Wednesday, May 30, 2012

success by concussion

I'm actually fine.

But this week I discovered new and creative ways to declutter. This is one of my (not terribly) messy kitchen cabinets. Note the worcestershire sauce bottle on the left.

In spite of being 5' 4" I decided I could reach the cabinet above the stove without a step stool. Silly me. Instead of grabbing the worcestershire sauce bottle, I managed to knock it out of the cabinet.  

Right on to my head. 

After it bounced off my mildly surprised cranium, it did me a favor -- it broke one of my husband's dishes that was on the counter.  

I've also managed to declutter a large number of ibuprofen tablets since. But I'm fine now :o)

Seeing as we own three sets of dishes (his, hers, and wedding china), this broken dish is a good thing. Not only do I hate his dishes (love you, sweetheart!), but we've kept two sets because we both have different, life-threatening food allergies and it helps us avoid cross-contamination. But we don't need 16 plates for each person. Four each will be plenty. I'm not sure I can afford to drop worcestershire sauce bottles on my head 24 more times though.

I've been on a streak this week as this is the third kitchen item that has been sacrificed to the gods of the silestone countertops. We also broke a wine glass and a cordial glass. We have sixty wine glasses/goblets/champagne glasses if you count our regular stuff and our wedding crystal. We overbought, so I'm not sorry these broke.

(And if you want to see my prior adventures injuring myself because I own too much stuff, check out my old blog. Which desperately needs updating, since I have a patio garden now!)

The Reckoning

Items 89, 90, and 91: 1 plate, 1 cordial glass, 1 wine glass. All free or well-used, fortunately.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Two cups of coffee

Since I'm too lazy to post my own content tonight (hey, at least I got half of my living room painted instead), I thought I'd pass along this interesting post from the "Conscious Alternatives" facebook page. I'm really on a "priorities in life" kick this week, aren't I? Enjoy.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day isn’t enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open area between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things…your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions…and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your home and perhaps your car.

The sand is everything else…the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Enjoy a romantic dinner with the one you love. Play another 9 or 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the faucet.

Take care of the golf balls first…the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Winning the lottery

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your life?

It's a great question to ask to help yourself figure out your passions in life.

If you had all of the time, money, and energy in the world, what would you do with your life? I mean, after you'd bought the giant beach house and the Ferrari and stocked your closet with Armani and Versace. Once your material desires were fulfilled and you had boundless free time, what would you in life that would make you truly happy?

Decluttering my home is about reclaiming my life. Reclaiming my life is about being able to do the things that I really want to do without material things standing in my way. 

