Posts Tagged With: organizing

 
 

Curing my Paper Addiction

Friday Letter to my Kids ~ 2/13/15 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

photo 1-6 copy 11My favorite three-year old gifted me these origami cranes a while ago. No, she’s not an origami master, but her mother’s pretty handy in all things crafty. They’ve got a few of these hanging around at their house. Using paper that’s been previously written on adds value to the pieces. I can make out a few words but would have to completely dismantle the crane to read what it actually says. That’s kind of where origami began, as a way of sending a message where the reader would know if it had been read because the folding sequence would be out of whack.

I love paper. Notebooks, book books, notecards, drawings, sticky notes, envelopes. (Not so much a fan of mail though, bills, advertisements, newspapers.) You probably knew that.

I’ve always liked the idea of handcrafted papers, I love their textures and the uniqueness of each page. It’s as if the blank paper is already art and whatever you write on them enhances or is enhanced by the medium it’s written on.

Did you know paper once was a very rare commodity? I learned that recently. Kind of made me want to hoard a few notebooks.

Oh, wait. I already have a paper stash. Actually more like a used paper warehouse. But you know that. You lived with it all your growing up years. And it’s not really a stash, it’s more of a paper monster.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

I’m slowly getting it tamed. Pulling such a beast into a submissive state takes willpower and courage and a few other gifts I’m rather sketchy on.

Several weeks ago I finally cleared my desk. By clearing I mean that I took everything off the desk and made a ginormous pile behind me to sort through. I’m hoping most of it ends up in the recycle bin. A few too many papers have migrated back to the desk already, in no particular order. And a smaller “to be sorted” pile emerged from the first gigantic “to be sorted” pile.

Your dad says he can see progress. He’s so kind to me. I’m not so sure there’s any improvement.

Also, in the garage, I plan condense a shelf of ten boxes of random papers into one or two file boxes of organized documents, and then fill the recycle bin to the top two or three times. I think I have twenty years worth of Christmas cards among those boxes. Pretty certain I don’t need them all.

Do you ever wonder if a hundred years from now paper documents will appear on Antique Roadshow as something stunningly rare and worth zillions. If future archeologists uncover my garage or my office they’d feel like they found the mother lode of paper.

Here’s the thing, which probably sounds like justification or excuses to you, but it’s the truth. Bunches of those papers have this magical power over me because they’re from one of you. I could probably part just fine with the school papers and class assignments. But the notes you’ve written to me or your dad, the pictures you drew, those snippets of “who you were” need organizing and special care. Does that sound dumb? I’m sure it sounds so stupid.

Simply letting all those papers go into the recycle bin somehow feels as if I’m letting parts of you slip through my fingers. Nonsense, yes, I know that.

If I could approach the task as a museum curator perhaps I could finally succeed in whittling away the amount of papers I have squirreled away.

cu·rate
ˌkyo͝oˈrāt  verb
  • select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)
  • select the performers or performances that will feature in (an arts event or program).
  • select, organize, and present (content, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge

Perhaps, with that sort of thinking I could manage the task of taming the paper monster. Maybe my kid museum could be one binder per child. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

I’d classify my interaction with paper as a love/hate relationship. As I attempt to tame the monstrous paper fiend that hides in the garage (and the smaller but equally tenacious paper boogie man in my office) I hope to find some balance and health in the process.

Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My paper monster could someday look just like this, ya think? Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I could whip that paper monster into shape until it’s a warm, fuzzy, unthreatening thing in my life.
It could happen.
I think I’ll hang the cranes over my desk as a message and a symbolic reminder that I’m a curator and not a hoarder. Wish me luck!
Hugs and Love to you each,
Mom

 ~~~*~~~

 

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Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stuff in the Closet Sees the Light of Day

My to-do list resembles my junk drawer. Do you have a junk drawer? Mine seems related to Mary Poppins’ purse, bottomless and full of fascinating things.

Mary's magical bag of tricks.

Mary’s magical bag of tricks.

For instance, I received, quite by accident and through no fault of my own, a duplicate package of a birthday gift I had ordered back in December. It’s now May and I have not yet repackaged and mailed back the duplicate. It’s reached embarrassment stage. In fact it’s gone beyond embarrassment to silliness.

And two dresses I ordered online also need returning to two separate vendors but still sit gathering dust, getting buried under more recent things I’ll get to later. My bank account will even get credited when those go back, but even a cash bonus doesn’t seem provide enough incentive for some tasks.

What I need is a good dose of inspiration and follow-through. I wonder if I can order that through Amazon prime? No shipping charges that way.

I did get my bedroom closet cleaned up and organized after only four years of procrastination. That was accidental though. A couple of weeks ago I was leaving for the day and left a note for MSH…

photo-22 copy 4I really didn’t think he’d choose the closet option. He’d always rather get dinner and go to a movie than almost anything else. But when I arrived home six hours later he had emptied out the entire contents of our closet, every box, every single item, into the bedroom and on the bed. We would not be getting any decent sleep until we dealt with the deranged mess.

Halfway through the process I reminded him I’d only been joking about cleaning out the closet, then I suggested we stop and finish on Monday morning first thing. But he persisted, thank goodness. We went to bed by eleven that night with an orderly, clean closet, clothes sorted by color and type on my side and his by whatever method he functions by.

In all honesty seven or eight of those boxes from the closet ended up in the spare bedroom. Papers. Boxes of papers and stuff. Like giant junk drawers with papers added. Ninety percent of each box will end up in the recycle bin. But ten percent will be something priceless, a photo, a critical document, memorabilia.

So I’m going to deal with those by setting a timer for thirty minutes each day. I only have to deal with the contents of those boxes for thirty minutes. Not a box a day, not a box per week. Just thirty minutes every day. In a week or two the boxes would be all sorted and organized and that room could be useful again. I could do that, couldn’t I?

Sometimes I think we just play box roulette. A box starts out in the garage, gets moved inside to find something, ends up in a closet, moves from closet to bedroom, from bedroom to another bedroom, and then in a fit of panic ends up in the garage again. Sigh.

Silliness.

postage

The post office in only two miles away…

But, not the funny, haha, this’ll make you laugh kind of silliness. Nope, not that.

Honestly, if I can write a decent blog post for the day I feel pretty dang good about my accomplishments. If I cook dinner, I feel even better. Dishes done afterwards? I’m a rock star!

Maybe my bar’s set to low. Maybe not, maybe right now I’m reaching as far as I can. And dagnabit! That’s good enough. Some days, heck, some weeks and months, are like that, and I’m learning to roll with it.

Will today be the day the packages finally go to the post office?

It could happen.

To be honest, more than likely it’ll be tomorrow.

 

 

Categories: Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Irony

I call my bulletin board “Irony” for good reason. Notice the word top center? I think I might have some changes to make.

20130925-153419.jpg

My bulletin board as is, untouched, unedited, unreal.

Situational Irony: A difference between what you expect to happen and what actually happens.

I would expect my bulletin board to help me simplify and organize my life. When it actually just serves as another place for chaos to happen and apparently propagate then it becomes irony.

I’m afraid I overflow all the edges and boundaries in my life, just like all the papers, photos, notes and other crappage expands way past the edges of the cork board.

Am I going to do something about this?

Eventually.

Luckily no one sees this, but me. Oh, and MSH. And occasionally one of my children.

And now, you and the world.

Just keeping it real.

 

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Keep or Not to Keep, That is the Real Question

