Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Death in the family

When we are children, our parents are big and strong people who tell us where to live, how to live and are supposed to keep us safe.
When I was a young child, I knew how to babysit my two brothers and sisters when I was less than ten years old (there were five of us born in six years), make a screwdriver from vodka and lemonade, and had gone to 13 different schools before I went to high school.
My father and mother were always fighting, making up, and fighting some more.  I remember the bitterness, the over-the-top making up.
Now that I'm so much older than they were by the time they had divorced after 25 years of marriage, I have a different perspective than I did even a few years ago.
I look at this picture of them, younger than my grown children, married, with a baby on the way (me), and I see two kids.  They didn't know what they were doing, but, I think they did their best.
Just over a year ago, my mother passed away.  We had made peace with our past trials and tribulations and I had made plans to see her in the spring.  She died that November, calling my name when I spoke to her by telephone before she died.  There was no time to get there, no other way to say good-bye.
A few months ago, I found out my father, who had moved to California, with his second wife, was in a hospice unit.  Apparently his health had declined after my stepmother passed away.  I reached out to him, and it was very moving, and sad.  He never wanted to talk about what was wrong with him.  Instead, he told me he remembered me as a sweet little girl.  I sent him pictures of his great granddaughter.
Now, like my mother, he is gone.
His stepdaughter is making all the arrangements for him.  You see, she's spent more time with him than I did.  Although he had met my children, he never spent time with them.  Her children were his grandchildren.  When his second wife sent pictures, there he would be, with "their" grandchildren in matching sweaters for holiday pictures.  It was strange, like a family I had, but, have never known.  I had met Leslie, my stepsister, briefly, while she was still in college.
We learned of his passing, from her.  She called one of my sisters.
So now, they are both gone.  I'm sad.  But, in some ways, he's been gone over half my life.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Clutter, clutter, toil and trouble

I may not be a prolific poster, but, I've continued on with my mission of decluttering my life and home.  I discovered a nifty trick for my clothing closet.  I had tried organizing by type of item, color, etc., but, nothing seemed to stick.  Then, on a whim, I decided to put together several outfits and hang them together.  I quickly found why some things never seemed to get worn - the usual of poor fit, nothing to go with, out of style, or just didn't really like it after all.  Those items went in a couple of big ole bags and out to bless someone else's closet.  Then I put together ten nice outfits for work on one side of the closet and my jeans and sweats on a shelf on the opposite wall.  Something interesting happened - I like it!  I hang the outfit for the next day on a hook inside my closet, before I climb into bed.  No fuss, no muss.  When I get home, off goes the nice work outfit, and on goes the comfy clothes. 
I've actually worn some things for the first time, or as a different put together outfit for the first time, and have discovered new favorites!  I think it works because I'm not desperately digging through baskets and clutter trying to find my jeans or a top to match my pants............
I haven't worked through my whole closet yet, but, it doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did.  It's a habit I hope to keep.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A New Goal!

It it is past time for a new goal in my ongoing battle with clutter.
So, here it is!
Come August 18th, next year, which happens to be my birthday, I will have my craft room in the room that now holds the balance of my clutter.  The old carpet will be ripped out.  The useless corner closet will be torn out, the window will be professionally replaced.  I will patch and paint until the years of childhood that marked, scarred and dented those walls, will not be erased, but, tidied, softened.  I think of colors and decor as I drift off to sleep.
Because, I've learned, that if I plan, and focus, and picture it done, it will be (with alot of really hard work!).
I have continued to thin out, declutter, donate and shed as much as I can on a weekly basis.  I've donated clothing, furniture, lamps, books and dolls.   The funny thing is, once it's gone, it is really just gone - not missed or mourned.
 Now, this is the toughest part of the road.  Because, these are the things I've not yet been able to part with.  The survivors of multiple purges.  But, there is just too much stuff.
I don't always have the motivation, the energy or the time I would like.  Today, I decluttered a bookcase that had become a catch-all in one of the downstairs rooms.  It was a small project, but, one I could accomplish before going in for four hours of work in the office, today.
Tomorrow, after work, I hope to work on my messy upstairs hall.
Stay tuned!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Letting go of anger

I've always read that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, but, never understood what that meant, until a few months ago.  My parents were divorced, and their marriage was one of constant upheaval while I was growing up.  I finally had to break away from the dysfunction, or drown in it.  It was a lonely choice, but, a relief, in time.  I tried to stay connected with my far flung family, and for the most part, did, with many bumps and hurt feelings along the way.
Then, my mother's health began to fail, and I realized that there was no more time for hurt feelings or anger.  I had already realized that, although their best made me feel sad, lost and frightened as a child, that it was still their best. Over the years, I had to finally let go of the past, to go forward in my own life.  Not an easy thing, since I am a ruminator,  from a long line of those who lived their lives shadowed in the past.  But, I chose to let go of it all.  Did it really matter?  When my mother was gone, would I wonder what else I should have said or done?
So, I wrote her a long letter and let it go - accepted my part in our ongoing misunderstandings and asked her if we could just let it go, and love each other now.  She accepted, and all too soon she was gone.  But, my comfort, now, is that we found peace in our relationship.
Then, my father, who had even a more tenuous relationship with me, lost his wife (my stepmother, who was a very nice woman), and then became ill.
So, across the miles, I wrote him a letter, again, letting the past go, and telling him of my sadness that we aren't closer.
Today, I received a lovely letter.  It seems, that we too, have a late chance to remind ourselves of a relationship we once had, in better moments.
I know I could have held on to my angers and hurts of the past, but, love opens so much more in life.  I am fortunate to have a much better relationship with my grown daughters, and the Friday afternoons I spend with my granddaughter are magic (I drive an hour one way to babysit for her after fitting 40 hours into 4 1/2 days - worth every minute and every mile).
I hope my children have much happier memories of their childhood, and I try really hard to not let misunderstandings and anger grow between us.  The joy of sharing in their lives is worth every minute of effort.  Because, facing the end of my life someday, I hope they will be there, laughing and sharing memories of what was good in our lives.
So, forgiveness is something that I have given myself, and letting go of anger has opened my heart and soothed my soul.  The past can't be forgotten, perhaps, and we should learn from it.  But, it should never be the anchor that wears us down and drains us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The ongoing battle with clutter

