Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let me explain

Just below there is an unexplained video clip of my grandson just after his first haircut. (A haircut I was not in favor of, for the official record.)

This video, this hair cut has nothing to do with this blog.

I have a few blogs. And one day a couple months ago, I was trying to get this video up on one of my other blogs so that my daughter who is in Panama could see (and hear) her only nephew (at that time) get his first hair cut. But no matter what I tried, the sound was not working. The visual was fine; there was no audio.

So I thought "I'll just go right over to this other blogspot blog where I successfully posted a blog of Connor and I at Ciara's Panama Fund Raiser Yard Sale." Including sound.

I uploaded the video here as a test. Same problem. No audio. I was pissed and frustrated.

I never got around to taking it down. Now you know. Because I'm sure you were wondering.

Regarding Less is Bliss:

The lack of writing and updates here might lead to the speculation that I've lost the Battle of the Bulging Clutter. That I've thrown in the tattered towels I purchased when I worked at Sears more than twenty-five years ago. Don't be jumping to conclusions over there. I have not given up, nor have I stopped at all.

I have, however slowed down substantially.

There was the sweet satisfaction of the big push of purging around the time of the Yard Sale and as we prepared for Ciara's departure. After that period, I had a stack taller than myself of empty 18 gallon Rubbermaid-esque containers that had previously held worthless, meaningless and useless miscellaneous that is now gone. A huge triumph. It felt great. I think at one point I counted over twenty empty containers.

Then life became consumed with my daughter's Panama plans and departure. All my energy (that wasn't absorbed by my hours at the library) went to Ciara. The stress involved in this endeavor is more than I can talk about here right now. It's one of those topics that I'm afraid once I start, I won't be able to stop.

The cleaning, the purging, the material cleansing continues but in a slower daily manner since the summer. Such a big chunk was eliminated in June that the process has become a more subtle, deliberate one. When almost everything in each box or drawer or closet is obviously junk, it's pretty easy. Chuck it all. But when the most overt stuff is gone, you have to become more methodical and persistent.

So now you're up to speed. Mostly.

Except today, I had a tiny melt down. I think I haven't felt enough progress lately and I began getting that dingy yellow build up. (Yellow being one of my least favorite colors, this makes perfect sense to me although I had to go to the dictionary to make sure I wasn't spelling the word 'dinghy' instead. I had no idea there was an 'h' in that word.)

The overwhelming discouragement lasted a couple of hours and it isn't completely gone, but I have a plan to re-energize the internal troops. A plan I couldn't conceive of earlier. An unforeseen but sexy plan. This always helps. Who doesn't love a plan?

So now you're really caught up. Pretty much. Kinda.

I won't go into the 'breaking news' that my middle child just moved from his house to a much smaller place with his wife and two babies, so therefore easily 80 percent of his household belongings are now being stored in my garage. In a less than orderly fashion.

Some days feels like no matter what my intention, no matter what my action, I just get further and further away from the 'less' concept.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yard Sale Success

Years ago I had my last yard sale. Probably fifteen years ago. At least until a couple of weekends ago. Will I never learn?

There is an physical exhaustion unique to Yard Sale-ing.
That being said. It went pretty well. I was aiming for the Win-Win through out. I would be rid of many unneeded objects and my daughter would earn much needed funds for her mission trip to Panama. This happened for the most part.

The preparation began a couple of weeks before.

Cleaning out storage shed . .

Can we part with our beloved Furby's?

Evidence that Barbie knows math stuff...circa 2001

Then the weekend of the Big Sale....

Mid-yard sale nap for Connor.
My grandson's first time sleeping in a tent.

The only thing more tiring than having a three-day yard sale is having one with a sixteen month old.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Doesn't anyone else hear that ticking sound?

I'm having a difficult time. I'm about to pop a vein somewhere in the left hemisphere of my brain about the mess things are in where I live.

I do not feel like I keep it a big secret but mess and chaos have the potential to drive me over the fucking edge. Possibly in a literal sense if I can find the right road. There was one that wound precariously over a canyon between Yakima and Ellensburg that would serve quite well if I can't find anything closer.

When the two people whom I believe understand me the most on the planet make light of and dismiss the growing sense of panic I feel about the state of my living environment, I just want to scream and run as far from them as possible. Not necessarily in that order.

Do I fail to impress upon people how big a deal this is for me? This seems unlikely given how incredibly verbal I am. Do they think that because it isn't driving them crazy that it can't be driving me crazy? How arrogant and self centered of them would that line of thinking be?

