Tag Archives: organization

Letting Go Challenge: Week 27 & 28

THE JUNK:

Weeks 27 & 28Not pictured-

  • 5 “cleaning rags”
  • cat food jug
  • Wrecked gift bag
  • Broken “flower pot”
  • Many pet pamphlets
  • Wiggle giggle ball that doesn’t giggle when it wiggles any more
  • Post its (this time not from work)
  • Out of date Vitamin D
  • 4 magazines
  • Dog-chewed lid
  • Broken scissors (put back in the drawer, even)

Med bottles and various other things from the cleaning closet that I’m just too beat to list. It probably wasn’t nearly 42 things. But it was something.

After a week off (funny how life just happens and suddenly I realized I missed a week), I was attacked by my cleaning closet.

This is what the closet looked like:

In the process of finding way too much stuff to get rid of, I discovered whatever the opposite of a treasure trove of stuff is:

  • A bread bag (really?)
  • Spoons from MREs. They were leftovers from Katrina, my only guess is that I brought them into the house before I had silverware
  • A bottle of Windex with a quarter inch or so of Windex still in it.
  • A jug of vinegar with even less
  • Lightbulbs I didn’t know I had
  • A bag of clean socks (whaaaat?) with medical papers in it (double whaaat?)

I had “stacked” (and I use that term loosely) torn towels and t-shirts in the closet, presumably to use them as cleaning rags.

NOBODY NEEDS THAT MANY CLEANING RAGS!

This week was an epiphany of sorts: I really want to spend as little money as possible. I want out of here.  I had left Mississippi years ago, returning after about five. After living in the desert, I fell in love with her all over again. Got a job, got my degree, got another job.

This week I sort of “woke up.” I’ve been complacent. I’ve held my current position for almost eight years–that’s far longer than I’ve held any job before. With an awesome boss and awesome coworkers and a work load that doesn’t ask too much of me, I’ve grown complacent.

Everything I love about Mississippi is wrapped up in my family and my immediate surroundings. I was born here and left the state for about five years in my mid 20’s.  The summer nights, filled with fireworks and lightning bugs; the boat rides to Ship Island and from Long Beach to Biloxi and back again; the sheer greenness of the honeysuckle, grass, and oak trees stood in stark contrast to Arizona–a place whose state color should be beige. Beige for the rocks, beige for the houses. Everything running together and nothing really standing out.

So wrapped up in my memories of childhood, I was shocked when the South came thundering back in all its greenness and pinks and yellows and purples of flowers, demanding that I take her back again.

And I did.

But now it’s time to go.  I’ve been back for thirteen years now, so very much of that spent miring in complacency. It’s time to go. But there are many steps between here and there.

Paring down the house is just one step. Another is saving money.  One thing I did do this week is to change my cell phone plan. From unlimited everything (and I swore, they’d have to pry that plan from my cold, dead fingers) to a finite amount of data. In doing so, I saved $10 a month.  After watching how good I am at seeking out wifi, I may be able to pare it down again, for a total of $25 saved a month.

Sure it’s only $10 now (and .70 cents that the state will no longer get in sales tax), but it’s a start. I may be able to pare it down again when I see how my data use works when I’m paying attention to being on wifi.

Ten dollars and seventy cents a month. It’s a start.

Oh, and I also did my taxes. And my brother’s taxes. And go grocery shopping.

And cook up some chicken at 830 Sunday night because I refused to let it go to waste.

It’s been a productive week.

Letting Go Challenge: Week 26

THE JUNK:

  • 16 plastic containers and at least a dozen extra lids (lids without bodies, not counted)
  • Coffee cup
  • Expired license (as of May of 2015)
  • “New Pet folder” given by Vet
  • Book: Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery
  • Med Bottle
  • Dog food mat

Twenty-two things.

I try to get my food together for work on the weekends: Yogurt, nuts if I have them, cereal, etc. and something for lunch, but I’ve been pulling my hair out lately trying to find stupid containers that are a) easy to transport and b) actually have a mated lid.

The first time I cleared out my cupboard, I took pics and pretty much texted them to everyone. It was that momentous of an event.

And there I was, back in the same situation without knowing exactly how I got there. Well-trained by my mother, I’ve held onto every ham/turkey plastic package, every yogurt tub, every little thing. It wasn’t even conscious. More things were migrating back into my house, and it was making life more difficult.

I really like the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid set. They stack well, the smaller ones are perfect sizes for individual servings, and they’re just so simple.

This is what they look like. I’m not promoting Bed Bath & Beyond (I could never with their careless disregard for commas), but the site does have a “zoom over” so you can see exactly what they look like up close.

I need a couple of more of the smaller pieces to do exactly what I need: have a very compact storage set for five days of three or four different items. I’m trying to pay closer attention to my eating and eat smaller things every couple of hours. These storage things are perfect. I don’t have quite enough for five days of cereal, so, in the mean time I’m using sour cream containers until I replace them with what I really want. When stacked, they take up a LOT less room than what I had before, therefore making room for actual cooking things.

These things work for me, and I’m really loving not feeling guilty about spending money about something that really, really works for me.

I haven’t finished the garage still, but I did have room for both the water filtration system and for the people to work in, so I’ll take it for now. I got away from my filing, and I realized that, here it is the end of March, and I still haven’t done my taxes. I put my W2 somewhere “I wouldn’t lose it,” and now need to make the filing part of organization a priority. So there’s that.

In other news, I finally finished Up From Slavery. I had started it months ago in my quest to read the books I have, only to misplace it, start another book, misplace that one too, and so on.

Washington earned a lot of criticism–both fair and unfair, I think. One of his greatest talents, though was having two messages. One was of “racial accommodation,” that is, leading African Americans through the paradigm that whites had created–that is–stressing education only to the level that allowed them to work with their hands, all the while backhandedly stressing equality very subtly. Washington was gracious and warm in the face of detractors and yet worked around differences in opinions to accomplish his vision.

I think he was a called statesman who was unrelenting in his efforts to better the lives of African Americans while working toward a unified nation of people. The criticism he received from other African Americans was that he wasn’t doing enough.  He didn’t push hard enough or expand his goals far enough.

Washington was accused of being an incrementalist–a gradualist.  And he was. When others called for more dynamic changes, he took one “baby step” at a time, over and over and over again.

And what he created was magnificent: Tuskegee. It was and still stands as a stepping stone to further progress. Read a little here on Wikipedia if you’re interested.

Sometimes I get caught up in other people’s progress, measuring my accomplishment of goals against that of others. But I can’t. In the end, the only thing that matters is how I stack up against yesterday. Or a year ago. Or decade ago.  Have I slacked off, or  am I still taking baby steps?

Because many baby steps over a period of time can cover a hell of a lot of distance.

 

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 Twenty-One (AKA Lots and Lots of Words)

THE JUNK:

  • 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.

THE LAGNIAPPE:

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

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

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—
Apathy.
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

THE JUNK:

  • 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

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.