I Put Some Stuff Away!!!!

28 01 2010

I know that this journey is all about little steps. I am so so overbusy these days (yes, I know, TIME the invisible clutter!) that I don’t have time for anything BUT little steps.

But I have to say, last night I did something that was SO small but SO significant I have to report on it. I’m patting myself on the back left and right.

So. I was rushing out to work. I tried on like 3 skirts and some other stuff. I was RUSHING. I left the un-worn skirts on a chair and (gulp) on the floor. I ran to work.

I came home. I was really tired. Now NORMALLY, I would take off the skirt from my body, throw it onto the pile on the chair or floor, and crawl into bed. But INSTEAD…. I:

1. took off the skirt I was wearing. Hung it on a skirt hanger!

2. PICKED UP the other skirts from the chair and floor. Hung THEM up on  skirt hangers!!! Then picked up the two pairs of tights from the floor (one I just took off, one from the trying-on period previously) and put them in the tights drawer!!

3. Went to my clothes hamper. My clothes hamper is really funny. It’s like a big basket with a lid. I never put anything (except occasionally socks and undies) IN the hamper, I just pile my worn clothes on TOP OF it until it is laundry time, “just in case” I want to wear anything again. It looks really bad.

4. Gathered up all of my “can be worn again” articles of clothing from the top of the clothes hamper, and HUNG THEM UP in the closet!!!!!! CALL THE NEW YORK TIMES!!!!! Put the truly dirty stuff INTO the hamper, and shut the lid.

5. Took off my earrings. Did NOT toss them onto my bedside table as per usual, but walked ten feet and PUT THEM in my jewelry box! EEEEEEEEE!!!

6. Put away three or four other random things that were lying around on the floor.

Did you all feel the tectonic plates moving underfoot last night?!? This was some real change, people!!

I noticed two big things WHILE I was putting stuff away last night.

1. It was not HARD to put away these things, and it did not take much time at all.

2. I felt like I was going against every fiber of my natural being.

Habits die hard. They really do. But I’m trying. I really am. And I feel like I deserve some kind of medal for that little 15 minute burst of Putting Stuff Away last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Right??

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Stuff (thank you George Carlin)

25 01 2010

And thanks Phoebe for pointing this out!





Why I Love Vacation Rentals and Hotel Rooms

9 01 2010

That moment when you walk in the door and everything is all pristine?  Oh, I love it. And I think, I could live here. I want to live here forever and ever!! WHY? Because there’s no STUFF everywhere!

And then I notice that there are no bookcases here, just like three coffee-table books on the coffee table. So I would have nothing to read (except the 6 books I stuffed in my suitcase). And there is nothing in the closets, just the clothes I brought.  But ahh it is such a clean, beautiful feeling. How can I bring this home with me? CAN I?

I was so happy for the first few hours we were here last night. Of course now it is the Day After, and all five of us are here, and we have strewn things on every pristine surface (ha ha ha, wah wah wah) and it looks almost Just Like Home. LOL

But, before we left, I did have a nice breakthrough. I was able to almost finish up my office, which I had begun over a week ago, found that nice stash of $$, and then abandoned. That was upsetting. I had joined an online site called The Clutter Diet (very helpful!!) and they have message boards, and professional organizing folks come and answer your questions and problems. I posted something called “The Eighty Percent Problem.” Meaning that I will attack something energetically, get about 80% through it, then run out of time (or energy), and then leave the 20% behind, at which point that 20% will start attracting more junk until it grows to be another giant mess. 😦

The advice I got back was very wise. It said, basically, I am trying to do too much at once. It suggested doing ONE DRAWER or one small corner rather than a whole room. Or to set a time limit. The folks at Clutter Diet liken this “mass attack” decluttering to a crash diet. It isn’t sustainable over the long run. I get that.

So, my dear friend and declutter buddy LM came over last week (we go to her house next!!). She helped me unclutter ONE CORNER. But it was a corner piled high with crap that had been there a long time.  We set the timer for 30 minutes because that’s all we had. And we cleaned the corner. Including a bag of framed photos that had been there SINCE I MOVED IN. (5 years ago) 😦

But it is now empty. And you wanna hear something realllllllllllly funny/sad? OK.