On nearly every women’s magazine cover I’ve ever seen, there is one blurb about decluttering.  That topic seems more compelling than the latest celebrity gossip, weight-loss plan, menu calendar or scheme to get a raise.

From that fact alone, I would surmise that everyone is a packrat, everyone has too much stuff,  or they aren’t very organized about the stuff they have. (If you aren’t even a bit of a packrat, you can stop reading now.) You can read my own confession of “packratness”  in my Seven Steps to Organizing Your Garage or Losing Your Sanity post.

SURELY THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN TOO MUCH STUFF

For me personally, what I’m really looking for when I read an article on organization or dejunking, is control over my life.  I just want to feel I have a little bit of a hand on the steering wheel of my life.  Mostly what I experience on a daily basis is the sensation of being in the passenger seat of a first time student driver.

Model Homes This Way

(Photo credit: sdpitbull)

I’ve known minimalists whose homes were pristine, perfect specimens of the uncluttered life.  Were they happier?  Did they seem more in control of their lives?  Honestly, I have no idea.  It seemed kind of barren, like stepping into the pages of a magazine model home photo shoot.  Dry, flat, empty. That’s not the look or feel I’m aiming for either.

ALL OR NOTHING

We once moved into a home a week ahead of our possessions.  We had a couple of foam mats, some sheets and pillows, bath towels, camp chairs, our suitcases.  We ate take-out or deli food on paper plates, drank from paper cups.  The house echoed a bit. But we both agreed it was oddly pleasant not to have so much stuff around us.  Even the garage was empty but for the solitary car we parked inside of it.  (Now there’s an idea, huh?)

I almost felt like I was on vacation; camping without the bugs, dirt and latrine. A couple of friends dropped by to see the new place.  When we said we liked it empty you’d have thought we said, we’re thinking of installing a torture chamber in the spare bedroom. People really like their stuff.

Moving boxes

Moving boxes (Photo credit: Andrea_R)

We weren’t all that thrilled when the boxes and furniture arrived and filled every room to overflowing. (Did I mention we had downsized?) Suddenly there was life demanding attention, a to-do list miles long and months out.  And with it all, an ongoing list of maintenance, dusting, cleaning, polishing, filing, cooking, washing, and sorting.

LET’S GO SOMEWHERE

Maybe that’s why I like traveling.  My stuff is all that fits in one carry-on suitcase, a backpack and a personal item.  Travel is life simplified, life in control. I’ve got my own hands firmly on that steering wheel.

MSH once suggested living in a motor home. (That’s traveling, I suppose.) You know, those bus sized houses on wheels that snowbirds drive into Arizona on their yearly migration from Minnesota and Canada? I couldn’t picture us that way. For one thing, we aren’t nearly old enough. Besides, where would I put all my books? The thought of downsizing THAT much made me breathless with anxiety. That is certainly not what I meant when I said I wanted to have my hand on the steering wheel of life.

Steering Wheel

(Photo credit: Marie Carter)

Still, there was that one week we had of minimal stuff.  It was relaxing. But, it was also temporary.

I wonder if I could find a happy medium between almost no stuff and way too much stuff.

Guess I’d better look up some articles on decluttering.

Categories: Humor, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Faces of January

January is usually an off month for me.

Let down from the holidays?  Burn out from overdoing it?  Feeling the weight of a new year?

I’ve never been able to pinpoint a why.

January 2010 Snow Scene

January 2010 Snow Scene (Photo credit: ς↑r ĴΛϒκ❂)

Part of me wants to trust that my brain and body know what I need, so I simply wrap myself up in the feeling, hunker down and ride the wave of depression and self-doubt until it rolls me onto the shore in February.  That usually involves immersing myself in fiction.  Lots and lots of fiction.  Five, six, seven books in one month.

That hasn’t really been an option for a few years now.

The other part of me wants to battle it out by doing some deep cleaning, sorting, organizing and rearranging.  I pack up the holiday decorations, scrub down the kitchen top to bottom, wipe walls, touch up paint around light switches and baseboards, clean windows, vacuum vents, move the fridge and stove and clean behind them. All this is done with the intent, not to have a cleaner home, but to attempt a sense of control over my environment.  Which logically, you’d think, would bring a sense of control over my life.  Unfortunately, this is an illusion.

Dirt happens. Life happens. Crap happens. Reality happens.

Oh sure, great stuff happens too, plenty of it.  But we’re not going to gloss over the not so great stuff.  Not in January.  Not today.

Life is hard.

January is my month to admit it, accept it, internalize it, avoid it, fight it, whine about it, come to terms with it.  It’s my reality check month.

