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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Talking to Yourself

talking to yourselfLast week, half of the sisters were out of town, so Lisa and I met one on one. These are rare occasions since we both have commitments that keep us very busy and out of trouble.  I was thinking about how pleasant our visit was and then I got sidetracked (surprise, surprise).

I realized as I thought back, that during our visit, I was sending myself very negative messages about guess who?  ME.  I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, my son, my sister and her husband, my nieces and their families, and my stepdaughter and her family.  Sadly, the worst relationship I have seems to be with myself.  Continue reading

Share the Love

In our neighborhood, there is a person who lives at the corner who hangs dog treats on the bushes next to the sidewalk. A small sign tells dog walkers to “Please take one.”

She is putting a little love out into the world.

The other day, I saw a woman in the grocery checkout line who was wearing a dress identical to one that I own. I thought that it looked nice on her. A few minutes later, as I was driving out of the parking lot, I saw the same woman.  She was walking to her car with her shopping cart. I rolled down my window and hollered “Hey, I just wanted to tell you how great you look in that dress. I have the same one at home and I love it.” She replied, “Thanks, I got it on sale at Kohls.” I answered back, “Yeah, I even wear it just like you do, with leggings and a jacket”.

Just putting a little love out into the world.

“I love humanity but I hate people.” poet Edna St. Vincent once famously wrote. In the same way, I often really need to make an effort to connect and engage with people. It is so much easier to talk with my family or work on my own shit rather than engage with the people I meet every day.

With that being said, it brings me happiness, even joy when others go out of their way to interact, engage, or reach out to me.

Writing thank-you notes was not taught or encouraged when I was a child (or perhaps I just don’t remember). As a teenager, I hated the little triangular-folded notes that friends passed at school to one another. As a young adult, I knew I wouldn’t keep in touch with friends after I moved.

But I’ve saved and charished EVERY note, letter, and spontaneous correspondence that I’ve ever recieved.I have a collection dating back over 40 years! I store sweet notes from friends  in a nightstand drawer. When I was dating my husband-to-be,  I printed and saved every email from that first year. I still have every love note from my high school boyfriend. Every letter my ex-husband penned are tied together with a string…in a box…in my closet. 

Happy Mail

It is time to reconcile this dichotomy in my life.  I want to be appreciative, thankful, and supportive.  (I should have probably begun this project at the beginning of the Covid shutdown.) But anyway, my sister Michelle suggested that what I was talking about was “happy mail”.

So I conducted a Google search.

I found blogs and You-Tube videos dedicated to sharing appreciation to small business customers. There are also scrapbookers and “junk journalers” who share stuff with each other unexpectedly through the mail. These were BEAUTIFUL and inspiring works of art that people were sharing with each other in an effort to “share the love”.

I found it totally overwhelming!!! Some of these creations must have taken days or weeks to collect and construct.

I don’t consider myself a fluent writer. So I write a sloppy copy before I transfer the words into a notecard. It relieves my writer’s block and prevents me from stressing about making a mistake.

What I am proposing is buying and using store-bought blank notes and writing something thoughtful and direct like this blogger.

I also don’t believe that these notes need to be sent in the mail. They can be surreptitiously stuck under a windshield wiper, taped to a house door, or placed anonymously on a co-worker’s desk.

Iris Letters

My mom calls these “Iris letters”. They are the less familiar cousin and the opposite of “onion letters”. (Glinda versus the Wicked Witch of the West.)  An Onion letter is what you might send to a business to complain about the mess the plumber left after fixing your toilet or the rude comment the customer service rep made when you returned an item at Wal-Mart. Onion letters help a business correct wrongs. Iris letters acknowledge and appreciate service workers or businesses that go above and beyond.

I should have sent an Iris letter a few years ago to my local Aldi.

After checking out all of my groceries, I realized that I had neither cash nor credit cards in my purse. Upon realizing this, the cashier volunteered to pay my $80+ bill until I returned.  She said that she knew I was a regular customer and that I’d be back.

Profusely thanking her, I instead asked her to just put my cart of groceries to the side. I zipped home. Returning a half-hour later, I had cash in hand.  Thanking her again, she smiled at my appreciation, and I vowed to myself to write a note to the manager. I intended to appreciate, honor, and celebrate her good deed.

My goal was to share a little love and bring recognition to this kind woman.

I never did.

Her name was Leah.

