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!

Count Down

One thing that I need to do is get back to working on my interior Mayhem before I can start tackling the garbage that has started to take over the house again (I am beginning to feel like I am living an episode of Hoarders recently!).  August 1st I will be embarking on a 30 day self-improvement program.  It is being sponsored over at The Personal Excellence Blog and is entitled Be a Better Me in 30 Days” (30BBM).   

Here is a description from the site -

What is 30BBM About?

30BBM is an all-new challenge where we’ll be working on ourselves, our characters, our personalities – thereby creating a better us at the end of the 30 days.

So what exactly does it mean to “Be a Better Me“? It means…

  • To become a better person – One that we will be proud of. If I were to ask you to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, what score would you give yourself? Would you rate it a 10? Why/Why not? No matter how good we are, there is always room to be a better person. Through 30BBM, we will do exactly that – be a better person.
    • Weed out the traits we do not like. Some of us may often complain about traits we’re not proud of. For example, procrastination. Laziness. Pessimism. Clumsiness. Carelessness. Forgetfulness. Tardiness. Impatience. Low self-confidence. Abrasiveness. Obsessiveness. Complaining. Self-victimizing. Etc. Does any of these sound familiar to you? During 30BBM, we will explore our negative traits and work to remove them.
    • Build new, desired traits. What traits do you want to cultivate? Compassion? Assertiveness? Responsibility? Resilience? Courage? Self-Belief? Sharpness? Wisdom? Wittiness? Femininity? Masculinity? Diligence? Through 30BBM, we’ll cultivate our ideal traits.
  • To develop our character. All of us develop a certain character based on our upbringing. When we don’t grow, don’t challenge ourselves, don’t explore new grounds, our character will atrophy into nothing. We become just another person in the crowd who goes with the flow, who sways with public opinion, who has no say/idea of his/her own. It is by taking on the right experiences and consciously growing where we build our character. By taking on 30BBM, you create the opportunity to develop your character in just 1 month, compared to if you don’t participate.
  • To (re-)discover ourselves. (Re-)Discovering who we are, on a whole new level. Connecting with our inner self. Knowing why we behave the way we do. Understanding the motivations behind our actions. Such self-reflection is needed for us to improve and become better. Many of the tasks in 30BBM will get us to reflect and rediscover ourselves.
  • To cultivate universal values. No matter who we are, there are universal values that connect us as humans. These values include Compassion, Gratitude, Love, Kindness, Truth, Authenticity, Generosity, Positivity, Growth, and more. Through the 30BBM tasks, we will reacquaint with these values and cultivate them in us.
There will be daily tasks to do.  I am looking forward to some structure.  This summer has sort of killed any type of structure I had in my life.  Everything I planned to do fell through, so I ended up being a sloth!   I figure it will also set an example for the girls.   They start back to school on August 11th, so when they sit down to do homework, I will be doing mine as well.
Anyone out there want to join me on this 30 day journey of self-discovery and growth?

Trashing the TV

Turn it off

Image by nitrodog via Flickr

Yesterday I talked about some of the concepts/lifestyles that I would like to take from The Waltons and put into my own life.  One thing that I listed was getting rid of nightly TV routine.  I would like to have some traditions to replace the TV.  Here are some things that I have been thinking about introducing or doing more routinely.

~Reading a book out loud.

~Putting together a puzzle as a family

~Reading the Bible

~Playing Wii together as a family

~Praying the rosary

~Playing board games/cards

~Listening to books on CD

~Going for a walk

~Sitting on the porch and identifying sounds in the dark

Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Any suggestions for games that would interest the whole family, including adults?

Thoughtful Thursday – Your Tongue

My mom quit working when I was born.  One reason was because she and my father decided having her at home with me was something they were willing to sacrifice her income to achieve.  Another reason was because my dad was a street cop at the time, which required him to change shifts every few weeks – 3 weeks on days, 3 weeks on evenings, 3 weeks on nights.   My mother was very, very good at protecting our family time.  While I remember having to be quiet during the weeks that dad worked nights, I rarely remember feeling like my dad’s schedule interfered in our time as a family.  I am sure that took a lot of work by both of them.   I know that they both sacrificed a lot to ensure that I was able to benefit from their undivided attention. 

My question is how were they able to do that?  I look at my life, at that of my girls, and my husband.  Financially, there is no way to have me stay at home, given the fact that I carry the benefits for the family.  But how can I ensure that the girls benefit from undivided attention, that they don’t feel lost in the business of daily life? 

I am trying to adjust my schedule to be available for them.

I make sure that either I or Hubby is available to be at their activities (such as Girl Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, VBS, etc).

I demand an evening a week where we have either a family game night or family movie night. 

I attempt to cook meals and insist that we sit down as a family for dinner a minimum of 4 nights a week. 

But one thing that gets lost in there is time for me and time for my marriage.  How do I meet everyone’s needs?

One way is to follow my dad’s advice -

Put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth and say “NO”

But that is often easier said than done. 

There are so many expectations….

I found this article very helpful.  She discusses not only what saying no means, but also what saying yes means as well. 

At this, the beginning of the new year and filling in of new calendars, I am going to commit to looking at not only what I say yes to, but also what I will be saying no to in that yes.  I commit to being much more intentional in my schedule. 

How about you? Are you going to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and say NO?

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.