Craft the Life you Want…Start with Organizing Your Sock Drawer

The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.

 

-JoshuaBecker

It was November 1998. Tom and I had just listed out the household items that we were dividing between the two of us. We were getting a divorce. He got the leather lounge chair with the matching ottoman, the good blender, and our best set of knives. I kept the master bedroom furniture, the new sofa, and the dishes we got for our wedding 13 years prior. He took the new Acura. I kept all of my flea-market treasures. 

He moved to an apartment and signed off on the deed to the house we had owned together for only 3 months.

We had moved to my hometown with the renewed hope to start a family there. But over the course of 3 short months, that dream disintegrated. It wasn’t our first marital separation but it was destined to be our last.

Good Advice

I went for coffee with fellow Sidetracked Sister, Judy, to hash out the recent events and get sympathy. 

I don’t remember much of our time together, but one comment turned out to be profound and prophetic.

Whining about the fact that I was NOT looking forward to living alone, I didn’t want to be divorced. I liked being married, even if that marriage wasn’t perfect. I actually wished that I had someone in the wings that I was interested in that I could pursue a relationship with. But I didn’t.

Envisioning snuggly nights with my golden retriever watching rom/coms and sharing popcorn, I figured I would just hunker down, work on giving my new/old home a facelift and continue to throw myself into my career. 

Judy listened to my grumbling and responded that “we weren’t that kind of people”. She contended that we WERE the kind of people that wholeheartedly devoted ourselves to whatever and whoever we committed to at that time. We didn’t overlap relationships. We are faithful and dedicated until the end. But…(and this is the thing)…

When the relationship IS over, it’s important to clean out and create space. Space for new interests, new activities, new people.

Clean out and create space

So, when Tom moved out, he took a small U-Haul of stuff. He cleaned out his dresser drawers but left random junk in the walk-in closet. That was where I went first. 

I removed everything that was specifically his and then some. Old wire hangers. Emply Rubbermaid bins with missing lids. Cardboard shoeboxes filled with random shit.

I left drawers empty.

The closet empty.

His shelf in the bathroom–empty.

So here are 4 suggestions to consider when you are in a transition period of life:

1. Get rid of the paraphernalia of BEFORE

I followed this rule when I retired from teaching last year. I had 30 years of books, games, and STUFF that I had personally purchased for my classroom or stolen from home. Did I want to haul it all home again or move it to storage in our garage? NO!

How about selling it at a garage sale? Well, I’ve been to numerous garage sales held by retired teachers and been overwhelmed and thankful by the amazing resources they were getting rid of for dimes and quarters. Precious books, learning games, and classroom decorations being sold for pennies on the dollar. Those women had put in a LOT of work for only a few bucks! This is not how I wanted to spend my time purging my stuff. So… 

I saw an opportunity when a young woman (who was one of my past student teachers) contacted me to offer congratulations on my upcoming retirement and offering to help move my stuff.  In gratitude for her offer, I gave her 99% of my personal book collection and anything else that she thought she could put to good use. I figured that she could give the materials a good home at the private school where she was beginning her teaching career. 

Instead of my garage filled with boxes of children’s books taking up space and getting old and dusty, I was able to help someone get a little ahead.

2. Leave space

Just because you have room after purging…it doesn’t mean that you have to fill it. Case in point: When I taught 6-year-olds, I NEEDED two drawers for socks. I had socks with pumpkins, elves, candy hearts and smiley faces, tights with butterflies, and even rainbow striped leggings thrown in the mix.

In the year since leaving teaching, I didn’t wear any of these. They all went in the trash and I organized the remainder Marie Kondo style (folded into a square packet and stored upright). These fit in one drawer.

The other drawer is empty.

And that is okay.

3. Start small

Transforming ANYTHING can be overwhelming. Sometimes even the thought of beginning can be tooooo much. Take my kitchen for example. Right now, I’m sure that there are unopened boxes of couscous and year-old bags of unused stuffing mix in the back of my pantry. The shelves that make up the space are deep, too deep. They are able to camouflage and conceal numerous cans of mushroom soup, a wok, empty unused canisters, and dozens of other unknown items. But this space overwhelms. this is NOT where to start!

