Letting Go Challenge: Weeks Twenty-Three and Twenty-Four



Weeks 23 and 24


  • 5 Pairs of Pants
  • 1 Pair of Shoes
  • 21 shirts
  • 1 Vest jacket
  • 1 Pair of socks
  • 1 Blu Ray Set plastic cover
  • 1 Bell
  • 1 (very old) hand sanitizer
  • 1 Benadryl spray (out of date by 5 years)
  • 8 medicine bottles
  • 1 pack of hairbands
  • 1 cut up credit card

Forty-three things.

I missed a week. After 22 weeks of continuous clearing out, I missed a week. Sooner or later, I always drop the ball. Usually when that happens, I get discouraged and distracted and months later wonder how I went from doing whatever it was every day to having gone months without doing it.

Not this time. I missed a week. One week.

Tom Robbins said, “Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach.”

So here I am, picking up where I left off.  I don’t know if I’ll have 42 items this week–I’m writing this in between gathering stuff, doing chores, etc.–but I will have only missed one week.

Not too shabby for a gal with the attention span of a Mexican jumping bean on meth.

This week I discovered a COLOSSAL waste of money. I had bought 2 sets of Breaking Bad deeply discounted with the intention of selling it. It never happened. I just couldn’t do it. I ended up giving it away to a friend who’s as appreciative of the series as I am. Maybe not such a huge waste of money after all. But still a “holy shit” moment. As

I also realized as I was gathering items–specifically the med bottles–that I’ve gotten rid of  a lot that I haven’t documented. I’ve had a lot of med bottles. Small boxes, and things like that.

But I get it honest. This week, my dad texted me a picture of his doctor’s record that showed him bringing me into the doctor. In 1974. Apparently, my mom is going through stuff at her place, too.

I’m in the process of reducing two bookshelves to one; I don’t know if I’ll have it finished this month, but it’s closer. I discovered that by getting rid of a Wii box in the entertainment center, I could move my movies there, clearing out almost a full shelf. The reference books that I have no intention of getting rid of (mostly writing books and some lit books from college), I’m moving to the office now that I have room on the shelves in that room.

I had high heels on it previously. I have NO idea why I thought putting them on office shelves was a good idea, but I got rid of them a long time ago.

There is no horse to get back on. There is just this: my getting rid of things, simplifying my life. Sometimes life gets in the way of those plans.

But sometimes it doesn’t.



Letting Go Challenge: Week Twenty-Two



  • 1. Sharps box
  • 2. Shampoo Bottle
  • 3. Conditioner Bottle
  • 4. Plastic dish that no lid would fit
  • 5. Snowman Christmas ornament
  • 6., 7. Two pairs of shoes
  • 8. Bird cage with candleholder
  • 9. Stuffed puppy
  • 10. Xmen Origins — Wolverine (never opened)
  • 11. E-cig battery was D.O.A.
  • 12. Wii box
  • 13. Glass chess set
  • 14. Book: When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops by George Carlin
  • 15. Basket
  • 16., 17., 18., 19.  More nail files
  • 20.  Cat stuff: Pro-Pet Cat Relief hydrocortisone spray
  • 21. . Knee highs
  • 22.  Eyeshadow spongey-thing
  • 23. Antibiotic Ointment (expired in 2011)

A couple of things happened this week:

