Tag Archives: decluttering

Letting Go Challenge: Week 29 and 30

Weeks 27 & 28 (2)

 

I fell behind again.  Again.

The past few weeks has seen me fall behind on a LOT of things. Seems like everything, although I know that it’s not  necessarily true. With this posting, I’ll be one week behind (as of Sunday), but it’s better than being three.  So there’s that.

One of the things I’ve been confronted by is my sheer lack of focus. The past month in particular has been tough. I’d have all these goals and ideas and what-have-you only to be distracted by–what was that shiny thing? Oh my god!

Kinda like that Doctor Who episode “SIlence in the Library” when Donna’s transported out of the library, and finds herself in a life that passes by instantaneously. She’s talking to Dr. Moon: “You said ‘River’ and now we’re feeding ducks.”  Her saying she will bring her children to the park brings her to the park without any of the actual journey.

That’s what my life feels like right now. Only more tedious. Like I’ve lost the time, don’t know where it’s at, but have nothing to show for it.  I just find myself having done this or that and managing to skip over what I was supposed to be doing for that better life thing.

And here I am. Starting over. But not really starting over. I’m still 47 things lighter, even if it took me 2 weeks to do it.

It’s a little bit better than a start, at any rate.

Allons-y!

THE JUNK:

  • 1. Bubba cup (cracked–I loooved that cup)
  • 2. Fancy schmancy Christmas ornament
  • 3. Mason jar without lid
  • 4. NyQuil Cold and Flu: Exp date 2013
  • 5. Salon pas (didn’t work for me…held onto because…maybe they would work magically one day? I have no idea)
  • 6. Famotidine Exp 2014
  • 7., 8. White disks something-or-others (maybe floor protectors?)  x 2
  • 9-14  Coffee cups X 6
  • 15. Clear lax for the dog — exp date 2014
  • 16. Bottle of pills so old and faded I have no idea what it even is
  • 17. Christmas candle
  • 18. Ibuprofen — Can’t use it now with my every day Nsaid–finding it a new home
  • 19. Plastic cup
  • 20. Styrofoam cup
  • 21. Hair clip (not necessary since I chopped my hair off)
  • 22. Rusty spoon
  • 23. Pink stuffing paper (??)
  • 24.-27.. Four un-mated lids from the garage
  • 28. Sock–lonely and hanging out in the garage
  • 29. Bag of “silverbells gem mix” (??)
  • 30., 31.  Empty DVD case x 2
  • 32. Movie: Face Off
  • 33. Movie: Analyze That
  • 34–37, Four plates
  • 38., 39.  Christmas stockings x 2
  • 40. Hurricane instructions from 2006
  • 41. Book: Non-Profits for Dummies
  • 42. Movie: Bad Boys II
  • 43. Movie: Hide and Seek
  • 44. “Sherry” shaped glass
  • 45. Book: Walt Whitman “Laws of Creators” — ruined in the rain
  • 46. Notebook with writing–Also ruined in the rain
  • 47. Decorative metal pot-type thing

Letting Go Challenge: Week Twenty Five

Week 25THE JUNK:

  • 11 Magazines
  • 5 Styrofoam cups
  • Word Count Map — haven’t updated it in almost a year
  • Hospital arm band
  • 4 Post it Pads
  • Stack of out of date coupons
  • Red nose
  • Ecig box
  • A lock–I don’t even know where it came from.
  • A magnet too weak to hold a note card

Twenty-seven things, and this week was just my scrambling to get the things together. I REFUSED to miss another week.

I also cleaned out my refrigerator, which I didn’t count, and got rid of even more medicine bottles. Also not counted.

The cups, another holdover from my mother (did you know styrofoam cups can be washed through the dishwasher once or twice?). The post-its, accidental thievery from work–they will be returned on my next day back. Why on earth would I keep a hospital arm band? I mean, really? It’s not like it’s a nostalgic time I want to re-experience.

I am coming face-to-face with my waste, and it’s a bit shocking, to be honest. I am really starting to understand why I feel as if I never have any money–it’s being spent on half-eaten food, shoved to the back of the refrigerator, a magazine subscription that was a “free” trial, and I was too lazy or forgetful to cancel it.

I don’t think I even read any of the magazines.

