Making it work.

Well, so far things are going my way.  I’ve managed to just about clear out one room in the house.  I have just a couple of things left to do in that room.  A small pile, some things to go upstairs and the secretary (which is already partially done).  I’ve managed to clear out our shoe “garage” and dispose of old worn out shoes, put away the sandals and find a basket for the gloves and hats.  I’ve cleared off and around the side table where we can now get to the charging station and an empty basket for mail.  The floor has been swept, stuff boxed for the yard sale,  and the junk has been pitched.  The boys are in the process of being trained to put their shoes in their cubby and their coats on their hook.  Ahhh, sweet sweet success.  At least for now.  I will enjoy it while I can.  I look forward to finishing off a room and hopefully having this be the first step of getting rid of all the clutter.

So, to celebrate (and because I found my book of prompts) I think I will start to make good on my other goal, writing.  I’ve been dabbling in writing here and there and as such I have added numerous books on writing to my collection.  Today I found one that is a collection of daily writing prompts.  So, here goes today’s prompt.

A list of personal experiences, and once a week for 5 weeks develop one into an essay.  Feel free to turn away at this point if you like.  I’m a bit rusty.

Since this is for 5 weeks, I will list 5 experiences and expound on 1 for this first week.

1. Finding freedom at 30 – finding the value of my own self worth, confronting an abuser, struggling with leaving my 20’s behind.

2. Hands through glass – finding the body on autopilot, behavior in a crisis, my secret shame in leaving Small Blonde behind, fear and nightmares.

3. Birthing 2 children – if every woman is “supposed” to be able to do this why does my body fail, amazement at creation, earning a “tiger stripe”.

4. Owning a dog – the pitfalls of loving something that doesn’t live as long as you, bonding with the four-legged black and tan

5. Living with Clutter – deciding to start a blog, being constantly and paralyzingly overwhelmed, pitfalls trying to get rid of clutter.

Living with clutter has been my downfall for most of my life.  Even as a child I wasn’t neat or tidy.  My room was a disaster.  Clutter followed me everywhere, even when I left for college.  Is it laziness?  I would have to say that is only partially true.  However, even when I have the best of intentions I am simply not one who was born organized.  Have you ever met one of those?  Maybe you are one of those people, someone who has a knack for organization and knowing where things ought to go.  Maybe it’s something you learned at your mother’s knee.  I believe that there has to be more than learning it.  There has to be something more, a part of your brain where all of this makes sense.  I have finally had to accept that my brain is not wired that way.  You wouldn’t think that would be much of a struggle.  After all either you have the knack or you don’t, right?

I only wish it was that easy for me to accept.  I have spent at least 15 years waiting for those instincts to kick in.  Wondering how people just know how to organize and purge and how they know what to keep and what to throw away.  Then came the television show Hoarders.  Wow, talk about frightening!  I would watch that show and during commercials run around the house with a garbage bag throwing out anything resembling trash that I could find.  I would fret at my husband that this is what we would become if we didn’t immediately change our ways.  He was less than impressed and probably thought that I was starting to lose my mind.

At times I did think that I was starting to lose my mind.  I could spend an hour standing in one of our cluttered rooms just staring at it.  For part of that time my mind would be wondering where to start and trying to come up with a viable game plan.  For the other part of the time my brain would just shut down because it was just too much to process.  I’m certain that this was another point where my husband thought I was losing my mind – finding me standing in the middle of room stone still for no apparent reason.  I should be clear, he is not one of those born with that knack either.  He just isn’t terribly bothered by clutter.  Isn’t that something?  One of us who hates clutter but doesn’t have any idea on how to deal with it and one of us who can walk past it and not even recognize that it is there.  That has made it difficult in my crusade to get rid of our clutter.

At one point I entertained the following ideas: renting a dumpster and clearing out everything that wasn’t remotely useful, renting a storage space and clearing out everything but the furniture, and going room to room removing everything and washing the walls and floor and slowly putting everything back into the room that belongs there.  It seems like no matter which way I turn with it, I am still left with a pile of stuff that needs a home.  I think that is where I become the most stuck, with making the decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of along with where to put the stuff that is left behind.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly sentimental.  I just don’t want to be wasteful and there is a bit of “what if I need that someday?”.

I’ve tried to combat that mentality by engaging in donation.  For two years I have bagged and listed over 1,000 items that we donated to Goodwill.  That’s a lot of stuff.  Some of it is fairly small like candles and some of it was substantial in number like t-shirts.  There have not been a whole lot of items that were substantial in size.  As I embarked on this crusade, I did have to battle my husband because he is even more firmly entrenched in the “what if we need that later” camp and is also a member of the “we paid money for that we can’t just get rid of it” club.  Those are hard battles to fight.  So, most of the stuff I’ve purged has been stuff that was not directly his.  While bagging and listing the items for Goodwill, a friend convinced me to join her in her annual yard sales (at least 3) during the summer.  Her reasoning is that we might as well make a little money while getting rid of stuff.  This was our second summer doing so.  It is nice to get a little cash, but part of me wishes that we could just bag it and list it and get it completely out of the house.  However, at this point, I have some boxes of items that need to be tagged for next summer’s yard sales.

It is a lot of work for me to deal with the clutter.  Especially with two small people in the house.  I feel a lot of pressure to teach them better habits so they don’t grow and continue the cycle.  Basically we are kind of learning together.  I’ve developed some better coping mechanisms for dealing with the clutter and blogging is a part of that.  It is kind of anonymous so I don’t have to say who I really am, but at the same time I can be honest with myself and have some reference points to go back and read when I need it (when I remember to blog).  I wish I were one of those people who have that knack.  It would certainly make things a whole lot easier.  Unfortunately, I am not and it is something that I have to work at.  I wish I didn’t have to battle with this on an every day basis.  I wish that I didn’t feel paralyzed while trying to figure out what to do.  I wish I could make snap decisions on what place items need to go to and what is really not worth keeping.  My skills must lie in a different direction.  So, for now I will have to continue plugging away slowly but surely and taking the proverbial one step forward and three steps backward.

I continually hope that eventually things will all balance out and I will accomplish that thing that I desire the most – a cleaner and more organized house.

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