All worth it

It’s the last day of April here in NZ.

The month has been full of hard work – work that may ultimately prove positively life changing.

I woke up this morning to a clean and tidy house. It wasn’t a huge effort to get it that way the evening prior.

Today I have a lot of baking to do. This is part of a ‘baking ninja’ initiative; people are nominated to receive a surprise package of goodies (for any reason whatsoever) and a group of bakers are each allocated someone (or a family) to bake for.

Prior to getting the final items I needed for the baking this morning, A helped me pick out some lipstick at a local department store. I’ve never worn lipstick before except for once here or there. I always thought I looked like ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’.

I opted for a bright red lipstick. Another step against the direction I was always conditioned to walk.

So on this, the last day of a month of worthwhile slog – I’ll be baking up a storm whilst wearing red lipstick.

Best wishes all!

 

 

 

Decluttering: happy aftermath

 

Hi all,

Still going with the house project. Just today somebody came to pick up bathroom shelving we no longer (never) needed, and another person kindly took some household cleaners I didn’t want. People love free stuff! It’s a great win-win situation.

After my emotionally difficult day recently, things have indeed started looking up. I tried to be kinder to myself… to enjoy life in this altered home a little bit. Heck, we even did arts & crafts as a family – using lots of glitter.

I’ve learned that life gets easier when you know where things are in the home – and also where to return them to once they’ve been used. Items are each being allocated a space. I thought this was the case before, but it really wasn’t. For example: my  jewellery alone was spread over 4 completely different locations.

One consequence of the process that I was secretly hoping for but not too optimistic about, is that the house is easier to tidy and clean. Considerably easier. The glitter was gone in a snap. We have a couple of people visiting tonight and D & A are out at the moment – I’ve done a bit of cleaning/tidying and am now relaxing, knowing that I only have a tiny more to do to have the house looking great for our guest’s visit. And the house isn’t even fully sorted yet! Can you sense my joy about this?

Today I’d like to share a few photos. First is the rubbish and recycling that went out this week. The massive recycling bin was chock full and straight after it was emptied it was almost filled again by stuff we had waiting to go in. Usually we put out one rubbish bag a week, if that. Two weeks worth of recycling usually fits perfectly in the bin for the bi-weekly pickup.

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Second, here is a before & after of our kitchen. The ‘before’ is of our kitchen in a state of mild mess in comparison to what was the norm in there. The ‘after’ is of our kitchen now, in use, not all fancied up for the photo. I’ve created room and found proper places for everything. Moving the microwave back onto the bench space seems to be handy for necessitating more regular dish washes, too 😉

 

I know it’s not the most stunning kitchen, but it’s better than it was. The books under our table on the left are ‘to go’, as well. So that space will be clear again very soon.

Something very exciting happened today. Years ago I purchased  some prints online, but they sat in their tube all this time. I finally ordered some frames for two prints, and they arrived! I love both pictures, but I have a real soft spot for this one:

 

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This print is ‘Sarah Eating Corn’ by NZ artist Michael Smither. I can barely express how this picture tickles me. When I first saw it, the Sarah of this picture reminded me so much of A. When A was younger she had such a devil-may-care, loud, tearaway, attitude. She enjoyed pulling a particular face as a preschooler whereby she screwed up her nose and mouth and breathed kind of like Darth Vader through her squooshed up little features. The print reflects A’s little-person spirit, and I love it. Funnily enough, 13 year old A loves it too.

When I have both prints hung, I’ll share a picture of them together here in the lounge.

For now, it’s time for me to eat my dinner (I can only eat my very restricted diet, so won’t be joining in with the pizza tonight) and do that little bit more preparation before… visitors arrive!

 

Best wishes all xx

 

Update: The visit was a lot of fun, and afterwards A & I had the house back to our new ‘baseline tidy state’ in no time. Who would have thought that mere clutter was making life so much harder than it needed to be.

 

Decluttering: A down day

For some reason today has been really emotionally challenging for me. I guess I’m almost done with the big declutter of everywhere but the den (which I’ve realised still has masses of stuff that needs to be tossed, despite our big tidy-up prior to Christmas). Oh – and I will need to sort things like photographs and memory cards. Daunting.

Anyway, the house looks different but, right now, “not different enough“. Not different enough to account for my efforts. I feel shattered.

Doing this process more slowly is an idea, but I think that when it’s done slowly in our house, junk just reintegrates into the ecosystem. No. We needed a quick purge.

Yesterday D finally gave up the sewing machine his grandmother gave us on our wedding day 13 years ago; very heavy, and never ever used by us here. I think the speediness of everything allowed D to let go.

But that’s another matter. Have I gotten rid of things that I’ll regret parting with in future?

Also, waste. The purging represents so much waste. And then this month I’ve spent a few hundred dollars on beautifying the house. I’ve been careful with the purchases and have gotten a lot of bang for my buck so to speak… but still. The purchases have used money, and the purging has represented a huge waste of money. Am I doing the right thing?

