Seven Tips To Declutter

Good morning, dear Reader! The weather this week is particularly fantastic here in the Ozarks. I wanted to get out with my super-awesome electric mower to make the front yard look spiffy but I got lazy. Again, I’m living amongst boxes, which can be overwhelming for a person who likes organization. The outdoors proves to be a safe haven from the chaos, so I took advantage of the weather and retreated outside as much as possible – but not by doing yard work.

I sit here with no plan today; I think I should go back to my roots and write about living a simpler life. I’m being extremely selective on what I’m packing this time around, and I’m not taking everything. I mean, I rarely take ‘everything’ when I move, but I’m really not taking everything this time. I’m wiping the slate clean and only taking those items I find useful and beautiful…which means my Instapot is not coming. I get it; some of you may have consumed the Instapot Kool-Aid. I, however, have not. So, yeah. Does anyone want an Instapot? And, while we are at it…out goes the bread maker, the extra sleeping bag, and the twelve-piece drinkware set. Jeez. I don’t even like twelve people, so why would I have twelve glasses? That just invites trouble.

Nevertheless, if you are so inclined, I thought I’d share how I’m deciding whether or not something goes to my next home. I do my best to declutter regularly and try to limit the items that come home with me in the first place. But, I’ll admit, amidst the pandemic, I’ve spent more time at home with my trigger-happy ‘add to cart’ fingers and 5% cash-back Amazon Store card, so I’ve seen an influx of unnecessary items (and debt). But, now that things are settling down a bit, maybe I can get back on track.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. I’m going to share with you my seven tips to decide whether something goes to Goodwill or not. It is Spring, after all. This is an excellent time to donate items or hold a rubbish sale – or garage sale, tag sale, yard sale…whatever you call it in your state/country. (What do you call it anyway? Comment below.)

Let’s go, shall we?

1) Am I saving this ‘just in case’? I don’t know why I hoard glass jars, but I do. I always think I’ll need them ‘just in case’. I prefer glass to plastic and they do come in handy because I buy a lot of food in bulk. I also like to give food away to friends – which absolves them from feeling like they need to return the empty container. So, besides my glass jar fetish, this ‘just in case’ business is for the birds. Just in case of what exactly? Do some research on what you actually need, just in case, and I promise you…it isn’t that remote from the VCR you no longer own or that weird egg slicer thingy.

2) Do I have duplicates of this item? Somehow I ended up with two huge glass mixing bowls. Also, I have a gazillion screwdrivers and three rakes. Not sure how or when that happened. Sigh. Anyway, duplicates usually show up when you have that ‘just in case’ mentality because you see something you like, buy it, and don’t get rid of the one it replaced. So, pull the trigger. I’m not kidding when I tell you I only have one skillet. It’s true. I only have one skillet.

3) Is this something I have worn in the last year? Piece by piece, I’m building a capsule wardrobe because research shows that we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. If you don’t believe me, walk into your closet, employ the reverse hanger trick. When you wear something over the next six months, hang it back up correctly. In September (six months from now), go back in and look. Donate everything on a ‘backward’ hanger to charity. You didn’t wear it. You don’t need it. The only exception is that one outfit that is your “funeral outfit”, but for me, my funeral outfit is also my hot date outfit because it’s my little black dress. Not sure what that says about my personality, but there you have it.

4) Can I borrow this item if I really need to? Newsflash: Every person on the planet has a beverage cooler. So, I don’t need three of them. I’ve always been able to borrow a cooler and folding chairs and crockpots. (And probably an Instapot if I ever got the itch again, which I doubt will ever happen). If you are local, check out this Tool Library. I have an annual membership, and I’ve borrowed things like table saws, sawhorses, and leaf blowers. And, they are about to get a few donations of screwdrivers and rakes, so, lucky you.

5) Do I have space to store this? I don’t like stuff piling up in my garage so I recently rented a small storage facility to the tune of $50 a month. But, in going through it this week, I found myself with many camping cooking utensils – that I no longer need or want. The most ‘high maintenance’ thing I do while camping is making coffee in my french press. I’m more of the cheese and sausage and granola bar camper. I don’t like to cook while I’m home so imagine me out in the wild. I plan to cancel that storage facility once I get settled, store only what I need in my shed, and park in my garage without all the camping crap around me. Yay!

