Be More Organized: I Make Piles

First off, I would like to warn you, do not do a Google search for “I make piles” without some additional term like “organizing” or “cleaning”.  Turns out, pile is another name for hemorrhoids.  Who knew?  But, now we all do.


So, I’ll admit it.  I make piles.  Everywhere I go.  I have piles on my dining room table, piles on my bar area, piles in my garage and piles in my office at work.  My husband also makes piles.  My daughter is quickly learning to do the same.  In some ways, it feels like a little bit of organizing.  After all, stuff isn’t spread out all over the place.  It is in a nice, neat pile.  Well, okay, it is in a pile (not always so nice or neat).  But, at least it is in one place.  Sometimes I even put my piles in a basket.  Doesn’t that look nice?  The problem is, the piles seem to multiply.  Piles begat piles.  I ended up getting rid of our living room coffee table because it was just a magnet for piles.  We now have limited space to put our drinks or snacks, as I talked about in this earlier post.  But, the question I have to ask is, does that outweigh the fact that I don’t have as many piles in the living room now?  It is a difficult question to answer.  The problem is that I can’t get rid of every flat surface in our home, so at some point, I have to figure out how to control the piling.  Here are my top three ideas for getting out of the piling habit:

  1. Act immediately and make it quick.  We are a family of procrastinators as well as pilers.  When asked to do something, we will often say, “I’ll do it in just a second.” or “As soon as I finish this…”  The problem is that we often forget by the time we finish what we are doing or get the motivation to actually get up and do the task.  I often come in with mail and instead of just going through it right then and there and throwing 90% of it in recycling where it belongs, I will throw it on our dining room table.  There it sits.  Weeks later, it still sits.  And there are a number of piles around it and on top of it.  I have paid late fees because of this habit.  And it takes only a minute or two to actually go through it and figure out what needs action, what needs recycling.  I will also pile dirty dishes in the sink throughout the day.  It would take literally seconds to rinse the dish(es) and put it in the dishwasher, but instead, I choose to pile it.  At the end of the day, I have a daunting pile of dishes with crusted on food or sticky residue and it takes me a lot longer to get them rinsed and loaded.  If I were to just act immediately on something that needs to be done and then make it as quick as I possibly can (avoiding perfectionism, which sometimes gets in my way), I would have things DONE at the end of the day rather than piled up.
  2. Purge and purge more.  We are also a family with a lot of stuff.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are hoarders, but I have a whole walk-in closet full of scrapbooking stuff, my husband has a garage half full of competitive shooting and fishing supplies, my daughter has the other half of the garage full of books and toys.  We have many of those same things in the house.  We all have a lot of clothes.  I have a lot of pans and dishes and such.  I tend to have a lot of papers to grade for my classes (although I’ve tried to go as electronic as I can).  We have photos and trinkets and blankets and lots of food stuff.  When there is this much stuff, it can seem challenging to find a place for everything and put everything in its place.  I realize this.  I have been decluttering.  But, what I really need to do is purge and purge more.  So, what’s the difference between decluttering and purging?  Well, to me, decluttering is getting rid of stuff you don’t want anymore.  Stuff that isn’t useful or attractive.  And trust me, we had a lot of that type of stuff.  But, purging means getting rid of stuff even if you still want it, just to lower the volume of stuff that you have floating around your house.  That is what I need to do.  Because with a family like this, if we have a lot of stuff, we’re going to have a lot of piles.  I need to shift my perspective towards purging stuff that is NOT NEEDED.  Not just the stuff that is not wanted, but stuff that is not necessary to our day-to-day or month-to-month lives.  My daughter learned all about wants and needs in first grade last year and I need to live like a first grader in 2017.
  3. Embrace space.  As a communication professional, I often focus on the value of silence in all its awkward glory.  Silence creates space for people to think and sometimes for people to talk who otherwise would not get heard.  I need to think of surfaces like silence.  It will feel awkward at first.  It will draw our eye and we may feel the desire to make a pile since it isn’t being used for other things.  But, instead, we need to view it as a space to give us room to think and breathe.  We need to view it as a space to let things be noticed that otherwise would be lost in the chaos of piles.  A family photo.  A meaningful trinket with an important memory tied to it.  So much we own does not hold any of that value or meaning.  They are taking up valuable space and silencing what is really valuable and meaningful.

