Sunday, January 31, 2010

I triumphantly declare a total win.

I did it. Thanks in large part to Alexis. I'm still coughing and still tired and today while on the phone with her, she started organizing her tax paperwork, so I did too. Unfortunately, I found I had never made a copy of my state taxes from last year. I have no idea how this is possible, but it seems to be true.  Also, just yesterday, I threw out a "welcome kit" from Bank of America because they had bought my home loan from Countrywide.  I threw it out because I sold my condo in October, and thus no longer have a mortgage with them.  Today, i went online to print out my statement of interest paid to mortgage this year, like I used to do with Countrywide.  But Bank of America has no record of a mortgage associated with my account.  And apparently that "welcome kit" had a number on it that I was supposed to use to access my mortgage stuff online. grrrr. Oh how I hate BOA. Let me count the ways. Well, I sent them a message and supposedly they will respond in 24 hours. I suspect they will say "wait for it to arrive in the mail like everyone else, crazy anal sister."  But I was going to meet with my new tax lady this week! sigh. The best least I have everything else together.

So the other goal for the day was the car.  And I really didn't feel up to going outside to do it, since it's like ten degrees out.  And Michael had already made it clear that keeping me company wasn't really on his list of things to do today. (He has to watch the crock pot. He is super really excited about making pulled pork in the crock pot. He doesn't quite trust it yet though, despite the whole POINT of a crock pot being that you can leave it all day!)  So I asked Alexis how long she planned to stay on the phone with me. 'Cause if she could tough it out for a while, I could totally get the car done.  But if she was gonna have to run soon, I didn't think I would make it. No pressure or anything. (Erin--I know...not doing so good on the self-motivation front. Ironic, considering I studied motivation in college.)

Lucky for me, Alexis is very patient. So I got the car done! Woo-hooo! It made a huge difference too.  I had to finally give up on some CD's that were scratched beyond repair. It was hard, but I did it.  I brought the car jumper inside to charge. I found out that my fire extinguisher needs a new pin AND to be recharged. How do I do that?  I decided it made sense to keep the rollerblades and sleds in there, because who knows when you'll get inspired to use them--and it's not like I have a better storage area in our apartment.  I got rid of TWO grocery bags of trash, including a half-drunk bottle of root beer my niece left in there last July.  Yeah. Shameful. Unfortunately, my armorall wipes were dried out and useless, and apparently the "multipurpose" cleaning wipes I use in the kitchen do nothing for cars.  So I didn't get to really CLEAN it...will have to buy some new wipes...perhaps a smaller package, since I only clean the car but once a year.

But it's done. Michael convinced me to wait on the closet at the end of the hall (not in our apartment) because that kind of physical labor will definitely start a coughing fit that might last all day. (and, I suspect, he didn't want to get dragged into it, and knew he would, since he is much better at spatial organization that I am. I regularly try to put things in places they clearly won't fit, because my eyes and brain really believe it WILL fit.)

Technically, then, there are 4 things that didn't get accomplished during de-clutter month: the hallway closet, the basement, the memory stuff (which requires buying some kind of organizing stuffs) and ordering pics for the frames. So...they will all just go on a list in the far back reaches of my mind. And when the opportunity arises where I can do it without ruining my day/weekend, I'll cross it off.

But, as I look around our apartment, I feel really proud of the work we did this month.  Not EVERYTHING has a good place or system, but most things do.  It feels roomier.  And we've really managed to keep it clean and organized so far.  And since it IS clean and organized, it only takes a minute to set things right when I notice things out of place. It's not overwhelming. And I really feel better. I hesitate to say I feel more in control, because that only points out how much of a control freak I am.  But I don't think I'm in a minority when I say that my environment really affects my mood, and when I'm surrounded by chaos, it's really hard to find focus and be present. I'm still planning how we'll rearrange things if/when we get the dorm room next door that's supposedly coming our way this summer.  It feels like it would fix all of our problems, organizationally speaking.  But until then...this is good enough. And then some.

And so it is with great glee that I triumphantly declare a total win in the war against clutter.


And I've realized recently that this blog has been a little self-absorbed. I mean, what blog isn't, really? But that wasn't totally my intention.  It did keep me writing on a regular basis, and it did keep me publicly accountable, and thus motivated towards forward movement.  But I also really want it to be helpful and useful to others.  Not just a fun read (I just re-read it, and I had fun at least)...but also inspiring and full of little tips and tricks that could translate to other people's lives.  So tonight I'm going to come back and write a little list of the things I've learned this month...both big-picture things, and concrete tips for organizing. And then next month, I'll try to deliver tips and suggestions, etc along the way.

For now, I've gotta go make a spreadsheet with all the info from my taxes while I wait for BOA to respond. =)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Learning Good Enough

Well, given that I couldn't drag myself out of bed until 11 this morning, I was skeptical about how well the day would go.  By the time we had brunch and got moving, it was 1pm.  Looking at the back room, my heart sort of sank.  Michael started with his clothes, which were EVERYWHERE.  I got out the electric drill and took out the bottom shelf in the closet, so he could have someplace to hang his clothes once he went through them.  He organized all of his fishing stuff, and his computer stuff, and some leftover memory stuff from high school and college. Then he disappeared, but he hung in there for a while, given this whole thing wasn't really his idea. Or his idea of how to spend a Saturday.  Two hours in, I thought I was nearly done, and I was really feeling like "how dumb was it to put this off for weeks and weeks when it only took two hours to fix?!"  But then Alexis called, and we started chatting and we were both cleaning and I decided to REALLY de-clutter the "hidden" messes in the drawers, bins, and cabinets.  And it did take a while.  At 6, I came and asked Michael to help me finish, and we wrapped up by around 6:30.  So five and a half hours.  But it's done.  I just need to vacuum (but there's a baby sleeping downstairs, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow) and finish taking out the trash and donations.  Tomorrow...I'll organize the taxes, and either attack the car or the storage closet at the end of the hall.  It's the last day of the war on clutter, and I have to say...I'm feeling pretty good about where things are, and pretty good that the month is over!  There are a few things left to de-clutter...all the "memory" stuff...and the basement...but those are things that I can pick a day over the summer and do them.  It'll be good practice not feeling like every single thing has to be done perfectly in order to move on.  Sometimes you just need to say "Good enough" and move on.

Here's the before and afters...I'm hoping they're small enough that you can't see how completely, embarrassingly awful it was in the "before" shots...


Friday, January 29, 2010

I cleaned my desk, and it made all the difference.

I have to tell you, I took the chance to prioritize cleaning my office today and it has made all the difference, as our friend Robert Frost likes to say. I asked a student helper (imagine that!) to help me file all of my random college brochures, so I can actually find the one I'm looking for when meeting with a student. Then I went through my ridiculous in/out box which was permanently "in" and filed everything that needed filing...same with my desktop filing rack. I even made a new system, where current project documents are near at hand.

At the end of the day, I was still 8 interview evaluations behind, but for some reason I felt on top of the world. I was all, well what do I do now?! And, it was easy to see what needed to be done. And it didn't even feel overwhelming. Awesome.

