Saturday, March 02, 2013
Intro: One woman's semi-public blog about getting rid of stuff, three things at a time. Which is about as much as she can handle at a time without wondering why she spent good money on this junk in the first place. Though she still wonders about it.
With every little bit of control in her surroundings comes a bit of control over her diet and fitness.
Okay, so far so good. It's been a little over a month and progress has been made! The top of my dresser is clear as well as a few spots here and there in the public areas of the house. Once in a while I have to hiss, "Stay away from Mommy's clean spots," and this is met with about as much hilarity as you'd imagine, coming from once-tiny young people whose idea of a good time has never once included cleaning products or organizing storage containers. THEIR idea of cleaning is something like, "I filled 10 trash bags with stuff. I need jeans. Can we go to the mall?"
Okay, so the most recent best shopping time I've had with my kids was going out on Thanksgiving at midnight to an outlet mall about an hour from home (I worked the next day at 2pm -- a novelty for one who used to have to work at 6am the day after Thanksgiving). I was impressed at their restraint - instead of telling them they could have this many shirts or that many pair of pants, I learned a long time ago to give them a budget. If they wanted to spend the entire amount on one fantastic jacket, so be it. If they were careful, used coupons and watched for sales, they could make a haul. They wound up somewhere in between.
Other than that, it's probably best we don't shop together. I have a hard time saying no. It's not good. Like the time my daughter decided first to shut me out of prom dress shopping with her, then added insult by texting me a picture of herself in a gown-oh-my-god-mom-its-so-perfect-pleasepl
e??? Thank you SO MUCH Bloomingdales' saleswomen, for taking the picture for her.
Of course I caved. And I didn't even go to my own prom. I spent less on my OWN WEDDING DRESS.
I have always been more of a "lipstick effect" luxury buyer. As you may know, in tough economic times, some people downsize their purchasing from buying, say... luxury mink coats... to luxury lipstick. Feh: I say here and now that I've received more compliments on Maybelline lipstick than my Chanel... but I will never never never EVER buy cheap eyeshadow. I complimented a customer today on her dense cloud of perfume because I wanted to know what it was. You know how scent can be the most powerful inducer of memories? It tripped my trigger: smelled like the cheap Chantilly talcum powder I doused myself with when I was 12. But god bless her, she glowed as she informed me it was the very latest from Italy. "I was going to say it smelled very sophisticated, very European," I said.
(No offense to anyone from Europe. I'm just trying to get through another work day.)
I digress. My real lipstick effect luxury will always be....
1. Pens. Hey, when I brought the last batch of pens to work it made people so happy I did it again. The blinged-out pink pen went immediately. The pile IN the box is what I'm keeping. It's a sickness, I know. If YOU spotted the gold Limited G2 in the middle of the pile and did a little involuntary "ooo" sound, YOU have a sickness. Not as bad as me, as I will not allow the pen to leave the house. Why? It's a G2 with a Cross insert. Look up the Instructable for the How-To. Writes like heaven.
People at work are already claiming pens as their own. A few of you have replied that you, too, are pen devotees. I feel so close to you.
2. Getting back to my shopping intro: pants. I don't have a photo of this, sorry. I buy cheap pants at Walmart because they get destroyed at work, which is fine, because I am slowly working my way down in sizes: when I started work I was a size 20 and now I'm a 16. The zipper ripped and...
A. I thought about repairing it. If you've ever replaced a zipper you know I was better off discarding this $16 pair of pants than fixing them (unless you're good at it. I've only done it twice).
B. I used to thing this was a fat person's problem - ripping through pants. I also used to think the wiggle-jump-wiggle-dance used to put on pantyhose was also a fat person's problem. Then I met a woman who is a size 00 (yes, a double ZERO) and she related how she hates to squirm into pantyhose too and HOW IT MAKES HER FEEL SO FAT. (!!!)
I now work with thin people who tear through clothes like they're made of tissue, so this is not a "fat" issue.
