Tag Archives: stuff

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  • Out of date Vitamin D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.

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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: 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.