Instead, I began with the glasses cupboard. I took everything out first. Then sorted glasses onto the bottom shelf, liquid measuring cups and mugs on the middle shelf, and wine glasses and small cups on the topmost shelf.

I purged all plastic cups and mugs with advertising. 

Are you feeling the momentum as the success builds?

4. Break a big job into smaller tasks

I was at my mom’s house and noticed that the counter was covered in items that used to be in the nearby secretary. The same items were there for several days. Unmoved. Untouched. Unorganized.

When I asked my mom about eh mess, she said that she just needed to organize the items before re-storing them. Sounds good, but she looked frustrated. 

I began sorting into piles of paper. Pens/pencils. stapler supplies, rubber bands…Little piles and a lot of garbage.

Then I tested the writing instruments. Out went the dry ones, the crunchy fine line markers, and pencils with hardened rubber erasers. The remainder easily fit in their black storage cup. 

Little bits. Pile by pile. Categories were made and sorted. Junk was discarded and homes were created for shnibbles of rubber bands, paperclips, and thumbtacks.

And so…

It’s been over 20 years since Judy and I talked about making space in your life for new things. What I’ve discovered is this: The best time to purge and organized is during times of transition, times of change, times of growth. 

What are you holding onto that you need to let go of?

Where can you create space for the new?

How can you break a big organizing job into smaller, manageable tasks?

Whether you are looking to begin a new chapter in life, looking for love, trying to lose weight, or jump-start a new business…begin by getting rid of the stuff that no longer serves you.

Maybe you need to let go of a relationship. Maybe it’s time to move on from that pair of green socks with dancing leprechauns or that coffee mug that your real estate agent gave you that boasts “Home is better with Ray Renolds!”

Clean out and don’t forget to leave some space. 

Who is Lisa

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Time to Clean – Becoming a FlyLady

cleaningIf you are anything like me, I have a hard time wanting to clean my house.  I don’t enjoy cleaning at all.  Growing up, my mom did it right.  She had it set up that Lisa and I had jobs to do to clean the whole house by the time she came home from work.  I dusted and Lisa vacuumed.  On Saturdays, you didn’t do anything else until those jobs were done.   Continue reading

Think and Grow What???

I recently reread the 1937 version of Napoleon Hills’ “Think and Grow Rich”. Mr. Hill opens his first chapter with the phrase “Thoughts are Things”. He goes on to say that when we mix our thoughts with purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches or other material objects, these thoughts have the power to create what we are desirous of.  Wow. That’s quite a statement.Thoughts are Things Continue reading

Spring Hygge Anyone?

Spring

Raindrops and puddles

Laughter, dressed in yellow coats,

Umbrellas in hand

Yeah. Right.

Have you seen any kids lately wearing those Hallmark-style yellow raincoats? Me neither. Spring here in Wisconsin seems to be one wet, cold, windy day after another. Kids still love their umbrellas, but we all seem to be wearing damp jackets and holding our breath…just waiting for summer to arrive.

Have you heard of Wisconsin’s eleven seasons? Winter, Fool’s Spring, Second Winter, Spring of Deception, Third Winter, Mud Season, Actual Spring, Summer, False Fall, Second Summer (one week), and Winter. 

Spring is sooooooo long. We feel impatience. There is a restlessness in the air. 

So, how do you get your mind in a place of appreciation, mindfulness, and gratitude?

“Hue-Guh”

Many people have heard of the Danish word for coziness, contentment, and well-being by appreciating a simple life–hygge. But I’m learning that the concept doesn’t end when the snowflakes stop flying, the cozy blankets are put away, and the hot chocolate is all gone. Yet, I’m still feeling the need to consciously cultivate gratitude in my life… for my life. The Danes actually have seasonal variations for hygge throughout the year.

