Crash Zone and Cabinets

Today I started serious reorganization of my house.  I started with the first place that I see when I come in my house – the “butler’s pantry”.  It is a fancy name for a group of cabinets and a counter that sit off to the side of the kitchen.

Since we moved into the house I have wanted to use it as a “landing pad” – a place where I can organize what comes into my house and a place to gather things that I need as I leave.

crash landing - Bruchlandung

Image by Maggi_94 via Flickr

Instead of a nice, happy place, it has morphed into the crash pad.  EVERYTHING lands there and subsequently never moves and sometimes is never seen again! Well, today I figuratively gutted the entire area.  I pulled out everything from the top cabinets.  I found candy up there that we had hidden from the girls – years ago.  I found light bulbs that were older than the house – I have no idea how they ended up in there.  I found a candle holder for which I had been looking for almost 2 years.  There were sticker books and activity books and coloring books the girls have long since outgrown, but for some reason we never got down for them.  I am not sure why we never gave them out – so much lost fun and opportunity to create!  It just never happened!  Then I cleared out the 4 drawers.  I found books for cell phones that I don’t even remember owning.  I found cords for cell phones that have long since gone to cellular heaven.  There were place mats that were purchased in China when we adopted our oldest that were still in the plastic covering.  There was all of our house information that I thought was deep in DH’s office.  Well, I made good on that one – they now are deep in there and out of the drawers.  Now each of us has a drawer.  If I find something laying around that is out of place, it is going to go in the drawer.  If the drawer is not cleaned out by Sunday night – everything is going into the trash.   Then I moved to the bottom cabinets.  I am really, really embarrassed by that one.  Let me preface with the statement that I was PartyLite consultant in a previous life – long before children.  Please remember that I have boxes that I have never unpacked because they were filled with breakable items that were not appropriate to put out with young children in the house.

Let’s just say that I have enough candles to light the house if we have a power outage of say – 3 weeks!  It is insane the amount of candles that I have.  Now that the girls are older I can pull them out and start enjoying them.  Hopefully I will use up that stash before they graduate from High School.  And please, if I ever say I am getting ready to buy more candles – please, please, please remind me to look under my phone cabinet!  After I pulled all the candles out of there – including some glassware candle holders that I will never use and will now be blessing someone else with in the near future – I put all the games that the girls have in there.  They can now see all the games they own.  We may actually be able to institute family game night again!  That left me with another empty cabinet where I was able to put the candles and and store my coupon exchange boxes.  I then moved over to another upper cabinet and got it about 75% cleaned out.  I am hoping to finish that this evening, as well as finding homes for all the items that I wanted to keep, but did not belong on the crash zone    er, the landing zone.  I got this done in about 4 hours.  I am pooped!  I am also ready to eat some lunch.

My goal for the next few days is…

~to clear out the rest of the 25% of the one cabinet,

~ totally reorganize the adjacent upper cabinet,

~clean off the counter under those 2 cabinets (commonly called the phone counter), and then

~pull out and organize the items that are on 1/2 of the bottom cabinet since the other half is neatly organized with my candles and coupons.

I can’t wait to see what DH and the girls say about the new areas.   Oh – the best part – I filled up 1/3 of a bin with items to donate, a box of things to save for wedding gifts/Christmas gifts, and 2 huge garbage bags of trash.

I am not sure why it was easier today to get rid of stuff, to determine what is important and what is not.  But it was.  I was able to see a bigger picture of what I wanted to hold dear in my life and let go of things that are really not that important.    I could visualize how I wanted my house to function.  Maybe it is just time for me to let go of things from the past, which were symbolized by many items that I released today.  It was like closing the cover of a book, knowing that the story is going to be continued in the next book waiting on your bedside table.  The story is not over, it is just progressing, as it should.  So will my life, if I relax and just let the chapters present themselves and if I am willing to let my myself immerse myself in the story of the here and now and not hang on to the past or worry about the future.

Brain Dump

I am seriously dumping my brain into this blog post just because I don’t have anywhere else to get rid of the overload.

The second is that right now my brain IS a dump and I need to declutter it.  Man, I would really like to get rid of that theme in my life.

So here we go – I will attempt to make this somewhat organized so that I don’t totally scare off my 1 remaining reader, and so that when I revisit this post, I am able to make sense of it and see if I have progressed at all!