Before and after:
Isn't that calming? If I wasn't so damn intimidated by what's left on my list for the weekend, I'd feel really great. I really want to meet my goal of completely de-cluttering everything in my life in January. But you know what? I think I'm going to take a page from my friends at the AimingLow blog and be a little more realistic. Especially since I "wasted" the first week of January and got a late start. I've really gotten a lot done in the 3 weeks we've been playing this game, and I need to focus on that. So here's the revised list for the weekend:
  1. The back room/office, which includes fixing up the closet (tearing down shelves, getting rid of shoes I don't wear, installing more clothes hanging space and a light), organizing Michael's clothes, the giant bookcase, glass working materials, my "memory stuff", and two desks.
  2. Getting all the documentation ready for tax lady. Unfortunately, this will require a bit of pixie dust as I actually sent the only copy of my mass return in to the state last year and as such don't seem to have a copy to give tax lady. oops.
OPTIONAL (but don't tell Michael)
I can always keep these on the back burner to do at some point...maybe over summer, when we're not on duty and have more free time.
  1. The storage closet at the end of the hall...where we store all things we might need to access fairly easily. Ugh. It's very full. I think I can talk Michael into taking this on.
  2. The basement. This is where we put the stuff that was in storage in the condo when we sold it. It's not stuff we need to access often, but we weren't ready to get rid of it. There are boxes of books involved. Double Ugh.
  3. My car. In my trunk alone, there are rollerblades (just in case), a jump starter that's not charged (oops), lots of motor oil, a fire extinguisher that the pin has been pulled on (oops. what do I do with this? Can you put the pin back in--if I find it??), and lots more crap. It needs to get minimized and organized.
  4. Ordering the pics to go in the frames
So, all right. It's not SO bad if I focus on what really needs to be done instead of everything that possibly could get done. Maybe we'll start a new trend!

You know--intimacy and connection month might be a lot more fun to focus on than de-cluttering. =) Though I really wonder if the results will feel as satisfying and rewarding. And if not--what in holy hell does THAT say about me?!?

Oh--Michael earned a bonus this quarter at work (you go, baby!), so we decided to celebrate by trying an Argentinian Steakhouse in Arlington that got rave reviews on yelp. I figured Arlington+Somerville could definitely count for fun new ventures in the city for January. But when we got there, we realized we'd actually been there before. But that was okay, it was still pretty delicious. Michael had carpaccio and I had tasty squash soup, and then we both had seriously tasty chimichurri-seasoned skirt steaks. It was really flavorful, and so big that I couldn't consider dessert.

Which is saying something!

That's it for today. Even though I took a 2 hour nap after work, I'm totally beat. The raw cold has spurred some serious coughing fits today. Even I thought I might cough up a lung. Michael was so worried about me that he actually dropped me off at the door to the dorm rather than have me walk the whole 30 feet from the parking lot. (How much do we love him?!) So now...a hot bath, some cold ice cream, my Oprah magazine (from last May--mothers talk to teen daughters about sex!)...and my chamomile pillow mist.

Wish me luck for the FINAL battle in the war against clutter.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A tad bit of progress...

Well we had the College Counseling Presentation tonight, which went pretty well, actually. Despite my coughing. Then, we wanted to check in with one of our students in the dorm who had a rough day, and that turned into a long conversation. So now it's nearly midnight, and the only thing I accomplished today was finishing the de-cluttering of my work email. Which is a small accomplishment, but at least it gets one thing off my list.

And I decided that ordering pictures doesn't necessarily have to happen this month, since the "organizing" part is pretty much done for that task.

There's still a fat lot to do this weekend if I'm going to meet my goal. I'm going to need a whole crapload of help from Michael. I sense that he's really, super excited about that.

Meanwhile, check out the comment on yesterday's blog post. Suffice it to say I'm pretty impressed with a certain burrito/bowl company. Good stuff.

I used yelp to find some help with our taxes but got a quote of $400. Which seems a bit steep. So back to the drawing board...will have to make more calls tomorrow. That guy didn't have a website anyway. Or an email. I don't trust vendors without websites and email contact info. Though he did actually sound pretty nice. Just not $400 nice.

Clearly not much to say tonight. My head is already asleep. Sorry.

*cough cough*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's play highs and lows...

First, the highs:
  • I had a REALLY good interview today. This girl was so amazing I wished I could take credit for her. I actually felt more energized after interviewing her, which is pretty much the opposite of how I've been feeling lately, since I cough my way through every interview.
  • I worked really hard for several hours on this powerpoint presentation for the college counseling meeting for parents of juniors tomorrow night. The Director kind of left it in my hands...last minute...but it was actually fun to be able to create and organize and accomplish something and feel good about it.
  • We went to Boloco for dinner, and I asked the cashier if I could make my own bowl with whatever I want in it. He said, "This is Boloco, you can have whatever you want." He was totally sincere too. I looked at him and said, "That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me today." He gave me a free chocolate chip cookie. I didn't want to tell him I'm on a health kick.
  • My friend sent me the following text message, "You've inspired me to come to terms with my sock drawer and throw away the ones with holes in them that I now admit I'll never fix." It really made me smile.
  • I started reading a snarkily entertaining blog that someone I went to high school with writes: She writes for a lot of blogs, and is a stay at home mom. I don't know if she's actually figured out how to make money at it, or if she doesn't need to, but either way I'm insanely jealous. She also writes for Aiming Low, a group of bloggers that "strive for anti-perfection. It’s not about the failure to attain perfection….it’s about understanding that perfection is not only over-rated, it’s a big fat whopping lie-burger with cheese…and fries…and onions." I could learn a few things from them.
  • I also interviewed a student who was possibly the least-suited to our school that I've ever interviewed. I'd tell you about it, but that would be unprofessional.
  • I coughed so much during my interviews that I couldn't get some of my questions out. It was awkward.
  • After finishing the powerpoint, I worked for a long time on a resources handout for tomorrow night. After emailing it to the Director, his admin wrote back to tell me they'd already made copies of all handouts and stuffed the folders. Even though the Director knew I was still working on it. So that was a total waste of time.
  • I took Mucinex DM, which has an expectorant and a cough suppressant in it. The expectorant works, and the suppressant doesn't. Which means I've been choking on/drowning in my own mucus all day. Beyond awesome.
  • It leaves me really, really tired.
  • Too tired to do any organizing, which almost certainly means I won't meet my goal. (especially with college night tomorrow from 6-9)
  • My boss asked if I could take one of her interviews tomorrow. Given the college counseling presentation, how far behind I am on all my admissions work, the constant coughing, and the fact that I've only averaged 3.5 hours of sleep each night for the last week, I hesitated and told her it would be really hard. She said she understood but I could tell she was disappointed. And I feel guilty.

What were your highs and lows today?

Oh, Wait!

I just want to tell you two unrelated things.

1) When I cleaned out my purse and found a bunch of paperwork that needed to be filed...I filed it RIGHT AWAY. And it only took about 2 minutes. So I guess the new system works. So far.

2) Michael and I ran an errand tonight and saw a car with a license plate that read "NASCAH" and it made me laugh out loud. Nascar fans with a Boston accent. Perfect. Michael even took a picture for me (which is saying a lot because he gets embarrassed easily at my picture-taking) but he didn't send it to me yet. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow, but I just wanted to share before I forgot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I never, ever need to buy hand lotion again.

Finally, some real progress to report! I got through my purses and bags tonight...there were 7 of them. I filled a whole grocery bag with trash, and found about 12 things that needed filing. I also realized I never, never need to buy hand lotion again. Or chapstick. So that was useful. Unfortunately, I didn't find my missing wedding-day earring. I don't know why, but I was hoping I might come across it stashed in a bag for "safe keeping." I just can't really believe that I lost it.

I also went through all of the picture frames I've been saving. There were 28 of them. So I probably don't need anymore of those right away. =) But I'm glad, actually. I went through I wrote down all the sizes I have. So now I can finally go through my pictures and order prints from our wedding, honeymoon, anniversary trip, skydiving, scuba diving, grand canyon, hot air ballooning, etc etc. I actually paid a lot to have a giant metallic picture of our wedding framed--the only one we got--and the print is really too dark. So I'm also going to bite the bullet and pay whatever I need to to get the print changed out. (Not sure I can do it myself, as it has a fancy backing on it.)

