Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3 Bottles

I love these bottles. They are a Big Red and a Green River soda bottle that I got at a fruit market in Eastern Washington, on a trip with my family when I was between ages 10 and 12. I've always liked weird things. Both of these sodas are still manufactured, but the bottles are printed differently. In the Big Red bottle is some red sand from some random chunk that Cree & I found when we were walking along the train tracks by my parents' house in middle school. The third bottle is a Blue Lemonade Jones Soda bottle circa 2003. It has Peaches on the label. It still has some blue soda residue in it. The tray they are on is a 50s laminate tray with wooden handles.

I have decorated with the first two bottles since I was 10 or 12, and the 3rd since 2003. When we moved from Bellingham, my mom laughed and was like "Isn't it time to let these go?" and I was like "NO WAY." Through all my decluttering, these have stayed. I did get rid of a Sioux City Sasparilla, a Coca-Cola 2005 "1 year til the Olympics", and a really really old Sprite that was fished out of my parents' lake, a few months ago. But these 3 I am seriously attached to.

The green vase in the photo above broke in our last move. The lamp is in our dining room now. I am getting rid of the fake flowers because they, well, collect dust, and eliminating dust is my motivation right now. I put the white vase in a kitchen cabinet; I couldn't quite bear to part with it, but I did change out a glass vase to get rid of.

If I eliminated every other "knick-knack" in the bedroom, it wouldn't be too much to dust these 3 bottles daily (which is my plan, once the bedroom is decluttered). I know they may be "sentimental clutter", but I truly do love them. Do they make my heart sing? Well, yeah, they kinda do! Would anyone else get more enjoyment out of them than I do? HIGHLY UNLIKELY. I'll give them some more time. My goal is not to eliminate everything, my goal is to have less dust.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Exciting & Intimidating Declutter Project: Bedroom

This week, I'm about to embark on something intimidating: decluttering the bedroom.

I have to, for my allergies. On our weekend vacation in Eugene, we stayed in a VERY clean room (Timbers Motel), and I jogged for an HOUR on Sunday morning - honestly, the best run I've ever had. This morning, back at home, I was barely able to run for 20 minutes. I had allergy testing a few weeks ago, and I am most allergic to DUST. I think I vaguely mentioned my trip to the allergist in a previous post. Basically they wanted me to go on a bunch of creepy meds, and I don't want to. But I've been dragging my heels on making an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. I even found the doctor I'd like to go to. But I hate making appointments. It's silly. It takes almost no time. I've procrastinated for THREE MONTHS on scheduling a teeth cleaning before. I will do it today. How about that?

I'm already frustrated and excited about decluttering the bedroom, and I haven't started yet - though I suppose visualizing and planning is a start! There is a totally unnecessary end table in the bedroom. All it is holding is my husband's binders from graduate school. There is an under-the-bed bin FULL of 100s of CDs. There are wedding gifts I have no intention of using under the bed. There are two bookshelves. There are 3 lamps. There is a filing cabinet. There is a dresser. There is a vintage laminate tray holding 3 old soda bottles. There is a vase with fake flowers. There is a coin jar. There is a memory foam mattress topper that I am giving to a friend but haven't gotten around to dropping it off yet. There is backpacking equipment and suitcases in the closet. Extra sheets and pillowcases. My box of stationery and zines. And all the clothes.

I'd love to get it down to the bed, the dresser, the sheets and the clothes. I think the 100s of CDs in the bin will have to stay, too, for lack of an alternative.

Kaden asked what we were going to do with it all. I couldn't answer.

But I am going to declutter the bedroom. I am going to start this week. I am going to make an appointment with the naturopathic doctor. Today. My goal is to have my asthma and allergies managed by OCTOBER 1. And if I accomplish that (which I suppose only I can evaluate, ha ha), I will sign myself up for Gala Darling's Radical Self Love Bootcamp. I'm really excited for this unusual challenge. I feel like my asthma and allergies are pretty much the only thing holding me back from realizing my full life potential. And I don't want them to control/disrupt my life any more.