In either case, I refuse to replace them. I have other pants that fit. The next pair of pants I buy will be in a smaller size. Unless I rip through all of them beforehand.
Result? Stuffed in my trash can.
3. TIVO. This was tough. Someone gave me a TIVO. Um. Um. I held on to it for over two years. I love gadgets. I love technology. I don't love TIVO. I missed the window - and I didn't want to pay for the service. I watch almost everything I'm interested in on my laptop or On Demand. For the love of Jack LaLanne and Bob Harper, I don't need MORE TV. I have never used the TIVO. I faked it. Faking it is usually not good. I told the giver I loved it and was using it. I'm pretty sure they're not reading this.
Result? In the box in the garage, waiting for the township to accept hazardous waste/electronics, etc.
"Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy." ~ William S. Burroughs
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Intro: Too much stuff, too many pounds. My plan is to tackle both of them bit by bit. For the junk, 3 things a day. For the junk in my trunk, it's more complicated.
No philosophy today other than boy this stuff is a lot of stuff. And how much of our most important stuff (time) little stuff (junk) takes up. I'm sitting here waiting for my iPad to charge as I'm apparently incapable of running on the treadmill without something to distract me. Mainly I enjoy The Biggest Loser over and over, having long since stopped judging those poor people. It's been suggested to me that I would be a great contestant. Miraculously, I am still friends with the people who've said that. All I can say is that my well-meaning friends are very wrong.
1. Pens! This is what I decided to throw away after going through ONE pen cup. The brown one with little chocolate chips on it smells like chocolate. I need this? The pink bling pen is too stumpy and hurt my fingers when I tried to use it - it was part of a set that came with an equally blinged-out computer mouse. I dislike pens without caps and I see someone walked away with a golf pencil... hm. To the businesses whose names adorn the pens I am about to discard... I have never used a pen as a source to decide on a new plumber, bank, conference center or therapist. The only useful writing that belongs on a pen is who made it so I can buy another one and for expensive pens, your name and number so I can return it to you. Because a good pen is as hard to find as a good friend but so much easier to lose.
Result? Took them to work, where we are always running out of pens (and where I always bring my own).
2. Nutrisystem meals. This is not to bash Nutrisystem or any diet where you buy pre-packed meals. I think they can be very useful for those needing to reset their interpretation of portion-control with no regard towards sodium content or taste. A friend told me they really enjoyed Nutrisystem and was pleased with his results. The fact that we've since lost touch has nothing to do with that outright lie. I think he just wanted to hear the shrill screeching sounds that came out of me the first time I plopped a spoonful of this chemical glop in my mouth.
Result? Tossed. As much as I hate wasting food, first of all, this is not food. Second, it's so old it's not safe. Just on the "old" point. Third, I considered donating this but it opened up a whole other line of thought: is it tacky to donate what is clearly diet food to hungry people? It makes me embarrassed. My biggest worry is how to control how much I eat, not how to find what I need for myself or my children. Something I will ponder on the treadmill in a bit, especially the historic aspects of this concerning growing up hungry and eating cheap food.
3. Socks. About every 6 weeks or so (not as often as I'd like) I finish the laundry completely and sit down to pair socks. I have 3 full laundry baskets of socks. Ridiculous. Mind you, these are not exclusively MY socks. When I need socks, I buy 12 pair of the same style. This makes it easy to find a pair. As they wear out, I toss them. When I press the issue, my children assure me they need these socks and more. As recently as this past summer there were socks in the basket from when they were 8 years old. they are 18 and 21 now. So - knowing they don't read this blog - I confess to you: after sorting, whatever doesn't match gets tossed. This is an average toss. I'm waiting to see if I can get down to one small basket each of black and white socks before they notice.
Result? Tossed. Shhhhh....
No Keeper today. Gotta run. Literally.
"There is no little enemy." ~Benjamin Franklin
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Intro: I have too much stuff. I weigh too much. I think it's related.