So I'm not sure I'll get to the ordering tonight, because it's almost ten, which means it's time for a dorm meeting, and I won't get back till after 11 most likely. And I need to get to bed because my boss scheduled a 7:45 meeting tomorrow morning (my day doesn't usually start until 8:00) and I really need to be on time.

So...there's 5 days left of January and the war on clutter. These are the remaining battles to be fought:
  1. There's the back room/office, which might need to be done in sections. It includes Michael's clothes, fixing up the closet (tearing down shelves, getting rid of shoes I don't wear, installing more clothes hanging space and a light), the giant bookcase, glass working materials, my "memory stuff", and two desks.
  2. Ordering the prints to go in the frames.
  3. The storage closet at the end of the hall...where we store all things we might need to access fairly easily. Ugh. It's very full. I think I can talk Michael into taking this on.
  4. The basement. This is where we put the stuff that was in storage in the condo when we sold it. It's not stuff we need to access, but we weren't ready to get rid of it. There are boxes of books involved. Double Ugh.
  5. My car. In my trunk alone, there are rollerblades (just in case), a jump starter that's not charged (oops), lots of motor oil, a fire extinguisher that the pin has been pulled on (oops), and lots more crap. It needs to get minimized and organized.
  6. My desk at work. This is a big one, and I'll never have time to actually do it at work. I need to get better at filing, for sure.
  7. My email...I'm probably about half way done unsubscribing from Spam, but it's been hard to keep up with and easier to just delete. I also have to finish going through my 42 folders at work, and archiving things I need and deleting things I don't need.
Do you think it's reasonable? We are supposed to go to poker tomorrow night, and I have the big college counseling night for Juniors (which I am in charge of the presentation and haven't yet prepared) on Thursday night. So I can try the easy stuff over the next two days...ordering the pictures, and my email, and maybe my car. But that still leaves a LOT of big things for the weekend.


yeah, blogging is less fun when people don't comment. it's still working in terms of keeping me writing and holding myself accountable for the de-cluttering goals. but it's less fun. maybe it's time to go viral and share this blog with lots and lots of people. then again, maybe i just need to make it more interesting. maybe the war on clutter just isn't the most compelling read. i'll admit it's possible. =)

Even Erin had to admit that it counted as my city venture for January.

So I didn't get anything "accomplished" in terms of organizing yesterday...unless you count convincing Michael to go through his clothes. Which I do! He wasn't compelled to pose for blog-worthy pictures, but suffice it to say that he had room in some of his pants for an extra leg or two. =) He found a whole bag worth of stuff to donate, and a bunch of stuff to trash. He didn't finish until midnight, so he didn't get to really organize his clothes (the stuff he knows fits and wears regularly is currently strewn about the infamous "back room"). But--it's a good start!

I also got to meet Erin for dinner at Ronnarong, a Thai tapas restaurant in Somerville, MA. I'm counting it as my "fun thing in the city" adventure for January. Erin was adamant that it didn't count (even though I noted that I had to drive through Cambridge to get there!). While I admit that it isn't "downtown" it did get me off my couch and into my car and a new venue. Unfortunately, since I don't go into the city much anymore, I didn't remember to bring change to feed the meter. I scrounged around and found a few quarters in my car, and Erin had an extra. I came up about 12 minutes short and decided to risk it.

We had a great time catching up...we haven't seen each other since my wedding! That's kind of crazy, but kind of not, since we both have insane schedules. And even though we both had hectic and tiring days yesterday, and it was rainy and did reaffirm my theory that taking time to connect with people GIVES you energy rather than draining it. That's sometimes hard to remember, but I'm going to try. We talked for three hours and had some delicious soup and Thai rolls. The entrees were just so-so, I thought...the pad Thai was a bit salty for my taste. The atmosphere was really cute though...very small, with a bar seating 8 and maybe 5 tables, but a cozy, pillow-laden bench to sink into.

I had gotten a "groupon" for the restaurant (this is something you can sign up for online or on facebook, by city. A groupon is a group coupon that has significant savings if enough people sign up to buy it. In this case, I paid $15 for a $35 certificate to this restaurant.) so our meal only cost $6.00, which was awesome. (In case you're wondering, they sold 1,788 of these!)

Unfortunately, I had a $30 parking ticket waiting for me when we were done.

After that, even Erin had to admit that it counted as my city venture for January.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bright & Cozy Zen Den

I rallied. I started with the shelves in the bedroom, and turned on a fascinating TLC special on the world's strongest toddler and the world's smallest girl, and I just kept moving. I got the whole entire thing cleaned up and de-cluttered...except for Michael's drawers. But there aren't many clothes in there anyway.  And the clothes of his that were on the floor...I just threw in the back room. One of my favorite de-cluttering touches in our super tiny bedroom is the magazine rack hanging on the wall to the right of the bed for our reading material, and our remote. Very handy, since we don't have room for night tables. Also, on my side of the bed, we put up a small cube shelf...just the right size for an alarm, a book, chapstick and my pillow mist.  As an extra bonus--you can't clutter it up, because it's not that big or sturdy. =) We wish our room was a little bigger, but we make good use of the space we have, and we have a bright, cozy, zen den.

Whaddya think?

I have to say, I'm proud of this progress because tonight was really, really hard. I just can't stop coughing no matter what I do.  And after baking with the girls in the dorm, I was knackered. Then we had dorm meeting. Then we had to do a mediation between two roommates.  After that was all done, it's no surprise that Michael begged off on doing his clothes tonight. It was after 11:30 by then. But he did PROMISE to do them tomorrow night. So that's progress too. =)

Tomorrow, I have plans to GET INTO BOSTON to try out a new Thai Tapas restaurant, with Erin, a friend from high school. Well, new to me. And her. If I'm lucky, I'll get to the purses/bags but if not, I'll be okay with my monthly excursion into the CITY. haha.


oh man, it's bad now. really bad. i can't talk without coughing. i can't really even breathe without coughing. and it makes me soooo tired and weak feeling.  i can't even use capital letters.

just kidding.

I tried to take a little nap to get my strength back since I know I have to be up until at least 11:15 tonight and I wanted to get some organizing done. But I just coughed the whole time. Even while laying still. I don't know what to do. How am I going to make it through a day of interviews at work tomorrow?

Well...the only thing to do is organize, I guess. Michael has agree to sort through his clothes at some point tonight. We'll see if that really happens...but he did seem serious. I'll do the shelves in the bedroom, which will only take a few minutes and might give me energy to do the purses. After that, I think I'll have to call it a day.

I feel very defeated. I spent hours doing admissions and college counseling work this weekend, and my week ahead is awful...booked pretty much every minute, day and night, until Friday night.


So there, Saturday.

Hey there. Guess what? I didn't give up on today. I made myself some mini-pizzas, put on a seriously disturbing lifetime movie about a teen pregnancy pact, and set about de-cluttering my computer. It's not TOTALLY done, of course--that would take years. But--the two drives that had no space left are done, and that includes all of my thousands of pictures. So that's quite the accomplishment. I haven't burned them onto discs...I'm not sure how useful that is, since they may just get scratched anyway. But all of my pictures are backed up on an external drive, and I've kept only more recent ones that I might actually want to access on my local computer. As an added bonus, I cleared up my desktop. If I did my documents, I'd consider the computer done, but I'm not sure I care that much about that, since there's plenty of room there and I'm hoping to get a new laptop in the not-so-distant future, which will give me a clean slate.

Having done this means that it will be easier to organize/order/frame pictures, which is one of the remaining things on my to-do list. It will also make it easier to start my Year Two of Marriage book, which was a goal of mine...maybe during the "creating" month...oohhhh...hopefully I'll edit my wedding video during that month too! That would feel like an accomplishment (only two years later).

