clutter

Before and Afters

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When I got up this morning I took my vitamin, grabbed the glass next to my computer with soda in it to wash it down.  But it was left over red wine from last night.  That’s what happens when you don’t use a wine glass.  I chased that with the remnants in a can of root beer that was sitting next to it.  Root beer and red wine, not anything I will do again. Nasty.

I got to work and couldn’t find a lighter anywhere to light my candle, the relaxing CD I wanted to played was skipping and iTunes isn’t working.  I found Dark Side of the Moon on the floor (in it’s case),  so that is playing and I am still looking for a way to light this yummy candle.

I was going to do real work, but I decided to clean this mess of an office instead.

Here are some before shots.

View from door before
main real-work desk before
Home issues, other biz and art desk - before

Okay, now my Danskos just stared falling apart. Wow, I never thought that would happen.

I still have not found a lighter, I am heading home to let the dogs out, I will be back with a vacuum cleaner.

Okay, forgot the lighter at home, now going to finish cleaning up this mess.  If I can make something out of this day, anyone can.

Here are my “Afters.”   :)

from the door -after
Main work desk - after
home, other biz , art desk -after

I still have a lot to do but this took me all day.  It’s dark outside now. I will be working all day tomorrow on real work and final clean-up of this office.  Maybe then I won’t be so overwhelmed.  I’ll consolidate those post-its for sure ( have to put all those passwords & numbers somewhere- else) , and I’ll see how many document boxes I can store out of sight.

In the end , my lighter was on my desk under piles of papers, my candle was burning, and soft stoner music was playing.  Not so bad, it was a good day.

Peace everyone.  Enjoy your weekends.

Schizophrenic Friday, Schizophrenic Saturday

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Days aren’t just days any longer. We have evolved to a point where certain days are used to market goods, or support movements, or promote whatever even pickles.

Today is Black Friday and  Support Small Business day is Saturday and  Buy Nothing day is both Friday and Saturday, depending on where you live.

For me all this doesn’t matter.  I think everyday should be support small business day, and every other day should be buy nothing day.  Black Friday is nothing more than a flashing red alert signalling to me to stay out of any shopping area.

We consume too much and produce too little. I am as guilty as the next person.  My first instinct is to buy.  I have to fight it.  Even though I know I want to save money right now, when I see something I find appealing I think:  Oh, I should get that, before it’s gone.

That’s one of many thoughts of a recovering shopaholic.   I also caught myself saying, “We should get that because the one you have will wear out eventually.”  I actually heard myself, took a step back and left without buying anything. I can’t believe that after all this time those thoughts still are at the forefront of my mind.

Maybe it is really some sort of addictive condition?  I never believed that I was certifiably a “shopaholic.”  Mind you you, I didn’t buy the things I saw the other day but, WOW, I wanted to.  And sitting here right now, I realized I didn’t even snap a photo of the thing I wanted to buy.

I will go back today and take a photo.  It was a mirrored covered box, which I certainly without a doubt do not need.   But I am drawn to mirrored items.  My favorite color is clear.  Water in all its forms fascinates me, and mirrors reflect like water.

Normally, I take pictures of things I like but either can’t buy,  or can’t keep, or look interesting but I don’t want.   Taking photos is  one of my many coping mechanisms and it’s very effective.

I need to remember to stay the course of de-cluttering and saving money and not buying “stuff.”  With the cold weather creepy in it’s so easy to forget about the garage and the storage unit.  Out of sight out of mind.

I don’t want more stuff.  I have too much stuff.  Less is more.

Cheers!

Tip: Put a rubber band on your wrist, snap it before you make a buying decisions. (ouch)

Inspiration:“Obstacles are those things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”- Hannah More

One-day one thing: Sort make-up again.

Unpack the Rat’s costume: a novelist

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I have fallen behind in my de-cluttering of useless stuff, the junk in the garage, etc…. and now I am about to write a novel.  I still have no clue as to what I am going to write, but it starts November 1, 2011, which is tomorrow.

I will be busy with that, and won’t have much time for Unpack the Rat.   I’m going to  continue my journey to living better with less for sure.  Unpack the Rat has been the best thing that ‘s happened to me in a long time!  I’ve learned so much.

Happy Halloween-from my friend Unpack the Bat

Clearing out the emotional clutter was is so incredibly important to me.  Well come to think about it, all the cluttered areas are equally important to me.  They’re all connected and they influence each other.  I never, in a million years, imagined that clearing out boxes and shoes would lead to clearing out everything else and re-inventing my life.

I have a long road ahead, more work to be done, but it’s not as overwhelming as it was before.  I hope to have some great accomplishments, tips, and stories to write about when I return to Unpack the Rat.  I am excited.  Life is good, even when it’s not. :)

Thank you for reading.  I’ll be back.

Until then I wish you peace and love,

Shirley Trevor

PostScript: I really value Unpack the Rat as a place I can unload my feelings, so I may not be able to stay away. This whole “novel” writing adventure is getting a bit intimidating.

Tip: “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”~John Lennon

Inspiration:

Every-day one thing: “Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” – Og Mandino

Tree at the end of my street -fall color- nature’s incredible design. click for hi-res

How many journals does it take to screw in a light bulb?

