it with no tears, and I am so happy to finally be done with the struggle.

I expected she would be able to comb her hair out every day. I may be expecting too much of a child in middle school, but that was my expectation. And apparently I was wrong. Because it got tangled. Badly tangled. And I combed it out, with a stern warning to do better. Nothing happened. We repeated the cycle,

So I threatened to have it cut. She cried. I combed her hair out, and warned her sternly. We repeated the cycle.

I gave her a deadline. My husband combed her hair. Nothing happened. Her hair returned to the Horrible Tangle.

Then yesterday, she said she was ready. She wanted it cut. Before Easter. That very day.

So we did it! I took her right away, to one of the cheap places that do not require a reservation. The hairdresser charged double, because she had to comb most of the tangle out (or she'd have to cut the tangle out at the scalp -- a little too short for a first haircut!). And my daughter is thrilled with her new look. The hairdresser spend time talking over what hair care needs to look like (including combing her hair twice a day, to prevent a return of the terrible tangle.)

So, why am I writing about this here? (Other than my glee that there were no tears of regret yesterday.) It was hard making the change, and getting rid of the long hair she has had all her life. But the long hair was no longer serving her. It had a lot of memories, and a lot of her identity had always been wrapped up in being "the girl with all the hair." But it was just bring her down -- it was bring us all down, as a source of conflict. And now we're free!

The Traumatic Hair Event is a metaphor for the sentimental clutter that is clogging homes and lives. It's hard to deal with, it's hard to get rid of, but it's so freeing when it's gone!

I hope this will be inspirational to my family, and to others, to get rid of the emotional clutter that is weighing us down!

Daily Declutter

I was looking through the medicine cupboard and found a bunch of meds from when my dog was a puppy. At least one had expired, and the rest were for I'm not sure what. I know they were for allergies, but I can't remember the dosage. So out they went. I'm surprised they lasted so long.

I successfully came home from my father-in-law's without bringing home any clutter that he doesn't have a use for. That should count for something! It's the first time in a long time we've managed to get away without a box of discards.

I downgraded a shirt to become pajamas, because my old pajama shirt was scratchy. This makes me happy because I always felt frumpy in the shirt, but I liked it because it was so soft. And now, I have fewer things in my closet. I also removed a shirt that I haven't worn in months. It's a pretty shirt, but I never choose it. Now someone else can choose it!

I can see the difference already, even from the little bits I've cleaned up. The microwave looks tidy now -- since the peppers have gone, the other clutter there have wandered off. The bar is (mostly) better.

The baby chickens in the living room are not adding to the tidiness, but they are cute, and make my family (and my dog!) happy. (The dog watches the chicks with a slowly waving tail. Occasionally, he barks at them when he is overcome with emotion.)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Don't Save Your Stuff!

Yesterday, I worked up at my mom's shop. Every time I go there (instead of working from home) I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that exists. In the shop, in the world, in my house. Sorry, family.

We had one woman stop by who was debating selling back her baby things. She is planning to have another baby in about three years, and she has storage space. So why not save her things,she wondered, so she doesn't have to buy them again?

I have several reasons. Because they will be out of style in three years. Because they may get damaged in storage (my mother knows someone who stored her baby things, but they were eaten my mice in storage. Yuck.) by bugs, rodents or weather. Because plastic deteriorates and becomes brittle when exposed to heat -- and many storage spaces are either very hot or very cold. Because you will be excited, and want to get new sheets or other items (or a family member will). Because you will want fewer, or newer things for your next baby -- manufacturers are innovating all the time. Because someone else can use it in the meantime -- or several someones might.

These reasons apply to almost anything you can store. Your too-small clothes can be worn by someone else until you get back to that size -- and you can buy fashionable things when you meet your goal weight. Your crafting materials can go to someone else, and you can use the new ones you really want (you know that's true, or you wouldn't have so much fabric or yarn stored away!). The books you bought but haven't read. The suitcases for the long-anticipated vacation. The storage jars that might be useful someday. (I'm guilty of this too! I don't try to kid myself. That's why I write.)

My mother-in-law stored boxes of paperback books in her attic for when she was "old and poor." Her plan was to forget the books, and be able to read them fresh in her dotage.  Unfortunately, she passed away sooner than she expected, and never got around to rereading those books. When we pulled them out of the attic this year, they were yellowed and the glue in the binding had deteriorated so much that they are of use to no one. They had to be discarded. How many people could have enjoyed them if she had donated them? (No mention will be made here of her refusal to consider using the library for reading material. Even though her daughter-in-law was a librarian at the time.)