I don’t know. That’s just it…

I’ve a feeling that two months from now, or maybe even tomorrow I’l have a different perspective on all this. Another thing dawned on me today – decluttering really hasn’t sorted out the ‘chore issue’ in this household. An unclean house is still very possible; decluttering no immunity. I’m also now acutely aware that in order to properly get our belongings in order, I will need to diligently work at it over the long term. Might it have been better to keep my head in the sand? Probably not, but it feels a bit that way right now.

Just wanted to share honestly this unexpected part of my experience. For now, I’m going to get an early night and perhaps over the next couple of days let myself actually enjoy the fruits of my labour thus far. After all, Rome was not decluttered in a day.

 

Xx

 

A small before & after

Today A and I painted over a small patch of wallpaper that hadn’t been done yet. We’d saved it to be a ‘feature wall’.

Cost $9 for two testpots of paint to cover the area. All other stuff we needed was already here at the house.

It was an interesting experience, being up a ladder with my vision cutting in and out – one of the reasons I’m so proud of this. Doing the work on our house with dysautonomia in tow is such a massive effort. So yes; proud (and don’t worry – I’m only being unsafe to the extent that my health might dip. I’m used to vertigo, vision cutting out etc and know how to brace myself).

Here is the before and after:

 

That’s right: instead of bothering with the time consuming and far more costly plastering, sanding & priming of that patch, we simply covered it over with one of D’s quick paintings he did on canvas board a while back. Nailed it up there. I have zero regrets 😉 When we have other plastering done in the house in future we can remove the painting and have it fixed then.

I feel joy when looking at this patch of decorated wall. Completed for $9 and not too much time!

We’re still removing large amounts of rubbish and recycling from the house – and more than the rubbish, we’re giving masses of items to the op shop. This process seems to be uncovering something. A uniqueness?

I definitely recommend people consider their physical environment and maybe switch it up a little. Do something that makes you smile -or grin like a Cheshire Cat.

xx

 

Update: The colour looks more beautiful this morning

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Short update

 

Earlier in the month I decided to avoid social media timelines until May. That’s been going quite well. To be honest I haven’t had time to miss becoming lost in the woods of social media on a daily basis.

I’ve been radically decluttering the house – and beautifying it slightly.

Today it was time to help A (who is on school holiday) to sort her room. She let go of 2 big bags of rubbish, heaps of recycling, and a massive black sack of things to give to the op shop. She did such a fantastic job that 3 bulky items of furniture were empty in her not-large bedroom. So they came out, and a neighbour has already been around to take them for a relative. We’ve rehomed 5 furniture items so far, upon this mission to free up space.

I feel so proud of A right now. She was really brave in letting go of junk; decisive too. She said that when she saw how great the rest of the house is becoming once tidied – she didn’t feel frightened of working on her room. Another example of my actions speaking louder than words.

On another note, I found out last night that my paternal grandmother died earlier in the month. Nobody from my family of origin attempted to inform me, which I initially felt slightly ambivalent about (I found the obituary online – my grandmother had been sick for a while). I allowed myself to feel my feelings though, and less than 24 hours later I am at peace with the situation. I did not feel love for my grandmother (except for a memory of deep love I once held for her) – for complicated, abusive reasons.

The obituary was strange, for wont of a better word. It was so clinical – no mention of ‘love’ or ‘will be missed’. And it ended with a quip. I imagine that would have been the oddest obituary in the newspaper on the day. In a way, this confirmed for me that my family of origin and I are not compatible. They would claim to love my grandmother, yet wrote that obituary for her.

Anyway, I must be off. All this work is exhausting – though I’m cherishing the process.

In future I hope to share a few photos of the results.

Best wishes everybody!

 

 

 

 

Stepping out from behind the lectern

 

This morning A was preparing for mufti day at school. It’s Autumn here; getting chilly. I noticed A was wearing a dress with nothing extra for warmth. She informed me that she had her red jacket in her school bag, to wear as needed.

I recommended that she put the jacket on before leaving the house, as it was cold out there. She went to her room and instead of taking the jacket from her bag, went and took it off it’s coat hanger. She seemingly had no intention of taking a jacket to school today.

From here in the lounge, I could see her retrieving the jacket; as my mind struck up with it’s ‘tut-tutting’ and abbreviated lecture as to ‘why we take jackets with us in cold weather’ – I instead noticed A’s face turned towards me as she grabbed the thing.

She looked worried. And slightly ashamed.

So you know what I did? I kept my big mouth shut on the matter.

A came out into the lounge wearing the jacket. I encouragingly complemented her on her outfit, and noted that the jacket actually matched it pretty well (it did). She smiled – seemingly relieved that I didn’t go with my compulsion to turn this into a teaching moment.

Ugh. How often have I done this before? (Virtually every single time).

A knows that she should take a jacket with her, and why. I’m pretty sure that when she’s waiting for her Dad to pick her up later today she’ll be thankful she has it. But she’s a teenage girl who is conscious about her style. She didn’t want to take the jacket – no big surprise.