So, that’s it.  In 2017, I am going to focus on purging.  I used to do the Flylady system and some things have stuck with me despite me not really using her program anymore.  I still do things in 15 minute increments much of the time.  I think I’m going to go back to her 27 fling boogie each day.  Purging 27 things each and every day in 2017 would yield 9855 less things in our house.  Even if I take a week off here and there it will still make a significant difference in the volume of stuff in my home.

Here is to a 2017 with less piles and more smiles!

Tuesday Truth

Tuesday Truth

Considering my “slow” goals over the weekend, my week has started out pretty darned busy.  Although, not overwhelmingly so.  Yet.  I do have a few Tuesday Truths to share this Tuesday.

Tuesday Truth

Simplicity and minimalism is not simple.  I’ve been watching some “Tiny House Nation” lately because I am fascinated by people’s desire and ability to live in a space that is the size of our living room.  My biggest question is WHERE IS ALL THEIR STUFF?  Why do I have so much stuff?  And why do I have such a hard time getting rid of said stuff.  I pick up things, look at them, ponder whether I should get rid of them or not…some are easy to toss in the give away box or the trash can, but most take a lot of emotional energy to do so.  And there is SO. SO. SO. much of it.  Where did it all come from?  I am sure that it gets easier as you pare down your stuff.  Upstairs, I have a bookcase in the hallway that was piled with books and other stuff.  I mean, it was full of books and then I had books piled up in front of the books.  And on top of the books were some photos in frames and some little trinkets, etc.

I cleaned it out last week.  And now there is open space.  Open.  Space.  It is crazy how much that makes me happy.  So, now I realize how great it would be to have that same feeling looking at other parts of our house.  My Sister-In-Law and I joked about our Mother-In-Law because when they cleaned out a cabinet at her house they found 13 salt and pepper shaker sets.  But, I need to joke about myself.  Today, I was going through some more books and found two hardback versions of the The Bonesetters Daughter (a book I have yet to read) and two paperback versions of Sarah’s Key (another book I have yet to read).  And that is in addition to a bunch of other books that I’ve been storing on my bookshelves that I know I will NEVER read.  So, now I have a pile of books to decide if I should take them to the used bookstore to try to sell them, list them online or just pile them in the thrift store box and be done with them.  That will take some time to figure out.

We are a messy family.  That’s the only way I can explain us.  And I can’t point my fingers at others with a halo over my head, because I am just as guilty a lot of the time.  I do a lot of cleaning.  But, I think the reason I have to clean so much is because we don’t do any maintenance.  I have piles everywhere.  Right now, sitting on the couch, I can look to my right and see a pile of receipts and ads from my purse that I took out to find something.  My DD’s key chain collection (which is all tied on to a single string).  A deck of Littlest Pet Shop cards we were playing with the other day and never got put away…to my left is the scary, scary dining room table.  This one is actually worth a photo:

dining room table - mess

So, yeah.  I got home from my mom’s a week ago tomorrow.  The ice chest is from that trip.  The cone is from the dog coming home from the vet today.  The black bag is my work bag.  The green bag is another bag from the trip that is empty, but hasn’t been put away.  The Amazon box came yesterday and I didn’t open it yet.  There is cleaner that was left out.  A Build A Bear that someone was playing with and the dog took from them and I put it on the table to keep it from becoming covered in slobber.  There are coloring books.  The papers from three (yes, three) purses that I cleaned out when moving them from one closet to another and/or getting rid of them.  The same thing happens in my car.  I will get it all cleaned out and within a week, there are piles of books, clothes, food wrappers, possibly food…it is RIDICULOUS!

So, I’m wondering.  Can we overcome this messiness?  This lack of care and concern for our space and our things?  Because we are all the same.  It isn’t just one of us. It is all of us.  So, here is my take on things:

  • We have too. much. stuff.  There is not a place for everything because…well, there is literally not a place for everything.  So, decluttering will help.  BUT…
  • We are also lazy.  I can’t think of another word for it.  When it is easier to LEAVE something than to pick it up and take it back where it belongs, it gets LEFT.
  • Finally, we are pilers.  We love to pile things up to be dealt with “later”.  Unfortunately, later often comes far too late…

So, there you have it.  No solution.  Just the truth.  I am hoping that decluttering will be helpful.  Doing away with laziness is a little more difficult, but if we can just have a place for everything than we can maybe we can pressure ourselves to actually put things back where they belong.  And the piles.  Well, pilers pile.  But, we’ll pile less if we have places to put things.  Maybe.  Just maybe.

So, those are my two BRILLIANT truths for today (sarcasm aside).  What are your truths on this Tuesday?