It’s being spent on notebook after notebook, scattered around (and now being piled in the office until I go through them). Half-written, half-focused, notes from a class merged with to-do lists merged with letters I started writing but never finished. Clothes that “almost” fit that I never wore once I could fit in them. So on and so forth.

I look around, and instead of seeing stuff that makes my house “mine,” I see more stuff to dust, more stuff to move around, more stuff I don’t want to take care of yet don’t want to lose. My drum, for example. I can’t even think of parting with it, and yet I never play it. It’s a pain in the ass to dust.

But still I cling.

This is a process, I know. But I want a tidy and organized house. I want to have less shit to deal with. I want less waste and more efficiency.

I want I want I want.

I guess I’m getting there.

What I’ve discovered is that stuff isn’t just stuff. If it were, it’d be easy to get rid of. For me, it’s about memories, about identity, about security and control. It’s about letting go of the need to remember moments when life seemed brighter, or more honestly–to  in the past. The stuff is representative of my need to identify myself by the things I own and the things I remember. I’ve never considered myself materialistic, and, yet, I have drums and books and tie-dyed this and that which have become part of how I present: I’ve read these books. I play this drum. I am a hippie, see, I have tie-dye!

It’s about a certain amount of security I’ve attached to having certain things.

After Katrina, it was so easy. Most things had been swept away. There wasn’t indecision or suffering with choices; those had been taken care of for me, literally swept away down the river. There was a bit of mourning and moving on. “It’s just stuff,” I said, proud that I had let go, even as I unwittingly began the process of collecting more stuff.

Stuff isn’t just stuff. Maybe it’s never just stuff.  But clearing out is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s been–and continues to be–transformative. And I am ever, ever so grateful that my dear friend started before me, inspiring me to begin my own journey.

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Weeks 23 and 24

THE JUNK:

  • 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

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THE JUNK:

  • 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 Nineteen

THE JUNK:

  • 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

THE FILING:

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 BONUS:

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.

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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.

 

 

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:

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Week 15:

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…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.

 

 

 

Sunday Something: Adaptation and Letting Go

Two of the biggest lessons that RA is teaching me involve adaptation and letting go.

I’m not quite as good as either as I’d like.  For example, I’m still steaming about the fact that all week I’d been longing for chocolate ice cream and, braving rain and being unable to drive (Thank you, Driver!), I managed to make it through the grocery store, buying supplies to make several meals and sandwiches, only to find that my chocolate ice cream had magically become coffee and donuts ice cream.

Who makes such a thing? Who chooses such a thing?

I haven’t quite let go of the fact that I didn’t double check it before I put it in the cart (I swear, I was looking right at the chocolate!) nor have I adapted by even tasting it yet.

So there’s that.

A friend of mine is doing a 30-day minimalism challenge on Instagram. On the first day, she gets rid of one thing; the second two things, and so forth. At the end of the month, she’d be rid of a shit-ton of stuff. Four hundred and something, I think she said.

I’m too lazy to count them for specificity.

I wanted to do something like this.  I’ve been in the house for six years now, and I still have boxes I haven’t unpacked. I have tons of stuff I never use.

At any rate, that’s waaaaay too ambitious for me, and so I had to adapt it so that I’d at least have a chance at success.  My goal for the next four weeks is to get rid of 3 things per day. That seems far more doable, and I seem to work best in 3’s.  I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s a memory thing.  But because there are days that I may not be able to do anything, I’m going to make it simpler: 21 items/week.

It is simple in theory, but the truth is, I collect stuff. I don’t mean to. I just do. I hate throwing anything away.

Cause, you know, I’ll need it as soon as I throw or give it away (is has happened), or magically, I’ll drop 20 pounds and be able to fit in my old-favorite jeans again as soon as I donate them.

That hasn’t happened, by the way.

If all goes well,  I will have 84 fewer things in it that I’ll never, ever use.

Today, I found a shirt that doesn’t fit and 2 pairs of tennis shoes that I’ve given up on trying to wear.  Those I’ll donate at work tomorrow. I also found — in my garage while waiting for my ride to the grocery store–not one but 2 broken coffee pots. In my junk drawer, I found a set of Mardi Gras beads that some of the beads have come off.

So that’s 5 things so far.  Sixteen more to go this week.

It’s a start. Here’s to a simpler life.

Have you ever done a de-cluttering challenge?  If so, how’d it work out?