I don't get it. Is it that 'invisible mother' phenomenon, "Oh that's just Mom, or the mother-like figure in my life, going on about some stupid thing again. Pay her no attention. She'll go muttering to her room shortly if we just ignore her." ?

I really thought of everyone in my life, these two would understand and support me most. But instead of support, I'm getting the opposite. At this point I'm so worn down that a neutral position on their part would be a welcome change. I'm actually getting obstacles and overt sabotage.

There is one party who still lives at my house from whom I would expect such behaviour. With whom it is no surprise, when he accuses me of being ridiculous, or of deliberate exaggeration, of whom eye rolling is the most common form facial expression in my presence.

These pictures are of the main parts of the inside of my house. These images do not include: my bedroom, the spare room, my daughter's room or her father's room. They are not of the laundry room, kitchen or the bathrooms. With the exception of my bedroom and my bathroom, these other rooms are all WORSE than the crap you see in piles (the crap that is procreating the second I turn my back) in these images.

(Yes, that is a refrigerator, one of three that live on the property, that is standing next to the wood stove in the picture on the left. The wood stove we can't actually use because there is a fucking refrigerator standing next to it. )

There are no picture of the exterior of my house here today because if the local health dept. ran across them, we might have some explaining to do. I will say this one thing about the outside of my house: there are eight vehicles parked in the driveway and on the fucking lawn. EIGHT. Three of which actually run and only one of which is in my name and within my power to sell or tow away. How did I become the resident of one of those houses you drive by shaking your head and feeling sorry for the neighbors? Something has go to give...... I hear a ticking sound.
The mother daughter dynamic involved with one of these non-supporters, I can see. Mother-daughter relationships can often slip into a power struggle over such issues as cleanliness and common fucking courtesy. I may not like it, but am not all that surprised.
The other relationship, with the second individual, from whom I wish I were getting different support is a bit muddier. I understand the things that keep coming ahead of this project of mine. I can see it, but that doesn't make it right or easier to deal with. I'm still prone to resentment and discouragement. And it builds.....and builds....and builds until what your mother always warned of happens "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."
I do not know the resolution, short of something drastic and disturbing. One of those grand, sweeping motions that send things and feelings flying in all directions. (After which you simply have a much bigger mess.)

Not the most satisfactory ending to a blog post but the whole point of this Less is Bliss science experiment is what there is to learn through purging and that it isn't always inanimate objects that should be in question.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Demi and Bruce? Not Exactly...

There's a bad chemistry experiment going on at my house. It's been bubbling over the Bunsen burner for years now.

Not many people know this, as it is not the shiniest aspect of my life, so it rarely comes up over dinner conversation: the three people who live in my house are my daughter, myself and my former husband. (Yikes!)

In an attempt to keep from inundating you with more information than you want or need, I'll proceed on a 'need to know' basis. Give or take a little.

One of the greatest hindrances to my progress in purging is this living dynamic. Not that I am blaming my ass-dragging tendencies on other people, I am not. Hi, my name is Barbie and I am responsible for the details of my living situation.

But living with these two people and all their personal belongs, mingling with my own, is complicated. For most of the stuff, it would just not be as easy at throwing things in a thrift store box. (The movie It's Complicated is playing on my DVD right now. Weird, huh?)

There are a couple of prickly levels coming into play here. My divorce was long ago but because we had a unique rental situation that cost us so little, neither of us could afford to walk away from it. We get along well enough, outside of marriage, to pull this off on most days. It doesn't always feel like the best situation (the chemistry experiment) but I appreciate that we don't hate each other. We live at opposite ends of the house. We are generally aware of and respect the private life of the other. It works for us, for the moment.

The one part of the end of a marriage that we've never experienced through our grown-up version of divorce is going through and separating all of our belongings: his, mine and ours.

So when, at the end of my clutter rope, I started sorting through household paraphernalia, I was stymied when it came down to so-called community property. Our divorce decree had laid things out in bare bones manner but the minutia & specifics were left up to us.

My former husband keeps things. He very happily never throws anything away. Even throughout our marriage, I had to sneak things into the garbage or off to Goodwill. Okay, not eggs shells and coffee grounds, but 'stuff.' Orphaned socks, mostly empty bottles of expired condiments, a deck of 51 playing cards, you know the stuff.