I have complained a long time that my office is too cold to work in. Well, the other day I found a SPACE HEATER under all the clutter. Which was thing one. I had had no idea where that thing had gone to. It had gone nowhere; I’d just buried it. 😦

AND yesterday I walked in and it was miraculously … WARMER. What did I find? I found that the room ACTUALLY HAS A HEATING VENT but I’d totally covered THAT up with a DIFFERENT pile of junk that I’d since cleared.

Red face. But warm feet.

And here’s the before-n-after of THAT side of the office (which I’d previously neglected to show you).





Tantrum –> Cleanathon

1 01 2010

Last night I had another mini meltdown that almost put me over the edge. Luckily, I was able to channel that distress into an incredible New Years’ Eve office cleanathon! The things I found!! (more on this later)

But first, the meltdown. My husband got a notice from Fastrak, the electronic toll collector, that he had violated a toll passing. It included a bill for $29. But we HAVE a paid account, so this was an error. Tried to call and go online to clear it up. But couldn’t because we did not know our account #, OR the PIN they had sent us like 5 years ago. I had signed up for automatic bill pay (good, right?) and then basically forgot about it. When a payment notice comes in the mail, I usually just toss it, thinking it’s been taken care of.

So basically, without the account information we could not deal with this bill.  I could feel my frustration mounting as we kept hitting dead ends because we had no account number or PIN. And to me, it was just another indication of how messed up we are that we can’t keep track of our lives, and we have no file, either paper or online, that is accessible to us. That once again we are at the mercy of our insane disorganization.

Well, I could’ve downed an entire bottle of champagne OR eating a box of truffles, but I did neither. Nor did I scream at my spouse, but I wanted to do that too. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH UUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSS?!?!?” Instead I came into my total pigsty of an office, and set to doing the homework that LM set for me last week. I took out some empty cartons and set about Removing Things From My Office that Do Not Belong Here.

I found: a soccer ball, a sheet of Christmas tags, a pile of random clothing, a half-finished hook rug, a sock monkey dog toy, a bunch of CDs, a pair of fuzzy rabbit ears, two silk scarves, a Tide destaining pen, some earrings, a purse, a bunch of Weight Watcher snack bars, a Chinese takeout menu, a loofah sponge, some soap, a necklace, kids’ school notebooks, DVDs. I sorted these into two boxes: My Stuff and Other Peoples’ Stuff. Amazingly, as I searched around for the Stuff that Did Not Belong, the surfaces began appearing.

And guess what ELSE I found: two manila envelopes, one full of stamps and the other full of address labels. (I did not blog about the other internal meltdown I had last week when spouse asked, “Where’s a stamp?” and I COULD NOT ANSWER.

AND: (this is the cherry on top of the sundae) Underneath all the debris, a plain little envelope, SEALED, with my mother’s handwriting. Happy Birthday. (note: my birthday was in AUGUST) I opened it.

Here’s what was inside. 🙂

And here’s my  after.

Note: this entire process took ONE HOUR.

Happy New Years to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





The Most Cluttered Day of the Year

26 12 2009

I think the day after Christmas has to win the prize on this one. Even the normally “neat” areas of our house are just a crazed jumble of boxes, presents, wrapping paper, STUFF! There is stuff everywhere. I’ve finally hit my low point (or high point, of piles!) and am SO READY to tackle this. And even though we had one of the nicest Christmases ever, I am so relieved it is over and I can just DEAL. I am thrilled that my schedule is pretty empty this coming week, and we have no plans to travel, so I am just going to spend it trying to find my way out of these piles.

I almost had some mini (and maxi) meltdowns this past week. The things I couldn’t find (which I’m updating on Twitter) really threatened to send me into a very dark spirally self-loathing place. STILL can’t find my Mastercard, but I was reluctant to cancel it because 1) I know it’s LOST and not stolen, 2) I really needed it for online shopping for the holidays. But I may have to break down.

Lost my work keys. This is so bad.  I have a bright orange lanyard thing (SO I WOULDN’T LOSE IT) which has keys to two separate work sites. It is a huge, huge deal to obtain these keys (it took MONTHS) and if  I lost them it will be a very very very bad thing. I HAVE TO FIND THEM.

Lost my ankle brace, so had to do stupid modified workout. Happily, it showed up yesterday, in the guest room.