6) Am I keeping this out of obligation or guilt? Frankly, I don’t struggle with this too much, but you might. Over the last few years, I’ve made it clear to so many that experiences mean more to me than stuff. (I now get a lot of wine and whiskey on special occasions. Yay, me!) Additionally, I have zero child ‘art projects’. Yeah. Zero. When he brings home something cool he made in school, I snap a photo of it, and then…(gasp)…I chuck it. I may not win mother of the year, but I think that ship sailed long before I started throwing away his art projects. Amiright?

7) Do I love it? I have one pair of earrings I rarely wear, but they take up zero space and they are special to me. I have some gloves that belonged to my friend, Bill, who has passed away last year. My friend, Machell, has given me four beautifully crafted quilts she made with her own talented hands. Of course, I will keep all of those things. If you love something, you should keep it, no matter what. Just because I try to live simply doesn’t mean I’m not sentimental. I am just selective.

Hopefully, this gets you started on your garage, closet, or backyard shed. As always, I’m going to leave you with a song that fits a bit with today’s post. I’m feeling restless and I tend to declutter a lot when that happens. I find that the less I own, the less that owns me – which frees up a lot of time and energy to travel and do what I love. I just got back from New England, but I’ve been looking at camping equipment – and feeling the itch to get away again. It’s not a good combination – lol. Plus, the song is catchy. If you plan to clean this weekend, check out this ‘Good Vibrations 2022‘ playlist on my Spotify.

Until next time…bottoms up!

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Stop Playing Nice

Good morning, dear Reader! The weather is such a tease here this week. A little thunder, a little lightning. A few gusts of wind. And yet…nothing. So anti-climatic. Sigh.

Nonetheless, it’s just cool enough to want to lie here in bed and write all day instead of getting up and getting dressed. Yesterday was just as bad, and admittedly…it was a ‘dry shampoo’ kind of day. For reference, I hardly ever do dry shampoo. It’s not my jam. But getting up after a week of vacation was also not my jam. And yet…here we are.

The vacation was lovely and much needed. Thanks for asking. I’m sure there’s a post or two in my brain – especially since I had an incredible spiritual reading while there – but that juicy bit of info will have to wait until later. March is coming to a close, and I promised you a post on HOW to let go of a toxic relationship. We covered the ‘why’ part here – and throughout the fall of last year. So…(I am the Queen of the Ellipsis, am I not?)

Grab a drink. Settle in. This will be short and sweet. (Like this whiskey I drank all last week.)

I wish I could say that leaving a toxic relationship was as easy as saying, “Go fuck yourself,” (Hello, Boston! I miss you!) but it isn’t. At least, it hasn’t been for me. I wager that if it were that easy, the relationship didn’t have time to get too terribly toxic, but then again, I’ve always had a high tolerance for bad behavior. The keyword there was ‘had’ – as in past tense.

But let’s get to the list, shall we?

1) Don’t ignore a gut feeling. When you know, you know. Stop second-guessing yourself. There’s a big difference between someone having a bad day and being a toxic asshat. During COVID lockdown, I know some of my friends were complete assholes. That’s not the same. Stress is one thing. Personality is quite different. Funny story: I recently had someone reach out to me about one of my exes. She asked me if she should ignore what she was feeling about a few things. Not wanting to sound like the bitter ex-girlfriend, I spared her the details of that relationship and simply replied “Good feels good. Bad feels bad. If you think it’s a red flag, I say trust your gut.” Then I blocked them both. I don’t need that kind of drama.

2) Don’t let your past cloud your judgment. Listen…anyone can keep their shit together long enough to take a selfie. In other words…sure, it was good in the beginning. It always is. That was then, this is now. And if you need more coaxing, read number 1 again. Now, I give everyone the 90 day probation period because Day 91 is, sure enough, when bad behavior will start to surface. By then you’ve seen them lose their shit at least once and you know how they react to stress. Like I said, I used to tolerate all kinds of nonsense well into anniversaries one, two, and three. Nope. Not anymore.

3) Don’t place unnecessary blame on yourself. Here’s the thing, Lovely…take responsibility for what is yours, but don’t carry around someone else’s garbage. Please repeat after me: I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. Toxic people are great at pointing their fingers at you, and if you’ve been under their influence long enough, you might even believe their narrative. I promise you, if you’ve let them get away with it for too long, that table will never turn. So, forget about turning that table, babe. Flip that fucker.

4) Remove yourself from the relationship. As someone who struggles with the ‘no contact’ philosophy, I get it. It’s hard. I, too, just wish everyone could simply get along. But honey child…you have to do it. Block those people and stop your creeping. As soon as my tenure with the volunteer organization I chair is up, I’m entirely off Facebook for good. People cannot ruin what they don’t know about, so be selective about who you trust with your deets. Feel me, dawg? You may have unfriended and untagged, but that shit is still around, and flying monkeys will not hesitate to give up your information. Don’t feed the monkeys…or the snakes. (While you’re at it, stop petting the elephants and donkeys, too.)