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Clothing.

I kept saying I feel a big clutter clearing coming on! But after a few weeks of nothing coming to pass on that front, I was wondering if my feelings were premature.

I think instead it is going to be a slow and steady clutter bust. This week I've gotten brave and been able to let go of a lot of clothes that I don't want to wear. I feel so much relief when I look in my closet. I have done a MASSIVE amount of clothing clearing over the past year and a half, but there are still some things that I force myself to wear with a certain degree of dread. They are things that my husband, or my mom and sister, have complimented me for wearing. Thinking they must know better than my instincts, I've continued to wear them, even though looking at them in my drawer makes me feel depressed. Haha, how absurd!! One funny thing I've noticed, however, is that I'm getting rid of almost everything in color. My wardrobe is going to be down to blue jeans with black and white and a lot of heather gray! The heather gray section is quickly becoming the biggest color block in my drawer. I have also gotten rid of a lot of socks. There is a big empty space in my sock drawer, which I used to have to pack down in order to shut. We're taking a weekend vacation (to Eugene, Oregon!), but after that I think I'm really going to be able to let go of my wardrobe.

This week, I had to shop for a dress for a wedding. My goal was to find a dress I could wear to this wedding and to see Beirut in Portland next month. Kaden was surprised that I wanted to go to the mall, but for some reason I had it in my head that the perfect dress was just waiting for me there. My sister took me, she is a big-time shopper and we had a nice time hanging out. I brought home 4 dresses to "try" (remnants of my family's bad shopping habits, buying and returning). All of them I LOVED in the store, but when I got them home I realized how poorly they were made. Worse yet, they just weren't ME. Being a 28-year-old, "low maintenance" woman, I find the fashion world difficult to navigate. I'm not sure if it's appropriate for me to dress like a "woman" or a "girl." While a part of me is ready to grow up, I don't want to give up & give in on youth and dress like a "woman". (I guess it comes down to a fear of being boring). And the powers that be (blogs) don't seem to indicate that I have to! I want to look good. I want to learn how to look good. It does not seem to come naturally to me, like it does for many women & girls.

I have settled on mediocre dresses so many times in my life. I have little patience for shopping and a bad habit of listening to what others say about what I'm wearing. Furthermore, I'm frugal, and there aren't a lot of "good" stores to shop at in my town.

So I went to Goodwill. And I found the perfect fitting, just-right-for-ME dress, for $5.99. And I had a 30% off coupon from donating. So I got the best dress that I could wear to a wedding and to see Beirut, FOR $4.55. Go Frugality!

Mini-vacation is lined up with a stop at the Woodburn Outlet Malls (Kaden needs man-shoes; we are indeed growing up). Then on to Eugene where I found a $59 motel with reviews claiming the place was clean. We're checking out University of Oregon campus, eating at a vegan BBQ restaurant and visiting the Ninkasi Brewery!

And I'll be letting go of all my negative clothing experiences when I return.

Bonus Read: When In Doubt, Toss It Out by Brooks Palmer. Brooks and his girlfriend help each other clean out their closets! Their little story was my inspiration to really let go of clothing that made me feel negative.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Giving Thanks!

First of all, BIG TIME thanks to Tanja at Minimalist Packrat for linking me in her 6 Minimalist and Simple Living Blogs You Might Not Know About post! I was really surprised & thrilled! I did not expect to see my name there, since this isn't exactly a minimalist blog. But I do write about decluttering and minimalist themes. & if you are reading this without being familiar with Tanja's work, go enjoy Minimalist Packrat right now!

Now for a little on decluttering.

Once again I was inspired by a Brooks Palmer post.

...your mind might say, "No. If I get rid of this stuff, I'll have nothing. What if I get rid of something I really need?"
That's the hypnosis talking.