Maybe, one day, I won’t even remind A to take a jacket. But for now I’m glad that I was able to prioritise my daughter’s sense of okay-ness over my desire to ‘teach’ her things she already knows.

I’ll be on the lookout for plenty more opportunities not to give the lectures that pop up in my head.

 

I’ve been reminded of the following excerpt from the beautiful book ‘The Parent’s Tao Te Ching’ by William Martin:

56. You have lessons to learn

The lessons we most want to teach our children 

are the ones we have not yet learned ourselves.

So we continually try to teach 

what we do not know. 

This is futile. 

Try instead to refrain from talking. 

Look carefully at the situation.

Listen attentively.

Let your mind be open to new understandings.

You will learn what you need to know. 

And you will thus teach your children 

how to learn their own lessons.

                *        *        * 

Nothing teaches children more 

than a parent who is willing to learn.

What behavior in your children 

makes you anxious?

What does that tell you

about yourself? 

 

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Emptying out the garbage

 

Since I ceased contact with my mother 17 months ago, one of my greatest joys has been the sense that I can now make decisions about the house.

The home upkeep is largely my responsibility; in an overall sense. D & A do housework along with me, but the general organisation of the house is my domain. This makes sense, as I’m here every day and it’s something I can work on to contribute to the family. I enjoy housekeeping.

A little over 6 years ago when I became very unwell, my mother took over this job. For the first 12 – 18 months after becoming seriously sick, I could barely sit propped up and was often in a kind of semi-conscious state. I lost 30kgs and remember at the end of that period I had to retrain my neck muscles to be able to hold up my head for more than a few seconds.

Due to the situation, my mother’s Tuesday visits changed from us going out, running errands and having lunch together before picking A up from school – to my mother coming into our home and doing housework all day whilst I was out-of-it in bed.

Nothing left the house for quite a few years after that. Well, it seems that way. I’m sure stuff did leave, and obviously garbage & recycling was disposed of; but a lot of stuff (crap) accumulated.

On a Tuesday morning my mother would regularly come in with something she’d ‘scored’ for us. She never consulted D or I about it beforehand. Often the items were storage related – shelving units or giant plastic containers. Everything filled up then overflowed.

Our home has not been like a hoarders home – except for the study, which was waist deep in junk. We couldn’t get in the door. There was no filthy stuff, just junk. Prior to Christmas last year I decided to sort out the study once and for all (I’d done it many times before during better periods of health – it would soon revert to a tip). D went out and bought a couple of tall storage racks that we truly did need for in there. A & I worked hard and emptied out the entire room, sorted, and put stuff back properly. So much recycling and junk went out. Saleable items were taken to the charity shop. One of the wonderful things was that not only did we make a big space in the room; we even took items that were cluttering up the rest of the house and were able to tuck them away tidily in there.

At the end of our efforts, A asked if we could put a rug on the floor of the study (renamed the ‘den’). She loved picking out the rug – chose a rich red one. It’s still on the floor, entirely visible. That room being cleared and now usable, feels like a big change to all three of us living in the house. D goes in there every day to admire his comics; happy. A & I spend time in there sitting on the floor playing games.

Occassionally I enter that room, and wonder what was keeping it from being tidy all those years. I take a deep breath, and inhale freedom.

The past couple of days I’ve had stomach problems with a lot of pain. So I’m not in such a good way, physically. During this time I’ve been considering what to do next to further organise the home. I’ve racked up a list in my mind now, and I figured this morning that I could tick one of the items off my list.

There has been a set of plastic drawers in the hallway, unopened for some time. About 4ft tall. If nobody touches the stuff inside those drawers, could it really be so important? Was it worth keeping?

Wow. I sorted the drawers on the floor of the lounge here, and have kept what can fit in a small box. A fair bit of that is not needed and will be given to the charity store. I filled one rubbish bag and two smaller bags for recycling. The drawers are empty! They will be put outside with a ‘free’ sign on. In this neighbourhood items are taken away within the hour usually. The reason why I want to get rid of the drawers is so they don’t ever have the opportunity to be filled up again.

 

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It’s a strange thing, this sorting of my home. I see with different eyes since cutting contact with my family of origin. Even D is used to giving away, and disposing of things now; previously he was very resistant.

I think the clearer the house becomes the happier each of us feel – and so the process gets easier. It’s a joyful process really.

These days the house usually looks quite tidy – especially when I’m in a good patch. One by one, surfaces and areas are being cleared. The main issue is the ‘junk drawers’ and stuff hidden away that needs to go still. Plus, I can do work on something and a couple of months later realise I’m ready to let go of some of the stuff I kept in the first instance. It can actually be quite quizzical, wondering why I felt the need to keep certain items the first time around.

I can’t really explain why the clutter exists. All I know is that the process of emptying our home of unnecessary things is underway. It is such a joy – and is noticeably improving the mood of everybody in the household. Even the cats love the new spaces opening up!

I’m going to continue on my mission.

Sometimes I look at a new clear space and smile –

would my mother be pleased for me?

See Mum,

I can do it. I can manage my own life.

I’m learning about what is important.