I know this is short, but I don’t know how else to put it. Toxic relationships will do a crap ton of damage. I’m all for couples counseling and working shit out…but come on now…what are the odds of that happening? Right. Babe, you’d do better playing the horses in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I’m digging up an oldie here, kids, because this song seems fitting for today’s theme. Essentially, as I learned in Salem, sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself, not anyone else. It came across on a random playlist while I was sitting in DFW waiting for my delayed flight. It set me back a bit because I understand how alluring the pull and push of a toxic relationship can be. AND loving a person with mental health issues is hard. It really, really is. But sometimes the truth is: In toxic relationships you just have to realize that, no, we can’t just play nice. And sometimes you have to decide that you come first and you need to close that door.

Did you hear me?

You come first.

FFS, repeat this over and over until you believe it:

I. Come. First.

You might stumble as you leave, but you’ll regain your footing. I promise.

Suitcases, Sofas, and Simplicity

Good morning, dear Reader! Today I woke up in the great state of Massachusetts, where I’ve been staying for the last few days. I lived here in Monson and East Longmeadow back in 2006-2007, but I had forgotten just how lovely it can be. The weather here in Salem – a bit nippy down by the waterfront – is not too terribly cold or hot. Just right. I’m visiting a friend I’ve mentioned before in my posts, and today we will meet a real live witch.

Today’s post was really inspired by my suitcase. On Sunday, I arrived in New England with my little carry-on roller bag and a backpack. I’ve learned a lot about my ‘dressing habits’ while traveling over the years. Honestly, I probably could have gotten away with an even smaller bag – but I didn’t have one. Still, I get that if I had planned anything ‘fancy’ I may have needed to pack more, but honestly, my girl friend is pretty down to Earth, and also, I am never going to see the other folks I encounter ever again, so who really cares if I only packed two pairs of pants for four days? (I did, oddly, pack nine pairs of undies. I tend to do this. I don’t know why.)

When I get back to Missouri, I will start selling off items and getting rid of what no longer serves me. As I’ve mentioned, I consider myself a rational minimalist. However, there are still so many ‘little’ things that have crept into my space – even though I did significantly reduce household crap in January 2021 doing the 30 Day Challenge. I may just resign to the fact that I have to constantly stay on top of this sort of thing. I collect the weirdest things without even knowing I’m collecting them: empty glass jars, notebooks, magic markers.. It’s dumbfounding, really. Anywho…

A recent comment on a blog post from a distant cousin in Norway got me really thinking about how I can continue to keep things simple when I get to a new place. I’ve come up with a few tips that maybe you might find helpful as I examine my own set of beliefs around keeping and discarding.

So…grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about simplicity.

Keeping it simple, for me, in these last few weeks includes asking myself two questions as I pack:

  1. Does it spark joy? (If yes, I keep it…) And to be clear…very little that I own sparks joy.
  2. Can it easily be replaced later if missed? (If yes, I toss it into the Goodwill box. If not, I pack it.)

Now, some would argue that saying “No” to question #1 would immediately dictate a quick trip to the nearest non-profit thrift store. Even after reading the great little book entitled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” years ago, not all items (for me, at least) fall into the black/white Does-It-Spark-Joy? (Yes/no) arena. I mean, can batteries really spark joy? I suppose they can…if placed in the right kind of toy {Ahem}. I do, however, finally understand that one can, indeed, have too many glass Ball jars. 

Also, I admitted recently to a close friend that I still have a little PTSD around starting something new – whether it’s a relationship, job, or new living quarters. I’ve moved five times since 2015, never really putting down roots in any of those locations – picking up needed items at thrift stores or off Facebook Marketplace and slapping some chalkpaint on most of it. It’s hard to get out of “fight or flight” mode and trust the Universe when you’ve been in survival mode for so long. I want to exhale. I really, really do. But, I’ve said this before: I’m a work in progress. It is what it is.

At times I find myself standing in front of certain items…like my microwave, for example…asking, “Should I keep this…just in case?” even though I know most of the places now have built-in microwaves. It’s not just the microwave, though. It’s been a lot of things. And just in case of…what exactly? I’m in awe at how brave and yet scared I am at this point in my life. Honestly, back in 2015, when I wrote this post…I never had that ‘just in case the world burns to the fucking ground‘ mentality. I used to just say, “Fuck it. I don’t want this anymore.” and I’d just get rid of it. So, this new feeling…this ‘I’m a little pensive. I don’t know if I can let this item go’ feeling…it’s an acquired illness, so to speak. So yes…definitely something juicy to discuss in therapy. My therapist will love this.