I finally organized the top of my dresser.
Time to take a deep breath and dive into its ugly innards.
I'm not sure why it's so difficult for me to change my ways. I set a goal, work at it, achieve some success, enjoy the pleasure that comes with same... and then slide right back.
Am I against a little accomplishment? A little happiness? Spontaneous giddiness NOT brought on by a second glass of wine after dinner?
I know what helped me lose 60 lbs. last year. Unfortunately some of those conditions have changed. I'm no longer unemployed, so I have less time to work out, and no access to a computer at work so I have limited time to track and network on SP. Plus, dealing with all this stuff - cleaning it, tidying it, digging through piles to find what I need... it's just exhausting. It robs me -
IT isn't robbing me of anything.
I'm robbing myself.
Ever play the game ďchange one letter?Ē
As long as Iím dealing with all this stuff, I donít have time to do the things I want to do. I havenít done those things in so long I donít even know what they are. I don't have to face the relationships I've let lapse. I don't have to finish my degree, paint, draw or even take care of myself properly. I don't have to worry about being rejected if I'm busy dusting, sorting, keeping busy with the endless piles of crap I bought to fill the holes that should be filled with friends, family, education, art and the occasional weekend road trip.
I do know I'm ready to strip away the layers.
I will keep working on it until it's fixed.
I need the drawer space for art supplies.
This is the drawer that's part of the dresser (now cleaned off) that sits in the bedroom in the house full of junk that I built.
Sigh. I know.
Here are the three things I picked out.
1. The user's manual to a Bluetooth headset I no longer own. Even if I still owned the headset I could probably look up anything I need to know online. I have three other Bluetooth headsets. The didn't exist about 10 years ago, then I couldn't live without one, now I haven't bothered with one in about a year.
Result? An easy toss. With headsets to come, I think.
2. The black thing is something you'd use with an iPhone 3. It functions as both a case and extends the battery life - you charge it and then plug in your iPhone 3, then immediately get a warning that this accessory is not meant for the iPhone 3 and you ignore this seemingly important bit of advice only then your phone starts acting real real weird (crashing to desktop, shutting itself off, etc. etc.) and you didn't spring for AppleCare so you never use said case/charger again and you've long since bought an iPhone 4.
Result? Toss. But not immediately. My townships has a once-a-year drop off for stuff like batteries, electronics, paint and other environmental hazards. It's now in the box.
3. Reading glasses in their case. I forgot I even had these. I bought them about 10 or more years ago as a fashion accessory. Everyone was wearing smart-girl glasses then. I take stupid pride in the fact that I am nearly 50 but I don't yet wear bifocals. Like it's my superpower or something. It's not that getting bifocals would make me feel old, it's just that I waited a long time to afford contact lenses, I hated glasses and I don't want to wear glasses again. I don't want more equipment.
My eye doctor was impressed that I'd escaped this long and when I had my exam in January he said I still didn't need bifocals but that sooooon.... very soon.... I might. If I had trouble threading a needle or reading fine print on pain relievers and still did not feel moved to get bifocals, I should pick up a pair of reading glasses at the drugstore. And use better light.
I admit, I feel the need creeping up on me. I hold things at arm's length. I read and then look up to see something on TV and have trouble focusing back and forth.
Then I found these glasses.
And put them on.
Dammit. Reading... so... clear. Sight... so... dear.
Result: Repurposed from fashion accessory (honestly, what was I thinking? Not as bad as leg warmers and poofy skirts, but silly all the same) to functional tiny red frames perched on the edge of my nose in no way making me look like a fussy old lady.
"We will either find a way or make one." ~Hannibal
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Intro: one womanís war against clutter, stress and pounds Ė by tossing three things a day.
No toss today, just a progress report (though I did finish a box of cereal and toss it, along with yesterday's junk mail).
