Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coming up for air...

Still working toward grade drop tomorrow, but the end is in sight. In the meantime, I haven't kept up with my "one a day" plan, but I also haven't backslidden much (spellcheck thinks I made that word up. I'll keep it.)
I have managed to get another box of clothes ready for a thrift store, take a giveaway box of books to the school, and make a couple passes through the vehicles.
On another note, I was planning to do before and after shots of my porch, which is useless as a porch 9 months out of the year and therefore becomes storage. When I got home today, the hubs had it halfway done. He rocks. Still plenty to do, but he made a huge dent.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Drowning in paperwork!

That time management thing I mentioned. Yeah...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Have to Come BEFORE the House

Easier said than done.

My dishwasher pooped out on me, and over the weekend I was sick. You can imagine what kind of havoc that combination can wreak on a household. My husband is a wonderful man, very helpful and hardworking, but I'm sorry to say that he relies on me for motivation, and when I'm down for the count, usually so is he. He took fine care of me, but the house suffered.

So, this week I start in a hole and won't even think about reclaiming fallen areas of the house. Besides decluttering my house I'm trying to get fit. In the past, the house along with everyone else has come first, and today it was tempting to ignore my promise to walk 30 minutes a day in favor of tackling the kitchen, but I decided to put taking care of me first today, so I got on my treadmill, which gave me the opportunity to share a messy space I've been wanting to reclaim for a long time, bedroom.

That's me, on the treadmill, in my messy bedroom, ignoring the clutter because I'm putting myself first on the list. Gosh, if I usually put the house before myself, and my house is such a mess, what does that say about me?

No matter. I'm fixing both!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two observations from opposite ends of the spectrum

My teenage daughters were able to throw a party for a friend last night without me being mortified at the condition of the house.


It's amazing that after all the recent progress I've made, one snarky comment can make me want to chuck it all and go back to the sty. I keep reminding myself that I am doing this for me, 'cause I'm damn sure not doing it for anyone around here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ah, cleaning

One of my least favorite things to do in life.

My dislike of cleaning comes from a mother who was an absolute neat freak. She washed walls and ceilings at least twice a year, if not every change of season. If we had the family coming over for the holidays, the entire house was scrubbed from ceiling to floor, even if we'd just done it a couple weeks prior.

So, for me it wasn't that I didn't have a good example, it is pure rebellion. Only now as I've come to terms with my parents addictions to caffeine, nicotine and alcohol do I understand that cleaning was one of the few things my mom could control in her life. Everything else was so out of control, but she could do that.

Since I got into feng shui earlier this year, I've been getting the clutter... moving... I guess would be the best way to put it. The feng shui helped me understand in energetic terms what clutter was doing to my home, my health, my finances and more. After I got fired in August and started temping again, I realized I needed to change tactics.

Last year from July on I made five trips to ARC, a local thrift store that takes donations. I've cleaned out my closet of clothes I don't wear, thrown out broken luggage, cleaned my office (start herre for photos and recap of my month long cleaning binge).

In that month long cleaning binge, I cleaned out my office, mostly, along with bits and pieces of my living room/kitchen/dining room area. Five contractors bags of shredded stuff from high school on went. The office was rearranged so I face my best feng shui directions (if you want a consult, let me know, I'm game to help others) for my desk and meditation chair.

It's not done yet. My office still has stuff on the floor from the last time I got some energy to clean. My kitchen table is better than it was, it still collects stuff. Still haven't found a place to put my backpack that is my brief case that goes with me to work and damn near everywhere. (Some women carry a purse, I carry a backpack.)

Things are one day at a time. I do what I can when I can. My biggest issue is finishing what I start, as exampled by the current state of my house. I got 95% of it done, the rest is still waiting.

Accountability is a big key to getting things done. I've learned that with my coaching training. I've helped others be accountable for what they said they wanted to do, cheered them on as they accomplished what they thought they couldn't. I used my blog as an accountability tool because I knew at least two people were reading it on a regular basis, and they cared enough to post comments encouraging me to keep going.

Hang in there, keep taking the five minutes here and there to do what you can. Perhaps as we get to know each other better, we could arrange a weekend to go help one another. If we've admitted to each other we need help, then there's no shame in us coming together to get a dent made so you can see progress has been made.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of you think, what you do to help yourselves, how we can help each other.

And since I have a three day weekend, I'm going to start making something out of it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some random thoughts about this blog.