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The answer: zero.

A brand new journal sat before me.  I longed to pour my heart out on the pages so that some day I could see where I had been and how deeply I felt.  I wanted nothing more than to fill my journals with beautiful words that would read like a novel.  I created images in my mind of sipping tea and peacefully writing by candlelight, no less.

I was delusional.

Journal-ing became huge when my children were in grade school.  They started at the third grade level and I thought it looked like a good idea.  So I attempted it.  I think my longest consecutive journal-ing lasted four days, tops.

When I was a kid, I was given a diary and told, “Never put anything in writing that will come back to bite you.”   Well that wasn’t any fun, so I wrote in code.  A code that means absolutely nothing to me now, pure gibberish.

What I carried forward into my adult life from that was fear.  The fear of putting things in writing.  My fear extended into me sharing very little, being secretive and guarding my thoughts.  I admit, I am a very private person.  But maybe it stems from the intense code of secrecy I was taught to live by. 

( in all honesty I never even considered that before writing this – that’s the light bulb here)

The really funny thing is no one really cares what someone else thinks or writes, especially when it’s in their journal hidden in a drawer under lock and key. So write to your hearts content, tell stories, write about your dreams, swear, use slang, forget grammer – it doesn’t matter at all.

I have collected all my partially filled journals.  I am not even going to read them.  I am letting go, yet again.  Letting go of one more belief that held me back.  It feels good.

Cheers!

Tip: Question authority.

Inspiration: “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” ~Elvis Presley

One-day one thing:  Sort old documents, letters and cards.  Paper clutter is among the worse, because it lingers and grows when you are not looking.

Photo Mountain

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I have to admit, I have been avoiding this area of sorting like the plague.   As a matter of fact, as I write my stomach is getting tense.  You see I don’t want to sort all my old photographs.  I can’t bare to spend the emotional energy needed to get through all these photos.  It’s not inside me yet.  I am not that strong.

before- photos chaos

It makes me sad to see how much time has past.  It makes me sad to see those I’ve lost, and what will never be again.  Even when I look at the most precious pictures, I love seeing them, but it’s a very bitter sweet experience.

Thousands, and thousands of photos and many were “bogo” – buy one set get the second set free.  Add in all the school photos, and the sports photos, it’s a mountain of memories

storage- photos only

My answer here is not the best.  I am not going to sort them.  That’s right.  I bought three large blue bins and today my big contribution to de-cluttering is moving these bins to the storage unit.  These bins are heavy and it is quite a task  moving them.  So it is a start, and it will be an accomplishment.

My rationalization here is that when I finish sorting all the other areas of my life, then I will be free to leisurely look through a few photos at a time.

Will I?… I don’t know.  But I know I won’t let this become a roadblock to my journey to living better with less.

in storage unit - tempory fix

Tip: When visiting your storage space never look in any of the boxes.

Inspiration: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~Buddha

One-day one-thing: Store your photos safely, or sort some of them.

So Many Shades of Gray

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(yesterday)

The sky is totally gray today. From my office I can see to the west, to the south and to the east and it’s gray.  Shades of gray.  Even the roads are shades of gray.  If the air wasn’t clear, I’d swear it is gray as well.  It’s been raining on and off all morning and into the afternoon.   I have to remind myself not to be concerned with the weather.   I can’t change it.  But I am obsessing over it’s grayness.

I think gray skies are a trigger for me.  They make me want to get in my car, turn the music up, drive through Wendy’s and get medium fries(fat) and small coke (HFCS) and head to TJ Maxx.   I bet you it’s crowded there today.   I am not going to check it out.  But I am dying to.  So weird.

There is nothing in TJMaxx that I need, I know this for fact.  So then my train of thought is to think of something someone else needs.  I could buy that for them.  And of course my last resort is to buy something I might, or someone might “need” in the future.  Not good.

(Hello self ? I am trying to get rid of everything, remember?)

This behavior is totally engrained into my being…and get this… I was about to blame the weather.

They do have music playing, colorful things to look at that I haven’t seen before.  Plus I can go there without having to talk to a soul.  So it’s not all bad.

I leaving the office now……

Ps.  I intended to write about the various shades of gray in our lives on the whole.  I thought I might learn a lesson from the gray in my life,  but those words didn’t show up….. only crazy TJMaxx words.  C’est la vie.

Tip: Splurge, buy a nice coffee, tea or hot chocolate and enjoy it.  They all taste better on gray days

Inspiration:  ” I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ” ~Andrew Wyeth

One-day one-thing: Plan a rain-date for the next crappy day.  If you have something already planned you’re more likely do it and you won’t miss the opportunity.

Another sale – really?

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I swore I was never going to have another sale ever.  I have been downsizing for what feels like forever, and I want it to be over.  But we still have way too much stuff.   I want to sell more of the large items.  The items I thought I should keep when we first left the house are in storage.  We really don’t need them.  One piece in particular is in there and it’s huge.  It’s a dining room thing….what do you even call them?  I don’t know, but it lights up inside has glass doors and a mirrored back.  It’s a large and it’s one piece so it’s a super awkward heavy thing.  And it cost me a ton of money.

