Clearing and releasing

A couple of weeks ago I talked about reorganizing my living room.

It only took a couple of days, and it opened up the space so much. I’m really pleased with it. It feels much more comfortable in here. It’s been years since I’ve felt this comfortable in my own home.

Now, I just have to get C to pick up after herself. She’s almost never here, but still manages to leave a mess. But that’s kids, right?

I got rid of a ton of stuff and took a few things to storage. I shredded a stack of papers. I packed away the heaviest winter clothes.

It feels like I’ve cleared out my brain, especially how open the living room is now.

And it’s still going. I cleared a few things out of storage, too. And I’ve moved some stuff we’ve never used since living here either to storage or completely out of the home.

It just feels so much more relaxed. I’m almost kicking myself for not tackling it sooner. The thing is, though, I knew all along that I would feel this way about it. I talked about it last summer, even.

But for some reason, I was unable to actually make a move on it until now.

There’s still some clutter, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was.

Several years ago, lots of people I know were really excited about Flylady. I wanted to follow it; I wanted to like it. Lots of things about the site and her process (small chunks daily) are fabulous and do-able.

But I couldn’t get past polishing the sink and getting dressed all the way to shoes.

I don’t like shoes. I don’t wear them as often as I can get away with it. When I have to wear shoes, I prefer to wear ones that kick off easily. When I had an office job, as soon as I got settled at my desk, the shoes came off.*

Now, I understand her reasoning.

It’s a cue to your brain that you’re fully dressed and engaged in Real Life for the day.

But I hate shoes, and there’s no way I’m wearing them in my own home.

I’ve realized in the last few months, though, that I do have a mental cue about being dressed and fully mentally engaged for the day. And anyone that knew me in my 20s and early 30s is really going to laugh at this**. . . . a bra. . . . if I’m wearing a bra, I’m ready to Get Shit Done. If I’m not, nothing important is getting accomplished.

But now, I’ve discovered Unfuck Your Habit. Maybe it’s the profanity that speaks to me. Or maybe it’s the starting with making your bed.

For at least a decade now, whenever I’ve tried to work on issues of self-discipline, this is where I started – making the bed.

When I’m really depressed, I’m napping all day and tossing and turning all night, so I never really make the bed. When I start trying to turn things around, making the bed as soon as I get up is the first thing I do. After a week or two of that, I start to add in other things.

Really, Unfuck Your Habit isn’t that much different than FlyLady. But for some reason, I like it more.***

What does this have to do with releasing?

I’m releasing fears.

I’m releasing attachments to the past.

I’m releasing the idea of being STUCK.

I’m releasing expectations (and that one is fucking HARD).

Changing things in your environment around in a major way can help change your perspective.

Have you made any major changes lately?

*When I was a student at the local university, one of my math teachers was famous for walking around without shoes, ALL THE TIME. Made me smile.

**I notoriously went without a bra (and sometimes without a top) as often as possible. So, this makes me giggle.

***Zen Habits has some suggestions on where to get started in clearing clutter here.

Self-love: Cleaning & Organizing

Kind of a weird title, I know, but I just read Dominee’s post about beginning to love herself and one of the things she talks about is how messy her home was before.

My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.

I can completely relate.

At some times, my home was that bad.

It’s not now, but it’s not an organized, serene haven, either.

There’s too much stuff in not enough space, and things shoved into open boxes and shelves with little organization.

It’s not for lack of trying.

C and I are both good at organizing small bits at a time.

But we are also both bad at maintaining the organization.

Last week, we went through one day where we pulled stuff out of the bathroom cabinets and linen closet to organize the bathroom.

We finally purged a lot of stuff we’ve been meaning to go through for ages. We ended up getting rid of more than 2 large garbage bags of stuff, plus have a pile to go to storage.

After that, for the last three days, I’ve been starting at my living room, hating the arrangement.

I’ve always hated the arrangement here.

But there’s so much stuff on the shelves that it’s really a pain to move anything.

Tonight, the frustration peaked and I’ve started moving stuff.

I think it’s going to take a few days to go through the whole thing.

I mentioned before that I have been able to keep a clean, organized home at times in the past:

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

Considering that C is rarely home now and will be off to college soon enough, I should be able to do this again, now. Right now, things are clean. There’s only today’s dishes in the sink, and C just emptied the dishwasher of clean stuff so I’ll be getting them done tonight. The garbage is taken out regularly. There’s no food laying around.

But it is messy/cluttered.

Part of my frustration is that when I live alone, all the mess is mine, and things remain where I leave them. And now, while C is rarely home, her messes still are.

She’s capable of cleaning and organizing. In fact, she does a fabulous job when she does it. But getting her to do it is difficult.

I WANT a more serene home.

But I also want my things close at hand all the time.

Those two things seem to be at odds with each other.

A larger place, once I can afford it, will help.

But there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of completely.

And that is overwhelming.

My storage unit is 10x10x10 and filled to the rafters.

I know a lot of the stuff that’s in there, but I can never find it when I go looking.

So, for the next few days, I’ll be seriously looking at stuff and hopefully purging as I move things around, because dammit, I deserve a comfortable place to live in.

I thought about taking some “before” pictures, but I’m just not that brave.

Mood swings and food

My mood state has been all over the place in the last few days.

Monday, I was completely manic, doing deep cleaning in the apartment, writing a couple posts plus in my journal.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I was anxious  and alternated between being irritated, optimistic, and crying for no reason.

I barely ate anything at all those three days, which is not at all like me.

I need to get to the gym today, but this is even more volatile than usual for me.