So there, Saturday. Tomorrow, I'll have to pick something easy, because I have a boatload of college counseling stuff to do, have to get dorm snacks and groceries, and promised the girls we would bake cookies in the afternoon.  And, since I'm still coughing up a storm, I'll probably get a slow start to the day.  Especially since it's nearly 1:30 am now. sigh.

So...maybe purses/bags and the bedroom (there's not much left in there). If I get really ambitious, I'll start phase one of the picture frame project.

And try to convince Michael to do his clothes. =/

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A hot, wrung-out, used, dirty dishrag.

Well, readers, I'm really struggling today. Thought I was getting better, but my stomach thought otherwise, and I spent most of the morning in the bathroom. I sludged back to bed and stayed there until about 3. I tried to take a shower to wake myself up so I could do something purposeful. I've spent a couple of hours trying to catch up on my interview write-ups from work last week but all I want to do is go back to bed. I can't possibly need more rest. Just one interview write-up left...and then I can move onto college counseling. I have a 15 slide powerpoint and 6 or so handouts to create for a college counseling meeting for parents of Juniors next week. But I'm so slammed at work that I need to get it done this weekend. So much for my plans of clearing out the clutter in the back room.

And Michael is out tonight--at a banquet for his fishing club, which has been planned for months. I was so excited for him to go out with the guys and have some fun. Except after he left I felt like crying. A full night stretching in front of me...I'm on duty...every time I lay down on the couch, the doorbell rings.  The kids are sweet, saying they hope I'll feel better soon...but they still have to ring the doorbell. And I still have to answer it. What I wouldn't give for a video intercom thingie right now.  And I'm starving, but scared to eat, because I hardly ate anything yesterday and my stomach revolted.  So far I've had two pieces of toast, a handful of cashews, a cereal bar and a cucumber. Still hungry. Still nauseous. And a bit lonely.

And, I took a look at the schedule of interviews for next week...looks like being out last week has caught up to me, because I'm slammed next week. Which just makes me want to cry even more.  Just five more days of interviews...just five more days...

Remember how I said I felt like a hot, used dishrag? Well, I forgot wrung out. A hot, wrung-out, used, dirty dishrag.

Friday, January 22, 2010

This better be for organizing!

Oh, wait. I forgot to tell you the new shoe rack got here today. In the most grossly, wastefully, huge box ever. (It might be good for gathering donations though, so at least I'll recycle it.)  It was funny, too...I went to pick it up in the mail room (which was a poor idea, because my doctors note expressly forbade "excessive physical activity that might cause labored breathing") and found a note scrawled on it from one of my fellow dorm parents: "This better be for organizing!"

Well, Jenn, it was! And here's a picture of it hard at work. Not the most beautiful sight for the hallway. (As Alexis keeps pointing out, it would go much better in a closet.) We'll see what we can do about that long-term, but for now, at least this keeps the clutter contained.

No word from Michael yet. I tried to put his most-used shoes on the floor like before so it won't feel like much of a change. =) Oh, and I attached a basket to the coat hanger for his gloves and hat (after taking this picture, so don't try looking for it). We'll see how he likes that idea. (Last time, I tried putting them in a basket in the front hall closet. He found them, but he wasn't a fan of the spot, so I'm still trying.)

PS: Looking at this picture, I can see it still looks cluttered. There are definitely a few coats and scarves that we don't use as often and could be hidden in a closet...if we had room...

Well, two outta three ain't bad.

Well, I got the dishes done and the counters and table cleaned off. And I did the filing! It's an easy, accessible system and I even tested it out by emptying our two "put mail and important things we should keep but don't know what to do with in here" wall pockets.  There were a couple of big files that didn't make the cut: manuals (I figure this can be stored in a closet, since we never actually need to consult them, but might one day), real estate documents (from when I bought the condo in 2004. I might need some of these docs when I file taxes this year, but can't imagine needing them beyond that, so will hopefully pitch them after taxes are done), and Kiss My Glass stuff (I'm finally going to let the website die a natural death this year, but you never know when some of the old stuff could come in handy. I could see myself doing craft fairs again at some point in the future, if not a full blown business).  Everything else got pared down and fit in these two little boxes. I still don't really think we need all of this paper in our lives, but I'm going to try to really commit to filing stuff right away from now on. (You too, Michael!)

As for the purses and's such an easy, small thing, and there's still some time left in my night, but I don't think it will happen.  I feel much worse at night and I'm definitely feeling pretty exhausted from all the coughing. It might be time for more ice cream. And maybe I'll finish reading the first of the decluttering books so I can donate it.

Anyone have any great filing systems or motivation for filing to share?? I find having "pretty" and easily accessible boxes really helps far, at least.

I have goals today.

I'm still sick. No fever, but an alarming cough that actually made me start crying last night because it makes my head hurt so badly when I cough.  But January is dwindling away while I lay helplessly on the couch. And I am not helpless! (At least, not in the war against clutter.)

So today, I have goals.

Goal 1: I will do the dishes. It will take ten minutes tops, and it's the only part of the previously de-cluttered and cleaned areas that hasn't been maintained. I refuse to be foiled so easily.

Goal 2: I will de-clutter the purses/bags. There's only 4 or 5 of them. If I am ruthless, it shouldn't take more than 20 minutes, and I can do it on the couch.

Goal 3: The filing. This will take a while, because I have to decide what's okay to toss, come up with the new "right" folders, and transfer everything to the new system (hopefully it will fit) before filing all new stuff that's been stockpiled since last year when I did filing last. This will also help prepare me to get taxes done. But once I bring all the stuff I need into the hallway, I can sit mostly still and work on it. And, if it bleeds into dorm duty time, I have easy access to answering the door.

The trick is that I can't move that much without coughing, and I get exhausted really quickly. So my plan is to doze for 45 minutes now...then do the dishes. Then I'll have lunch on the couch, and watch a show on DVR, giving myself another 42 minutes of rest. It should be around 1:15 then, and I'll do the purses, then take a nap. I'll have to wake up with enough time to shower before going on duty at 4:15, so I don't scare the students. Then I'll start the filing project, which can spill over into the night.

There. I have a plan. Off to doze I go. See you soon?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dead last on my list of priorities...

I'm sorry to say that aside from reading the book on de-cluttering (which really wasn't as useful as I'd hoped)...nothing got done. I was diagnosed with the flu and bronchitis, and I did get some antibiotics, so hopefully I'll be feeling better soon. I still don't know whether to go to work or not tomorrow.  It's an easy day in terms of my schedule tomorrow, and I could easily catch up on work. But if I stayed home, I'd get enough rest and probably still be able to get organizing done before coming on duty at 4:15. Plus, right now I can hardly move and the coughing makes my head hurt really bad.  But I've never NEVER been out of work for three days before and it seems a bit wimpy and lame and lazy. I don't know if I have it in me. Though this experience has made me think...I was actually a bit grateful to have the flu and a fever, because with those symptoms, my boss wouldn't even WANT me to try to drag myself in and I was off the hook for making the decision to call in.  What is it about me that makes me put myself and my health dead last on my list of priorities?!? Stuff to ponder for my "boundaries and balance" month...

Oh...but I did have a thought.  I'm thinking, maybe as a reward if I accomplish my de-clutterig goals this month, I'll invest in a Kindle e-reader.  That way, maybe I won't have the same sense of attachment (and loss) with books....

A hot, used dishrag.

Oh man. The cough is ragged and painful and disgusting. And I am so HOT. It's ridiculous. I think I need to go take a cold bath.  I didn't get out of bed until noon today and I seriously feel like I could go right back to bed for another couple of days. This is not boding well for the de-cluttering efforts.

But here's a funny story for you: Becca called last night and left a message that she found this book about de-cluttering and was going to get it for me but then she didn't because it would add to the clutter. Which made me smile, which was an accomplishment since I felt like a hot, used dishrag.  But then--even funnier--as I was going through my books last night, I found two books on de-cluttering. TWO.