This represents where I started, sort of. This is actually after about an hour's worth of clearing, when it occurred to me that I'd want a "before" picture:
And this, about two weeks later:
Today (the three week mark):
This is as good as it gets. The goal was never to completely clear ďit.Ē The goal was to control ďit.Ē Left to right, the things pictured have a purpose. The tee-shirt is from the first run I completed without stopping to walk. My change jar is there so I can clear my wallet daily; the brown pottery holds my daily make-up. Pictures of my kids; necklaces hung on a tie-rack attached to the dresser. Couple art pieces. In short, things that make me smile when I see them, instead of a pile of stuff that makes me feel defeated as soon as I open my eyes.
Okay, so it took three weeks for me to get where others could get in about 3 hours. Or 3 minutes, if they had a big trash can and a tiny heart. But one thing I've known from a career of managing retail stores is that you can spend a few days getting everything cleaned up but if you don't fix the root cause, you're going to be back there cleaning up again in a couple weeks.
This go-slow philosophy has translated into other areas, with good results.
In three weeks, Iíve managed to shave two minutes off my 2-mile time. I started at 33:15 and have slowly increased either the amount of time I run (alternating with walking) or increase the speed at which I walk or run. My long-term goal is to do 3 miles in 30 minutes. It could take a while.
This system works for me: I have a pad of Post-It Notes in the pocket of my treadmill. As soon as I finish um, slogging, I jot down my time. I transfer the time into my planner. I like how the color of the Post-It translates onto the page. Feels good.
Here is where I started, breaking no land speed records.
My running style can best be described as ďlumberingĒ or ďflat-footed,Ē but Iím not discouraged since I am still much much much faster than (as they say) the people who never get off the couch to do it at all. My form improves as I get stronger, and if you are also an overweight runner, I promise that "butt-bouncing-around-independent-of-your-
stride thing" goes away quickly. Plus, I mostly run on a treadmill in the basement so no one sees me anyway. Mostly. I occasionally run on a treadmill at the gym. No one cares. In a good way. Once in a while you see someone sneaking a peek at how fast youíve got your treadmill set for, or what incline. Sometimes that sneak is me. I tend to fall in step with the person next to me and often it will propel me to a faster pace. Iím not judging you, Iím being inspired by you. Yeah. Yeah!
Here you can see how laying it out calendar-style shows you how your improvements stack up. Still breaking no land speed records. That was never the goal. The goal is control.
Itís not smooth progress. Some days itís not even progress. Itís more like trying to hold a dozen ping-pong balls under water with two hands: one keeps getting away. On those days you either learn to let the ball go or ask for another hand. Neither of which has ever been easy for me. But Iím trying.
Bit by bit.
ďOur plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.Ē ~ Seneca
PS. That art piece I said I was returning to my daughter? She also agreed it needed to go. Trashed clutter and guilt in one move!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
"It's so amazing that the 3 things are starting to add up so much."
A SparkFriend recently said that. Yeah... it really is starting to add up.
As always, this makes me think of weight loss -- why can't I apply the same principle -- a tiny behavior, one almost unnoticeable -- and after a month or so, see how much I've lost almost without thinking about it? Itís an interesting paradox: I had trouble sticking to the search for what works for me in weight loss but not the quest for the perfect shade of lipstick, eye shadow?
Well, now I AM thinking about it. If I'm writing about it, I'm thinking about it. Granted, some days a little more artfully than others, but there you have it. Iím not ignoring the problem. And I'm not even doing it every day: just MOST of them.
And speaking of little things that add up, I joined BOSS61's Grapefruit League (check out his page for details), and what he proposes is... tiny behaviors, almost unnoticeable -- and after only a WEEK, I lost EIGHT pounds. Granted, a good deal of that is water. I'm still pretty happy: two weeks ago I couldn't seem to stop gaining. Which is usually what happens when you don't stop eating.
