Letting Go Challenge: Week Nineteen


  • 1. Movie: Double Hugh Grant movie combo
  • 2., 3., 4. Rusted Fork, Knife, and Spoon
  • 5. Book: Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
  • 6. Key Chain
  • 7. Teddy Bear
  • 8. Router
  • 9. Christmas ornament
  • 10. Black rose
  • 11. Rusted Cable
  • 12. Pocket Calendar from 2003
  • 13. Rubber bat
  • 14. Framed crocheted butterfly
  • 15. Empty perfume bottle
  • 16., 17., 18., 19. Large glasses
  • 20. Part of a cat feeder
  • 21. Nail file


I did not get my filing done this week at all, although I did start a bin to put all my notebooks and binders in one place. Well, a bin and an empty box, courtesy of the garage.

I have no idea how I managed to collect so many notebooks and binders. I use them to write in, to organize whatever in; I buy them because they have peace signs on them or some other cute design.

Oh. My. God.  So it’s a start.


The interesting thing about this week is I’m finally clearing out the stuff I’ve had from when I first moved back to Mississippi.  The router, the cable, the modem, and the cat feeder (who knows where the other part is) are things that were muddied by Hurricane Katrina, as was the framed butterfly.

My grandmother, before her hands became too knotty to do much, was an absolute artist when it came to crocheting. Filet was her specialty: incredibly time-consuming work, fine thread, and endless patience.  She did her best to teach me how to crochet afghans, but all I mastered was the chain and single/double stitches.

I did manage to make a king sized afghan during a 6 week convalescent leave from surgery once.  I just kept going and going and going.

While I do have a couple of her afghans, all I have left of her filet is this butterfly. In all of her work, she made window dressings, table runners, and all sorts of gorgeous pieces.  When she’d finish, she would give them away.

As I was slushing through the mud, I spied it and grabbed it, throwing it in a box to deal with later.

It’s now later.

I’m going to keep the butterfly and toss the frame. I can wash it by hand, but I think it will always have a blue hue,  the background bleeding into her art, forced by a hurricane.


It seems fitting.

One of the big gains this week is my garage. I’m no where on schedule (always on Nancy time, I suppose), but the space is definitely widening on my shelves. There are shelves in this garage. I had never seen a thing until I toured it for the first time.

Ideally, I’ll have nothing on them but animal supplies and water, but we’ll see how that goes. I still have quite a few boxes left, ones that aren’t even on the shelves but are on the floor, making it difficult to get to the shelves.

I think it’s still a win. And these days, I’ll take any win I can get.



Letting Go Challenge: Week Eighteen


Doing it in chunks is definitely working. The filing cabinet is almost entirely cleared off. I’ve started noting my mileage for my doctor’s visits—definite progress toward my taxes.


So far, one and a half shelves holding only things that I absolutely need: catfood, water, etc.  I’ve cleared out boxes in front of the water heater, and can almost walk to it without pushing something out of the way.



  • 1. Brown shoes
  • 2., 3., 4.  Champagne glasses
  • 5. Blue zipper pullover
  • 6. Grey pants
  • 7. Black pants
  • 8. Hand held mirror
  • 9. Dog picture frame
  • 10. Red star makeup bag
  • 11. Shock Collar
  • 12. Best of Cesar Milan
  • 13. Old Cable Modem
  • 14. Cesar Milan Season 1
  • 15. Some sort of gelled gloves
  • 16. A Bent something or other
  • 17. Eyeliner
  • 18.  Diaper sacks
  • 19. Dead pen
  • 20. Bendy skeleton
  • 21. Rusty green mini stapler
  • 22. Unidentified object—if you spot it and recognize it, kudos.

I saw someone post on Facebook the other day, “People who don’t walk their dogs every day are assholes.”

I am an asshole for this and many other reasons.  But I am a pretty terrible dog mom.

The minute I saw her, I fell in love. I had made the mistake of getting a dog out of absolute need: I was scared to be in my own house after a break-in and multiple incidents of vandalism. Every little noise; every little sound that sounded “off,” and I’d feel like I was climbing out of my skin.

It was not the best of times.

I decided on a puppy despite a friend’s experienced advice. I wanted a female, and I wanted her to bond with me. I didn’t know a whole lot about dogs, and what I did know was mostly wrong.

I spent a couple of weeks looking through the local Humane Society’s site and couldn’t find what I needed. It apparently wasn’t puppy season, and what they had at the time were pitbull-type breeds. While I was—and am—totally against dog specific legislation, I didn’t think it would be prudent to get as my very first dog one  that was—in my mind—more labor intensive than say, a Lab.