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Image by Earthworm via Flickr

Physical house clutter – well, I can’t say that it is any worse, but it is definitely  not any better!  I live in my dream house – there is nothing else in the house that I could honestly want.  There is way more space than a family of 4 needs.  It is structurally a very pretty house.  The house is filled with roomy closets and ample cabinets.   There is absolutely no reason why this house should be this cluttered!  If there were 7 people,  maybe.  But even if there were 7 people living in this house it is large enough that it should not be this cluttered and disorganized.  The only thing that I can complain about regarding this house is that the interior is not painted (waiting on $$$ to get that done).   The rest is completely a result of poor habits.  So I am back on the band wagon to get this house finally organized.  I was talking to someone the other day who put it into perspective for me.  We moved into the house 3 months after we adopted our 2nd daughter (adoption in January, move in March).  I had a hysterectomy in April.  That month was spent just getting things in place where my family could function while I was on major lifting restrictions from surgery.  From that time forward my family has lived from one “crisis” to another.  About the time that we would start to feel like we could move forward another would hit us.  They ranged from 3 occurrences of cancer in my father, my husband being laid off, a dear friend’s death, giving up some of my personal goals so my husband could be a small business owner, the economy crash hitting my husband’s business hard, knowing there was something wrong with my oldest but not being able to get anyone to listen to me and then finally finding an awesome occupational therapist to help us out.   Those were the major issues and don’t include all the little things that occur on a daily basis.   The result is that we never really moved into the house.  We never established systems that worked for the long term.  Those are the things that we now need to do.  Our lives are starting to calm down and hubby and I are once again working together instead of working on the parallel and never meeting! 

Emotionally I need to let go of a lot of things.  This is tied very closely with my spiritual life.    Throughout all of the things that I have listed above I could look back and see where God had worked in my life.  But I was unable to truly focus on and find Him during the events.   I am now consciously working on training my soul to search out God, to pray constantly,  and to praise Him even during the bad times.  I have a very long way to go, but I can see where I have grown.  I have taken the first step in signing up for a Bible Study at our church that takes place during Sunday Morning Religious Education for the girls.  DH is going to be going with me.  I look forward to sharing this experience with him and learning together.  My youngest will also make her First Holy Communion this upcoming spring.  It is a time to reflect on His gift of Himself to us.  While this will make for a very busy year with retreats and classes, it will make my journey towards peace much easier to follow since there will be a set path for me this year.  In the journey I need to find where God wants DH and I to be regarding family growth – are we to adopt another child?  What role am I to play in the lives of young people as my girls grow?  How do I let go of that desire to have “just one more child” in my home?  How do I let go of my anger and disappointment at not being able to be a stay at home mom?  How do I let go to dream of home-schooling my children?  How to I ensure that faith and morals are passed on to them in this fast paced, way too worldly world in which we live?

Physically I am a mess.  I am at my all time highest weight EVER! I have taken a giant leap in this arena and started taking Tae Kwon Do.  My oldest and DH have been taking it for a little over a year.  My youngest and I signed up last week.  I have been to 2 classes.  I was wringing wet by the time the class was over, but I really felt good.   As my body begins to become more accustomed to the increased activity, I will tackle my dietary habits and those of my family.  This will be a tough area for me.  So much of my physical challenges lay squarely in the lap of the whole reason I was unable to bear children.   It is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break and control.  But if I want to be around to see who my girls turn out to be, I need to become proactive.  So one step at a time.  I refuse to try and change to much at once regarding my physical self – but I WILL make the needed changes and be able to be a physical presence that does not embarrass my girls.  To hear that I am a hot mama from my DH would be nice, too!

Finances are finally starting to look up.  They will continue to be tight as we dig out of the hole incurred by the economy.  But we are slowly working away and will get there.  I need to take a more active role in conserving money and squeezing every drop of value from each penny.  I have started to coupon and watch sales.  It is a steep learning curve for me.  Over the last few years I was grateful just to have enough money to get food for the girls – we got necessities only.  Now that we can start spending a little more, I want to continue to be frugal and get as much value as possible.