It's in there behind the green boxes

My reason for keeping it?  I couldn’t sell it.  Plus I thought I’ll never buy another one of these things, what if the next place is perfect for it.  And on and on my justifications went.

It’s hard to make solid decisions when you don’t know where you are going to be living next.  It is exciting to have the flexibility, but you don’t know until you know.  Right now we are month-to-month on the business lease so very little is holding us back.  We have employees who may like to keep this office open or they may like to move, we don’t know.  We have other commitments that will keep us here through spring 2012 – so we have time.  Time to get rid of all this stuff.

It’s hard!

I sold two upholstered chairs last week and it doesn’t even feel like I made a dent.  Heavy sigh.

And now I am considering another sale to move this merchandise (my stuff ) before winter sets in.  I don’t even like typing the word “winter” or “sale” for that matter.  Once that snow falls (yard/garage/house) sales are over until spring.  People hibernate.  Life stops.  Everyone gains weight.  The only ones who like  snow are Batman and Ice, the Minimalist Gods.

What I know is, this time for sure,  I am not beating the winter blues by shopping.  No way no how.  I am so over that.  Maybe I’ll drink instead.  This could be the year of the never ending winter party, ” beat the winter blues with booze.”

I need to some focus and some good weather.  One more sale before the snow, and then,  “Cheers, I’ll drink to that.”

Tip: Don’t ever worry about the weather – you can’t change it.

Inspiration: 7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless by ZenHabits

One-day one thing: Price things for a sale and pack them in boxes that close for an upcoming sale.   Be sure to clearly label contents for each box.  If you decide against the sale,  donate the boxes.

Baggage: packed and ready to lose.

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Baggage is a drag. It is clutter of the soul.  One of the most difficult challenges I face is clearing the clutter out of my head and heart.  It’s hard work, and I don’t always do a very good job of it.

the past is gone

I keep a running mental list of  the way I would like my world to be;  my “when” list, my “if” list, and my “dream” list.  I could spit it out rapid fire without even taking a breath.   I bet you have a list you could rattle off in a minute as well.

But those lists rarely resembles reality.  And worse than that, it marginalizes what you have in your  life right now.  By always thinking the grass is greener, the future is better, we fail to see the greatness of right here and now.  I know it all makes sense in words.  It’s easy to say and words are cheap.  The true challenge, and the most important challenge, is applying what we learn to how we live.

For me it all comes down to clutter, at least that’s my analogy.  My initial intention of this “journey to living better with less” was to tackle stuff, less stuff.  But now I believe I’ve learned clutter is systemic.  It goes hand in hand with the rest of my life.  I can close the closet door and I can’t see the clutter, but all the clutter stuffed inside is still there.

Just like our cluttered emotions, beliefs and overall well being.  It’s always there, right inside you, where ever you are.   Clutter goes deep into your psyche, at least for me it does.  This realization is making my simple journey to minimalism a totally different trip.  Who knew?

( someone knew, but not me )

I boiled it down, into four segments.  This is where I have to really seriously declutter and maintain clarity.

Physical stuff: Garage, storage unit, office, boxes, etcetera.  This is the easiest one to identify and I believe it leads to clearing out the more difficult areas of your life.

Emotional stuff: Stress, relationships, sorrow, guilt, regrets, fear – we all have some degree of this in our lives –  find a method to manage this emotional clutter so that it doesn’t ruin your time here on earth. Very difficult.

Spiritual stuff: Belief system – define your personal beliefs and match your daily actions to that belief – create harmony for yourself.

Mental stuff: Identify what is holding you back from your own life- what do you hear in your head that tells you -” I can’t.” Identify that voice and delete it.  This takes constant effort for me.

This is tough and I don’t pretend to know anything about how to accomplish this.  What I do know is, I have been to hell and back a few times, and I am not interested in any revisits.  No matter what, I have made my choice.  I don’t want any clutter of any sort.   So I am willing do the work.  I am willing to let go and move on.

Tip: Try saying an  affirmation: I let go of my past hurt feelings.  Life is good and so am I.  ( I picked something simple, so I could remember it. )

Inspiration: ” It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself. ”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

One-day one-thing: Let go of one or more expectations….forever.

$200 clutter

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I realized the other day that I lost out on 200.00.  It’s as simple as that.  I saved the coupon that encouraged me to go to a new bank and open a new account. I saved it, I put the coupon in a file for future use.  Problem is I opened my new account forgetting all about the coupon.  BAM!  Two hundred bucks straight out of my pocket.  I didn’t find this “saved” coupon until well after I opened my new bank account, and way past the coupon’s expiration date.

This is just one example of the many dollars I have lost due to my cluttered life and cluttered mind.

Suggestions:  Only save food coupons for items you know you will buy within the next 7 days.   Place your coupons on your refrigerator in plain sight.

Be strict with yourself.   Write down the item or service that you will be using on your to-do list or make sure to mark it on your calendar.  For service coupons, schedule the appointment right away, do not delay.   You’ll will find over time you will  be able to identify coupons that work for you, in reality, not just in your mind.