Fortunately for me, he is also the messy type so he has never, ever come back to me looking for anything that I knew I'd thrown out. Everything he owns is in piles on one surface or another, so he can never be sure if anything is ever truly missing. His messy ways kept my covert decluttering secret for years but this was not going to fly anymore, what with my determination to rid myself of 1/3 of my things. My decluttering was (hopefully) going to be a very obvious, blatant excavation.

I piddled at cleaning and clearing for a few weeks but eventually had to admit that I needed to get him on board with my goal, at least to some degree. There was no way to do this otherwise.

I dreaded the thought. I could hear his objections. He would never admit it but he does not like to get rid of things: "I might need this someday." "But it still works, I just need to fix the cord." "Someday I'm going to take up fly fishing."

So a few mornings ago, when I looked at him, held my breath and said, "I think we should have a yard sale," I was braced for the blow of his rationalizations.

He looked back at me for second, then said, "But all we have is junk."

I almost cried; I was so excited. I would have done a cart wheel but there was not enough room. "Exactly, junk," I agreed. "So let's put it up for sale and it can all become someone else's junk!" I said, nodding my head furiously, trying to will his agreement. I continued quickly before his coffee kicked in and he started thinking clearly. Or what for him is clear.

"Ciara (our daughter) is trying to earn money for her missions training trip to Panama in July. We could go through everything, have it all packed up in boxes and the next shiny weekend, we'll be ready. We'll throw everything in the front yard, put up a dozen signs, tell everyone we know and maybe she could earn money for her trip."

I almost lost him on that last point. Giving Ciara all the proceeds wasn't balancing out, in his thinking. I believe he was already calculating what he could do with his share. So I sputtered a bit, back peddled and said that we'd figure all that out later; that the most important thing is that we'd be getting rid of all the junk. Yea, junk. I never thought I'd ever be so happy to hear someone call all my stuff junk! JUNK RULES!

With that single, quick conversation, my motivation shot off the chart. It clicked immediately. I wanted to start cleaning right then but I needed to get ready for work. My fingers were jittery and itching to go. This is like win to the power of 10.
  • Ciara is trying to raise money for her trip.
  • I NEED to get rid of copious amounts of stuff.
  • Not so many trips to the thrift store station.
  • My former husband will get some pocket change to buy some much needed car part.
  • I've learned over the years that it is much easier for me to part with things if I can think of them as going to a good cause. And the closer the cause is to my heart, the more things go. Yippee!!
The situation I saw as most likely deadlocked was now fluid. Jet fuel fluid. And we're ready for lift off.

The results: After having Friday and Saturday off (May 21 & 22), I've almost finished one entire room (a storage/guest room) and a few scattered corners and drawers in other rooms. It is so exhilarating and self-perpetuating. I want to stay up tonight and do some more, but I need rest. I'm stoked and spent at the exact same time. I'll be sleeping with a smile on my smudged face.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Barbie: Treasure Hunter Wannabe

I've been futzing around with this goal. Cherry picking the most overt and obvious trash.
I know better.
I know that one of the keys to declutter is to Find the Treasures. This is not original with me. From one of many websites or from the pages of some book on cleaning, clearing, organizing I read this tip: Find the treasures.

When I open a junk drawer or storage closet, my eyes automatically gravitate toward the things of little or no value (the broken, the faded, the rusty), looking for the worst of the collection before me. The things that are 'wrong' with this picture. (Stupid Highlights magazine strikes again.)

I should be doing the opposite, focusing on the treasures. But so far, I'm not.

I'll walk by a bookshelf crammed full of books and spot five or ten that I know I'll never read or ever want to dust again. And because I don't have time to devote full attention to this weary shelf, I'll snag the worst of the worst and pack them into a bag or box.
This will happen again with the linen closet. While putting away a load of clean laundry, stacking sweet-smelling, perfectly folded towels, my eyes will catch sight of the two or three most unsightly and raggedy towels (that someone gave me for my wedding shower back in 1986). I'll grab them, with Junk Food type satisfaction and throw them into a bag destined for the nearest thrift store. "Yea" for me, right? Hardly.
I've been doing this all backward. And in the most half assed manner. Because of the nature of the past month, I keep dabbling in this purging thing. I talk about it; I think about it; I plan for it. But it really hasn't grabbed hold of me yet.
I heard on a talking book recently, Wayne Dyer say that (and I paraphrase), Motivation is when you get hold of an idea, you see it through to the end, you are dedicated to its completion and quality. Inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you. When it pulls you in a direction that you were meant to follow. Your spirit is led. Spirit. InSPIRation.
When I listened to these words on the downloadable book, that I totally downloaded to my PC and then a shiny device, all by myself (after four tries), I knew I'd just heard something very important. Profound. Pivotal. Motivation. Inspiration. Not that motivation is less than inspiration somehow, but that there is a difference between the two. Still important and wise.