I’ve had Mirena for 11 weeks now, but I haven’t stopped spotting/bleeding the whole time. When it hits 12 weeks, I’m going to contact my doctor, because it’s really annoying. I’m wondering if this is having an effect on my mood? It is hormonal, but one of the reasons I had it put in was that the hormones were supposed to stay local instead of going through my whole system. Also, it was supposed to make my periods LESS annoying.

I meant to go to the gym yesterday and I never made it out of the apartment. Now that my air conditioner is finally working, I don’t want to leave! I need to go today. Lifting may help my mood.

I need to redirect my energy to other things than where they have been. I don’t want to talk about where they have been, because it’s stupid and annoying.

Directing my energy into cleaning on Monday helped a bit, I think. Maybe I can do more of that today.

I also put a profile up on OKCupid. But every time I start talking to someone or look at profiles, I’m rejecting them or just getting scared.

I did it because I thought it might be nice to meet someone now, but I also don’t think I’m ready to meet anyone yet.

For years, I’ve been saying that I’m ok alone, and most of the time, I believe that.

The inner turmoil that I’ve felt since the ex called, though, is what prompted me to set up a profile. I thought if I could meet someone, that might help me push him back into the recesses of my mind. I do not want him cluttering up my mind and screwing with my emotions. I can’t believe I’m still obsessing over it 9 weeks later. He does not deserve this much of me.

But, I don’t think I’m ready to meet someone.

How can I not be ready after this long alone? Am I just that damaged? Or do I need to be actually teaching and feeling secure in my life before I meet someone?

Cleaning & Establishing Routines

So, now that I’m feeling more like my old self, I’m more . . . . interested in making my place livable: cleaning, getting rid of trash, organizing.

When I lived alone, before C was born, I was good at this. When C was small, especially during the time that it was just the two of us, I was good at this.

But for most of the time C remembers, most of her growing up time, I wasn’t. I would ignore things until they were totally out of hand and then do just what I needed to do to get by.

Now she’s almost 15, and she doesn’t know how to establish these routines and it’s all my fault. I keep comparing her life to mine at her age. I had a chore list, with something to be done every day before mom came home from work, plus dishes daily, and most days, cooking dinner, too.

If things weren’t done on the right day, or not done to Bill’s satisfaction when he came home at midnight, I would be dragged out of bed to complete the task properly. Ok, this only happened a couple of times, but it was enough for me to know he really meant it.

Housework was a constant source of argument between us, almost as long as I can remember.

There was a point, when we lived in this white house on a quiet suburban street (my favorite place we ever lived, and I never got over us leaving that place), when my mom worked on Saturday mornings, and Bill and I were alone. I was about 6 or 7.

I wasn’t allowed to watch the Saturday morning cartoons or anything until we were done cleaning. We hung laundry on a clothing line outside, swept and mopped the hardwood floors, I had to clean my room and make my bed.

Then he’d make lunch. Since he didn’t usually make the food in the house, he didn’t know my preferences and would often make something I didn’t really like. My clearest memory was tuna sandwiches with tomato soup. I don’t like tomato soup. He would make me eat it anyway. And he’d have this silly polka music on the little transistor radio in the kitchen. Whenever I eat tuna sandwiches on soft white bread, I’m right back in that hideous orange kitchen. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I prefer to eat it on toast?

Wow, this post didn’t go where I originally thought.

Anyway, I resented the routines established by someone else imposed on me. I fought against it for my whold childhood and teen years.

I’ve allowed my kid to grow up without any sense of these routines. I’m horribly embarrassed by this.

Now that I’m feeling like my old self, I’m wanting the . . . comfort of those routines. I want a clean house. I want things done in a timely way. But it’s hard. It’s hard to make myself do it, but I’m starting to.

The problem is that I’m upset C isn’t jumping enthusiastically on the bandwagon. I know this is not rational. It’s my fault she doesn’t know these things. But I get upset when she doesn’t jump up to help out when I’m doing something.

So, I’m trying to enforce a “15 minutes a day” rule for both of us. I hope this helps us both get better about this.

Hoarding Shows and Cleaning

I’ve been watching shows like Hoarders and Clean House, both of which are dwarfed by this CNN story.

I watch them and get inspired for a couple of hours to do something about my apartment. It’s helping, kind of.

My apartment is a mess. Part of me wants to post pics, and part of me it way too embarrassed. Maybe I’ll do ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics when I get it clean.

Thing is, I haven’t always been this messy. Actually, it’s beyond messy and into disgusting.

There was a time when I lived alone, and my place was CLEAN and organized, highly organized, even. When I went through what I call the Great Depression (a clinical depression lasting several years, not the economic depression of the 1930s), I gave up. With an elementary school aged child, things were never where I left them, and things never got put away. I became absolutely blind to clutter, mess, even food being left laying around.

I haven’t taught my daughter anything about regular house cleaning. Thing is, I do know HOW to do it. Bill made sure I did. I know that doing dishes every day, cleaning bathrooms once a week, vacuum at least once a week, dust and polish furniture once a week, clean the kitchen floor once a week, all help make a nice home. This was probably the biggest lesson he tried to teach me.

I don’t know why I can’t make myself do these things. I did when I lived alone and when C was younger. For some reason, now, I find it nearly impossible to do.

Yes, like most people, I’m tired when I get home. I’m working a day job and running a small business in the evenings. Some nights, when I have to pick C up at tae kwon do after tutoring, some nights I don’t get home until 9pm, and I like to go to bed at 10pm. But even when I come home earlier, like right after the day job, I don’t spend time cleaning. I jump on the computer and turn the tv on, and lose myself in mediocrity.

I should.

I don’t need to spend 5-10pm just sitting on my butt. I could use some of that time to make my place a little more pleasant.