Letting Go Challenge: Week Nine

Eight weeks down, and no end in sight.  I don’t know whether to be excited or sad.

For the next four weeks,  I’ve decided to change things up.  I’ll be getting rid of 21 things a week (seems like a step back, eh?) but adding filing to it. I want 21/21: 21 things out, 21 things filed.

For those of you who know me and/or have been to my house, yes, this means I’m taking on tackling my office, the big void in which I’ve tossed stacks and stacks of things to be filed “later.”

So, gulp.

I also have gremlins in the house, apparently. The number one thing on my toss-out list is a picture that I loved so much that I gave it to my mother for Mother’s Day one year.  When I bought the house, she gave it back to me so that I could hang it over the fireplace.

Sometime this week, it fell, taking a candle with it.

I’ll really miss the picture, torn beyond fixing with its wooden framing broken.  It’s light through old oak trees–one of my favorite things about the South. But it was also the give-and-take between my mother and me that made it so special.


wp-1448635634394.jpegSo, the things for this week:


I “filed” 21 prescription receipts. Twenty-two, actually.

I’ve decided to go gently into the office, starting with my so-called medical file, which is really a hanging folder stuffed with mostly medical paperwork and some other stuff, too.

Earlier in the year, I started a binder of my prescription receipts, taping them to sheets of paper.  They’re  so small and annoying, and end up in all sorts of places I didn’t imagine.  This way, I can simply photocopy the sheets of receipts for FSA reimbursement.

I just added 22 receipts to it this week. It wasn’t as painful as a catheter. I was pleasantly surprised.

For my toss-out:

  • 1. Tree picture
  • 2. Electric blanket cord (the electric blanket has long been thrown away)
  • 3. B-12 supplement
  • 4. Book: The Night Manager by John Le Carre
  • 5. Book: Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller
  • 6. Book: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb**
  • 7. Brown purse
  • 8. Black purse
  • 9, 10, 11, 12. Four Seasons of True Blood
  • 13. Salt light
  • 14. Red nail polish
  • 15. Yet another spool of thread (this time, regular-sized)
  • 16. Suntan lotion from 6 years or so ago
  • 17. Holly Blues by Susan Wittig Albert
  • 18. Bra that never fit
  • 19, 20, 21 Phone Books

The new phone books came in, so out with the old ones. Progress, I suppose, considering I had phone books from several years ago on a previous week’s list.

The past two or three weeks have been a struggle over balance. What to keep, what to toss.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with a friend whom I haven’t seen in far too long and to meet a new one.

Some people put off a certain je ne sais quoi that my being in their presence feels like coming home.  My friend is such a person, as is her friend, as it turns out.

It was so out of character for me to contact her and say, “Hey, I know this is horribly rude, but I heard that your awesome friend was visiting. I’d love the opportunity to meet her.”

But I did. And I’m so glad I did.  You can never know too many awesome people.

Plus, I had the opportunity to try gumbo over potato salad, something I had not even heard of before Friday.   And really, really awesome deviled eggs made with chipotle pickles.

So there’s that.

My “old” friend was the one who inspired me to start an organized system of purging, and I told her so.  We talked about her challenge and my  adapted one. We talked about how it’s made us really look at what we’re attached to, and why.  How it’s been a true meditation in letting go, and the freedom that comes along with it.

I talked about how one week, it turns out, was less about stuff and more about a strange flavor of forgiveness.

I am truly honored to know her, and grateful that I have people in my life that challenge me, even unintentionally.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “letting go” is causative of opening up to the new, but I will say that it just so happens that I’m doing things I’ve never done before and trying things I’ve never tried before, all the while I’m letting go of things that no longer have a purpose in my life.

And that’s pretty damn grand indeed.

***(The ONLY reason I’m getting rid of Hobb’s book is because, while dusting my still overflowing bookcase, I notice that I had two of the exact same book. Apparently, I do love her that much.)