I’m still amazed at her kindness.

Who is Lisa

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My Dog is Family

What is it with dogs? Are you one of the people that celebrated National Pet Day earlier this month? Do you love a furry friend?

Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend…obviously never had a dog!

Do you need unconditional love, something to love you forever and ever (sounds great, right!)?  

furry friendsDo you love having something warm and fuzzy to cuddle with, share a bed with?

When Mollie, a liver/white tri English Springer Spaniel that was with us for fourteen years died, I said it would be my last.  

I just couldn’t put my heart through another heartbreak.  

Well, six months passed, and guess what?  We broke down and got another fuzzy creature. She is a black/white tri-colored springer spaniel named Emma.  What a sweetheart, a pain in the ass, a total companion, a bed hog, has her own opinion and needs, and we wouldn’t give her up for anything.  

Furry Friends – The PROS…

I have read that owning a pet has several benefits for older adults.  This includes higher levels of physical activity…which results in better health.  Having a dog forces us to create daily routines or to have a  purpose to get out and MOVE. 

furry friendsDogs offer emotional support and give us something to talk about with other people (other than how upset we are with the latest political announcement or our upcoming knee surgery).

With a dog, you get constant love and affection, unconditional adoration (we all can use a little of that), lots and lots of wet sloppy kisses, and let’s not forget the lack of bed space.  Is this a pro? Well, some of us might think so.  

…and the CONS

The case against owning a canine fur baby is as follows (but not limited to):  Constant dog hair on your pants, brown spots in a once lush green lawn, ongoing poop duty, and the frustration when they are trying to communicate, but you don’t agree (time to go to bed or wanting to stay outside).

furry friends

Dogs also need exercise, rain or shine, cold or warm.  If you are sick, or well, you need to suck it up and get out there with a potty bag and treats in your pocket.  How about the grooming duties, brushing, and teeth brushing (yes, we are supposed to actually brush a dog’s teeth). 

I could do without the muddy paws prints on my white kitchen floor and cream living room carpet in the spring and rainy weather. 

It is also a pain in the ass standing outside in the freezing cold, in the middle of the night,  (even when Fido doesn’t really have to do anything) because he just wants you to be awake with him.  

I, personally, have had a lot of pets including, birds of all shapes and sizes, chameleons, fish, hamsters, turtles. But my nine dogs (over the years) are in a special category that is unique and exclusive…

Companion

Confidant

Family

I have read or heard it from somewhere that the best compliment to a deceased pet is to replace it with another. I totally agree. Or, to quote American novelist, satirist, and poet, Erica Jong…

 ” Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big.”

Who Is Sandy
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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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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

Lean In to Mid-Life…

I quit my job, my career, that activity that defined me as a person for 30 years. Since I’m over 55, I guess that means that I’m “retired”.mid-life

But what DOES that mean?  I was doing the responsible thing by sticking to my “chosen” path for so long. Retirement sounds like my grandma who played Canasta with the ladies every Tuesday afternoon.

For the last two decades, I’ve sacrificed my energy to a career that was dependable, reliable, and safe.

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Join Us!

On April 8, 2014, we started this blog.

Almost 7 years ago, we began by introducing ourselves, “Sidetracked Sisters are Sandy & Judy (sisters) and Lisa & Michelle (sisters). We are 4 sides of the same coin…(hmmmmm – how is that possible?). Some say we are very much alike, yet others say we are as different as they come. We are family and LOVE to torment each other.”inspiring

But you probably know that already if you’ve been following us for a while.

Sidetracked Sisters started as a home-based crafting group. After several years, we began writing our blog where we shared thoughts and 178 writings on random topics. 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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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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Rock Your Hairstyle (for Women Over 50)

hairI got my hair cut–I mean CUT–right before 2nd grade. I was 7 years old. My mom had just gotten her 1960’s shoulder-length locks updated into the iconic 70’s shag. I loved her new do and wanted to be a grown-up who could make choices about my hair. So after much begging and pleading, mom relented. Thus was the beginning with my love/hate relationship with my hair.

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No Bras Required – Ever!

bras source of strife

Age 18 – No Boobs!!

Bras have always been a source of strife in my life – being one of those people that really doesn’t require one completely.  (I’m the odd duck in my family in this regard)

 

Look at this picture!!  I’m 18 in this picture and you can see – I have NO BOOBS!!  Ha-ha!

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