  1. I realized that I buy a hell of a lot of duplicates. A HELL of a lot. The Xmen movie–which is far from my favorite–I have both on DVD and BluRay.  I’m currently reading An Orgy of George by George Carlin, which contains Brain Droppings, Napalm and Silly Putty, and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops. No reason to hold on to the original Pork Chop book, eh?
  2. After my house was broken into, I swore I’d keep all the serial numbers for my electronics and things. I found out the hard way what happens when you don’t. But instead of writing them down and filing them away, I had kept the boxes. Like the Wii, for example. I’ve officially started a “Serial Number” file.
  3. Because I was getting rid of the Wii box, which was inexplicably stored in the entertainment center, I had room to move my movies over, freeing up space on the bookcase. My goal is to get both bookcases to one so I can get rid of the one that’s broken. I’m not close, but I’m a good foot and a half closer.
  4. I realized what a hard time I have taking/sending things back when they aren’t what I ordered or they’re defective. The e-cig I’d ordered off Ebay. I know I could have gotten my money back, but I just didn’t do it. Now, it’s been too long. I just don’t do it. I should. I don’t. I’ll deal with that later.
  5. The only reason I included a picture of a Q-tip box (cause it’s kind of silly, right?) is that it’s a milestone. It’s the first time that I can remember throwing a box out right after using the last one.
  6. I am really, really, really enjoying this. There is something so satisfying about seeing a space–amidst the clutter–that remains unoccupied. There is something so satisfying about seeing the pictures of all the things I’ve gotten rid of.  It seems as though everything can go wrong during a week; I may not succeed at anything else that week, but getting rid of 21 things WILL happen. There is something very satisfying about seeing “holes” becoming wider–opening up space. There is something very satisfying about being able to find what I’m looking for because I know that a) I have it and b) where I’m keeping it.

Would I like to be done with it?  I’d like to have made more progress, I guess, but I don’t want to be done with it. Maybe it’ll never be done. Decluttering has turned out to be a far richer experience than I would have ever guessed.

So much so that starting in March, I’ll be doing a financial simplification. I haven’t quite come up with a catchy title yet, but I’m committing to the first week of every month. I want to see what I can do to tidy up my finances.

This should prove interesting.







Letting Go Challenge: Week Twenty-One (AKA Lots and Lots of Words)


  • 1. Broken binder
  • 2. Broken Otterbox
  • 3. Spatula
  • 4., 5. Ice packs for shipping my Enbrel
  • 6. Box of papers
  • 7. Box for heating pack
  • 8., 9. Two jars of paint
  • 10., 11., 12., 13. 14. Five paint rags
  • 15. Paint stirrer
  • 16. Used painty-thingie for a painting edger
  • 17.  Vanilla coffee syrup
  • 18. Chicken wire
  • 19., 20., 21.  Tea that expired in 2011 or earlier, two boxes of it that I had never opened.

If I had a loose plan for finishing one room a month, I’m woefully behind schedule. Good thing I’m not getting graded on it.

I realized a couple of things this week: 1) Sometimes things just aren’t worth messing with and 2) I have bought a lot of stuff that I never, ever use.

The Otterbox has a lifetime warranty, yes. But after having replaced a couple of parts on it multiple times (and dealing with their shitty customer service), I just decided to trash it and buy a new non-Otterbox one.  It costs something like $2.50 each time you file a warranty claim. For the number of times I dealt with them, I could have paid for the excellently-rated cheapie that I partnered with shatterglass at least once–and probably a couple of times over.

There comes a point where it’s just not worth throwing money in the same direction.

As I’ve begun keeping a closer eye on my spending (aside, why is it that every time I start tracking my spending a bazillion “unexpected” expenses come up?), I’ve managed to shave a minimal amount of spending down, with the goal of cutting my spending 10% by the end of the year. Maybe because these two things are intersecting, but I’ve noticed that there’s a hell of a lot of low-dollar stuff I’ve bought that I just didn’t need. Or want. Or thought I wanted but got distracted by a shiny object.

I’ve been at the purging for over five months now. Without counting the weeks that I did more than 21 things, that makes it four hundred and forty one things that I’ve counted, and that’s not including the things I’ve thrown out but was too lazy to count because I was in a frenzied cleaning mode. (It’s about as rare as a solstice blue moon, but it does happen.)

Sometimes I amaze myself.


A most awesome thing happened this week. In clearing out the garage, one box at a time, I discovered that I haven’t lost all my writing from before Katrina after all.

Mud-covered, faded, and stained, I have bits of poems, bits of dreams, bits of stories.  Letters from people I didn’t even remember writing me. A whole lot of bits that I didn’t even remember writing. I spent a bit of time ooh-ing and aah-ing over them, tickled that I’d found them.