Letting Go Challenge: Week Eight

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 — pairs o’ pants
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 — various shirts
  • 16. Another thing of Salon Pas
  • 17. Curling Iron
  • 18. Boxer shorts/pj’s
  • 19. Black purse
  • 20. Cat calendar
  • 21. “N” necklace
  • 22. Broken refrigerator magnet
  • 23. Tractor Stickers*
  • 24. Bunny Ears*
  • 25. Cat-destroyed book (Change up!)
  • 26. Dental rinse from a hotel from at least 6 years ago
  • 27. Clear fingernail polish
  • 28. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

It seems this week that I’ve only had three accomplishments:

  1. I survived my first official week of steroids. Wasn’t awake through most of it, but I survived.
  2. I did make my 28 things this week.
  3. I now have a much thinned-out closet and two entirely empty closet shelves.

There is the fact that I’m less likely to burn down the house via the curling iron–something I was too afraid to use because 1/2 the time, it didn’t come on, and 1/2 the time the auto-shut off feature didn’t work, and I never seemed to remember to unplug it.

So there’s that.

This has been a week full of off for me. Everything has felt off.  I feel like I’m swirling in chaos, with everything being off, and I can’t find the energy or the quiet to write it back on again.

Togetherness has felt like void; attempted quietude has felt like a Tool concert from the nosebleed seats: enough to recognize the rhythm but just short of being able to interpret the lyric.

There is a huge gap between the life I have and the life I want. I know what I need to do to move toward that life, and, yet, here I am, off.

I don’t even have a picture of this week’s stuff.  I didn’t get it posted on Sunday.

Off. Off.

Normally, I’d wait until it came around full circle again: I started off; I finished on, and so there’s that.

Not this week. Still off.

196 things out of my house, and it’s still in chaos.

Fitting, maybe.


Letting Go Challenge: Week Seven

  • 1., 2., 3. Pillows
  • 4. Bathmat
  • 5. Gold purse
  • 6. White shirt
  • 7. Great Value Fiber Brownies (incredibly gross)
  • 8., 9., 10. green, purple,, and red shirt.
  • 11. Book: House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • 12. Book. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • 13. Another red shirt
  • 14. Dog tie-down (never opened).
  • 15. Pet Head Cat Detangling spray (as if my cats would stand to be sprayed)
  • 16. Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • 17. Book: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • 18. A glove that had been a dog toy
  • 19. Plastic measuring cup
  • 20. Book: Shop Girl by Steve Martin
  • 21. Book: How to Be a Woman by Caitlyn Moran
  • 22. Book: Dutch Oven Cookbook
  • 23. White plastic scraper something-or-other
  • 24.,25., 26., 27. Four margarita glasses
  • 28. Eyeliner (and last of the pink-eye items!)

Two interesting things this week. First, I’ve officially skimmed my books, and it was both easier and more complicated than I thought. Relative easy to pick them out. Which ones do I not want to read again? It didn’t matter if I enjoyed them (like Hurston and Martin) or not (like Moran or a cookbook for a Dutch Oven that I don’t even own), but rather, do I want to read them again?

There’s a hesitance with Hurston’s book. When I chose it (and put it back and picked it back up again), when I put it in the box (and pulled it out and put it back) and, even now, while I’m writing about it.

I actually just paused writing–right now–armed with the idea that if I found another book within 30 seconds, I’d switch them out.  So…I went to the bookshelf, only to find no books that I could decide to get rid of in 30 seconds. So I came back to the keyboard, intent on keeping it in the “give away” stack. But as I sat down to say I won against the urge to keep a book, I remembered that I had discovered a whole bag’s worth of stuff when I cleaned out a drawer this morning. So I switched it out for an old eyeliner from God-knows-when.

So. I’m keeping it, at least for now. I’m not sure if I’ve lost or won, but I’ll start reading it next and maybe find out why I’ve felt such a resistance to getting rid of it.

The second thing is that I’ve had a bath mat laid across an old chiminea for months. It’s been wet, dry, wet, and dry again, but I’ve never moved it. Until this week.