Rather than email, I'll just post this to all "invitees" and whoever else might wander by. I purposefully spent no time whatsoever with "templates" or features or what have you. I don't want to get caught up in that stuff and off topic. If anyone else wants to play, go right ahead. If you know of anyone else you'd like to invite, go for it. I left comments open but kept the word verification, although I've noticed on a friend's blog that the porn bots somehow got past his, or they're paying humans to troll comments for spam these days. Sad either way. Anyway have at it.


I'd like to at least mention Flylady here. A friend mentioned her to me several years ago, speaking from his own (and his wife's) experience. I eventually searched her up on the internet, and I've been an off-again/on again follower ever since. I feel as if I have to give a disclaimer for those who know me in real life. I am cynical, and sarcastic, and don't even do the feigned surprise thing. Flylady is frilly and fluffy and cutesie and, by God, I believe 100% sincere in her self-avowed mission to give people the tools to help themselves out of cluttered lives. There is a lot of merchandise and several subscription offers to other services for sale on her site, but the actual site is free. She has "27-fling boogies" and "Purple Puddles" and floofy little pats on the back for people like me. I got past the saccharine stomachache and saw the psychology behind her methods, and she is really onto something.
Some examples: You didn't get this way overnight and you won't change that way either. Housework done "incorrectly" still blesses your family. You don't have to do it the way your mother did. Don't take out more than you can put back in an hour. You have to do it for yourself and let the rest of the family follow your example; if you resent them you're shooting yourself in the foot. And the two that I use the most: you can do anything for 15 minutes; just do it now! I'd advise anyone to check out her site at You can pick and choose like a smorgasbord, and adapt her ideas to work for you.


I didn't do the resolution thing, but I have made a little plan to clean at least one drawer or shelf every day, or spend 15 minutes in a cabinet or closet that will take more work. So far, so good. I started this over Christmas break, when I gutted my linen closet. How many extra sheets do we need, anyway? We only sleep on one at a time! So far, so good. I've done 5/7 desk drawers, decluttered the dish cupboard, and made real progress in our bathroom cabinet. That thing is huge and open, and has no side, so the shelves actually extend behind the wall all the way to the laundry chute. I suppose it would've made a cool secret panel thing at one time, but for us, it just means items roll back into the netherworld for months or years. We also acquired all of my mother-in-law's (a beautician, oy!) hair and makeup stuff. We discovered that she hoarded hotel soaps, etc. I do, too. I feel justified in this to an extent. These are the things we send with the kids to camp, or on the choir trip, etc. I use them for the same purpose. We have WAY more right now than we need, but I've tidied them into a huge bag, and will send the whole thing off to camp this year for the girls to share. The thrift store won't take them, and there isn't a women's shelter or crisis house close enough to donate these items. If anyone has a mission trip any time soon, let me know.


Another area where I'm making progress, but still struggling, is managing my time. I will tell you all about it later, because now I have to rush out the door to work!!!

It's a State of Mind...and Body

The state of my house is reflection on my state of mind--and if that doesn't frighten people, there's no hope.

I grew up with the neatfreaks of all neatfreaks. My parents have white carpeting. My mother used to clean the kitchen sink and then not let us--my father and me--use it the rest of the day. You could safely lick the linoleum in their house--in any corner--without fear. Everything was gleaming, dust-free, folded, put away, stacked, and smelling of Clorox and dryer sheets.

I hated it. guessed it...I got out on my own. After spending years driving my mother crazy, I, myself, became the neatfreak in college, terrorizing my own roommates. I cleaned for fun--and no, I'm not kidding. I enjoyed it. I'd clean my friends' apartments given half a chance (and I could find that half a chance anywhere).

It my way of controlling my life without actually dealing with the important things. I was a complete basket case, but apartment? Spotless.

Roll ahead a few years, and things I was much more mentally healthy. Happy, even, and busy (so had my parents been, by the way--they were both professionals who worked a lot and still managed a spotless home). My life began to move; my junk began to stay put.

But, I managed, for most of those years, to find a happy medium between cheery clutter and cleanliness that worked. By the end of my first marriage, however--to a packrat who, paradoxically, had a pathological need for symmetrical order--things were...messy. In every possible way.

Cleaning out from that marriage was emotional and physical. Between the divorce and the selling of the house to move across the state, I can't remember how many dumpsters I filled with...stuff. My father, bless his heart, would drive to my house while I was gone during the day and just absolutely raze everything. I joked that if the cats were still for more than fourteen seconds, they'd be gone, too.