So, if I had all of the time, money, and resources in the world, here's what I would do. 
  1. Move to Spain and perfect my Spanish. Maybe I can't perfect my Spanish without moving to Spain, but I can take some more classes or use the Rosetta stone software my mom got me for Christmas. 
  2. Travel the world. See more of the places I love: Spain, Germany, Hawaii, the Southwest USA, London--and the places I'd love to see-- the Canary Islands, Pompeii, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico. I can read about these places, or save money for trips. I can enjoy these places without needing to stay in five-star suites.
  3. Read all of the books on my Goodreads list. Well, if I focus on this now, I could accomplish this. I don't need to win the lottery to do this. 
  4. Learn to play guitar really well. I haven't done this because lessons are expensive. But if this is a priority in my life, I need to set the money aside to do this.
  5. Go to nursing school. Not to be a nurse. Just for the knowledge. I'd be a lousy nurse. Maybe I could study my old anatomy and physiology textbooks more, or take a couple evening classes.
  6. Play the piano more. Maybe I need to set aside some time each night to play.
  7. Learn to figure skate. Again, this is something I'm not doing because it's expensive. But if it's that important to me, I need to set aside the money.
  8. Swim, bike, and run more. Methinks I need to sign up for a sprint triathalon. 
  9. Get a full-time psychologist and dietician and beat my eating disorder for good. Telling myself that I need full-time treatment is just a lie that ED tells me to keep me sick. I can beat this without full-time treatment. I just need to focus a little more than I have been lately. But I've made so much progress and I have to trust that I can continue to make progress with outpatient support.
  10. Get a personal trainer and get in good (not perfect) shape. Since I've had body image issues, I feel that it's important for me to treat my body as well as possible. Being in good, healthy shape is something I obviously need help with. So in the next 365 days I will save the money and take the time to do this for 3 months.
  11. Finish the embroidery Gram left me when she died. I spend a lot of time watching old TV shows. I can do this while doing those. 
  12. Watch everything in my Netflix queue. This will be easy to accomplish if I set my mind to it. I get bored during Winter and could easily do this towards the end of the year, if I make it a priority.
  13. Put together my family genealogy back to the Jacob Werner, the first of our family members to come to the states in the 1600s. I have everything I need to do this. I just have to take the time. I don't need to make the time -- I'm realizing I already have it.
  14. Learn enough German to read the letters from my mom's father and grandparents. It's easy to find language classes in DC. I just have to make it a priority.
  15. Get all of my photos in order. I could never pay someone to put these things in order because no one else has lived my life. So why don't I start doing this now?
  16. Finish my memory book of Gram. Gathering the pictures and writing down my memories of her is not something I need to win the lottery to do. But I do need to find the time to do it.
  17. Get really good at making wedding cakes. There's a bakery around the corner that offers private lessons. Again, if it's a priority for me, then I should find the money to do it. This means more to me than eating out. Though eating cake shouldn't be an issue.
  18. Spend more time just relaxing (preferably on a warm, sunny beach). I need to make time for myself each day. I can relax without being on Waikiki beach. I can, though, make a point of going to a beach each year, even if it's nearby.
  19. Eat fresh raspberries every day. At $3 a day this could get expensive. But maybe I can make a point of picking up a package every Sunday, or something.
  20. Wear perfectly-tailored, beautiful clothes. With starched, pressed creases. I'm apparently obsessed with creases. I know I need to buy better-fitting, better-quality clothes than I own right now in order to feel good about myself. But I also need to take the time to take care of those clothes. I can make a point to press everything for the week on Sunday night.
  21. Get a massage every day. That's way too expensive to maintain at my current income level, but I can make a point to get one of these on a regular basis. A couple times a year, at least. I could ask for these as presents when people say, "what do you want for [insert holiday here]?"
  22. Live off the grid and have an estate where I can hire local farmers to grow my own food on my land. I want to live big with less impact. I can start now by growing more of my own food and putting more of what I've learned about sustainable living into practice. 
On your list, how many of the things could you really accomplish now if you just focused yourself and your resources on them? Please share the things you'd do that would make you happy if you had unlimited resources. Win the lottery today. At least in your mind. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

My closets are high on Mucinex

We all get behind sometimes. My closets and cabinets have coughed up a lot in the last few months and I haven't coughed up enough Reckonings to match. So if you don't mind, I'm going to play a quick game of catch-up. Here's the silly stuff I've collected and (finally!) sent to the thrift shop.

Item 79: A dish rack. 
Why bother with one of these when you can lay a dishcloth on the countertop? $5 wasted.

Items 80, 81, 82, and 83: An extra tupperware ($4), two cake pans (free from Grandmom), 
and an over-the-door rack (my husband did use this when he lived alone, so it wasn't a waste.)

Item 81: This wasn't a piece of rolling luggage,
 it was a piece of constantly-falling-over luggage. 
$20 wasted.

Item 82: A shot glass. 
The previous owners of our condo apparently felt we needed to drink a few shots to calm our nerves after getting a six-figure mortgage. Found it in our kitchen cabinet after we moved in. $0.

Item 83: The shower curtain from the husband's old apartment.
Yeah, I think he needed those. We don't need two now. Nothing wasted.

Item 84: An owl lamp.
I went to a college that had an owl as its mascot. 
Therefore, my mother decided that I needed an owl lamp. (free)

Item 85: A contraption for hanging stuff in the kitchen. 
We hung stuff.  Then we got rid of the stuff we hung.  ($15)

Item 86: My fake Christmas tree. 
Nothing says Christmas like a small fire. I had this tree when I lived alone. When I moved to Nashville, I plugged it in at Christmastime and blew the circuit, creating quite a bit of smoke and ending with half of the Nashville fire department visiting me in my living room. I'm going to use real trees from now on. (It cost money but I did get a few good years' use out of it.)