I kept them. Just for now.

In fact, I'm going to go bring them into the cold bath with me. Maybe I'll get inspired.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The more serious literature whimpered as I added it to the pile.

My head is still filled with glue and I'm achy and hot and cold and wishing I could feel okay about calling in again tomorrow...but I managed to salvage the day, at least in terms of the war on clutter.  Michael agreed to take me to The Container Store on the way to get my tortilla soup from California Pizza Kitchen. I picked up two beautiful new file boxes for the cabinet in the hallway, with the hope that this way, I'll do the filing right away upon opening the mail. I also got some reusable, erasable file tabs, which I'm irrationally excited about.  So now when I get to the filing in the "back room" I'll be ready with a new, more usable system!

I also ventured into the back room--which is saying a lot, considering you can't see the floor--and went through the books. I tried the band aid approach...pull it off the shelf and decide quickly! I made three piles, as I did the other for Becca, one for my sister, and one to donate.  I got rid of about another 100 books or so. It hurt. It really did. I have no idea what this says about me.  I tried to rationalize with myself...after all, I probably won't re-read many of these books, since I always have a long list of new books to read.  And, after you know the ending, it's not really as fun, is it? And a lot of them were fluffy chick lit or sappy Nicholas Sparks books.  The Jodi Picoults and Elizabeth Bergs were even harder to get rid of.  The more serious literature whimpered as I added it to the pile.  But we were so good to you! I kid you not,  I felt like I was abandoning old friends.  I only kept books I hadn't read, books that weren't mine to give away, business/educational kind of books, inspirational books that I will read again and signed copies of books.  I put them out in the hallway for the girls to come grab and I had to stop myself from taking them back in.  I remember how much I liked some of them, and how touched I was! Michael says I must really attach myself to books, and I guess that's true, because it felt like I left part of myself out there in the hallway, which made me a little anxious.  There's something about reading words that so clearly articulate how you feel or could feel or would feel. Or when you read something so fluid and poetic and true that you wish you'd written it yourself.  Maybe it's just me...maybe it's the wanna-be writer in me.

The only thing that's helping is that I can hear a few girls out there going through them, laughing, and sounding excited.  In fact, even though I'm sick and moving hurts, I jumped up when I heard them and ran to listen at the door.  I wanted to make sure they weren't making fun of my books. Or me. But they weren't. They sounded happy at the prospect of free books.

So at least there's that. I'll hold on to that.

In other news, I think I've decided that since February is the month of love, I'll focus on intimacy and connections next month.  Which will mean spending time in the common room when I'm on duty, and answering the phone when it rings, and finding my way to Gina's apartment, and helping Tiff get ready for my new niece or nephew and playing board games with my niece and getting off the couch and painting pottery with Michael and maybe having a dinner party.  Send along any other suggestions you have to foster connectedness and intimacy...

I'm not calling it a day yet.

Thanks, Alexis and Becca. You made me feel better. I might go back to bed now. Which is what I need to do, even though it's really hard to believe that after how much sleep I've gotten today.

Meanwhile, I picked out a new filing system from The Container Store, and was just about to order it, when I noticed it's available at my local store. Which means if I can drag myself out, I don't have to pay for shipping or wait for it to arrive. Perfect. The store also happens to be right next to the restaurant with my favorite soup. So maybe Michael will take me there tonight.

I also ordered a shoe rack. It's not a very exciting one, but it will use space more effectively.

I also found these cute little hook thingies that I really love. I'm not buying them yet, because I don't really need them. But I'm going to keep them in mind just in case a need arises.

I still have an idea in mind that if I take the smallest thing on my list...say de-cluttering the purses...then I won't lose today. Remember...I have 10 things left on the de-cluttering list and only 12 days (including today) left to do them in. And some of them are really big! My goal is so in reach that I don't want to let it go.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to think about what next month's focus is going to be.  I'm excited about the cooking/cleaning challenge, especially since my apartment will be de-cluttered and organized, which means it will be a good time to find a system for keeping it clean. seems more realistic to do the cooking challenge after school is out so I don't have to juggle cooking with being on duty in the dorm. Health Eating/Low Sugar Intake seems like it would be more successful after I get used to cooking. Learning Danish still feels intimidating, but given that we're going to Denmark in July, it would be smart to start learning sooner rather than later to leave room for additional learning and practice.  Being low-tech is an option, but actually seems sort of un-ambitious after the de-cluttering efforts. Will it really make much difference in my life? And February is a really busy month at work (application reading) so I'm not sure I can imagine really investing in the Meditation/Me Time challenge.  Intimacy/Connections and Boundaries/Balance seem a little vague now. I might have to flesh them out a little.

What do you guys think I should focus on for February?? What will YOU focus on?

I should be organizing!

Oh, guys. I'm laying on the couch with a fever. It hurts to move. It's the first time I've called in sick in 3 years.

And I'm laying here feeling guilty...with a whole day off I could get so much organizing done! And I'm so useless right now!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I was crushed. I felt like crying.

I spent a while online and narrowed it down to two shoe racks and asked Michael for his opinion. He said he doesn't like shoe racks...he prefers the shoes on the floor. (apparently it doesn't bother him to have a long parade of 12 pairs of shoes down the length of the hallway).

I was crushed. I felt like crying. He said it was okay, I should pick whichever one I wanted. I pouted. He said he'd use it if it was there and he liked the bamboo one.

It didn't help. I still felt like crying.

It is now clear that in addition to being really sick, I am also PMS-ing. Considering these factors, and the fact that I have 4 dorm meetings until 11 pm tonight, I can assure you there will be no more organizing today.

Should I order the shoe rack anyway though? You saw the pictures...

Ugh. I'm sick.

I hate giving in, but...well, okay, no I don't hate it. In fact, I kind of like having a justifiable excuse. I'm sick. Really sick. Not dying sick, but definitely "I wish I didn't have to move for a few days" sick.  Of course, Tuesdays are dorm meeting days and I have 4 tonight, so I'll have to move.  Looks like there's a good chance this will be one of my possible two "off" days tonight in terms of de-cluttering. I figure the least I can do is brainstorm and write a list of the things left to de-clutter. That way, if I can scrape up only a little energy and/or time during the busy weeknights, I can attack something small...and I'll know just where to focus my energies on larger stuff for the weekend.

Let's see:
  1. There's the back room/office, which might need to be done in sections. It includes Michael's clothes, fixing up the closet (tearing down shelves, getting rid of shoes I don't wear, installing more clothes hanging space and a light), the giant bookcase, glass working materials, my "memory stuff", and two desks.  Also, the filing system is currently in there, and I need to throw out anything more than two years old (that's a good rule, right? I mean everything's available digitally these days.)
  2. There's pictures/picture frames. I have probably 15 frames and I need to write down the sizes and go find which pics to print, and actually order, assemble, and hang.
  3. My computer. I really dread this one. Two of my drives are full, and I need to create space. I also need to start culling all of my stored photos, burning some to CD, uploading others for photobooks, etc. (Then I can start our "year two" wedding book...I'm making one for each year of our marriage, starting with our vows from that year, and then pics from the year. Year One turned out great but it was a huge project to do at the end of the year, so I vowed to upload photos and do pages as the year passes.)
  4. My purses/bags. I probably have 6--all filled with an assortment of loose crap and trash.
  5. The bedroom--not much left to do in here. Michael's clothes, and some shelves that need de-cluttering and dusting.
  6. The storage closet at the end of the hall...where we store all things we might need to access fairly easily. Ugh. It's very full. I think I can talk Michael into taking this on.
  7. The basement. This is where we put the stuff that was in storage in the condo when we sold it.  It's not stuff we need to access, but we weren't ready to get rid of it. There are boxes of books involved. Double Ugh.
  8. My car. In my trunk alone, there are rollerblades (just in case), a jump starter that's not charged (oops), lots of motor oil, a fire extinguisher that the pin has been pulled on (oops), and lots more crap. It needs to get minimized and organized.
  9. My desk at work. This is a big one, and I'll never have time to actually do it at work. I need to get better at filing, for sure.
  10. My email...I'm probably about half way done unsubscribing from Spam, but it's been hard to keep up with and easier to just delete. I also have to finish going through my 42 folders at work, and archiving things I need and deleting things I don't need.
I think that's it. Nothing else is popping out at me for now. There's 13 days left this month (including today) so it's going to be tight. But now that I have it written down to refer to, I'll be able to combine things on days that I have a bit more time. Maybe I can even do something easy, like the purses, today.