I have been making a mental list of the things that I got rid of during my last clutter clearing that I've needed or wanted. There are a couple I can think of off the top of my head...a DVD of Dazed and Confused, and a feng shui book I wanted to refer to. I was thinking of writing a post about all the things I decluttered that I wish I'd kept, just to prove the flipside.

But reading Brooks' post, I realized, I don't actually need those things. Has not being able to watch Dazed and Confused (which I never would have time for, I just happened to see a bit of it on TV at my folks and remembered that I loved it), or refer to my feng shui book, diminished my quality of life in the least?

Absolutely not! The mild wish that I still had those things is nothing close to the feeling of power and pride I had letting them go.

It's getting close to another round of decluttering. We just haven't been in the house much the past few weeks, because the weather has been nice. But Kaden has mentioned lately that he is ready to get rid of more stuff than he was the last clutter clearing round (February-April or so). So we'll probably get into it shortly. We have a get-rid-of bag of clothes and a box of books we've been slowly adding to. We'll get there, and now I know with confidence that we are unlikely to miss anything!

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Folks & Clutter

I started writing this post about 10 days ago.

Here is how it started

My parents' clutter is breaking my heart. We have gone over there every Tuesday for a couple of months, to do laundry and grill food. But we stopped by briefly on Sunday, to say "Happy Father's Day," and it was too gnarly in there. It smelled awful. Kaden always says it smells like cat poop, but I don't smell that. I could only smell the dishcloth, filling up the whole kitchen.

But cut out the whining; I want to help. That is a HUGE reason I wanted to move back to Olympia from Bellingham, truth be told. I figured I'd be over there every weekend clutter clearing, and we'd have them dug out and ready to retire to Texas in no time!

Over the years, the things I've read about clutter have become second nature to me. It is OBVIOUS to me that clutter holds you back, prevents you from moving forward in your life, and stands in the way of relationships, especially with yourself. I also understand the flip side: what would you have to face, if you didn't have a house plus 4 sheds full of clutter? If you didn't have the overwhelming 3/4 acre, all hill piece of property to tame? If your 22 year old daughter (my sister) ever left home.

Last weekend, I was over there, helping paint the house. The house has not been painted in about 25 years. The house has not been all the same color for about 5 years. My first task, after the hour-long bike ride over there (SO LUCKY to have bike trails almost the whole way!!), was to clean off the front porch. It is a bit misleading, since the "front porch" is on the opposite side from the street. My parents live on a lake, and therefore the side facing the lake is the "front."

I took everything off the porch. I wish I had a picture of it. There were garden tools hid in boxes behind and under other boxes. There were pans of pretty rocks covered in spiderwebs. There were crates of old wooden shingles. There were buckets of house paint and cans of spray paint. And other stuff. You couldn't get to the grill to cook, or to the seating to relax and enjoy the lake.

We did a full day of painting, and then I dug into the decluttering. I was getting tired and cranky and couldn't decide whether to stay and get the job done, or go home. And I was frustrated, especially with all the stuff my mom wanted to keep, as obviously she hadn't used any of it in at least a year - it was buried!

The next day, I was recounting the story to my husband, and I realized that I have to let it go. I am much more upset about my parents' clutter than they are! Maybe what I want for them isn't what I need! I am leaving that typo, because I meant "isn't what they need", but it's not what I need, either. I don't need them to be decluttered; I need to be decluttered. They don't mind living that way and they don't complain about it and to the best of my knowledge they don't lose things. Everything I have learned about clutter clearing has taught me that it is in their best interest to declutter. But everything I learned about clutter clearing has also taught me that you have to be ready for change, for BIG change. And if they aren't, that's not my business.

From now on, I will only help when my help is requested. I am more than happy to be there and support my mom when she wants to work on it. But I can't go over and force them, I can't whine to them about why they don't need whatever item (I definitely notice my voice going into a whine in those situations). I will focus on my decluttering, when I need to, and let their clutter be until I am asked to help.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"I Don't Know What I Want."