Not that other months aren’t their own kind of reality check.  Surely they are, some more than others.  But January seems hardwired for the task.

I’m tired after the fun and frolic and frantic craziness of December.  I’m ready for some me time.

Almost half way through 2012 I had a month that knocked me on my butt.  I escaped to my cousin’s house for rest and recovery.  She was a gem.  I did some soul-searching, some sleeping, some denial, some hiking.  I felt better.  Then I got back on the treadmill and kept going.

It was my mid-year mini-January, I guess.

Book collection

(Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

My body is telling me this particular January is a reading month.  The cleaning may have to wait until this mean cough I woke up with goes away and the headache stops beating me up. In the meantime I have some ebooks, audio books, tangible books.  And I have an electric blanket,  soup and hot cocoa, and blessedly, some Tylenol.

Hoping your January is simply one of renewal and looking forward to good things.

Oh, and any book suggestions you want to send my way would be welcome.

Happy New Year!

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Seven Steps to Organizing the Garage or Losing Your Sanity

So, tomorrow is the day we follow through with AnClOuGaSoMo.  Annual Clean Out the Garage Sometime Month, number 4 from  Top Ten Reasons November is the Best Month Ever.

I know, I know, tomorrow is also the first day of December.  We put it off as long as possible to the point of procrastinating into December. You’d put it off too, if it were your garage.

I’ve toyed with the idea of sharing a photo of the disaster zone, but I don’t want FEMA, DES, HUD or PETA or any other government acronym  getting involved in our cleanup project.  (The only critters involved would be scorpions or other six or eight-legged creatures, no worries.)

Just imagine a storage unit, fully packed top to bottom, front to back with a narrow winding path in the middle.  That’s our garage.  A year ago we could almost pull a car into the space that now barely accommodates a small human body moving stealthily. How does this happen?

not a garage saleIf our kids are wise they’ll have their day fully booked so they don’t have to participate in the ritual rearrangement of our stuff.  They might show up briefly just to taunt us, but that’s treading awfully close to actually getting involved in the process, which is not fun.

Here’s how it will go:

1. We’ll take everything out of the garage and set it in the driveway.

I’m thinking of just making a sign that says, “NO! THIS IS NOT A GARAGE SALE!  WE’RE JUST CLEANING UP!!  Even with the sign we’ll have overloaded trucks, trailers and cars stopping to ask how much item X is, or offering to take the whole load off our hands for a stellar price of two hundred bucks. Tempting, but no.

2. Every person in the neighborhood will walk or drive past.

Embarrassing!  Don’t they have something better to do than gawk at how much crap we have accumulated?  I’m sure I’m just being paranoid here.  The garage door gets left open occasionally, they’ve all seen the chaos, the potential for disaster that lurks in there.

3.  A six-hour unmoderated debate ensues about what gets donated, what’s trash, what’s recyclable, and what we keep.

The question WHY? will emerge from my lips every forty seconds or so.  Why do we still have this?  Why don’t I let this go.  Why am I still digging myself out of piles?  Why can’t I keep it organized all year-long?  Why don’t I run away and live on a desert island with a volleyball and a loin cloth?

4. We’ll sweep out the garage and briefly revel in the joy of empty, usable space.

Then we’ll look out into the driveway and wonder where the matches and lighter fluid are.

5. Someone will get angry.

It’s inevitable.  No one wants their hoarding idiosyncrasies challenged.  No one wants to deal with the things we can’t manage to get rid of.  That’s why we don’t get rid of it.  One person’s trash is another’s treasure, or obsession, or neurosis.  I wonder if Dr. Phil is available tomorrow.

6.  An oversized, non electronic version of TETRIS will ensue.

If I think of it as a game, fitting in all the boxes and odd-shaped items (i.e., a papasan chair belonging to a daughter, the behemoth TV the size and shape of the first manned spacecraft) it might make it less aggravating.  Maybe I can devise a point system!  Now, if I could just figure out how to get the first couple of layers to magically disappear into the concrete I’d still be sane by evening.

7. I’ll think about creating the female equivalent of a man cave in the freshly organized space.

A writing desk up against the tool chest, a lamp hanging from the bike hooks, a bright-colored outlet strip to plug-in my computer, a comfy oversized… oh wait.  That would require more stuff. I could  just unfold one of the camp chairs when I want some privacy.  Set my mug on one box, kick my feet up on another, use the ugly orange extension cord, and write to my heart’s content.

That is, if I survive tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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