Even just writing this down has inspired me a little. So I think I'm going to go in search of two organizing things I need: a shoe rack for the hallway (We have about 14 pairs of shoes we use regularly lined up in a very long row) and a filing system for the hallway so I'm more likely to follow through on filing. Here we go...

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Displacement System for Cleaning is Debuted

So today was a close call. I was REALLLLLY enjoying the slower pace of things and very nearly justified it all with the "but it's supposed to be my day off!" excuse.  But you motivated me. And off I went to clear the hallway, which included the first half of my books.  I already did the first step the other day--installing a coat rack in a much more practical place, where it wouldn't be fighting with the bookshelf (and Michael) for space.  Today, I took down the two "mail collectors" by the front door. We don't use them for mail. We use them to stuff crap that we know we should keep but are too lazy to put away or file.  So out they went!

Next, I did the bookshelf and cart. I'm a big fan of the displacement strategy for cleaning. I might have made this up, so just play along.  There are two steps to Displacement: 1) You take everything off/out of the thing you're cleaning. You clean it, and then only put back the absolutely essential things that are worth keeping AND make sense to be there.  2) Anything you want to keep that doesn't really belong in that space gets further displaced to the room that makes the most sense.  Finally, anything that's left either goes in the trash or the donation pile.  So that's what I did. I took everything off the shelves, separating them into piles (keep; becca, tiffany, and donate).  I cleaned the shelves, and put books back, organized by subject.  The general donation books went outside my apartment in the hallway, and several have disappeared already.  And those weren't even the good books! I still have the huge bookshelf in the back room to de-clutter. (maybe next weekend...that room is daunting!)

Which brings me to the downside of the Displacement System.  I use it for general cleaning, too. I'll start in the living room, and anything that doesn't belong in there gets (literally) thrown into the room where it does belong. Then I do the kitchen, the bathroom, the hallway, the bedroom, etc.  I've been using the same concept for de-cluttering the whole house this month.

Which means that the back office (ie the last room in the house) is SUPER intimidating. eeks.

Anyway, I also cleaned out the bottom of the card which had an odd arrangement of stuff: a tea decanter that Gina might like, some tealight candles, a creme brulee set and creme brulee mixes. I know I should have gotten rid of the creme brulee stuff, but one day I'll have room in my healthy life for it, so it got relegated to the kitchen where it belongs. The candles went in the bathroom with all my other small candles.  Now I have an empty space, and later tonight I hope to go on Amazon or Container Store and find two filing thingies that will fit in there. I suspect if my filing system were more easily accessible and in a place that made sense, that I might actually file things right when I open them.

Then, I vacuumed.The floor was really pretty gross and dusty. I think I might be allergic to my apartment more literally than I first suspected.

So today's chore wasn't that bad really, and getting rid of some books (about 50!) wasn't as bad as I feared. (then again, the good books are in the other room).  And...Melissa inspired me to go to the gym tonight, and we did a whole hour of cardio and weights. I feel great! Sadly, it's time for dorm meeting, so I think my productivity is over for today. But that's okay.

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: Do not, under any circumstances, have small tables, bookshelves, caddies, etc. near your door.  You will not be able to resist "dumping." The only thing that belongs near the door is a paper shredder (for junk mail) and a place to put your keys. (Hooks are best.)  I do let Michael have one little bowl on the bookcase to empty his pockets into at the end of the least it's contained.  But we used to have our kitchen set up so that you walked right into the kitchen table when you came in the door.  And, no surprise--you couldn't even see the table for all the crap on it.  We moved it farther away and...clean table!

Here's before and after pics of the hallway:

Doesn't that just make you breathe a little easier, and more deeply?? It feels so EXPANSIVE!

Do you have a really good system for cleaning a particular area? Have you tried the Displacement System?? Go try it. Pick a little junk drawer or something small and try it out. It's fun. =)


I almost didn't do it today, readers. I indulged in a slow day and I'm loving it. I stayed in bed til ten, dyed my hair, made a healthy lunch, watched a show on my DVR, and decided a nap was in order Suddenly it's 3:00 and I'm on duty at 4:15 so it feels a bit late to start the hallway now.

But you--yes you!--saved me from myself.  Because you're expecting a progress report tonight, not flimsy excuses about a day off. Okayokayokayokay.

I'm getting off the couch now. Meet back here in a few hours to brag about our accomplishments today? (B-I hope you get in some exercise!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I was ruthless, and I was thorough.

Today was productive, but there's little evidence.  I spent hours--HOURS--going through all of my clothes.  (Michael declined my offer to join in the fun, which means we still need to do the process again wtih his clothes at some point. He doesn't have many clothes to begin with, and probably half of them don't fit him well.)

I was ruthless, and I was thorough.  I did ALL of my clothes...everything in my closet, armoire, and dresser drawers...right down to the socks and undies! And here's how I did it: if I hadn't worn the item in the last few weeks, I tried it on and appraised.  I'd ask myself Would I buy this today, if I were in a dressing room right now? If the answer was no, out it went.  There were few exceptions: a sweater someone knitted for me, some Hampshire and Harvard hoodies that I hardly ever wear but that do fit and were expensive, the Thai fisherman pants from our honeymoon, and a sarong wrap from our trip to Hawaii.

There were several highlights to this project:
  • I have three bags worth of donatable or yard sale clothes.
  • I was surprised at how good I looked in some things I haven't worn in a while. It was practically like going shopping--I now have many new pieces added to the rotation.
  • I was surprised to find I actually have PLENTY of well-fitting work pants (and can therefore stop alternating between the same two pairs.)
  • I fit into my old pants again!
  • I can now close my dresser drawers and pull a sweater out of the armoire without feeling like I'm losing a game of Jenga.
On the downside:
  • I had to make myself get rid of several items that I actually love, after finally admitting that they either didn't fit, weren't flattering, or needed repair they were never going to get. (and I'm left wondering if these items were just as un-flattering the last time I wore them.) sigh.
  • There were a few things--not many, but enough to be embarrassing--that either still had tags on them or were hardly worn at all but that I clearly wouldn't buy today. sigh. Dealing with the guilt of "waste" was definitely the hardest part of this task.
  • After wondering how so many of my shirts could possibly be too short when they didn't used to be, I realized my chest has gotten bigger. How'd that happen? When did that happen? 
  • I now have three bags of clothes, and once again need to decide whether to save them for the yard sale supposedly being organized for March, or just donate them and be done with it.
  • Even after all of this, my closet is still too small for even my hanging clothes, and Michael is still relegated to the pantry and various sprinkler pipes. Sigh. I need to find somewhere else to stick a shower rod and make into a closet. I might need to rip out the shelves currently installed in the closet. They aren't very useful--just sheets/blankets mostly.
The worst part though, was that even after hours of ruthless culling, nothing LOOKS much different. Even cleaning the floors was more immediately rewarding.