I really, really didn’t know anything about dogs.

I found true love on Craig’s list; a young couple with a baby had adopted a teddy-bear of a puppy who was far too wild for them with their baby. They had gotten her from the Humane Society and had her for three days before they decided they couldn’t handle her.

I saw this and knew she was mine. The first minute I held her (obvs on her best behavior), I felt a knowing, a belonging that I had never felt before.

How could I not?
How could I not?

And she came home with me.

And she was a terror. I had named her Durga, picking the name before I found the dog—again, against the well-seasoned advice of my experienced friend. Sanskrit for invincible, for fortress, it was exactly what I needed after the break-ins. Durga is a Hindu goddess, a warrior with the appropriate weapon for every situation. Defeater of demons and yet possessor of the lotus.

I really, really needed some lotus juju.

What I didn’t know until later that Durga is a manifestation of Kali Ma, and if there’s anything non-Hindu people know about the Hindu religion, it’s Kali Ma. In fact, Kali sprang from Durga-maa’s forehead, which is to say Durga actually contained Kali. And more.

Oy vey.

My Durga, my pretty little puppy, was the epitome of “being careful what you wish for.”

We watched Cesar Milan together as I hoped against hope that either of us would learn something that would make our life a little better. We didn’t.  I enrolled her in obedience school, which she promptly failed out of.

She’d herd me down the hall, snapping at my ankles and calves. She’d come at me with her monstrous puppy teeth, jumping and biting down on clothes and skin alike, ruining shirts and making scars I still have to this day.  I was terrified of my dog.

I’d call my friend J in tears, saying that the next day I’d return her to the Humane Society. I just could not live with her. “Tomorrow,” I’d tell her. “Tomorrow I will force myself to drop her off.” But tomorrow came, and I’d try again.  Stubbornness reigned. I did not want a 10 pound dog to be the boss of me. I didn’t want to fail when I so desperately needed a win. I knew there was a sweet dog behind the teeth—I had met her and fallen in love. I just needed to find her again.

She was finally beginning to settle down—just a little, and we had settled into a life of a lot of play and as many walks as I could squeeze in.

But then she ran out in traffic, slipping through the front door and out into the street. I called her and she wouldn’t come back. I went toward her and her little puppy legs pumped faster than I’ve ever moved in my entire life.

She came back when she was damned well ready to.

I borrowed a shock collar to try to teach her not to do it anymore. I knew even less about shock collars than I did about dogs. The next time she slipped out, this time through the gate and into the street, I pressed the button.

She fell over and lay completely still.

I thought I had killed my dog.

I screamed, picking her up and carrying her inside. She panted heavily but her eyes were white, the irises rolled so far back in her head I couldn’t see them.   As she lay on the couch, I stretched over her, crying and begging her to move. The shock collar had been set on the highest setting for a 100 pound dog. My 10 or 15 pound puppy didn’t have a chance.

As it turned out, she was indeed invincible. After I cried over her for what seemed like forever, she popped up, wagged her tail, and started licking my face.

Horrified by my ignorance and grateful for her survival, I hugged her so tightly that I probably almost killed her a second time. Not only had she survived the shock, but she had also completely forgiven me and was ready to play the moment she could stand.

Invincible indeed.

I never shocked her again, instead throwing it into a box that somehow got shuffled to the garage.  It was in a box I cleared out this week.

Five years later, it’s finally time to let go of that garbage.

We both survived her horrific puppyhood, and I ended up with an awesome dog.  A really, really awesome dog.

...who likes to pose for pictures.
…who likes to pose for pictures.

Letting Go Challenge: Week 17

 Untitled design (1)


  • 1. Glass pane*
  • 2. Rubber seal for something-or-other*
  • 3. Potpourri wire apple
  • 4. Cat tunnel
  • 5. Shirt
  • 6., 7. Two Glasses cases
  • 8. A bag of box tops for schools
  • 9. Broken hair clip
  • 10., 11., 12., 13., 14., 15., 15., 17. Medicine bottles
  • 18.  Wrench-thingamajig  for Misfit shine
  • 19., 20., 21. Three make up brushes
  • 22. A zipper pouch

**the rubber gasket and glass I have no idea where they’re from. I found it while dusting the top of the bookcase. Weirdness.


I’m changing up filing method a bit. Because it’s near the end of January now and tax season will be upon me, I’m taking blocks of paper and filing it into four categories: Pets, Medical, Money, and Other. I’m able to get through larger stacks of paper that way, and I can specifically file the EOB’s and office visit and prescription receipts that I’ll need for taxes without getting bogged down in filing every little thing.

Getting bogged down is something I’m really, really good at.