The bottom line is that I really don’t want any of this shit anymore except for one or two pieces of significant furniture from my childhood and four handmade quilts. The rest of it provides absolutely no joy at all. So, I say all that to say…I have a really decent sofa and a twin-size bed for sale. Also, a new 18′ above ground INTEX pool for anyone brave enough to come to get it. Stay tuned for a massive garage sale.

I’m going to close this out with – you guessed it – a song. There is Samuel Adams beer to drink, Lobstah and Chowdah to consume. Tarot cards to be read and Witch Trial reenactments to watch. I’ll catch you next week, dear Reader. 

PS…if you liked this post and thought “I can’t wait to share this on social media!” then please…go right ahead. Please and thank you.

One Bad Apple

Good evening, dear Reader. The weather is excellent here in the Ozarks, and I’m happy to report that, last night, I slept from 9 pm – 6 am with no sleeping aids (Tylenol PM, Benadryl, etc.) whatsoever! And I slept through the entire night. I wish I could tell you what prompted all that, but I can’t. I’m simply going to float in the river of gratefulness for whatever it was.

I suppose I could get all philosophical about it if I wanted to. Want to indulge me a bit? 

Cool.

I’m taking a creative writing class, and we are currently studying the Hero’s Journey. Since picking my writing back up in 2019, it occurred to me that I have been on my own hero’s journey. As I pack up my things in preparation to sell my home, I realize that I am right back to where we started in 2011 – seeking a calmer lifestyle with few possessions in a space where I can protect my sanity from the influence of others less evolved.

That sounded arrogant, didn’t it? To label someone less evolved? But I don’t mean it to sound that way. I just meant to say that some folks are married to a level of drama that I no longer want/need to attach myself to in order to feel significant. If this is the case, I guess they are not less evolved…but that I’ve developed out of the parameters of what makes them feel important. And what makes them feel important?

Control. 

More specifically, control over me. Which they no longer have. We’ve visited about control many times over the past few posts, and I don’t think I can ramble on about it much more. This is to say, “We got the memo” and are moving on. So, to where are we moving?  

Good question. Not to something…but rather through something.

We are moving through this list from January and have landed on toxic relationships – or, more importantly, letting go of such things. So, friends, grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s first examine why we should let go of such relationships. Later in the month, we can cover how to let go, shall we?

First, you create space when you let go of a toxic relationship. In other words, you make room for meaningful connections to enter. Way too many people cling to unhealthy relationships because they think that without the other person, they will be nothing and that their lives will be worthless. I did this several times. I liken it to physical clutter: If your garage is so full of crap that you can’t park your car in there, you are typically less inclined to purchase a nicer vehicle. You may, subconsciously, even think you don’t deserve a nicer vehicle. It isn’t until you start cleaning out the garage of clutter and toxic mess that you even consider the idea of buying something a bit nicer to keep safe in the shelter of the garage. Relationships are like that. So, pick the Mercedes Benz of connections.

Secondly, oftentimes, bad company corrupts. Ever had an apple and left it on the counter? It might spoil in, I don’t know, two or three weeks. But put that apple in with one that is already starting to spoil, and both of them are goners in less than a week. I see this a lot in work relationships, so I tend to vent to someone outside my organization as much as possible and detach myself from anyone or group that constantly bitches and moans. That behavior doesn’t solve anything, but it can certainly clear a department in an office pretty quickly. I’ve heard it said that you are the total sum of the five people with whom you share the most time. Make sure those five people support your dreams and lift you when called to do so. You were put here to do good things. And the more you cling to toxic people, the more difficult it is to tap into your own Divine nature. It’s better to be alone than with others who spoil everything they touch. The longer you stay in a toxic relationship, the more likely you’ll become someone you don’t recognize.

Lastly, it will always get worse before it gets better. Toxic relationships start off feeling a bit ‘off’ and become abusive. Always. And if you think that abuse is only physical, you are entirely wrong. An emotionally and/or verbally abusive relationship has been known to be as damaging – if not more destructive – than a physical one. And eventually, statistics support that verbally abusive relationships result in physical abuse more often than not. So, sometimes it is better to walk away with nothing than to stay in these relationships. I’ve done this more than once in the past year – walked away with very little – but it is worth it. I guarantee it is. After all…do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? I guess you want to be happy since you are still reading.