  • Forårshygge – Spring-hygge
  • Sommerhygge – Summer-hygge
  • Efterårshygge – Autumn-hygge
  • Vinterhygge – Winter-hygge

Here in Wisconsin, spring is in full bloom. After the wet, dreary, grey days of early spring, every sunny mild day is a sign of approaching summer.

When I taught First Graders, we would regularly struggle to keep the kids in their coats at recess in the spring. Once it was sunny and above freezing, the kiddos would toss their outerwear on the pavement as they played catch&run with the football or swung from the monkey bars.

One of my favorite activities from teaching was exploring seeds and growing things with my class. We studied the germination of lima beans and started sunflowers in recycled milk cartons.

One of the reasons I’m feeling so good about my post-teaching life is that I am still planting seeds and growing stuff.

This growing stuff and appreciating growing things is a huge part of Forårshygge for me. (Side note: Do you have any idea how to actually pronounce this word? As I write this, it’s really bothering me that I don’t.) 

I’ve seen a few other posts about what people are doing in the spring to experience and live “Forårshygge”.  The common thread that I see is honoring growth and renewal. 

Here are other ways I am growing things and renewing my life this spring…

Grow Dammit!

I planted seeds in trays weeks ago and set them by my basement window on heated mats. The tomatoes are a disappointment, it looks like somebody sat on the coleus, but the peppers look strong and healthy. It was a month ago that we moved the flats out into my little greenhouse. I’ll transplant them into the garden as soon as it stops raining outside.

Spring Cleaning Anyone?

Open the windows and clean spider webs out of the corners at the ceiling. When I was teaching, I either didn’t notice the cobwebs when I cleaned up in the evening–or, it was too much effort to get them down from the high corners. Well ladies, now. is. the. time! I also open the windows to let in the spring air, the house feels fresher. This can totally be ramped up if you hang washed bedsheets out to dry. (I actually hang mine on the deck railing since I don’t have a clothesline.)

Is it still alive?

Move and group houseplants from inside to outside. Most of the greenery in my house is more than a decade old. They thrive from May to October outside and then rather hibernate in a north-facing breakfast room during Wisconsin’s frigid months. 

A Little Vase of Something

But the most important of all the Forårshygge in my life is located on my nightstand in the bedroom. Beginning at the end of April, I bring a small, fresh blossom or mini bouquet and put it in a tiny vase. Spring begins with yellow forsythia twigs and in quick succession leads to pink tulips, yellow daffodils, miniature lily of the valley, and fragrant lilacs. This little display, along with a lamp, a pile of books, reading glasses and the vase makes me happy. 

It is like a neon sign to my brain reminding me to pause, smile, and breathe when I glance at it

Spring is finally here and there are no raincoated kids holding umbrellas in my life. Are these real for anyone? Instead, I have shrimpy seedlings waiting to be planted, soggy jeans drying for hours on my porch railing, and dirt circles on my carpet where a pot sat through winter.

We can only do what we can, moment by moment, to cultivate coziness… contentment, and…well-being.

Breathe.
Who is Lisa

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Fern Gardeners…Beware!

Years ago when I realized I had inherited the gardening gene from a favorite uncle of mine, I lived in a different house, on a different street, and had different sun exposure.

There was full sun on all sides of my just-built house. It was fun planting flowers such as snapdragons, marigolds, zinnias, geraniums and I achieved a profusion of flowers and consistently brilliant colors. I spent hundreds of dollars every spring purchasing annuals to accomplish this result. 

Then, we moved, and guess what? I now live in a house with mature maple and birch trees. This translates into a yard with almost no sun. Can you say…gardening challenge?  As noted before I was used to lots of sunlight and could grow almost all sun-loving plants. 

So now I am limited to impatients, begonias, hostas, and whatever else thrives in shade…ummmm,(mushrooms anyone?). Unfortunately, I find this rather limiting, not to say, quite boring and rather unrewarding.

I decided that the areas that I created were far too extensive for annuals, and most annuals need…say it again, SUN.  So, a perennial shade garden would be the way to go. 