I’m actually pretty proud that I think I did not “lose” any Christmas gifts this year.  This happens to me every year: I buy stuff, then “hide” it but I hide it so well from myself, I do not find it in time for Christmas. I think I managed to give all my gifts this year! But how sad is it that this is like some big victory.

My declutter partner is returning midweek. I cannot wait for her to get back. I’m desperate, in fact. And I’m getting as much of a head start as I can before she arrives. For one thing, I have to do my homework from last week.

How do the rest of you deal with post-Christmas clutter? Do you have a method? A plan? Tell me, please!!





The Dream of Simplicity

18 12 2009

I have piles. Giant piles of papers. Boxes of papers from classes, research I’ve done, research I’m doing, projects I have, bills, taxes past and present, scrap paper, art paper, post its. I have piles of books that don’t fit into my bookshelves, I have piles of papers and articles in my closets just crammed on top of each other and those big giant plastic bins that are NOT see through piled on top of each other filled with more crap. My office, is in my front room. There is a constant and growing pile of papers littered on both the left and right sides of my desk from the projects I’m working on.

I have a bunch of bins that supposedly hold all of my tools and household hardware ‘thangs’. Please. I have no idea what are inside those bins. They are piled in the guest room closet.

My bedroom is a constant pile of clothes, clean clothes never make it into my closets. I have about 4 or 5 clothes baskets that you cant tell what is clean and what is dirty. My hamper is always full to the brim with dirty clothes. When people come over, I sweep the clothes off my bed, onto the floor and then shove them into my closet with the baskets piled on top of them.

I have a storage that I’ve had for about 6 years. Why? I don’t even know what is IN there aside from my camping stuff which makes sense because I live in an apartment without a garage or outside storage space. Its packed from the floor to the ceiling with … stuff. I don’t know what’s in there! Stop harassing me!

oh… sorry.

Whenever I’ve traveled out of the country, or gone on extended vacations or been somewhere for more than a few weeks, I always come back to my house wishing I could just gut this thing and start over. I look around, having lived with nothing but the clothes on my back, my computer and a few toiletries, I always think, I don’t need all this shit. Yet, somehow I hold on to it. My style is not a sleek, modern style, I’m definitely a gal who loves a little shabby chic, but messy and cluttered – NOT. However, I know there has to be a way I can marry the lessons from modern style and its simplicity to help release me from all this stuff. I’ve always been someone who believes the way that someone cares for their space is a reflection of themselves in some way. If this is my reflection, um, ew.

Its time to let go, release and get down to the simple things. I’m finding it hard to focus on my work with all these things piling up around me.





Hope and a New Start

18 12 2009

So my friend LM came over today. She has agreed to be my partner-in-organization. She’s going to help me with my house, and I’m going to help her with hers. I’m so excited about this. One, because doing it with someone else and that immediately lessens the sense of isolation, shame and sadness. Two, because I really think she Gets me and that it is not simply about getting enough clear boxes from The Container Store to deal with the stuff. Three, because I think it’s going to be fun.

I am feeling better already. We started this morning. She came over and I took her physically on the Tour of Shame. I gave her a tour of every nook and cranny of the house, and she took notes on a writing pad. It was all very liberating, calming and horrifying all at once. But really good.

We talked for a long time about my history of clutter, my patterns, the things I have tried (including mega expensive Professional Organizers) etc.

We agreed that this is not going to get “fixed” overnight. But we are committed to each other for the long haul. I decided that my two main priorities are: getting my home office in functional, nice condition (it is currently serving as toss-place for junk from the rest of the house, and so cluttered I cannot think, write or concentrate in it) and getting my bedroom in restful condition.

She gave me two homework assignments. (YAY I love this kind of homework)

1. Writing assignment (Double YAY): write about my dreams/hopes/etc for my office space and what it would ideally look like/feel like/function as. This will be my next blog post.

2. Doing assignment: remove everything from office that does not BELONG in office. Leave other stuff. Then, BRING other things to office that are scattered in rest of house that actually belong there. Do not sort, toss or otherwise organize until Lisa returns.

3. Read one organizing book and see what stands out/makes sense/resonates. I’m choosing Unclutter in One Week (HA, yeah right) since it is the newest one in my collection.

That should keep me busy! But yeah I am energized!!