Friday, March 27, 2015

Becoming a Cozy Minimalist

When the Nester announced she was offering a decorating class, I jumped.

Even though I am taking two other courses.

Even though I am helping my Mom both recover her health and renovate her house.

Even though I plan to tackle my back hallway and stairwell (starting next week!) as part of the One Room Challenge.

I just may have become that tablespoon of peanut butter one is "allowed" on that diet toast and spread myself a bit thin.

But then, I never do anything by halves.

I've decided to work on the dining room.

I want to paint the walls the slightest blue-green.

I want to replace the light fixture.

Replace the table with something both bigger and smaller.

Put a reading chair (which would also be an end chair) by the window.

And paint this ugly pine door--and possibly remove this bookcase entirely.

The course is six weeks long--and the first assignment is to "quieten the room"--take out everything tht isn't nailed down. I am allowed to keep what makes this room function for us.

Of course, Easter--one of the three times we actually use this room as a dining room--is right around the corner.

Instead of the Easter bunny, the men in white coats may just show up on my doorstep.

I don't know why, but I feel scared to death.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Goals: The February Review and the Rest of March New

Obviously, I am a bit late with this! But, I didn't do it--and I feel like I must do something to feel like my life is my own again. Plus, it is incredibly helpful to get back on track!

Let's review:

Yearly Goals:

1. Weigh less
--no idea.

2. Owe less
--as of today, yes!

3. Exercise
--not doing it.

4. Fix bathrooms

5. Decorate front and back hallway.
--Coming in April!

6. Sell books in garage
--see June and July

7. De-clutter/Organize basement storage area.
--in progress. (see link below)

8. Declutter and Organize basement pantry and laundry room area

9. Two new recipes per month.
--I was focused on finding a few vegetarian recipes. Lately, I've been focused on finding recipes I can make ahead and freeze. 

10. Begin the process to wire the house properly.
--um, does putting up a new light--and then taking it down because it interrupted all power to my daughter's room count? 

11. Spend one on one time with each child once a month.
--My son and I made plans but they fell through. 

Goals for February.

1. I enrolled in a life-coaching course called "Re-discovering You." It's a 28 day challenge in self-improvement. My goal is to do all my homework every day.

I did not do my homework everyday. I don't know why, but I just couldn't get into this course at all.

2. Sea Change (Leo Babauta's course) switched focus to healthy eating.

1. I quit drinking diet Coke for the whole month. 
2. I tried to keep a food journal every day. That did not go well. I only managed 10 days.
3. I introduced more fruits and vegetables to my diet and ate fewer potato chips and pie. That was good.

3. A Simple Year, another course I am enrolled in focuses on "Busyness" this month. My goal is to do all the reading--and only those assignments I feel may be of value to me. I do not feel like my life is over-busy. (At least, not right now. It will be a different story starting in May through to September!)

Wow. I have no idea how I did on this. Everything spun out of control so fast.

3. Laundry seems to be a huge problem. I am not sure what it is. Are we not doing laundry frequently enough? (likely) or do we have too many clothes? (also likely).

1. I started doing all the laundry on my days off. That seemed to help.

4. Clean the basement!
The first area I need to address is the laundry room.

1. Yay! I did it.

5. Paperwork.
Ugh. I have been stashing papers in a drawer of my desk for, oh, about a year. I don't mind doing this at all: I know where papers are if I need them. BUT. It is getting full and a lot of them are likely no longer needed. This is good prep for taxes, too.

1. See March.

6. Complete all homework assignments for Joshua Becker's decluttering module in A Simple Year.
  a. declutter car See March
  b. declutter two living areas in your home.
            bedroom's done! Dining room/study is done. (for now).
  c. clear all functional surfaces. done. 
  d. implement a "living with less" experiment.

I removed as close to 29 kitchen utensils as I could.

  e. begin tackling a hard to declutter room or area. (the basement.)

7. Take one small step towards writing my Canadian History curriculum for children.

1. I didn't do this. I won't do this. It is time to get rid of everything I've collected over time related to this, I guess.

The Rest of March:

There are only two weeks left.

1. A Simple Year is focusing on a module called Travel. I am skipping it.

2. Sea Change:

The focus this month is decluttering. I am not doing well at all. The instructions are to declutter ten minutes every day: I have only managed 7/15 days so far. I am so sorry to miss this! I suppose I can always start fresh and aim for 16/16 days remaining.

3. Paperwork.

I started on the drawer. I have to make up some files and then I'll be ready to collect papers for yet another year.

4. Paint Canvas in Dining Room/study.

Yes, I bought one! The plan for the dining room is now to paint the walls Blue-green and paint the canvas an even deeper blue green.