I’ve changed my goal from pieces filed to time spent, and it seems to be working out. Set the timer, grab a stack, and go.



There were a couple of definite wins this week:

I’m noting obvious gaps–places where I used to have stuff, but it’s all found new homes. That’s a really good feeling.

I set a room priority and am starting with the garage. I’m trying to make room for a filtration system I received for Christmas and have yet to have installed. I just have so much stuff that it makes it difficult to actually see the water tank.  I cleared out two boxes from the garage, a  box of notebooks that have gone into a bin in the office for later organization, and a box of dishes I inherited from my grandmother. I put the dishes in a new box (sans garage-dwelling roaches) in the kitchen for later organization.

Again, avoiding the bog-down.

It kinda feels like moving in.  It certainly looks that way.




Letting Go Challenge: Week 16

The Junk

  • 1, 2., 3., 4 Lampshades
  • 5. Camisole
  • 6. Make up bag
  • 7. Empty packing tape roll (Really!)
  • 8.,9., 10., 11., 12. Medicine bottles
  • 13. Rusted butter knife
  • 14. Rusted fork
  • 15. Broken Otterbox
  • 16. 17. Two purses
  • 18. Eyeliner
  • 19. Old nail polish
  • 20. Big Book
  • 21. Old blush brush


Only 19 this week. I did well last Sunday, and then just didn’t have it in me for the rest of the week.

So much for upping my game. The RA decided to throw a hell of a tantrum this week, and I barely made it with the items themselves. (It’s Sunday as I write this.)

No shelf. No drawer. No getting healthy. Although I did lose a couple of pounds, there was no specific action put into it.

I had the opportunity to catch Michael Hyatt’s webinar called The 10 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making in Goal-Setting (and How to Fix Them), which, incidentally, I really recommend. It helped me specify 7 areas of my life I really want to see improved. I was able to set specific goals for:  Writing, Health, Home Organization, Relationships, Finances, Education, and Renewal.

I was psyched. I was organized. I was en pointe.

And then hell broke loose.

But still, 21 things out. 19 things filed.

I’ll take my victories where I find them.


I did find most of a book of stamps and seventeen cents while clearing out a box from the garage.

Seventeen cents richer.  I’m on my way to financial independence now!




Update: Letting Go Challenge

For weeks 14 and 15, I swore I’d have them on the new site.  And I did.

For about a week and a half.

I’m still doing them, as evidenced by these pictures:

Week 14:


Week 15:


…and then I broke the site again.

Unfortunately, I lost my words in the process, although they may be floating out there in space somewhere.

Apparently, if there’s one thing I’m really, really good at, it’s breaking web sites.

If I were going to have a tombstone, they could personalize it for me:

Here lies N J Ray

She broke the web. A lot.

Here’s hoping I’m back on posting track next week.

I’ve actually picked up a few readers through this minimalism challenge, and I thank you for your patience.




Letting Go Challenge: Week Thirteen


  • 1. Halloween head dress
  • 2. Feather boa
  • 3. 4. 5. 6.  Towels
  • 7. Misfit box
  • 8. Coffee Cup
  • 9. 10.  Bras
  • 11. 12. Nail polish
  • 13. Book–Intiution: Awakening Your Inner Guide by Judee Gee
  • 14. Beads
  • 15. Dog bowl
  • 16. Phone book
  • 17. 18. 19. 20. Magazines
  • 21. Dead pen

The Halloween headdress is an observation of my impulse spending.  I had to buy Halloween candy for work, so I went to the drug store, and viola, they had minimal Halloween costumes for buy one get one 50% off. How could I resist?

Never mind that I’d have saved money by not buying it. Nevermind that I wore it (and the boa) for a total of five minutes–MAX–while the kids came trick-or-treating at work.

Never mind.  It was BOGO 50% off !

Plus it lights up and has ribbons and stuff.


I’m not sure how Intuition came into my book collection. Perhaps it was a Barnes & Noble discount, perhaps it was a gift.

I try to read 10-15 minutes every morning–to learn new things, personal growth type things.

I used to enjoy reading metaphysical stuff.  I started it and immediately felt resistance to reading it. But I trudged on, wanting to read every book I have before getting new ones.

Normally, when I dislike a book, I can say exactly why: the writing, the plot, the themes that narcissistic men who stalk women is sexy (ahem, Fifty Shades), but this one I can’t say.  Perhaps if my inner guide were awakened, I could better pin-point  it.

I managed to skim through it, really trying to read parts of it but finding myself skipping ahead, time and time again.

So. Yeah. Didn’t like it.