Though my arms still hurt from yesterday.

At least I'm on track...tomorrow I need to finish the hallway and do the books. Wish me luck!

What did you get done today??

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Perhaps you're supposed to clean floors more often than once every year and a half or so?

Before we get started tonight, I'd like to share with you an enhancement I've made to the blog: look over to the top right corner of the page and notice, if you will, the GOOGLE translate box. That's right. You can now translate this blog into several dozen languages. Why, you ask? Because I'm half Danish, you know! Oh alright, my married half is Danish. But still. And--maybe you want to practice your French! It's an option now, that's all I'm saying.

Today, I got the floors cleaned. I know that doesn't seem like de-cluttering or organizing, but if you saw the amount of dirt that no longer clings to my kitchen floor, you'd know I really made some more room in there.  Perhaps you're supposed to clean floors more often than once every year and a half or so? hmmmm.  Since I swept the other night, it was only a three step process.  First, I vaccuumed. Then, I got down on my hands and knees with a bowl of hot, soapy water.  This brought back childhood memories.  I think I enjoyed it more when I was a young lass.  With a scrub sponge (and, in places, a knife edge) I conquered most of the dirt, but left behind a soapy trail of dirty water.  So the last step was swiffering.  I love my swiffer wetjet, but I've found it's pretty useless unless you've already really cleaned the floor.  It's good for a final, drying, dust-collecting sweep though.

2 hours later, I've got shiny, expansive looking floors in both the bathroom and the kitchen. And really, REALLY sore arms. Damn. That's definitely Michael's job next June 2011.  (Don't be intimidated if you're trying to follow along at home...once the floor has a foundation cleaning, I fully support swiffering or even using one of those clorox wipe thingies for quick touch-ups.)

I do feel a sense of accomplishment, but I wish I had gotten more done.  Still, there are two more days in this long weekend and two major chores left on the goal list: 1) the books and 2) the clothes. One per day and we're on track! Think I'll do clothes tomorrow though, in the hopes that I can con Michael into playing along with his clothes.  I'm pretty sure he's hanging onto clothes from about 70 lbs ago.  I'll tell him how fun it will be...we can be in our own movie montage. (I just told him. I put my excited voice on and everything. He smacked his hand to his forehead, which I thought was a good sign. He thinks it's a GENIUS idea! But no...he says he will only play cameraman.) Oh well.

So I'm still agonizing over what to do with the stuff I'm purging.  Some is clearly trash, and that's easy enough. But some things are "someone else's treasure"...I just know they are.  I just don't know that I have what it takes to get them out in the world to meet their soul mate owners.  For example, I have the cutest little soap dish and hand soap pump.  they have adorable ducks on them. I used them in the kitchen--one for dish soap (so smart to pump it one-handed onto a sponge!) and one to hold the scrub brush. I remember falling in love with them--and they were on clearance!  But now I'm streamlining and I'm ready to let them into the universe.  Do I trash them? I'm so very sure that someone else would want them.  Someone else would even pay for them!

Mostly I just feel way too guilty throwing things out.  Money was spent! For now, I'm collecting such things and putting them in the basement. But one day soon--before the end of January, hopefully--I'm going to have to de-clutter the basement.  And then they're either going in the trash, or I have to find somewhere to donate them, or save them for a future yard sale.  I just want them not to be wasted. I was NOT brought up to waste things.

Which brings me to something I'm realizing, perhaps a bit late in life.  I was interviewing a mother the other day at work (how weird is it that part of my job is interviewing people older than I? It feels so...disrespectful).  Anyway, she was telling me about how her family didn't have as much money as her daughter's current classmates...but that even if they did, she'd use it to fund experiences, not stuff.  And I was like, I know what you mean!  I was thinking of Thailand, and Italy, and Denmark, and Spain and scuba diving and skydiving and cooking lessons and dancing lessons and the Grand Canyon, and the hot air balloon.  That's the stuff life is made of...the adventures I'll love reliving with my grandchildren one day. 

There are some things really do add joy to my life and home: books, and organizing thingies, and some gadgets that make my life easier, and games, and cozy blankets, and aesthetically pleasing items like colorful pillows and candles.  But, I'm finding through this exercise, that there's a whole truckload of shit that I buy that I really don't need. 

The trick, I guess, is learning to telll the difference. Before it's too late. (Have you seen that show Hoarders??!? It's the most disturbing thing I've ever seen...perhaps it hits a bit close to home, hummm? hmm?!?!)  In any case, I now have a new motivation for being a bit more discerning in the shopping arena: I hope to never have to de-clutter my home again. Ever. And I also hope to be able to move to my next home in one small, organized UHaul truck. The less stuff I buy, the more I'll like my home.

Hmmm. And I always thought the opposite.

Ooh---and I get extra credit today, because besides all the calories burned (and muscles developed) scrubbing floors, I still managed to make it to the gym.  (confession: it was mostly because I thought Melissa would be there.  But I did resist the urge to return home when I found out she wasn't.)  After such a productive day, Michael and I indulged in a delicious sushi dinner and a deliciously quirky movie. 

And now, you ask? With one hour left in the day, I plan to start on the FEBRUARY *gasp* issue of Oprah Magazine.  With a bowl of half fat vanilla bean ice cream. 

And maybe just a tad bit of hot fudge.  It'll soothe my aching biceps.

What did you get done today, dear reader? You still have an hour left....go do it and come back and brag. I'll wait here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Michael's Reward

I told you earlier that 90% of Michael's uttered curses are directed at the coat rack in our hallway, which regularly mocks him by pelting him with coats and scarves. Well, he's been such a good sport about all this purging and organizing (he still can't find his hat) that I decided to install the new coat rack before he came home from work. It was easier than I thought, and literally took 5 minutes. (Why did we ever wait this long?!?) And guess what? Nary a fallen coat since. And the entry way is so open and spacious! And--I have a new wall to fit some framed photos on. (I have a collection of frames awaiting me to select and print photos from our honeymoon and anniversary cruise)...but I was waiting to have somewhere to put them! Voila! The things I find while cleaning. =)

And--an update on the magazines! I read both Real Simple and Oprah January issues--before the end of January. And, I've developed a new system for reading them. Part of the reason I never threw one out before was because I always found "stuff" I wanted to keep from each magazine. This time, while reading, I just folded down the corner on the pages I wanted to reference again. After finishing reading, I went back through to see if I still wanted to keep anything or purchase a recommendation, and moved on. I wound up putting a baking dish I loved on my wishlist (because I don't really need it yet, but it might be nice motivation when I get to my cooking month), ordered some Ouidad Curl products (because since getting my hair cut for the first time in oh, 6 years, there have been maybe a dozen days where I looked at myself in the mirror and thought wow. In a good way. And I want to nourish that), and savored a quote I found: "Fall down seven times--get up eight." I noticed while jotting that nugget down, that the byline underneath featured the name of a classmate and friend from grad school. And the article was about finally making healthy changes in her life. Since that's what this blog is all about, I decided to reach out and reconnect with her. I wish we still lived in the same city. My thoughts also lingered on another article, where someone asks "what is the most important thing in your life" and the author can't answer that yet. He tells her, "the most important thing in your life is you."

Well said.

Having said that, I'm proud of myself. I got more out of this magazine (and the time spent lingering in the bath with candlelight, strawberries, and a massaging neck roll) than any before. And now I'm hoping to recycle/share it. If you live nearby, and want it, let me now. =)

Before signing off for the night, I'd like to revisit the idea of the motivation circle. Tonight I surrendered--yet again--to a nap after work, and set me alarm for five minutes before my friend, Melissa, was going to head to the gym. When the alarm went off, I was DEAD to the world and happy to stay that way. I noticed I had a voicemail, and it was Melissa saying she wouldn't make it to the gym until later.