I've tried to organize my house for years. Y-E-A-R-S-! There were times when my kids wouldn't bring their friends through the kitchen for fear of what lurked in the sink. I have played "What's That Smell?" more times than I care to remember. My best friend would come over and do my laundry. I've tried to lose weight for years too. And now, it seems, progress is being made: my son paid a visit home recently and he remarked that the house was clean and neat - so much neater than when he lived here - from his own lips, I swear. And I just told you I'm back to losing weight and getting in exercise daily.
Even if it takes years, go for it. Even if you, like me, are on the edge, staring into the abyss of wondering if you are too old, tired, sick or not worth it, there is a solution out there if we keep looking. Besides, if our health gets bad enough Ė like mine Ė I had to find the means to crawl out of that pit.
And the look on my sonís face was totally worth it.
1. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizing Firming Cream. ďGradually creates natural-looking color.Ē No it doesnít. ďClinically proven to reduce the appearance of cellulite in as little as 7 days.Ē Maybe if you consider how distracting its weird smell and the increasingly orangey shade your skin is. Besides, we already covered that I donít take time to moisturize so you know I donít take time to exfoliate Ė two things that seem pretty essential to a successful self-tanning outcome. The only reason I bought the stuff in the first place is because I am white. I hardly ever get sun and when I do, Iím covered. SPF 50 is a START. Weíre talking real real white, once dubbed, ďthe whitest white person they ever knew,Ē by an acquaintance, and no, they didnít mean it in any other way than pale. We were sitting in the sun. They demanded I take off my sweater (yes, sweater). I did. Damn near blinded everyone.
Jergens Natural Glow. It turns me orange. It smells funny. Itís over 2 years old.
(Psst: I do love the original Jergens lotion and itís classic cherry-almond scent.)
Besides, you know what you DONíT get when you stay out of the sun all the time? No, not a vitamin D deficiency Ė your skin really does stay healthy looking. I get that comment all the time and I save a fortune on anti-aging creams.
Result? Thrown away. Along with the notion Iím going to EVER going to be a golden girl. You see any deeply tanned vampires in Twilight? No, the tanned ones are the werewolves, and they carry a much greater risk of getting ticks. If you are a long-term reader of my blog, you know how I feel about ticks (See: ďI walked 12.4 miles for a burger, part 2.Ē).
2. Um, an art piece. Itís my daughterís work from her freshman year in college. I felt compelled to display it along with other things sheís done, but Ė sorry honey - this one is not so successful. That sounds horrible, but if she, herself, thinks a piece is good she keeps it [for her portfolio], though she did give me a cool piece that people comment on all the time. Itís understandable she treats my home like a shelter for unwanted creations (she grew up here, after all), but resources have become strained.
Result? Given back to my daughter. Along with a bag of groceries, flowers and a very rushed, ďMommy has so little room to display your treasures properly, gotta go, on my way to the gym!Ē
3. Graphic Novel. The Watchmen. This book came to my house via my daughterís high school boyfriend. He loved it. He wanted to share his enthusiasm with his girlfriend, who showed ZERO interest, so he offered it to her little brother, who also ignored it. I know itís a Hugo-Award-winning book. It says right on the cover that Time considers it a 100-best novels choice. Whatís not to love?
The boyfriend, apparently. It was a rough break-up for both sides. Girl doesnít want anything associated with boy (prom gown not included). I asked Boy if he wanted the book back. Nope.
I havenít read it in the 5 years itís been here. I already have a stack of books waiting, and thatís not counting the ones on my e-reader.
Result? Donated. I love The Big Bang Theory, and Iím more of a Leonard than a Penny, but Iím passing this one on to someone who will love it as much as its original owner once did.
Keeper of the Day:
I wish I had a better picture of this. Itís the piece I referred to in number 2, above. My daughter made it. Basically, itís a metal bra, and itís a wearable garment. Like chain mail. Where the breasts are, she has stylized fingers reaching out from the body. I love that. Iíve seen plenty of pictures where hands are cupping the breast, or coyly covering other parts of the body Ė I like the humor of boobs that are gonna grab, not be grabbed.
"Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others." ~ Virginia Woolf
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