There are so many more reasons why leaving a toxic relationship is worth it, but I can’t cover them all. If you are still curious, just Google it. Bottom line: It’s for your own good. And you, Love, are worth it.

On that note, here’s your song. Stay tuned for more on this topic. Until then, feel free to share this on social media and with those you love.

-30-

Boxes, Bags, and Lent

Good evening, dear Reader. I am so excited to tell you that the weather has been absolutely glorious these last few days. I can hardly believe Mother Nature dumped six inches of snow on us in the middle of February and then added insult to injury with freezing rain and sleet a few weeks later. Alas, February is behind us, and we all survived.

I feel like I’m going back to my roots in today’s post. I started this blog back in 2011, intending to share tips on living a more simple, minimalist lifestyle. I recently decided to sell my home, and even though I make an effort to live pretty minimalistic, I cannot believe the amount of shit I can mindlessly accumulate. Every new year I get rid of stuff that no longer serves its purpose or that of which I’ve grown tired. Today I will take a break from anything emotional to remind you (and by ‘you,’ I totally mean ‘me’) how to be a better minimalist. After all, the clutter I’m currently staring at used to be money, and I’m all about keeping my money these days.

I’m not an absolute minimalist, though. I am more of the ‘rational minimalist’ that Joshua Becker talks about over on his site. I am more of the ‘mindful consumer’ type than someone who only owns one hundred items. At least, I thought I was until I started packing. Man…how many magic markers does one human really need? In my defense, during the pandemic lockdown, I decided to try my hand at some art projects. You know…Rock painting. Adult coloring books. Paint by Numbers. But the pandemic lockdown is over, and so is my desire to color anything.

As I pack up boxes, I’m literally taking inventory and I’m following the one simple rule I learned years ago:

Have nothing in your house that is neither useful nor beautiful.

And that, folks, is where we are today. After all the ‘starting over’ phases in my life…this one is actually voluntary. Someone else did not pull the rug out from under me, forcing this move. I am choosing this renewal, and it is delicious to say goodbye to specific items. Which is a nice lead-in for today’s post.

I’m not much of a ‘good Christian’ these days – what with my liberal leanings and disdain for most things right-winged – and I don’t follow any doctrine that promotes the practice of observing Lent. However, this year…may I propose that we each embark on the practice of Lent no matter of your religious beliefs? This year, Lent takes place from Wednesday, March 2, (THAT’S TODAY) to Thursday, April 14, 2022, while Easter takes place on Sunday, April 16. I’ve got a few ideas for you of things we can do for Lent. Shall I share? Cool.

Grab a drink. Settle in. 

1) Do the “Forty Bags in Forty Days” challenge. Lent is 40 days long, so starting today, I plan to give away, donate or recycle forty bags of ‘stuff’. I already have my first bag in the garbage cart. Day one – CHECK! Discover more about the challenge here: bit.ly/2TsV5vj

2) Let go of the weight of others’ opinions. It is your life. You do you. If you seem bad at making decisions or don’t trust yourself to make good decisions based on your history, then seek help. And, some of your friends are not always the best go-to on this. Seek out neutral parties like mentors or a therapist. They can help you sort through the rubble.

3) Delete the Amazon shopping app. I don’t really think this needs too many words to prove my point. I will aimlessly scroll through Today’s Deals, and it has become too easy to ‘Add to Cart’. As I started packing, I realized I had sixteen rolls of paper towels and a substantial amount of batteries. I have all the shoes I need for now and all the books I need for the summer. (Books? Here’s a novel idea – puns are fun! – USE THE LIBRARY.)

4) Ignore the “Just In Case” mindset. Again, I know, I know…chance favors the prepared. But there’s a big difference between planning adequately for the future and having a backup plan because you are always thinking of the worst-case scenario. I’ve operated in ‘fight or flight’ mode for so long that I tend to always lean on the side of “Well, I’ll keep this just in case…” No. No, I will not keep this just in case. Exit plans are lovely, but you shouldn’t go into something believing it won’t work out. It might go down in flames…but it also might be fantastic. Go with that last part. The fantastic part.  

I don’t have any good songs about ‘letting go’ or ‘Lent’ to share, so why don’t I just share one from the vault that always makes me smile. It has nothing to do with today’s post, but it’s a good one. Enjoy your day!

PS…If you liked this post and thought “All my friends should read this!” then feel free to share on social media. Please and thank you!