Item 87: A bicycle trainer
Even the thought of competing in a triathalon in October 
couldn't motivate me to use this thing. $150 wasted. 

Item 88: Our GameCube. We bought a Wii to replace it. Now if only we could start actually using the Wii for something other than a foot rest, that would be great. It was great while it lasted though.

Total wasted on the junk on this page: $194.

Total money I frittered away on crap so far: $1,141.00. 

I could've gone to Hawaii for five nights with that kind of money. And the trip would've meant a lot more to me than any of this stuff. Sigh.

Now *there* is someone who's found her passion in life

My mom frequently bemoans the fact that she didn't get into medical school. She wants the prestige and the money that she feels comes with being a doctor. For the longest time I saw her point of view.

But working a medical librarian in a hospital gave me one special gift: I got to see the med students and doctors' lives up close. There's only one way to sum it up: Med school really, really sucks. Internship and residency suck more. There is no way I would want to be a doctor. I just don't have the passion for it.

To be a doctor you have to love medicine more than anything else in the world, because otherwise the $150,000+ salaries don't cut the 80+-hour work weeks, sleepless nights, and years of training that go into it. The social prestige doesn't make up for the patients who scream bloody murder at you because you can't cure their dying parent or because you misdiagnosed their kid. It certainly can't fill the hole left in your soul when a patient dies under your care.

In spite of being married to a billionaire and having guaranteed financial security for the rest of her life, Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg is still willing to go through the pure hell that is internship, residency, and the life of a pediatrician to help kids live healthy lives.

I hope someday I'll find my passion like she has. I hope you do too.

(from Mark Zuckerberg's facebook profile)
Congrats to the happy couple!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My mother has officially hoarded my childhood bedroom.

I went back home this weekend while my parents were out of town in the hopes of making some progress clearing out my childhood bedroom without interference from the hoarder parents. I was not the least bit prepared for what I found.

Every time I have gone back to my parents' house I have left with less stuff in my old bedroom than was there when I arrived. There has always been a pile of boxes, but I always leave a path to both windows, the bed, the door, and my dresser. But this pile was something else.

My husband puts it at least twice as large as it was when we left it at Christmas. My bedroom is no longer mine. It is my mother's hoard and my sister's spare closet. Take a look for yourself.

As this was my first video, please for give the 1.) lack of makeup! 2.) obnoxious swallowing and 3.) what sounds like a desire to trash my Bibles. I got so excited about decluttering that my desire to get rid of everything spilled over into my little speech. Not a chance that those books are going anywhere but my own condo. If I can ever get close enough to them to grab them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

Or maybe all 32 of them. In two perfect, pearly arches. Oh, and a chin implant too.

Pol guessed my silliest decluttered item: Item 78, the plaster casts of my own teeth!

My top impression lost part of one of its teeth.
Does that mean I get a visit from the adult tooth fairy?
Happiness is a fleeting thing. Have you ever spent a ton of money on something, been thrilled, and then a while later you're suddenly finding any and every flaw in the thing you purchased?

That's the story with these impressions. I had braces as a child and everything shifted as an adult. So a year before my wedding I decided to get them done again. $950 later, the front half of my upper and lowers were nice arches. On my wedding day I LOVED my teeth.

Unfortunately I was cheap and only had the front ten teeth or so fixed, which means that everything shifted in the months after the wedding. It did mean that I had the braces off in time for the wedding, though. These impressions were taken post-shift.

Now when I look at the impressions all I can see are the flaws. The fact that my incisors have dropped again and I'm starting to look like a rabbit once more. That all of my front teeth are flaring out and I'm starting to wonder if Mr. Ed is a distant cousin of mine. That I should've had my lower jaw brought forward as a child so I wouldn't be wishing for a chin implant now....

I talked to a classmate from college who has a similar facial structure and did have a chin implant. She looks *gorgeous* now. But you know what? She told me she's still very unhappy with her appearance. No matter what I do, my teeth and jaws will never be good enough for myself.

