Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday's Fashion Fallout: Shoes will not heal grief

Back to the "Grief and Clutter" series, which, I swear I will return to in earnest.

Today's Friday's Fashion Fallout item is a pair of road cycling shoes. I love cycling and unfortunately have more or less stopped since I got married. But these shoes need to go for a different reason.

Right after Gram died I decided it was time to put some serious energy (read: money) into cycling as a way of trying to move forward with my life. So two weeks after she died I dropped an insane amount of money on a road bike and the gear to go with it. These $100 shoes were part of that purchase.

Cycling shoes are funny. You can't really walk in them because they don't have a flat sole. Instead, they have holes for you to screw a clip. The other half of the clip is attached to the pedal. When you get on your bike, you clip yourself in and quite literally are attached to your bike. If you fall, the bike goes with you if you can't unclip yourself fast enough. But when you're riding and not falling it's awesome. This kind of pedal makes you much faster because you're able to pedal through the entire 360 degrees of your stroke, instead of just on the downstroke.

I'm a skittish person. I also break easily, as evidence by the long list of physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons I've acquired over the years. I tried the pedals -- they were fine so long as I didn't have to suddenly put my feet on the ground. I fell a couple times, and got back up. And then I fell right in front of an SUV, with my feet still attached to my bike. I was done. Back to toe cages for me.

It took two years before I finally was willing to get rid of the shoes. I really loved what they did to my ability to ride. I've always dreamed of riding fast even though I'm short and slow no matter how much I ride. Giving up these shoes meant giving up that dream. I guess I just have to learn that I may be athletic, but an athelete I won't be. But I'l take not being an athlete over getting killed by the insane drivers in this town!

The Reckoning

What: Item 150! A pair of cycling shoes
Cost: $100 and some skin
Fate: sold on eBay for $30
Total money wasted on stuff: $1644.00
This purchase wasn't a complete waste though. I found out that this kind of shoe and pedal just isn't right for me. I still can't decide if that was worth the $70 I lost on this pair of shoes. I'm still going to count it though.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Inversely proportional messiness

My level of messiness is inversely proportional to the presence of my husband.

The hubs (who I'm just going to give up and finally call the Chief Engineer, because we love Star Trek and he's an engineer, and otherwise I'm just stealing Megyn's moniker for the guy she married)...has gone away on business. And what semblance of organization we had in our home is now well and truly gone.

Oh yes. Those are skis on the couch. New skis. *facepalm* 

Well, skis that I ordered long before I blocked ebay and amazon on my computer and paid for with some extra contract work so it didn't affect our bottom line. But still. I will have lots of decluttering to do this week. Argh. The whole point of decluttering was so I could stop spending time decluttering!

Does anyone else's house suddenly turn into a mess when someone leaves?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five easy steps to curing an online shopping addiction

Thanksgiving at the home of three -- three! -- hoarders was eventful. Eventful enough in fact that it deserves several posts and a video tour of the infamous basement in my banner. I promise I'll get to those later this week, once I get the photos and videos in something resembling order.

Today of course was "Cyber Monday," so I hopped around on the interwebs pricing TVs that I have no business buying (The green spot on my 25 y/o CRT TV is only the size of an index card. It's not worth replacing yet.) I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this on Ryther Camera's website.
Cylon Monday!! The Battlestar Galactica reference is nothing short of awesome. Because I am nothing less than an automoton who will do anything by your command when it comes to online shopping. It's one of my worst vices and it contributes to the influx of stuff into my home.

I need to end my addiction to online shopping. And I think there may be an easy solution. 


If you use the Firefox or Chrome web browsers you can download something called a "site blocker" to add to your browser. These are features you add to your browser. You specify which sites you want to block on your machine. You can always go back and give yourself permission to view the sites again. Okay, so you won't be cured, but at least it makes you stop for a minute and thing about what you're doing ;o)  Here's how:

1. in Chrome, google "siteblocker add-on."
2. Download it. 
3. Restart your browser.
4. Set the sites you want to keep yourself from using by going to the "window" menu and clicking "extensions." You'll see SiteBlock listed. Click "options" and add the sites. 
5. Now go do this on all your web browsers. 