Minimalism Monday – Getting rid of “stuff”

I’ve decided to start a new Monday focus – minimalism.  I am really serious about making my life simpler and minimalism (at least a slight amount of minimalism) seems to get me everything I really need.  Spend less, less “stuff”, less on my to-do list, more focus on family and well-being.  So, this first post is going to focus on the WHY of it all.

Simplicity - Longfellow

 I think the biggest reason I feel the need to simplify is that I am completely and totally overwhelmed.  My life is OVERSTUFFED!  My home is OVERSTUFFED.  I have stuff piled up everywhere.  And every time I clear off a surface, it is suddenly full of more and different STUFF.  I am disorganized.  My life is chaos.  I just read, “Defending the Family Routine” on Motherlode and I realize that we have zero routine.  I have a family schedule hanging on our wall from the latter part of the school year and I can count the times we stuck to the whole thing on one hand.  Sigh…

So, I’m really trying to “hit reset” on my life – this article over at Elephant Journal could have been written by me.  My key wake up call from it came in these words:

How you do anything, is how you do everything.

If your house is a disorganized mess, so then likely is your life. If your storage area is filled with boxes stuffed with your past, then you are probably also physically holding on to those emotions and wounds too.

If you are ignoring financial obligations, playing the role of the ostrich in your reality, most likely you are shortchanging yourself from prosperity in more than just your bank account.

If your calendar is so very full you have to check it just to see if you have time to make a phone call to a friend, there’s very good chance you are also experiencing adrenal fatigue.

If you consistently ignore the fundamental chores and repairs in your home, then you’re probably also not meeting your basic emotional needs. Just like the clogged bathroom sink you’ve avoided dealing with for a month, your emotions are likely starting to back up, and eventually, they too will flood.

Look around, see what’s in front of you, examine your household habits, then ask yourself— where else does that show up in my life?

The answer to that is EVERYWHERE!  At least that is what I feel like right now.  I am physically holding on to emotions and wounds from the past.  I am shortchanging myself from prosperity in multiple places in my life.  I am almost fearful of success.  I am probably suffering from adrenal fatigue.  Especially during the school year.  And I do have emotions that are backing up…have been backing up for multiple years.  It is the reason I can’t bring myself to watch movies or read books that have sadness in them – I feel like I may start crying and never, ever stop.  I feel like I have so much fear and anxiety that I mask on a daily basis that if I were to ever let it go free it might never stop flowing out of me.

That last paragraph makes me sound like I’m on the edge of a breakdown.  But, I don’t think I am.  I think I’m pretty strong.  I think I’m pretty capable of holding it all together even when everything is falling apart.  I’ve proven that.  But, I also think that holding it together has become tiresome and overwhelming.  So, I’m going to follow the article’s advice…some of it seems a little mystical/new age for me, but I feel like I’ve skipped number one and two (the acknowledgement of the past pains and the “setting it on fire”) and gone to number three – the clean and polish – but, I still need to acknowledge and release.

The remainder I will do, but in a more biblical way I think.  The saying “Let go and Let God.” comes to mind.  And settling into God’s grace and plan for me seems a little more of a relief than trying to hold it together myself.

Well, that turned out to be a little more of a serious post than I first planned.  But, it feels good to get that out.  Release.  Acknowledge.  Let it Go.  Move on.


Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday – Need to Purge

Purge Organizing

I have the urge to purge.

Looking around my house, I have the urge to get rid of everything.  Literally everything.  Just start over.  I’m so over all the stuff.  And so much of it has zero purpose or necessity and I keep moving it around from one place to another.  Storing it.  Displaying it.  Hiding it.  Piling it.  Filing it.  I am DONE. WITH. IT.  So, this is going to be my summer of purge.

I’m going to use this Silver Lining Organization chart and their 52 Week Organizing Challenge which should have started in January, but with a summer off from work, I should be able to play a bit of catch up and I’m going to work my way through the house and purge, purge, purge.  Then I want to look at redecorating to make it look nicer and more inviting and cleaner (not just decluttered, but actually cleaner).

We’ll see if it comes to fruition.  But, that is what I’m feeling on THIS Saturday.

 This was part of Six Word Saturday over at Show My Face!


For All Those Who Lack Sticktoitiveness (aka commitment)

ice melting science humor4

A little science humor for all you science geeks out there.  Today has been pretty much a bust for me.  This blog is so representative of me and my total lack of both focus and commitment.  And every time I start to type one of these posts, I think to myself, “what is my problem?”  So, I’m a self-help/improvement dropout basically.   Forget Beauty School, I can’t even pass the “check your to-do list” or “organize your days into routines” classes.