Under it, all piled on top of each other and all askew, was a legion of stink bugs. They were of differing sizes, so I’m guessing they’ve been breeding under it, and I have a mess of all ages. I wish I had stopped my infernal squealing in time to get a picture.

Now, if you’ve never seen a stink bug, you’re about to:


If you’ve never seen one up close and personal, that’s something to be grateful for. There’s a reason they’re called stink bugs. The odor they release is so dire, and permeates clothes so well that it can take a few washings to get it out.

Really, they should be called stank bugs. Farting is apparently their super power. If I had any photoshop skills at all (and photoshop, for that matter), I’d make one a costume that had SBD (for the ever elusive Silent But Deadly) in a Superman-esque pattern.

They really are that bad.

And my dog apparently loves them.

As they fell from the chiminea, the dog, ever alert for possible threats, sniffed them and began dragging her face and side of her body through them. It was like watching someone fry fish: she’d get one side really good and stinky  only to flip and do the other.

At least she’s balanced in her stink.

Luckily, only a few had fallen; my stank-loving dog only smelled pretty bad, as opposed to very, very bad.

I had rubbed her down, sprayed her with Febreeze (in hindsight, perhaps not the best idea) because I couldn’t manage to wash her.

Febreeze only hides so much. In case you ever wondered.

I gave her a dog biscuit and settled her in her favorite spot to spend the night — right outside the bedroom door in a corner of the hallway, and I flung myself into bed, utterly exhausted.

Sometime during the night, she nosed the door open and hopped up in the bed. And decided, very courteously, to wake me up with kisses to let me know she needed to go outside. It was between 3 and 4 this morning.

And yes, she still stank.

So there’s that.

142 things out.

Times, they are a-changin’.

(Image source: https://njaes.rutgers.edu/stinkbug/identify.asp )

Fabulous Friday: Moving through Fear

I know that worrying is fruitless; it catastrophizes the future while stealing from us the present.

Logically, I know this.  I also know that, roughly 99% of the time, I am pretty much worry-free.

I am grateful beyond words for this.

But that 1% gets me.

As I had expected, I am responding extremely well to Enbrel, as demonstrated by the fact that I can do anything even while I’m tapering off the prednisone.

As of this coming Sunday , I’ll be steroid free.  And I fear it.

I know that the medicine is working. I know that I can’t be on steroids for the rest of my life.

I know, I know.

But I also know, or rather, remember, that the first time I tried to taper down, I was immobilized.

And of course this time is not that time; I have been tapering down for the past 6 weeks or so. 15 mg, then 10 mg, then 5.

And now I will be on 0 mg.

A friend of mine told me that she had an appointment to get a shot in her shoulder, and that she was scared of the pain.  She’s to the point where she can barely move it–lifting her arm above her head is damn near out of the question.

I have so, so, so been there.  “It will hurt,” I told her.  “But the difference it will make will be worth it.”  I remember getting that injection, how I was so scared of it, but afterward, I realized that the shot did not hurt anywhere near as much as the shoulder did.

And when the relief flooded over me, I would have easily done 10 of them to find that same relief.

My fear of the shot was far worse than the shot itself.

Perhaps it’s the same with the steroids. I’ve been on them since April. I know that they cause all sorts of bad stuff, but I’ve been with them for so long, I’m afraid of being without them.

I’m already seeing the side effects of weaning off them. I only thought I was exhausted before.  I had somehow lost track of how much the prednisone was “propping me up,” masking the depth of the exhaustion.

But I’m adapting. If I want to do anything like write, have clean clothes, clean house, it has to be before work. And it may only be 10 minutes or 20 minutes or a single paragraph written, but it’s something.

I’m making it through a 40 hour work week, give or take for doctor’s appointments and taking off an hour or so here and there toward the end of the week when I can’t hold my head up anymore.

And I won’t “win” NaNoWriMo this year.  But still, I’ve laid down about 6k words in 13 days, which is far more than I did the entire month of October. And, I’m managing to limit the self-editing, so that I’m just plowing through.

And that’s something fabulous. 





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