Yes, you might get around to using them after they come out of storage. But it might be too much work to clean them off, remove the stains that magically have appeared, pull them out, and fix the damage. Or you might never get to use them. You might not have another baby -- or your grandchildren might never happen. You might not make the trip you are saving the suitcases for -- or you might have learned to travel lighter.

And during all that waiting time, while you are waiting to get to that future version of you, you'll be pursued by the physical representation of what doesn't exist.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Daily Declutter

I found a puzzle on a shelf, just sitting there since I-don't-know-when. So into the box it went. I realized a little while ago that I don't like working on puzzles at home. Ok, I like doing half an hour at a B&B, which is why I thought I liked puzzles in general. But I like space better.

There are other games nearby that I think we can get rid of -- games we haven't played in years. But I'm going to try not to traumatize my family, so that will happen slowly.

I have more dish towels than any reasonable woman will ever need -- but I am as yet unable to get rid of any. However, I have downgraded several of my "good" dishtowels to "everyday" dishtowels. The good ones are used to carry food to family parties, and basically anywhere they need to look clean and unstained. Everyday towels are used to dry hands in the kitchen, or dry dishes, or ordinary things. They get stained with tea when someone uses a dish towel to clean up spilled tea. I will be getting rid of the ones with holes (they will become rags, the correct way to clean up spilled tea) eventually, but not today.

I found another one of those jars I hate but my husband loves. It is currently in the wash, and will be donated as soon as the dishwasher is done.

I bought a bag of chili peppers for the math teacher's parrot; they have largely sat in the kitchen for months. Many of them have now been ground up for pizza peppers, and the remainder will go to school to feed the parrot. She can store them, instead of us. The parrot (who is adorable!) will be happy, which is what the peppers are for.

It's just a little of this and a little of that. I also spent hours sorting children's clothes for the store, so they can move out of my house! Moving a few items at a time is better than just leaving this stuff to sit for months. I know I'll see visible progress soon.

Daily Declutter

Little bit by little bit, I'm getting back into the swing of things. We got rid of a bunch of magazines -- old National Geographics -- that I'm hoping the science teachers will be able to use. If not, they'll at least no longer be slowly decomposing at my house. (Our library no longer accepts donations.)

My jeans wore out -- not even useful as house-jeans -- but we made it out of the Goodwill without any purchases I regret. My daughter got two pairs of jeans that fit all the way down to her ankles! I got a pair of jeans that do not expose anything that needs to be covered. And my son came up empty, but he'd be comfortable in a pair of 28x34 cargo pants, which I have been told are entirely fictional, so I'm not sure what I will do when he grows again. I'm hoping to get through the summer before I have to make that sort of hard decision.

I also got rid of a storage jar that I have always hated. My poor husband loves it (them) because they match the larger jars, and he keep thinking they will be useful. But I hate them; they are too small to really be useful, I don't like them out next to their big sisters, and I am done. The last one is in the donation spot.

So, not a lot moved out. No nibbles from ebay (darn it). But I'm moving in the right direction, and even better, I wrote it up, so I have a record of my progress!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Back Again

I am sorry I have been so long from blogging. It is good for me to write regularly -- I live a more examined life when I write down my thoughts and activities. Hopefully, if anyone checks in again, they will be happy to see that I am back.

The last several months have been beyond bad. We lost my 15 year old nephew, very unexpectedly. The mourning period has been rough. I have not been focused on my environment, because I have been so focused on my family. That's the way it should be.

But the lack of focus on the house has allowed bad habits to return. I have a (small) pile of clothes staring at me in the bathroom. I have unnecessary objects lying around, waiting for me to decide upon an action. I was given a vintage top, and I need to decide what to do with it -- gift it to someone else? sell it on ebay? Leaving it lying on the counter is a bad choice.

However, I have started making forward progress again. I moved out a bunch of recyclables (fabric, shoes, bags) this afternoon when I went on my weekly shopping trip. I donated a glass jar that I thought would be useful to hold candles, but it just looked like clutter to me. I filled an empty jar with two half-full bags of pasts. I feel like I made progress, even though it didn't free up a lot of space -- the positive feeling can be the basis for further improvement.

If nothing else, writing every day or so will give me an outside impetus to actually make changes in my environment. That will give the people in my environment more space to heal and grow. Doing something is better than doing nothing and just hoping for change.