I figure I can’t be a total failure at finishing things.  I finished an undergraduate and graduate degree (a little lengthy for both, but still done).  I also have held a job for the past fifteen years, not leaving one until I had another (usually better) in place.  I have made it through five years of parenthood under rather rough circumstances and my child is relatively healthy (for someone with a heart transplant) and happy.  I have been married for over ten years and we’re still pretty happy.  So, I do have some level of commitment to things.  Important things.  But, for anything cursory, I have a really hard time committing.  And mostly, I think it is because as soon as I start doing them, I realize I don’t REALLY want to do those things.  I start doing them because I convince myself I REALLY want to do them (get fit, get organized, read more, etc.), but then when I actually do most of them, I realize it is truly not something I want to dedicate my time and effort and emotion in doing.  It is sad really.  Sometimes a waste of money.  And often at least a little disappointing.

So, instead of being disappointed and chastising myself, I’m going to just let it all go.  I’m going to figure that having a clean house, an organized pinterest-like life and cooking dinner each night at home after running a couple of miles and playing a game with my 5 year old and my husband is beyond my capabilities.  I’m never going to become a physician, a physicist or a physical fitness star.  I am also tired of trying and trying to be someone I am not.

I don’t want to “focus” on anything.  I just want to live my life as best I can.  Sometimes that will be relatively poorly.  The piles of stuff on my stairs. My stained carpets (getting more stained by the day as my dog suffers a horribly depressing and distressing gastrointestinal problem that has her vomiting multiple times a day, often just bile that stains the carpet and smells horrible – my Oxi-Clean carpet cleaner is getting a real workout the past three days), my hoarder’s garage piled high with stuff that I can’t figure out whether I should keep or get rid of (a giant dog kennel we used for our dog when she was a puppy – its seen better days, but if we ever get another dog it may come in handy…and a new one would be very expensive OR the many, many, many books that I took so long to organize this summer and now just feel like we can go to the library and give that space to something more valuable or entertaining AND so much more), my piles of papers and magazines – most of which I don’t read or need but pile up because I MAY some day be interested in them or need them.  It is just all too much for me.  I want to be someone I am not because that other person seems so much better than me.  So much more productive – a better mom, a better employee, a better sister/daughter, a better friend, a better neighbor, a better wife.

So, More at Forty (Five) is now Forty-Six.  And I don’t have much more.  But, maybe it is because I don’t NEED much more.  Maybe I should focus on that “More” part being “More” credit.  More kindness.  More self-respect than self-improvement.  More recognition for getting through instead of focus on changing things.  More woulds and less shoulds.  More enjoyment and less guilt.  More Candy Crush and less couponing (heck, who am I kidding? I gave up on the couponing a while ago).  More joy and less junk (getting rid of all the “stuff” that doesn’t bring me joy would be a great start).  More teaching and student interaction and less grading and administrating.  More loving life and less stressing over it.

So, yeah.  Do I NEED to lose weight?  No, not really.  I’m happy with my weight.  Would I LIKE to have more energy?  Yes, definitely.  But, I don’t know that those two things are really tied together.  Do I want to measure out all my food and focus on measurements and scales or do I want to eat better and enjoy more activity in my life?   The latter sounds so much better.  The 21 Day Fix is great for someone who has organization and is ready to make a committed effort.  But, I just don’t feel like its for me, right now.  I want to eat healthier, but I don’t want to be so strict with it.  It just isn’t what I REALLY want.  I REALLY want to eat good food that I made with little effort.  Sometimes I want that food to be a little less healthy than that plan would allow.  The shakes seem like a really healthy addition to my daily caloric intake.  So, I will keep up with those and maybe switch over to something similar, but cheaper once the 21 days is up.  I’m sure that my “coach” will be disappointed, but I think the whole purpose is to make you feel better about yourself and your diet.  And in a way, it did that in one day.  I feel pretty good about myself right now.  I realize that I don’t feel the NEED to change because I feel okay with where I am right now.

So, where does this leave me?  It leaves me in the same place I’ve been.  Behind in grading, sitting in a less than clean house, dealing with a calendar that is too stuffed and an energy level that is too low for it, without a social life, and feeling okay about all of that. Is that “settling”?  Could I do better?  Probably.  To a certain extent.  But, it also leaves me feeling better about my life, myself and my home.  So, why not settle for satisfied rather than strive for perfection?