Lots and lots of words. Words I’d written. Words others had written to me. Words and words and words.

It’s over ten year old writing, from a place I was before college, before the second great love of my life, before my dog, before my niece and nephew were even thought about.  Before I had a home for myself. Before R.A.

All of it is now in a file folder to be transcribed when I have the opportunity. Filed away for closer inspection.  I daresay I’m in for a bit of nostalgia.  It’s kind of exciting, a world I’ll be revisiting.

I came across this, though, before I really studied the meaning and use of words.  And here, nearly eleven years later, it still rings as true for me as it did over a decade ago:

Words will be the death of me,
And in truth, I am reborn.

Words, the perfect Universe,
Perfect Circle,
Imperfect Perfection,

Within words, we are born,
Hatching ideas from the Egg of all Wisdom—
We create, and are created—
We expand, and are born.

Words, the jailers of our soul,
Measuring the infinite with finite descriptions:
How does one describe the essence
of God?
of a laugh?
of an orgasm?

Within words, we are slain,
Leeching our power and losing it freely—
We belittle and are belittled,
We wither and are slain.

We choose destruction when we could save;
Choose to begin when we should end.
Gather Hope, in words, for the Spiral dances,
Another opportunity, again and again,
Until it ends.
Only to begin anew.

Raise arms, in words, to destroy the truest monster
That eats away our very soul—
For therein lies true death, from which there is no salvation.

“Fear is not the end of this,”
“Death is only the beginning.”
Truth lies just beyond the doorway,
Embraced, sheletered, and protected
By words.

Will you dare? Do you care?
Are you even truly alive?

© 2005 N. J. Ray




Letting Go Challenge: Week Twenty


  • 1. White shoe
  • 2. Black Shoe
  • 3. Mardi Gras beads (gawd, these never end)
  • 4. Black pants
  • 5. Gray pants
  • 6. Book: The Pooh Perplex by Frederick Crews
  • 7., 8.,  Chicken Noodle Soup x 2 (Expired 2015)
  • 9. Lip pencil
  • 10. Contact case
  • 11. Panty hose
  • 12. Flower watch-ring
  • 13. Hotel soap
  • 14. Nail file
  • 15. Broken chair tip
  • 16. Tops pin
  • 17. Blue plastic pool
  • 18. Red tie-dyed t-shirt
  • 19. Tuna fish from 2013
  • 20. and 21. Two unmentionables that I will neither show nor name.

This week was a whole lot of memories. Soup that a friend brought when I was sick; one of which I had eaten and, as we say in the South, “swoll up so bad” I couldn’t fit my feet in shoes, and that was way before the RA.

A book from grad school that was pretty much the last of many signs I shouldn’t be so caught up with getting my Master’s. It was brilliantly written–a plethora of different literary criticism styles as the pertained to the original Winnie the Pooh. I joked that it was the Freudian reading–i.e., the sodomy in Pooh–that ruined my desire for finishing grad school, but, looking back, it was the criticism of criticism that did me in.  I love tearing apart things I read to look beyond the surface. I love participating in literary criticism, and I love that a degree in literature is the very epitome of critical thinking–a skill I think is clearly not appreciated in today’s political environment.

And yet, this book demonstrated the pretentiousness of parts of academia and made me really reconsider my choice of aspirations–to be a literature professor. I think that critical thinking and the ability to deconstruct what is said to see what is meant are incredibly important, I realized that I can still do what I love without doing that.

I just haven’t figured that out quite yet, but that’s okay. I am, outside the confines of my 9-5. doing all sorts of writing-and-thinking things that I love. And for now, it works.

It’s a great thing–and a huge relief off my mind–to know that it’s okay not to have everything figured out.  I just have to know what I’m doing now, and what I might do next.

Five months and I’m still doing it.

Sometimes I really do surprise myself.

It really was time to throw this out. Maybe.
It really was time to throw this out. Maybe.






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.