But it served a purpose: it reminded me that I had fallen into “playing” at meditation. I set aside time every morning, set the timer, and sat.  The dog’s butt was a distraction (my dog’s butt speaks in “Scratch Me NOWNOWNOWNOW!”) , the constant to-do list in my head a constant distraction.

I was doing but not really doing, therefore playing at it.

So I’m a bit more focused now.  That’s a good thing,


47 things filed. Some trash, others organized in sub-folders, such as Medical (hanging folder), smaller folders: Lab Work, EOBs, etc.


Going into my fourth month (wow!), I realized that it’s time to up my game again.  So I’ve done two things:

  1. Committed to completely clearing out one shelf, one drawer, one something every week.
  2. Started a new challenge to run in tangent with this one: Getting Healthy.

This week, I’ve managed to clear out my entire shoe-portion of my closet.  So yay. All of my shoes, with the exception of one, are paired. I’ve managed to lose one of the shoes that I wear most often and have determined that it has NOT been brought outside by the dog, although whether it’s been digested is still a mystery.

Not a bad way to end 2015, quite frankly.





Letting Go Challenge: Week Twelve

Three whole months. Three whole months I’ve been doing this.  I’m amazed that I stuck with it so long. Even more so that I keep doing it.

I’m seeing gaps in places–most notably my closet.  I’ve given away a lot and thrown away the stuff that’s not in good condition, and I feel so much more free.

Check that–I don’t know that free is exactly the right word.

Because it’s not really about the stuff. It’s about the stick-to-it-iveness,  without tenacity.  Flow, perhaps. It’s like returning to a natural order I didn’t know I had.

One of my fears was (and is, still, if I’m really, really honest) is leaving a shit ton of mess behind were I to die.

I saw it with my mother as she went through 90 plus years of stuff that my grandmother had collected over the years.

Death is a funny thing. Not to be morbid, but shit happens.  And it’s a huge burden on those left behind to clean up the stuff.

Maybe it’s a natural part of grieving; I don’t know.  It just seems that it would be easier without it.

Grief makes everything harder. Going through a shit-ton of stuff is hard anyway. When grieving, it’s damn near impossible.

But it’s not really about death; it’s not about leaving less stuff. Not consciously, at least, although now that I think about it, perhaps it is a little bit about leaving less stuff.

What do I want my legacy to be? Writing. Relationships. Memories. Not stuff.

But  maybe it’s really more about moving obstacles out of the way. Having too much stuff is chaotic.  Having clutter is chaotic.  I’ve found that it’s draining to look at an overburdened closet filled with stuff I know I can’t wear.   I’ve found that it’s exhausting to look at an overrunning office filled with stuff I need to file. Or so many books that they’re falling from the shelves.  It’s like a giant, leaden to-do list that filled a space in the back of my mind that I carried around all the time.

And every week when I get more stuff out, more stuff filed, that weight gets a little less heavy.

Plus, when it comes to getting ready for work, I can almost see what I have to choose from with a single glance.

It’s definitely more efficient.

Chaos is being reflected in my writing.  I currently have three different–and by different, I mean whole scenes different–manuscripts for one book.  Incomplete, of course.  But because my evil twin (thanks, evil twin!) has become my writing buddy, helping me set goals and checking to see if I’ve met them, I’m really trying to trudge through the first draft.

And it’s like pulling teeth.

I really thought I’d have the first draft finished by the end of this year. With eleven days to go and an indeterminate word count, it doesn’t look like it’s happening.

So. I attack the chaos. Slowly, attempting to integrate the drafts. It’s slow. It’s mind-numbing.  But it is coming together.

Kind of.

So I keep attacking the chaos.

So for this week’s stuff;

  • 1)  Bra
  • 2) and 3) Red and Orange shirts
  • 4) and 5) Blue and Green pants
  • 6) 7) 8) Charts
  • 9) and 10) Pink and Harley shirts
  • 11) Camera box
  • 12) Mirror Piece
  • 13) Purple sweater
  • 14) and 15) Scrub Pants
  • 16) Purple skirt
  • 17) 18) and 19) black, blue, and green pants
  • 20) White scrub shirt
  • 21) Ivory blouse

(Towels will be next week, J. I’d already had the stuff gathered.)

I filed a total of 30-ish things this week.  I lost count somewhere around 35. Mostly trashed (again). Some medical receipts from 2014 that I never deducted, but a few pieces for my 2015 taxes.

If I can find everything that I need, I’ll definitely have enough to itemize rather than taking the standard deduction.   So…more money back.

And here’s George Carlin talking about stuff.  It’s George Carlin, so there’s at least a little bit of NSFW.



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