The problem is that where this decluttering project is concerned I am neither truly motivated or inspired. I have not grabbed a hold of this project and it certainly has yet to grab hold of me. I keep creating these token bags of things for the Goodwill. They are not even the tip of the tip of the tip of the ice berg lettuce.

Am I afraid to really start? To roll up my sleeves and commit? In the same book, but much later Wayne Dyer says new things can't come into your life until the old, stagnant stuff gets moved out. ('New things' as in clarity and inner peace, not new things as in a new red washer and dryer set.)

Do the new things frighten me? Clarity and inner peace can be scary ass prospects when you've clung to dysfunction and imbalance for as far back as you can remember.

I've skimmed the surface of many areas of my home. I have yet to do any one room, closet, corner, set of drawers, anywhere to completion. I think my first post about being resolved to clear out my space was about a month ago and so far there is not one place in my house that I can stand back and say with a big truffle eating grin "This (*deep breath*) is all done."
What am I hanging onto here? And why would I do such a thing?
Midge, my faithful and true, supportive and decluttering commenter is grabbing hold of this idea better than I am. I need to read her blog.
If you remember nothing else from this post, remember these three words:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hot Chicks in a Convertible

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with clearing clutter from my life, unless you count a bad mood getting blown away with the wind in a convertible.

Today, I got to work a few minutes late. Scrambling in my usual style, dropping my three bags onto the floor next to my chair in my cubicle. Things were quiet. Common state for IT department in the middle of the day. Everyone was in. I only have slivers of time most days when I'm there with everyone else. Compared to the bulk of my time in IT when I'm alone, these slivers are like little IT parties for me. Checking in to see what the latest issues are. Official and unofficial. Finding out how so and so's aunt's cousin's bar mitzvah went the night before. I really love my department. I think we all get along well and I enjoy each one of my Helpdesk co-workers. I like this time before everyone else heads home for the day.

But today, Midge one of my co-workers, came up to me almost as soon as I sat down, and said, "Let's go have coffee." I just got to work. We've never gone for coffee before. My heart started to race.

My first thought is, "She's about to tell me I'm doing something wrong in my job." That we've lost all of our archived data because I clicked here instead of here. That somehow I'd caused every single patron registration to disappear from the system.

I tried to remain calm as we walked away from the comfort zone of my department, where at least there would be witnesses if need be, and down a long, empty hall.

I didn't know if she meant 'Let's go for actual coffee.' Or if 'coffee' was a euphemism for pink slip, or what. I was starting to sweat for the sake of my job. For my bills that love to be paid in full and on time.

Then I had another thought, "Oh no, maybe she's experienced some personal crisis and needed someone to talk to." I didn't want to lose my job, but I also didn't want my close friend having personal trauma either. I wanted everything to be fine on ALL fronts.

Then we headed toward the main entrance of the building, when it dawned on me. Sunday she bought a new car! I walked out the front door to see, not her new (previously owned) car but the fancy, schmancy loaner they gave her until her new car is ready.

A 2006 Mercedes convertible.
Something like this picture. But not even as good because it doesn't have the Two Hot IT Chicks in the front seat. We zipped right out of that stuffy, serious library admin building parking lot. Two hot chicks in a convertible. "See ya!"
It was a blast. I stuck my hands up in the air like I was riding a roller coaster on Cooney Island. (Okay I've never been to Cooney Island but still.) The wind flew through my hair. Well actually, there was not a whiff of breeze unless you're driving down 112th at 80 miles an hour. Kidding. I wasn't studying the speedometer. I was loving the experience and left any abiding or breaking of traffic laws to the driver.
We pulled up to the local coffee spot and got a couple of drinks. Two hot chicks at the drive up window. We zipped right back to work and settled into our cubicles.
Two hot IT chicks in their library cubicles.
Except for throwing a foot ball in the back room of a branch that will remain nameless, possibly the best work break I've ever taken. Heck, maybe it's a tie.
Thanks, Girlfriend! You made my day.