(My father is the exception to the norm for Depression-era children; he doesn't horde anything and he doesn't believe in keeping anything old (except photographs). You should see his garage. Monk could live in it.) life, new marriage, new career, new town, new house in Marshall, seven years ago. Things started out well. It was clean, and it was cluttered only because it was about a fifth of the size of my house in St. Cloud before, but I'd gotten rid of much extraneous stuff. I felt great! My house looked great!

Despite my working a gazillion hours a week during the school year, it stayed that way. Despite my new husband, who's a self-avowed slob (which he is, but I will not complain because the man does all the shopping, all the cooking, all the taking-care-of-me-because-I'm-incapable, and that's a difficult job), it stayed that way.

Until about three years ago.

I got sick. A lot. In the last three years or so I've been diagnosed with three chronic, life-altering (to a degree), incurable diseases that affect my daily life to varying levels. I've been hospitalized several times. I've had two miscarriages. I've had eight surgeries. I've had two separate biopsies (fine). I've spent more money, miles, and minutes in doctors' offices and various clinics and such than I could even follow.

Things got...messy.

And I've not been able to keep up. And then it got worse, and I really wasn't able to keep up.

For nearly two years now, my house has been mostly unlivable (for me). I hate this. And I don't know where to start, and even when I have time (summer, Christmas vacation), I don't have the physical energy.

We are overwhelmed. I hate going home.

My classroom? Orderly, for the most part. I like things in their place. I dislike clutter. I used to deliver mail, and my sorting case was immaculate. My supervisors used to show mine to newbies as an example, and I was, more than once, enlisted to physically organize other routes when they changed and needed upkeep.

My house? Two adults and four cats--and no children to blame it on--is a disaster. We occasionally make little dents of happiness (I get the kitchen and bathroom cleaned, for example, or there's a path to the couch and only a few books and newspaper on it to clear off if you don't mind walking around the back side of the coffee table), but I long for having the whole house clean and organized once again.

So, that's my story. Can I be one of you?!?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ready, Set, Go!

I'm in the same boat as Gette. I never really learned to keep a clean house consistently, and for some reason, I rebel against routine. Consistency and routine are the only ways to keep a house consistently and routinely tidy, but I've always lived more by the seat of my pants, a slave to the urgent.

I was the same way in school. I did only what had to be done and always at the last minute. Maybe it's unfortunate that it served me so well. The lesson I learned there was I could get by with minimal effort and excel.

Oddly, when I worked outside the home, my desk and my office were very organized and neat. People would comment that I must have an immaculate home, and I would roar with laughter. I think there are two reasons my office was so neat. 1) I had a routine driven by deadlines. Organization was not a luxury, it was the only way to make sure our vendors were paying for their product. The people I worked for got a little testy if our customers weren't paying their bills or if I couldn't tell them how much moolah we had coming in every day. 2) There was no one else at work messing up my space, and it was MY space, the only place where I had complete control. I've never been able to work well in chaos.

I've been able to figure out why I avoid digging in and clearing clutter. I'll save that for another day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here we go...

I am a slob. I have several theories as to why I am a slob. My mother never taught me how to keep house; her mother never taught her. Seriously, any housework that got done was because of my dad. When he died, my mother's home was like one of those garbage houses they show on the news, albeit not crammed quite so full of stuff. Just clutter and filth. My brother and sister's homes are still like that. My house is not like that, thank heaven, yet, whenever we get a call that company is coming, we issue a red alert and scramble to make the house presentable, and sometimes it is a real struggle. Whatever. I am sick of living in a dump. I try "systems" and "plans," but they haven't worked well for me as yet.
In my email today was a list of articles from Dulcinea about organization and decluttering. There's a market out there for this information; other people want help with this stuff, too. Not everyone grew up in a cluttered house. Some folks had a perfectly lovely home life, but no-one there taught them how to do it for themselves; the parents took care of it so the kids wouldn't have to. Some people have pack-rat personalities and amass too much stuff. Some poeple have mental or physical limitations that inhibit their ability to maintain order in their homes. There are many reasons for the same problem.
Over Christmas break, I made some progress, but I live in constant fear of backsliding. Lately, I have been getting messages through different sources about accountability, so that is why I am here. I started a new blog because I don't want my other blog to become a daily whine about "here's what I cleaned." I want to make that place funny and light. But I do believe it helps me to put my accomplishments and failures out there to share. To keep me motivated. To maybe help someone else. That's why I'm here. Join me if you understand.