Haven't had as much time or energy lately, as trained a replacement for my old position and started a new one (same employer).  But, the new position requires a different form of dress, so after a frustrating first week trying to put outfits together, cleaned out my closet (mostly) this past weekend.  I actually filled two garbage bags with clothing I know someone else can use, but, I won't.  You know the "what used to fit", "what might fit", "maybe I'll need someday" stuff.  It's still not as uncluttered as I'd like, but, the clothes can actually hang without being "squished", and putting outfits together (I sorted by color)is much easier.  I like pretty tops, but, stay with solid color bottoms (except for the occasional skirt).  I rediscovered things I'd forgotten I had, some to keep and some to give away.  The level of frustration has vanished!  Feel much more put together and professional.  I'm replacing a few things, but, as a new item comes in, something has to go.  If the old is still nice, will go to an appreciative new home.
Best thing, is clutter hasn't crept back as I've been busy, as I'm still keeping up with the areas (kitchen table, nightstand) where things accumulate.
It's not perfect, and there are miles to go, but, it's working!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finding out that organizing works!!

I had the most amazing experience yesterday.  It was a great day with my entire family there, including the ever adorable Quinn (my granddaughter).  But, the amazement came not from the family dinner, which was lovely, but, rather from the lack of stress in preparation for "company".  On Friday, I vacuumed the carpets, cleaned off horizontal surfaces (Quinn has a knack for finding things I don't want her to find), finished some dishes, put some bread dough out of the freezer to rise and pulled the high chair out of Quinn's playroom.  On Saturday, I vacuumed again (the cats shed alot), swept and lightly mopped the kitchen floor, wiped off the table, put the big leaf in the oak table for dinner, wiped down the bathroom, did some laundry, took a shower and the house (and I) were done.  We grilled chicken outside, baked potatoes, had a side dish that my oldest daughter made (a most excellent macaroni salad), tossed a salad, had ice cream birthday cake for dessert.  Quinn loves my baked bread and kept saying BRR when she would point to it.  I never had to feel embarrassed or defensive or anxious about any mess or clutter.  Was it perfect - no of course not, we live here.  Was it homey, clean and fun?  Yes, yes and yes!  Why was it so much less work than previous cleaning binges that were carefully mapped out, struggled with and done barely before they walked in?  The small amount of clutter (excess magazines I'm going through, a gathering of things I cleaned out from my office at work (in preparation for a move to a different office), and a tote I'm putting things in that I want, but, that won't be out on display at the moment (and it's not even full) were easily removed to another room for further sorting after the gathering.  The rooms had no big issues, just the usual small cleaning jobs that are required after every busy workweek.
I enjoyed myself, wasn't afraid to let Quinn toddle around the house with a watchful eye on her, and even had time to dress nice and put on a little makeup before they all came.  DH was also very relaxed.  I kept feeling like I had TOO much spare time this past week as I usually would have been working myself senseless between the paying job and home.  The cleanup after was minimal (except for the dishes, as I don't have a working dishwasher).  Quinn even picked up her toys before going home.  That's when it hit me - it's that daily tidying up after ourselves, routine cleaning and ongoing organizing that made my life so much easier!  It's like pushing yourself up a steep hill, and then arriving at the top, catching your breath, and seeing a beautiful vista before you - and the view doesn't look as steep anymore! 
I may be singing a different tune after working all summer on my upstairs - but, for now, HAPPY!!
P.S.  Just a picture in her playroom with Quinn and Yoda hanging out together!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Motivation for long cold winter days

I'm taking an online class to help motivate me to organize my home and my life.  Here is part of my homework this week:

My Motivation Statement:

I walk through my house and feel a sense of peace. 
I know where everything is.
I can see, and enjoy, my “treasures”.
Cleaning involves routine dusting, vacuuming, mopping, etc.
There is no sense of embarrassment if someone comes by without calling.
There are chairs that are clear to sit on.
A sink that’s clean.
A table that only needs to be set for the meal.
I feel no guilt if I want to sit and read or sew.
My home-life is as focused and runs as efficiently and routinely as my professional life.
I have time to enjoy my life.
I enjoy time with my family.

Pretty clear isn't it, when you actually write it down?
I also donated two bags of clothing to a friend's clothing drive, a huge bag of clothing (including an "extra" winter coat I had and two sweatshirts and sweatpants that I had replaced with colors I like better) and other household stuff to the Salvation Army, two large boxes of books were donated also, as were all my miscellaneous serving pieces and dishes that I no longer use (or have room for).  The books came off of the shelves pictured.  Amazing!