My relationship with DH went through some rough patches over the last couple of years.  As the money canyon got more narrow, the emotional river ran faster and with many, many rapids.  We went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter this summer.  It was the perfect way for us to reconnect.  He put it perfectly – it was like we were both trying to reach each other, but we were on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.  Over that weekend we finally met at the bottom of the Canyon.  There is a ranch down in the Canyon, along the Colorado River with a small, clear stream running through it.  It is called Phantom Ranch.  DH and I both felt that we finally reached the Ranch that weekend and were finally able to talk to each other without shouting across a gaping chasm.   We have a lot of re-tweeking to do on our communication, but we a finally on the same path, walking the same direction and holding hands while we travel.   I am so blessed to have him in my life as my partner.  After 21 years of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him.   He and my girls are what motivate me to become a better person, to live more fully, to laugh more, to move more, to be less weighted down with emotional/physical/house clutter.

So my journey starts with one step.  This first step is towards my bed to get adequate rest to be able to tackle my projects.  Catch you on the flip side of the clock!

Trashy Tuesday

9 trash bags full of clothes

1 bag full of toys

6 trash bags full of trash

That is what left my house this past week. 

Part of me is very mad at myself because I did something to aggravate my rotator cuff injury, so I spent most of the week on pain medication with a heating pad.  I feel as if my well planned vacation with the girls was totally lost. 

But in my effort to make positive decisions this year, I am trying to look at the positive instead of the what could have beens.  

My youngest now can use her closet.

By letting go of all those clothes I am accepting what is and looking forward to the next stage of life.

My house is much less of a fire hazard with all those papers out of it.

My girls are learning how to give to others.

My girls have created a home for each of their belongings and can put things away without having to think or work too hard at it.

My allergies will get better without all the clutter.

I really do feel freer with all those things gone!

I  am less overwhelmed and can see the individual jobs that need to be done to continue decluttering.

The time resting this week did allow my body to recover from the stress of the last few months and has given me the energy I need to face the next few weeks of darkness and joyfully anticipate spring.

Wacky Wednesday – Goals, Gifts and Memories

Goals

Yesterday I posted about a new goal that I am starting.  I even bragged that I had started a new habit.  Do you know how I know I have a new habit?  Do you even want to know?  Sure you do.

I use an online program called HabitForge.  It is a free program that allows you to set up your desired habit.  The program will then send you an e-mail each day asking if you followed-thru the day before.  It then has a little diagram showing how well you are doing.   I am one that loves to mark things off (to-do lists are my specialty, though I do have issues actually working them).  Being reminded each day keep me on track.  At the end of 21 days you have the option of continuing getting reminders for the next 3 weeks or ending it.

Gifts

No, this part is not about Christmas, or even about gifts for just me.  This is about the gift we can give our children – the gift of our time.   Kat over at Inspired to Action wrote about how to be a rock star to your children with 30 minutes and pink tablecloth.

Then she asked for readers to tell her things we do to become rock stars to our own children.  I submitted a few ideas.  Not only did she use them in her next article, Be A Rockstar…Today, but she even mentioned my name!  I feel like a celebrity!  She has 128 different ways to be a rockstar with your kids.  Check it out!  It really does not take much – but it means so very much to your child, and to your own heart.

Memories

The rest of this post is devoted to my youngest daughter and her First Mom.  Today our family celebrates that God blessed the world with the gift of our youngest daughter.  It is a bittersweet day for me and probably for her as she grows up.   I pray for everyone who ever was and is currently in her life. (Written last year on her birthday)

Misty weather in the low to mid 50s.

No indoor heat.

Labor pains.

The final push.

A girl – a healthy, perfect baby girl – lots of dark hair, little button nose, chubby cheeks, long fingers and toes.

A decision to be made within the next 48 hours. Not enough time to know who this little person was who had been growning inside her for 9 months.

Did she want to know this little person or was it easier to not know?

Does she cry for her little girl as her little girl cries for her years later?

Does she wonder about the woman who is raising her child as I wonder about her?

Does she wonder how her daughter tilts her head when thinking, or how she skips when she on her way to do something, or her ability to figure out math problems and sound out words?

Does she wonder what her giggle sounds like when her neck is nuzzled?

Does she share a love for all things pink and lavender with her daughter?