To make a long story short, I was gifted a couple of beautiful ferns. Probably two or three and planted them. I enjoyed the fact that once you planted them, you didn’t need to stake, fertilize, or replant yearly. In addition, they added a lushness, a cool, soft, green to my garden.

Sounds good.

I’m in.

Bring on the ferns!

Well, now several years later, guess what? I have so many ferns that I don’t know what to do with them. And, once ferns take over, they produce so much more shade that they block other shade-loving perennials from flourishing. Now, this could be pretty if you don’t like a variation in your garden, but since I need variety, this just doesn’t work for me. 

Another problem… they are beautiful in the spring, most of the summer, BUT when it gets to the “dog days of summer” they turn brown and look like shit – really ugly, brown, dry, crumply leaves. The result, a really uninviting garden. 

So, this spring I have been trying to keep on top of this problem by digging out ferns by the bag,  bucket, and garbage can full. So far, I have dug out around a hundred and fifty ferns and there appears to be no end.  Just a note–this needs to be done when the ferns are first coming up otherwise they tend to flop over and look quite stupid for the duration of the summer.

I have a feeling that I am doomed to have this be an unending problem. So gardeners beware… don’t plant ferns unless you want a “fern garden”!

Or, look more on the positive side and trust gardener and blogger Janet Kilburn Phillips at cronesgarden.com when she says…

 

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”



Who Is Sandy
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Wallpaper With a Twist

home

In our family, we all like to help each other with projects, especially home projects.  Just one word of warning.  If Sandy is creating be sure you understand the parameters of the project. We were asked to help wallpaper Michelle’s bathroom. That request sounded tame enough. Right??

Wrong! Continue reading

Is Spring House Cleaning Even a Thing Any More?

The first day of spring this year is just around the corner. And that gets me thinking about…”Spring House Cleaning”! Crazy, I know. Isn’t this an antiquated activity?  I remember when some of the most beautiful spring days were dedicated to emptying out one room of a house at a time. Then we spent days cleaning windows, washing walls, scrubbing floors, shampooing carpets, organizing drawers, sorting out closets, you get the idea. We used to basically clean the whole damn house, from top to bottom, one room at a time. Continue reading

Halloween Is Not Just For Kids! – Enjoy Yourself!

halloweenWho thinks that Halloween is strictly for kids.  I have noticed that a lot of adults sure know how to enjoy themselves.  I have had a couple of fun memories that still make me laugh about Halloween!    

First of all, you have to know me to know that I have a really weird sense of humor.  I love to pull practical jokes.  I get totally hysterical when I get a funny result to the point, you know, where you have to bend down on one knee so as not to pee your pants!!!!  This, of course, does not make me the most popular person to anybody, including my family.  

Picture this – I was at Walmart with my daughter and her youngest son, Nathan.  He was 3 years old.  He was fascinated with all the scary masks and was totally engrossed to the point he didn’t hear me when I kept calling to him.  I put on the scariest mask I could find and kept calling him to look at me.  He didn’t pay attention.  So, I got down on my knees, got close to him, and said, “Nate!”  He finally looked at me and when he noticed me, he let out the most awful, blood-curdling, loud scream and proceeded to run away from me, racing down the aisle to get away from the monster I had become.  My daughter, with her baby girl, Jessica, in tow in another aisle, heard this and thought he got killed. 

Another time that I still find myself laughing hysterically is when my oldest daughter was two years old. She had on a red snowsuit, with a sign that said, “trick or treat”.  Plus she had on a silly witch mask  Being she was only two, she was really dazed and confused as to what was going on.  It was dark out and I took her to a neighbors house.  Put her up on their porch.  At this point, a group of other trick or treaters came and kind of pushed her aside.  When the lady opened the door Lisa was behind it and was pushed off the porch and fell onto one of the bushes.  Trust me, she wasn’t hurt, but when she looked back at me with this dumb, no expression, witch mask I totally lost it.  I, of course, was kneeling down on the road so as not, you guessed it, pee my pants, laughing hysterically.  The lady at the house thought I was totally nuts, to say the least.  As I write this, I still break down with hysterical laughter much to my daughter’s dismay.