I kept these teeth impressions on my desk at work because, come on, I work at a medical library. People have plastic models of body parts on their desks where I work. Only difference is that those plastic models don't remind people of the things they don't like about themselves. I can like myself more if I'm not constantly reminded of my flaws.

For many of us there is never a "good enough." My chin will never be like Kate Middleton's. My body will never look like Kelly Pickler's. I need to start accepting what I have now or I'm going to spend the rest of my life in a miserable heap.

Are there things in your life that remind you of things you don't like about yourself? What's stopping you from getting rid of them?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Show-and-tell time

What's the silliest thing you've decluttered? Or the funniest thing you own that you realize you should get rid of? What have you held on to that everyone (including you!) makes fun of you for keeping?

Sometimes we have to stop and think about how silly something is before it can dawn on you that it's okay to get rid of the item. So let's play a little show-and-tell. Send me a picture of the object or a link to a picture on a website that's selling the product. Next week I'll post mine and all of the pictures I've gotten.

I'll give you a hint about mine: I've had braces twice in my life, and I begged this little souvenir off my orthodontist. Any guesses?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not ready to get rid of it? Try lending it first

One of my favorite "less stuff, more fun" websites is the Center for a New American Dream. One of their highlighted links today was to a great article about five ways to get rid of stuff without having to pay to have it taken away.

But what if, like many of us, you're not ready to give something away? The article suggests lending the item for a while. New sites like NeighborGoods and Acts of Sharing are like care shares for household stuff.

I've never tried it but I like the idea that I could loan out something I don't use much to see if I can get by without it. Or even better, it would be great to be able to borrow some household items instead of having to buy them.

Has anyone ever tried one of these sites?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Calling all fellow non-profit bloggers...

I've been leaving the "links I love" section of my blog (see the footer) woefully unattended. I'm looking for more links to add to that list.

If you blog on the subject of hoarding, decluttering, minimalism, or home organization, please introduce yourself! (or if I already know you and I haven't added you, nag me.) I'd love to add you. There is, however, one small caveat:

You must not be using your blog for profit. That means no e-books, no ads, no decluttering courses offered on or through your blog.

Those who are just here for fun, for encouragement, to better their lives sometimes need a break from all of the advertising. I'm going to give it to them.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Losing my (minimalist) religion
Y'know, minimalism is tiring! Look at everything you have to do:

  • find stuff to get rid of without getting injured by the things that fall on you from your closet
  • get yourself emotionally unattached to each item even though the thought of sending a plate to the trash makes you want to run screaming from the minimalism blogosphere
  • don't buy new stuff for your home even if you just bought a place and suddenly everything needs to be fixed and my, do I ever want a faucet filter because DC water tastes like something died in it
  • don't buy new stuff as therapy even though you've been doing this for years and you're beginning to wonder if Starbucks coffee really is less addictive than Macy's
  • keep blogging about it even as other bloggers get so tired of for-profit minimalism that they quit and you have little left to read that doesn't scream "buy my e-book!"

I've taken a bit of a break from blogging recently. If you've ever asked yourself the question, "what would I do with my life if I won the lottery?" you'll know the feeling. Once you've gotten past the desires for the material stuff, how would you fill your time if you didn't have to work? 

I made my list and lo and behold, blogging was pretty far down. So I took some time off to start some things I really did feel passionate about. I contemplated quitting blogging. And after two weeks of not making a serious decluttering/minimalism post, you know what? 

My condo was a *lot* more messy. 

Blogging is therapy for me. It's profit-making for some, attention-getting for others. I wanted to go down the profit and attention roads for a while. But I'm never going to make money off of the blog and honestly I shouldn't need to. I don't need the attention from 100 or 1000 readers as much as I need the accountability of the few followers I do have. 

Most of us won't make money or get popular by having blogs. But we will have neater houses. That has to be enough for me. may see some changes. I may post less often, I may combine multiple reckonings into single posts because they take a long time to write and I'm about 200 items behind! I may focus more on myself and what I haven't learned than on general decluttering tips that I've already internalized. 

For those of you that are listening, thanks. You keep me honest and that means a lot to me.