Off the hook, I returned to the call of my pillow. But I knew Michael would be home soon anyway, and I thought of the idea to install the coat rack before he got here. When he got home, we started dinner, and just then Melissa called to say she was gym time minus 40 minutes. Darn. Having started cooking, I was a good 45 minutes behind her. =/ Still, Michael was making a really nice and healthy tuna dinner and we had a show on tivo that we love to watch together, and I didn't want to rush through. But as soon as it was over, I threw on gym clothes, grabbed my water and a magazine, and headed to the gym. I'm not going to lie. I was speeding. The gym is less than a mile from my house (thank goodness) and I was cutting corners like my life depended on it. All to get there before Melissa left. As I pulled into a prime spot (the irony of searching for the best spot at the gym is not lost on me) my phone rang, and it was Melissa. She had just passed me on her way out.

I almost, very nearly stayed in the car. But, I was here. With a magazine. So in I went. 250 calories later, I came out thinking about what makes Melissa such a good gym partner/motivator. She's a good friend, and a good listener, and a genuine person, all of which makes time on the treadmill pass quickly. But the real crux of it, I think, is twofold. One, she has a positive perspective on life, and it's infectious. Spending time with her is like taking vitamins--you know it's good for your health. Two, she cherishes her gym time. I'm not sure if it's because it's rare that she gets time for herself, or because she's commited to her health. In any case, it made me realize that I might not be quite the gym partner she is. I have a feeling no one would be motivated by me to go to the gym.

But...I've heard rumors that people have been motivated by this blog to de-clutter, organize, and clean. So I guess the motivation circle theory still holds.

But I'm still going to try to remember to try on the positive perspective and consider my time at the gym a luxury. Which really, it is. When else can I have quiet time to read? hahahahaha....

Anyone else have something they need a new perspective on? Any ideas for looking at something in a new, more positive way?

PS: Yes, you have to wait for pictures of the new coat rack/expansive entryway, because I hope to get the rest of the hallway done this weekend and it will have more of an impact that way!

But this blog is not about excuses. It's about focus.

Yesterday was a slow day, organizationally speaking. But, if you knew about my day/week at work, you'd probably give me an organizational award just for keeping it together and not exploding and/or crawling into bed for the remainder of the week. I had to stay late at work, and got home just in time to be on duty, and I was busy pretty much every minute of that time until roughly...12:25 am.

But this blog is not about excuses. It's about focus. So here's what I did get done yesterday.

1) I finally folded that laundry AND put it away. There was a lot of it. Now my drawers don't close and I'm out of hangars. This has made me realize that de-cluttering the clothes is definitely imminent. Since I've lost about 20 lbs in the last 6 months or so, this might actually be somewhat enjoyable. I have a lot of clothes from college, I realized, and a lot from before I had boobs, apparently. So let's add that to the list for this weekend, shall we?

2) I got a new coat rack. I'm not sure I've mentioned this issue we have. We have a narrow hallway in our tiny apartment, and on one side of it is a bookshelf overloaded with books, where Michael drops his keys and things when he gets home from work. on the other side is an overloaded coat/scarf/purse rack because we don't really have a coat closet to speak of. Imagine our hallway as a one way street where people are allowed to park on both sides. Well, the thing is, every single time Michael walks down the hallway, half the coats fall off the rack and he has to pick them up. EVERY.TIME. Suffice it to say that 90% of Michael's uttered curses are directed at the coat rack. SO. I got a nice, new coat rack which I plan to install tonight (it seemed a bit noisy to install after midnight) at the other end of the hallway, on the same side as the bookcase and neatly lined up army of shoes. So there will be parking on only one side of the hallway, and presumably significantly less cursing.

3) I ordered a new planner. This was fairly agonizing, actually. I found this one genius planner where the top had weekly planning, and the bottom monthly, and they flipped separately, as shown

But...although it seemed brilliant, I also wondered if it would get annoying. So, unsurprisingly, I opted for a more aesthetically pleasing planner. Not as sophisticated as my one from last year, but it will keep my interest.

So then, I'm hoping this weekend will be as productive as last weekend, which I have to say amazed even me. I hope to clean the floors, hang the coat rack, de-clutter (and donate) the clothes, organize dresser/armoire/closet, and....

do the books.

be supportive, okay?

PS--have only been to the gym once this week, so need to go every day this weekend to meet my goal.
PPS--HAVE managed to keep all previously de-cluttered areas organized and clean, amazingly.
PPS--Students in the dorm are ever so grateful for the snacks I donated from the de-cluttering of the front hall closet. Their parents, I'm sure, would be less so. =)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And he hardly ever rolls his eyes at my organizational logic, which is kind.

Phew. That was a close one. It was another hard and long and busy day at work, and by the time 4:00 rolled around, I couldn't resist the urge to curl up under my cozy blanket and give in to a little nap. Of course, I was awakened 5 times by various text messages. (You think I'd learn!)

I finally pulled myself out of bed around 5:45, knowing that it was the only chance I had at de-cluttering something. Which is when Michael and Gina walked in.

Luckily, we decided to go work out before dinner--smart move--even though we were pretty ravenous. Wednesday is free bring a friend to the gym day, and if it weren't for Gina agreeing to come, I probably wouldn't have made it. (I really need to work on self-motivation!) When I go regularly, it's not hard to keep going, but since I hadn't been since last Thursday's painful pilates class, the effort to go today seemed monumental. Afterward, we took a dip in the hot tub, and then picked Michael up and headed to Naked Fish (where we ate a mostly healthy meal).

We didn't get back until 9:30 (where does the time go?!?) and I didn't think I had it in me to do any de-cluttering. But I told you all I would, and I already wasted my two "free" days this I picked the snack/coat/hardware/Michael's work shirt closet by the front door. (Our apartment is small and has only two closets, so they have to serve many functions.) It looked daunting, but only actually took about 20-30 minutes. The hardest part? Getting rid of the Betty Crocker Instant Dessert bowls. mmmm. I love those things. But they really don't fit into our healthier diet. And they had a "best by" 2007 date on them. How they survived in my closet that long, I don't know. Oh wait. It's because they were well hidden under a bunch of crap. =)



So I've gotten a start on the hallway, and I'm back on the de-cluttering train as well as the exercise wagon. Unfortunately, I never did get to folding that laundry Michael did for me on Sunday (which means it will all look like it came out of a cow's ass now) and I haven't cleaned the kitchen or bathroom floors yet. But once I do--the front half of the house will be really done! And--more good news--we've actually kept everything clean and organized so far. Michael doesn't really know where everything is or where it's supposed to go, but he's a good sport about asking.

And he hardly ever rolls his eyes at my organizational logic, which is kind.

Oh! And I wanted to share this article I found with Clutter Busting Tips from the Pros, because a lot of them really seem to be working.

Motivation Circle

I have a confession. I haven't organized anything since Sunday. And, I haven't been to the gym since Thursday. And, I'm feeling cranky, depleted and uninterested in doing anything other than crawling into bed. Preferably until next week or so. To be fair, I also haven't had an hour of free/down time since Thursday.

This all makes me realize:

1) I'm glad I built two "free" days a week into my change challenge, which means I haven't failed yet. Way to set myself up for success!
2) Either the gym or the cleaning has actually been feeding my spirit and energy and motivation.
3) It's really good that I keep this blog. Because even if only a few people are following along, I do feel a sense of accountability and an impulse to be able to report back on some actual progress. Also, when people leave comments and get inspired to make changes in their lives, it's really inspiring and motivating to me. So we've got a little motivation circle going on here.

So. I will definitely get back on the de-cluttering train tonight. And, I will attempt to exercise as well. The real question is: am I allowed to indulge in a little nap when I get home from work?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010