You can also do this in FireFox and the procedure is much the same. It's harder in IE, but possible. 

I've added eBay,, Amazon, Macy's, and several other online stores that I patronize far too frequently. Now when I type in "" all I get is this:

I'll let you know how it goes for me...let me know how it goes for you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm thankful for not getting trampled

Thought you all might enjoy this. Stay thankful...and out of the malls.
Feel free to share. Happy Thanksgiving!

Stuff helps the homeless

This post has been a long time coming, thank heavens. We've finally started to tackle some of the larger objects in the apartment because we now have a good place to donate large household items! A Wider Circle is a Washington D.C.-area charity that collects homegoods to donate to homeless and shelter-dwelling families who are getting their first real apartment. They even take mattresses. Now I just have to convince my husband that we don't need three beds in a two person household.

If you remember my post about organizing the front hallway, we knew something had to go. I own another, smaller cabinet with a door that closes so we decided to replace this old bookcase with the small cabinet. I'm sorry to see this go, as it was a gift from a friend freshman year of college. But it was a magnet for clutter, and someone else can use it more than me.
Our kitchen has a lot of twins in it because the husband and I lived apart for many years, and because our food allergies make cross-contamination via shared utensils a serious danger. However, knives are easily cleaned, and a family could use these more than us. Really, do we need the 20 knives that we own? Definitely not.

One of the coolest things about decluttering in my mind is this: when you declutter and get organized, you don't need home storage items anymore. You get to declutter the stuff that people sell you to manage your clutter! How's that for progress? Gone: one set of rolling drawers and one under-bed storage box.  WE DON'T HAVE ANYTHING UNDER OUR BED ANYMORE!!! I'm so thrilled, can't you tell?
I've found furniture and large home items to be the hardest pieces of clutter to find new homes for. Where do you donate things? Has anyone donated a mattress before?

The Reckoning

Items 146, 147, 148, and 149: A bookcase, a set of knives with the knife block, a set of storage drawers and an under-bed storage container.
Cost: Ironically all of these things were gifted to me, except for the knives. But those I used every day for years so the weren't a waste.
Fate: Making a homeless family happy and giving them a comfortable living space.

Happy un-hoarding!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mental HELLth problems

This post is a vent. It's pent-up stress released in words. 
If you don't like reading about other people's emotions, you may want to skip this post. 
I'll return to my regularly scheduled un-hoarding tomorrow!

I learned the hard way that there is no shame in having a mental health problem. There is no shame in getting help for it. There is shame in avoiding treatment, and making your friends and relatives' lives miserable. There's a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous's 8th step is make a list of all persons we have harmed and make amends. Mental health problems hurt. Hoarding hurts. Eating disorders hurt.

But does it work the other way? What about the people who hurt us? The people who hoard? The people who got violent and slammed our hands in freezer doors when we spilled coffee? The people who told us we were fat and made oinking noises when we would eat at dinner?

This weekend, the husband and I found out that we each have family members with cancer who likely only have a very few months to live. In my case, it's my paternal grandmother.

I've always had a tenuous relationship with her. She blatantly ignored my father's mental health issues and never did anything more for him than suggest that he "control his temper." At holiday dinners growing up she would make oinking noises in my direction while I ate but in the same breath would tell my sister to eat more. She constantly openly insulted my mother for having a messy house, for not being a better wife (to a guy who constantly threatened to leave her after he'd throw objects around the house?!), for marrying my father in the first place. She was the one who taught my father that overweight women were disgusting, worthless creatures. Given that my mom was overweight and I was getting there by the end of high school, my therapists and I acknowledge that she played a role in my eating disorder.

Yes, my mom has problems. But she needs help, not insults. And I didn't need to hear those insults either. I didn't need oinking noises to tell me how fat I was, I needed someone to show me how to eat normally. I've always desperately wanted a good relationship with my grandmother, but every time I tried, I got hurt.