As I said, Halloween is just as much for adults as kids.  Maybe with jello shots, putting bunny ears on your dog, put on a witch hat, own it, let yourself be a kid, and have fun.

Who Is Sandy
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Sandy’s 9 Tips for a Beautiful Garden

Here are some of my gardening tips:

When to Plant

Iceman Days.  Do not plant annuals or vegetable plants until after “Iceman Days”.  Iceman Days seem to be different every year, but when I looked it up for this year it says they are May 11, 12, and 13.  It has something to do with the moon.  (This is taken from the Farmer’s Almanac).  If you are really interested in the history of this just go to Google as Google knows everything.  Not being a farmer, just an unknowledgeable girl, this saved me quite a bit of money.  It really seems true and I follow it religiously.  One year I put out impatients the first week of May and it actually snowed on them.  So much for pretty plants.  They don’t like to be frozen!!!

Hostas

Don’t plant (most) hostas in the sun.  Read the labels and make sure if they will tolerate the sun or not. They will grow, but the leaves have a tendency of burning.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe burned leaves is the look you will want to achieve.  (Reading the labels for all plants is essential to proper maintenance)

Mulching

I don’t mulch around annuals as this seems to stunt their growth.  Mulching around other items in the garden does provide a clean appearance and helps retain moisture.

Overcrowding  

Overcrowding is another way to prevent plants from thriving.  Allowing space between your plants is beneficial for their growth.  This is something I fail at miserably because I prefer immediate gratification and want to see full planters and gardens.  

Weeding

Weeding, of course, is really important.  For some of us that don’t mind weeding, if taken an area at a time, it can be rewarding.  Lisa and I actually tend to weed anywhere we are; restaurants, stores, other people’s houses, wherever we are standing and notice weeds.  It might be considered a mental problem by some!! (Michelle thinks we are nuts)

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is a must, even though this is something that I don’t do as often as I should.  This is especially important for container planting.

Larger Pots

I used to do a lot of planting in little pots.  I have now gone to fewer, but much larger planters.  The flowers thrive much better.  This creates less fussing over.  

20-minute gardening

Don’t overdue.  Don’t do it all in one day if you have a lot of gardening.  By taking 20 minutes each day to do your garden maintenance you’ll enjoy the process more.

Edging

A nice crisp edge to your garden completes a finished look.  Even if there are weeds in the middle, a clean edge makes your gardens look cared for both far away and close up.

Who Is Sandy
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Letting Go, Decluttering and Streamlining

letting go

A magical night (in the perfect dress)

We work from the time we’re old enough to make money to buy stuff.  Actually, it’s true that there’s a lot of good stuff out there like collectibles, beautiful crystal, all of the issues of Oprah Magazine from Day one, clothes, furniture, decorations, and shoes (my special weakness). This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stuff. Then one day when we’re older, our desire to have things turns into the need and desire to purge and to work on letting go of the extras in your life.

Continue reading

Changes are Coming – Time to Streamline My Life!

changesThe women in my life are facing many changes and it’s brought to mind the idea that to have the kind of life you want, you need to let go of what you don’t want in your life.  So it’s time to ask myself, what kind of life do I want and what do I need to let go of in order to obtain that kind of life?  

The first thing that comes to my mind is the clutter that I’ve accumulated since I moved out on my own.  I tend to be a pack-rat and my basement contains so much clutter. The storage room contains toys and games from when the children were little, ceramics that Grandma Is never got around to painting, old prom dresses, etc.  For whatever reason – I have a hard time letting go of the old stuff. By letting go of this clutter, I can make room for the new and simplify my home.  I’ve currently been cleaning up some of the paperwork clutter.  I’ve been shredded old documents that I’ve been holding onto dating back to 1986!!!  (Don’t ask me why I’ve been saving documents for that long!!!) Continue reading