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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How to Deal with Impatience and Not Go Crazy

impatienceLately, I find that I have absolutely no patience with the people and things around me.  I’m sure my family will say that I’m always like that, but I think it’s been getting worse.  Yesterday, I found myself slamming my phone down on my desk simply because the screen would go into sleep mode too soon.  Today, I feel like I’m just trying to pick a fight with anyone that crosses my path.  Even as I sit here writing this, I can hear the person across the table from me crunching on food and it’s making me feel crazy.  

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Helping Your College Student with Homesickness

Homesickness

When my youngest kid left for college this past fall, we went through some significant homesickness.  She has always been my “velcro” kid and loves to be home and a part of things.  There were a lot of tears and feelings of “I don’t want to go” happening.  As a parent that likes to always see her kids happy – this broke my heart.  I didn’t know how to help – so I resorted to the Internet to guide me in what to do.  After reading a few posts – I decided on my own methods.

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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

Developing Relationships with Your Mother-in-Law

Mother-in-lawHere are six tips for having a good relationship with your mother-in-law.

Doris wasn’t just a mother-in-law, but a fabulous friend.  Personally, I feel she had quite a bit more to overlook in me in the beginning as I was selfish, opinionated, and just plain stupid. Example – I had my second child and was not up to par.  It was spring and, of course, flower planting time.  I being the perfectionist (and this is where stupid and selfish comes in) did the unthinkable…  To be nice she planted a peachy/pink bed of petunias in an area where I would usually put, I think, red.  Would you believe that when I felt up to it, I actually replaced her petunias with my preferred color?  When I think of that today I just cringe.  She never said a word, but I’ll bet she was not impressed with me.  

Tip 1 – Be thankful for the little things they do for you and be gracious

When my husband and I started going together we were of different religions.  I was with a girlfriend that was Lutheran, the same as my mother-in-law, and she said to me.  “Why doesn’t Art find a nice Lutheran girl to date?”  At the time I was appalled.  Today I think it is pretty funny as later in life I turned to Lutheran and she turned to the religion that I had been for her second husband.

Tip 2 – Don’t sweat the small stuff.  There is always tomorrow and things change

The two of us came from entirely different backgrounds.  She was a farm girl and I was a city brat.  Her taste was totally different than mine and we had a good time teasing about my exotic, or just plain different taste than hers.  One time after putting up a half-moon mirror in my family room I asked her what she thought and she replied, “I think it looks totally stupid.”  O.K. then!!!  I had grown up enough by this time to actually laugh it off and I still have that totally stupid mirror still hanging in my family room.

Tip 3 – Appreciate true honesty and don’t take it personally

She was always there when I needed her, or just a phone call away.  She actually got a warning ticket for speeding on Center Street to come and wash my kitchen floor.  I was getting ready for one of the girl’s weddings and she thought I could use some help.  The officer asked her where she was going in such a hurry, 50 in a 25-speed zone, and she said to wash my daughter-in-law’s floor. He gave her a warning, but I’ll bet there were a few laughs down at the station after that. I hope none of them knew me so as to judge me, expecting this poor older lady to wash my kitchen floor?.  

Tip 4 – Appreciate the things they do for you even if it is not necessary

When I planted my perennial garden I worked during the day and had to get my plants in after dark for some reason.  My mother and mother-in-law sat on logs in my backyard with flashlights to help me see what I was doing.  My backyard neighbor had to hang over the fence in the morning to see what the hell was going on. 

Tip 5 –  Appreciate the big things they do for you

I could go on and on.  She has since passed on and I miss her terribly.  I miss our late evening gab sessions on the phone.  Her stories that went on and on, and her being there for me was so enjoyable.  Sure, she made me a little crazy sometimes, but I learned to overlook her differences and she overlooked mine.  When she told me that I was more like a daughter to her than a daughter-in-law that was the ultimate compliment.  

Tip 6 –  Enjoy their differences and learn from them

They seem to have a book of knowledge that they love to share.  Remember that they also compete with your own mother on most occasions and also learn how not to tread on toes.

Who Is Sandy
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How to be a (Worst) Friend

I am well well-suited to write this post for I fulfill the top three qualifications to be the worst friend…

I’ve always loved being with friends, laughing and hanging with great women, drinking and sharing memories with others who appreciate a self-deprecating story.

family friends

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Cell Phone Etiquette

Orange case phone and glasses cell etiquetteI resisted having a cell phone for years. The thought of having a phone “on me” all the time gave me the creeps.   Then I took a job out of town that took me away from home at all different hours and in all different seasons, rain and snow and I gave in.   

Before I knew it, I had just the “right” cell phone. My blackberry even had to match my glasses. In no time at all I was hooked. I couldn’t leave home without it.

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Lazy or Just Inadequate?

Am I lazy or just inadequate??  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Both in my personal life and my work life.  In my work life, I’ve said for years that I want to get back to my computer programming/development skills.  I have all the tools I need to refresh this information in my head, so why don’t I accomplish this?  What is holding me back from accomplishing this goal?

What is holding me back?

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What color are you?

What color are you?  What colors look best on you?  Back when I  was a teen, my mom and my god-mother took my girlfriend and I to “have our colors done”.  Some of you may ask “You had WHAT done?”  Well – the process of getting your colors done involves determining what colors look best on you.  (Color Me A Season)

Seasoncircle600

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Gardening – ‘Chelle

hqdefaultEveryone has decided to write about gardening.  What do I have to write about gardening?  I hate gardening!!  Mom always tells me that as a kid, I loved to garden.  No – I loved to plant a few flowers for her.  That is what I liked to do.  I don’t like the weeding, the soil preparation, the watering.  Ugh.  It’s a never-ending job!!  Now, granted – I DO love the end result when someone else does it for me.  (aka Mom – “Thanks Mom!!”)

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Procrastination – Sandy

ChristmaI am the queen of procrastination.   I have a saying that I post at the office that says “Success is doing the things that we procrastinate doing in a timely fashion”.

I always seem to be able accomplish quite a few things when I am under stress, but as I get older, I find that procrastinating for a period of time only puts me in a very stressful straight of mind.

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