How about you out there?  Want to join me in settling for satisfied?  Perhaps we can start our own movement…the “Settling for Satisfied” movement.  We will resist the urge to constantly compare, to strive for perfection, to be dissatisfied with the disasters that we are.  Instead, we will embrace our own ineptitudes.  Let’s hear it for settling for satisfied!

I was Soren Kierkegaard for my graduate level ethics class and I soon fell in love with his philosophy on ethical living.  And this is what I want to be my “focus” now:

from www.youthareawesome.com
from http://www.youthareawesome.com


My “Stop Doing List”

Danielle LaPorte recently published a “Celebration of The Stop Doing List”.  I have decided that I definitely love the idea of a Stop Doing List and trying to make it as long as my To-Do List!  Or maybe even longer!  So, here goes my first attempt at the Stop Doing List:

  1. Feeling inadequate because I can’t “do it all” all the time.  Go with what I can do and be satisfied with it.
  2. Spending money BEFORE I have it.
  3. Eating out instead of cooking my own meals.
  4. Not sleeping enough.
  5. Overscheduling myself, especially to do things I do not really want to do.
  6. Refusing to ask for help until I am completely over my head with things.
  7. Feeling like I have to be doing something all. the. time.
  8. Skipping things I really do want to do because I have “too much to do”.

This is just a start, of course.  Oh, one more:

9.  Not blogging because I don’t have something important enough to say or I can’t say it perfectly!

Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday – Shopping Edition

Christmas money – new hair, jeans, boots!

Today was a rarity for me.  I got some money for Christmas (usual) and decided to go get my hair done and do some shopping (rarity)!  Now, before I get to far into this, I will tell you that I only got $100 in Christmas money so my hair and shopping were of the frugal sort, but I’m still excited about them!

First, I got my hair down at our local beauty school, Marinello.  I have been there before for both hair and nails and I must say that I usually love the results but they take longer than at a professional place (understandable).  Today I had someone who graduates in two months and she was awesome and I love my hair.  I got what they call “Mini Highlights” which is basically 10 foils.  Since my hair is so short, that was perfect for me.  I also got a trim (didn’t need much since I got it cut about four weeks ago) and a wash and blow dry and the total was…wait for it…$15!!!  I tipped the woman $5 so for $20 I got a wash, color, cut and blow dry!  Not bad, not bad at all.  Here are the results (I don’t have before pictures – I should have thought of that, but I didn’t).  I actually hate taking pictures of myself, so the fact I have these is pretty surprising in itself.  Here is my hair post-coloring – much brighter (it looks dark here – bathroom lights must be somewhat yellowish).  I really like the way it brightened it up though!

highlights in hair


Second, I came home and got the eight bags/boxes of donation items from the garage (wow, that was a lot I got rid of and it didn’t make a dent) and took it to our local American Cancer thrift shop and then went shopping.  I found a couple of pairs of Levi’s that are tighter than any that I own (I’ve lost a little weight) and narrow at the bottom because I’ve really been coveting the riding boots craze, but didn’t have any appropriate pants to wear with them.  I also found a couple of cute pillows for our couch that fit in with our color scheme (whatever there is of one), a few pieces of clothing for my daughter, a couple of Angry Birds plush animals for my daughter and a beautiful large vase made my a local potter.  All for $33!  But, after finding the jeans, I knew I needed to take the plunge and get the boots, so I went over to Payless Shoe Source and got a pair of riding boots.  Here I am in one of the pair of jeans and the boots:

Me in riding boots


I’ve decided that the lighting in my bedroom is heinous and I can’t figure out how people take selfies of their outfits in mirrors at all.  Any guidance would be appreciated.  But, there I am.  Phone in hand and the boots don’t really show up much, so here is a closer look at those:

Riding Boots


I love them.  I hope that I can put together the myriad of outfits I find online and post on my Pinterest “Fashion and Such” board that include riding boots.  Like these:

Black pants, scarf, creamy sweater and long boots combination for fall      

After that, I came home, put everything away and continued where I had left off earlier in the day.  Cleaning up the house (never ending it seems), grading (deadline is Monday, so that can not be never ending…I am getting close to finalizing them all and hope to enter them tomorrow afternoon/evening), reading blogs, looking at Facebook and Pinterest and reading all the great ideas for the New Year.  I pre-ordered a book.  And now, I must go to bed, play some Candy Crush and sleep.  Tomorrow will be Church in the morning and much of the same throughout the day!

Sleep well!