5. Choose colour for walls in Dining room/study.

6. Start new Bullet Journal and transfer items.

7. Begin planning in earnest for ORC challenge, starting April 2nd.

8. Declutter car and have it detailed.

9. Do dishes every evening before bed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

That Busy Week.

When I began writing this post, many weeks ago, it was a bit difficult--simply because, at that time, my life was not busy. Not really. Not in the way most women's lives are. I do not work 60 hours at a demanding full time job, bring home work with me every night and cook and clean and look after my loved ones. Many women are so maxed out, they don't even have time to read books for pleasure, let alone navel-gazing blogs like this one.

When I wrote the first draft of this post, I didn't know if I had anything to offer truly busy people. But then, the demands on my time increased exponentially. So busy I didn't even have time to think. So busy, I'd forget the grocery list at home, the house keys locked up in the house and leave the headlights on in the car all day and have to call for a boost. But, on the homefront, I hung on to the things I had worked out--the things I talk about here--and it was OK. The key thing? Take some time to figure out what's most important for you. And keep breathing.

I looked at my schedule and immediately stopped breathing.

Just for a minute. Just for the briefest of minutes while I panicked: how was I going to cope?

There was an increase of work hours--and my house--just on the edge of falling apart--was going to be plunged so far into chaos, I was afraid, I'd never emerge again. And I'd worked so hard in January! There's just no getting around it: when the house is a mess--I am a mess. I could not allow the chaos creep.

So, I thought. And thought. And it came down to an attitude adjustment, a perspective shift, an iron clad rule and a reallocation of my time.


I thought lot about how I wouldn't have any time for the projects I was working on since I was going to be too busy working. I had been completely redesigning my dining room/study when the schedule stopped me--and it occurred to me that a busy period was an awful lot like going on vacation.

The stopping part.

When you are on vacation (or, at least when we go on vacation) I don't have the same opportunity to investigate how to make light fixtures out of plumbing parts and I certainly don't have the time to look up patterns to make a floor rug. Our vacations interrupt my "normal" life. Utterly. (That's sort of the point.) I do different things when I am on vacation.

Second, I prepare to go on vacation. I plan our menus and pack all the dry goods we need before-hand. (We camp.) I do all the laundry. I clean the house.

So, I decided to approach the busy time coming up just like that. I also figured I could cook two meals at once a few times the first week so that during the second week, while I'd be tired, I wouldn't have to cook.


I don't do windows on my days off. In fact, I don't do any house cleaning on my day off. It's my day off, dammit, and I shouldn't have to work. Of course, I don't do housework on the days I work, either. I'm too tired for that.

Obviously, that was a formula for success!

(Oh and in case you are wondering what all that stuff I did was in January with the Cure? That was not housework, folks. No, that was a world wide internet based project that happened to involve cleaning and decluttering my house. That was most emphatically not housework. That was fun.)

So, the first thing I had to do was get my head set on straight. I committed to cleaning the house on my days off. But not a big, deep, epic clean. Just enough to keep things presentable. (Flylady calls them House Blessings.) And I roped in anyone who was home to help.

The Iron-Clad Rule.

Do the dishes. Every. single. night. If I didn't, I promised myself I would get up a half hour earlier the next morning just to get them done.

Re-allocation of Time.

What's important, today? Do that.

Of course, life spun completely out of control just as that expected busy week ended. I was, actually, right in the middle of writing this post and feeling pretty smug when my Mom fell and went into the hospital. That whole week, my husband cooked supper, I worked and went back and forth from the hospital every day and to her house every day the week after, once she was released. I did my best to follow these new rules--and I am still trying.

And, although the house is not spotless, it has not completely fallen apart, either.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Back at It

My apologies.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at work, my husband got a call from my Mom. She'd fallen and was in a lot of pain. She couldn't get up. Would he come and take her to the chiropractor?

He took her straight to the hospital. She was there for five days while they found lots of little things and maybe pnuemonia. Gallstones--but not in a good place to operate. It was quite frustrating.

Then they released her--and, oh my goodness, her home. She had really been unwell for a long time. The kids and I cleaned like the dickens.

And I confronted the fact, again, that Mom is a hoarder--or something. She can declutter. She can make decisions to let go of things. But, then, for some unknown reason, she goes out shopping and fills the house right back up. We don't know if it is a shopping problem--or a "I don't know how to live with empty space" problem.

Maybe both?

She is feeling better. We have been decluttering. We've been doing all sorts of things to make her house more liveable for her. Whether it stays that way isn't up to me, but I am trying to find her some help.

All I can do is make sure my place stays clutter free.

Today, when I had a moment, I bagged up and got rid of some clutter of my own.

This was collected throughout February.

I was so glad to get it gone.
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