I just read this neat little story about a Wishing Well by Brooks Palmer, the author of my favorite decluttering book, Clutter Busting. I love his Clutter Busting blog, every post inspires and comforts me.

But this little note about the wishing well really touched me today.

I went to the wishing well.

The wishing well said, "Yes, what is it this time?"

I said, "I don't know what I want."

The wishing well said, "Maybe you'll be alright without a day of needing something to feel okay."

It's a joke and I didn't include the punchline here, because the part quoted is the part that resonated with me. When I read it, I was seriously about to make a post about how "I don't know what I want."

I feel like wanting is very important to well-being. Kaden and I were just theorizing the other day that people become depressed when they win the lottery because they no longer have any material desires that can't be fulfilled. Kaden has seen a molasses cookie in a bakery that he wants, for months now. But he said he probably won't ever get it, he wants to keep dreaming of it being the perfect cookie. Seriously!

My BFF has been talking about the plans she and her wife are making to travel next summer. And Kaden and I used to talk about traveling a lot! We used to travel, even - in the car, staying in rest stops, but traveling nonetheless. I used to dream of traveling in an Airstream or a Gypsy Wagon; of Kaden and I being a trucker team; of owning my own home and land; of perfect midcentury furniture and vintage dresses.

But now I don't. And I have had a sense of panic in my mind the past few days, about what do I want? If I'm not dreaming of travel - what am I dreaming of? What are my "hopes and dreams"? What do I want out of life? I am approaching 30 I better decide.

It is not a place that I want, or a possession (although there are places and possessions I think I might enjoy!). I really, really want a spiritual life. I'm not sure if I can elaborate on that right now, but I realized last night, out on a walk in the warm evening, that that is what I envision for myself in the future. I don't know how I'll get there but I know that I have to try harder, in every way. I have to continue to declutter so that I can make room for my spiritual life. I have to work on celebrating my failure as learning experience, on non-violent communication, on not judging others. I have to work on yoga and Chi Running and managing my allergies holistically. I have to work on being comfortable asking for what I need and exploring pleasure*. I have to work on meditation, on The Intensive Journal, on reading spiritual texts. I have to find my spiritual home, with a spiritual leader that speaks to my spiritual needs. I have to find and know God within me. I have to let go of the fears that it still won't be enough. I have to know I'll be alright without a day of needing something to feel okay.

*"When you die," says the Koran, "God will call upon you to account for all the permitted pleasures you did not enjoy while on earth." The Talmud offers a similar idea: "A person will be called upon to account, on Judgment Day, for all the permitted pleasures he might have enjoyed but did not." Are there any such pleasures in your life? From Free Will Astrology

The Perils of Impulse Buying

Last week, I discovered that now allows customers with the credit card to immediately use their points straight onto their purchases. I had like $200 of FREE MONEY! So I immediately began making purchases. I bought 4 CDs and 1 book.

Of these 5 items:

  1. I purchased a CD we had already burned from the library, without checking the tracklist, just because the cover looked different.
  2. I purchased a CD without having heard the band, because I read a review of it that seemed to be exactly what I would want to listen to. AND THEN IT TOTALLY BLEW ASS. It was supposedly psychedelic shoegaze but it's just shitty synthesizer goth. I'm really weirded out by this, I don't know how the reviewer could have been so incorrect. But the bottom line is, I really don't want to listen to it. Ever. EDIT: OK not only do I not like this recording, I actually purchased the wrong recording, not the one that was recommended on the review, but a different album by the same band. Hm.
  3. I purchased a book that was described as "acceptable" condition. It seems to have been run over, water damaged, and covered in mold. AND IT'S A BOOK ABOUT ASTHMA CARE. It's readable, but I don't want to touch it.

The other two CDs haven't arrived yet, but I do expect to love them.

I allowed myself to be taken in by the promise of free money and bought stuff without carefully considering what I was bringing into my home. FAIL! But my yoga teacher on Monday said we should always celebrate our failures, because how else can we learn? I'm learning.