But right before the husband and I got married,we had some serious problems because of how involved his mother was in our wedding. I'll skip the details, but what she did bordered on sabotage on more than one occasion. She wanted her son to marry an nice Jewish girl, and this little German Lutheran girl just wasn't going to work for her boy.

Grandmom was the one who convinced me to stay.

Grandmom had gone through the same thing when she married my grandfather. They ended up eloping and it worked out well in the end, but for many years she was deeply despised by her in-laws and shunned by her own parents. In a way I owe my wonderful marriage to her.  She taught me to cook; she taught me about style and interior design...about having a household budget and working hard to move out of the socio-economic class you grew up in. I love that. Those things are important to me.

*That* relationship is the one I wanted to have with her all the time. But I last spoke to her over a year ago, and I had to hang up the phone crying because I couldn't take the hurtful words she kept dishing out about my mother. I'd begun therapy at that point and I realized that she was a "toxic" person in my life, someone who was not helping in my recovery. I haven't talked to her since.

Grandmom's not going to change. She's 91. She's mellowed substantially to my mother because my mom is her primary caregiver. I realize that time is running out and I just have to swallow my pain on this one. She's not going to change and I'm strong enough and sensible enough to ask her to change topics when she gets insulting, and to realize that her opinions are not the truth.

Maybe that's part of recovery. Maybe that's what I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. She can spout her insults, and those are her truths. But they don't have to be mine. I've learned more about letting people's insults go because I've been forced to deal with her insults along with her ... dare I say it?... love. I am so afraid of getting hurt emotionally when I see her this week. But it's time for me to move on from the hurt in the past, and take advantage of what time is left.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fruit...on little sticks.

Life is like a mixed drink. It can be clear, sparkly, and beautiful

And sometimes you don't even have to pick the fruit for your drink. Sometimes it just comes on little sticks.

It's often best enjoyed by a setting sun. 
Our Caribbean trip had many sweet, beautiful flavors. But a good drink is sweet with a bit of sour tang.  

Like realizing that even in paradise life may not seem so idyllic. On a drive back from the lunch with the drinks with fruit on little sticks, I was reminded to be thankful for what I have and to realize what my money could do for others if I would spend less on stuff, and more on people who truly need it. It's hard to see, but this family didn't have money for a child gate for the kid in the doorway. That's a piece of plywood being used as a play gate. Do I need crap to make myself comfortable? Or does a small child need the money my crap could buy?
We need the sour to appreciate the sweet. The morning after we got home from the Caribbean, I ran a 5k. As I started running, I was bemoaning the weight that I was sure I had gained from overeating (but fortunately not bingeing) on vacation. I whined about how my physical condition was holding me back...until I saw this man.
I know him. He works at the same place I do and he regularly finishes in the top tier in races on campus in spite of only having one leg. And I complain about a few extra pounds and use that as an excuse for not running.

So yes -- I spent too much money on vacation. Yes, I bought something I didn't need. Yes, I gave into my eating disorder and substantially overate too many times.  Yes, I've gained 15 pounds since I got married and ED is having a field day making me miserable. But you know what? Everyone falls out of the saddle once in a while. I can dust myself off and get back up. Because I have so many fewer obstacles to fight in life than so many people. I know I can do it.

How do you get yourself back on track after a vacation?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Off to a simpler life for a while

No phone, no internet for a while. See you all in a week. Keep un-hoarding and let me know how it goes!

Friday's Fashion Fallout: I'm seeing double

My obsession with espadrilles is over!
Anyone else have a nasty habit of finding something you like in a store and then buying the same thing in a bunch of colors? Or finding something you like and being afraid it will go out of style, so you buy a bunch of them?

I'm trying to break myself of that shopping habit. But first -- let me get rid of my last pair of unloved espadrilles. I have one pair left that I love to death and will be keeping. But I don't need three pairs of esparilles! Another $20 down the drain, and one more item (#145!) for the Reckoning. That's $1574.00 wasted so far on junk.

It's Friday...what fashions fails have you decluttered today?