Today, as we celebrate with milk shakes after church, our table will filled not only with those of us laughing, but also by the shadow people – the people who gave her the precious gift of life, the people who live in the background only because we don’t know who they are and how to draw them out of the shadows and into the light of the love of our family, but more importantly, into the light of her eyes. They will probably forever live in the shadows because of circumstances beyond their control and our control – the victims of the politcal machine that controls the fate of so many in EBs birth country.

So today I send out prayers for the family who has no idea who this child has become, for the family that had to make a decision that I cannot even hope to comprehend from my warm and comfortable house in a country that does not have the same social, political, and filial pressures as theirs. I pray for peace in their hearts and in the heart of our little girl, for while she lives in my house, calls me Mama, loves me as unconditionally as I love her, she is not just mine, but theirs as well. I will say prayers of thanksgiving that they chose to bring this little girl into the world when her life could easily have been snuffed out.

Our little girl has so much to offer this world of ours. She is incredibly smart. She has a wickedly funny sense of humor. She is sassy. She is loving and giving. She is physically beautiful – saucy eyes, soft hair, long, strong limbs. She has a gentle heart, though it is often hidden by her childish desire to ALWAYS get her way. She loves to avoid manual labor, but will work for hours on an art project. She knows how to push her sister’s buttons and drive her crazy, but will staunchly defend her if someone is picking on her. There is so much of all 4 of her parents in her it is impossible to separate the characteristics that each of us have given her. Together we are creating and molding such a sensitive, wonderful young girl.

So when the flicker of the candles’ light illuminate EB’s face as she makes her wish over her cake, I know I will catch a fleeting glimpse of those people standing in the shadows. Maybe one day the light will reach far enough that they can step out of the shadows and we can fully share and enjoy this miracle that is our daughter.

 

 

Trashy Tuesday

OK – I am going to get really trashy.

Old trash can

Image via Wikipedia

I have been getting up and doing my morning routine (up, shower, hair, sometimes makeup, breakfast and medication) long enough that it can be considered a habit. I tried to add exercise in there, but that just did not work. While I know I need to do that, I am not going to stress about it. I am making a conscious effort to not sit all day, but to get up often and get a glass of water or change the laundry, etc. So while it is not 30 minutes of increased heart rate, it is movement.

Instead, I am going to set a new habit routine.

I am going to dispose of something that is sitting around my house every day. This does not include disposing of the junk mail each day. This means looking around and seeing what I do and do not use, determining what I can live without and getting it out of my house. Does anyone want to join me? I would love to hear what people are getting rid of and how they are getting rid of it – trash, donate, recycle, freecycle, reuse, repurpose, Craigslist, garage sale?

By this time next year I figure I will have a house  purged of a huge amount of junk, an oldest daughter who does not feel like she is living her nightmare in the house, a younger daughter who will have learned how to not be a hoarder, a husband that will lift my yarn buying ban, fewer allergies from all the dust that is collecting around the house, and a routine for keeping my house neat!

So, for those who want to join me, here are the “rules”:

Typical advertising mail

Image via Wikipedia

If paper comes into the house, it must be dealt with as soon as it enters the doorsort, act on it, or throw it away.

Constitution-Java battle plan

Image via Wikipedia

Create a loose plan of attack – (especially if your house is a bad as mine is right now) – I am choosing a couple of counters in my “Butler’s pantry” and kitchen that seem to collect junk. I want to get those cleaned off so that I can create a “landing pad” and “control station” for my family. As those get cleaned off, I will head to other parts of the downstairs, then move upstairs. I also intend to throw one thing away in my office until all those boxes and stacks on the credenza and in the corners are gone.

Assymetric in/out boxes

Install the One in/One out rule – This means that if anyone in the family gets a gift, they must get rid of something else.  That also means they need to immediately find a home for the new item.  It can’t just lay around the house.  This is very important since Christmas is coming up!

TraderStar's screenshots - Feedback

Image via Wikipedia

 

Come back each Tuesday (or more often if you like!) and let me know how you are doing – I am one of those people who need be held accountable for what I am going to do.  So I promise to be your accountability partner if you want one.

 

Today I am going to clean out my “purse basket” on the butler’s pantry counter.  This is a basket where I normally keep my purse and keys.  It is so full of other stuff that I can’t fit my purse in there anymore, and my keys become lost.

So awaaaaaaaaaay we go!


Blog plan

Gentaur schedule

Image via Wikipedia

OK -
I have decided to add some structure to my blog, thus also to my life.

I am going to have a schedule of topics each week.  Those will be the meat and potatoes of the blog, but I will also add some spontaneous posts as things occur or if I need to vent or toot my own horn.

So here is the schedule.  It may be tweaked as time goes on, but I think it covers a lot of what I need to contemplate in my life.

Motivation Monday -

Mondays I will offer up a quote/reflection/Scripture verse/etc as well as my own reflection on it. It may be be totally random, or it may be something that I need to address that week.  But it will always be thought-provoking and motivational.

Trashy Tuesday -

This is the day that I will talk about decluttering.  I will link up with articles that I have found helpful.  I will also talk about what my current decluttering project is and the progress I am making.

Wacky Wednesday -

Wednesdays are going to be a “surprise”.   I may go more in-depth about something I am already talking about on another day.  I may post a “funny” about something.  I may post a recipe that I found.  But you never quite know what I am going to writing about until you open the post!

Thoughtful Thursday -

Thursdays are my day to explore what has made me into the person that I am today.  It will be self-reflective.  I will also explore ways to grow.  I hope to learn a lot about myself, but I also hope that other people will share in the comments and feel like they were able to learn more about themselves.  Of course, I may be just so weird that no one can relate to me, too!

Family Friday -

Fridays are going to be all about family life.  I will evaluate how my own family is doing and look for ways to make my family grow closer.  I may post craft sites for kids, games that we love, plans for the weekend, goals for my family, or anything else that relates to the relationships within my family.

I am setting up a poll.   While this blog is about making myself accountable for changing my perspective, and it is about using that perspective change to find the gifts in my life, I also want to keep it stimulating enough that readers will keep coming back.  Please fill out the poll and also let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Trashy Tuesday – Noise

I know, I know.  You are seriously wondering what noise has to do with decluttering.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I have found it have a lot to do with it.

The iPod family with, from the left to the rig...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever noticed how you work more efficiently with a clean desk?  OK – don’t laugh.  I know it took me a long time to figure this out, but I did learn my lesson.  Well, what about a clean mind.  If my head is so full of noise and constant sensory input, I find it very difficult to focus on my priorities.

The first thing I would challenge you to do is to turn off the radio, the I-Pod, the TV – anything that is making noise.  Listen to the quiet for a moment.   How many people think they will go crazy if they don’t have some sort of noisy input at all times? I did for a long time.   How many people are actually comfortable with their own thoughts?  I wasn’t.  But now I have found that the more I experience quiet, the more I am able to think and get to know myself better, which leads me to crave more quiet time.

I used to crave sound.  The TV would come on as soon as we entered the house.  In the car, the music was playing constantly.  But one day I got busy and forgot to turn it on.  Before long I was making a list of things that I wanted to get done.  Then I was actually working on that list because I was focused on what I was doing.  All that space the noise was taking up in my brain was  clear, allowing me to think clearly (No remarks about there being such a small amount of brain that music would fill it up!).

So let’s go back.  Turn off all the sound making equipment around you. What do you hear?  I like to take a few moments and just close my eyes and breathe (more on that in a later post) and relax.  Before long I hear all the house sounds around me (I can find the leaky faucet and put it on my honey-do-list, I know when the temperature is rising outside because of the sounds the house makes),   I start to recognize the sounds outside the house (the leaves rustling, the birds singing, which neighbor is coming and going based on the sound of the vehicle).  Then I start to turn inward and hear myself – my breathing, my heartbeat, my emotions.  That is when I start to be productive.   This is when I can calm myself and pray, or fly through that to-do list, or just be.

Now when I pick out music during the day I tend to choose  instrumental pieces – music that does not require me to think about it.  Music that inspires emotion without forcing it on me with words and booming bass.  Music that allows me to interpret it instead of spoon-feeding me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I crank up the music and sing and dance around the house – and yes the windows and blinds are closed!  But I no longer use it to hide from all the other clutter in my life.  Ensuring that I get at least a few minutes of quiet time each day allows me to discover more about myself.  It helps me get rid of all the clutter in my brain so that I can prioritize and organize and enjoy all the other important things in my life.

So here is my challenge to you – find a few minutes and turn off all the artificial noise around you.  Are you comfortable spending quiet time with yourself?