Decluttering v758.0

Let’s see here: I started my minimalism journey in 2012 and began decluttering. I started Project 333 in 2013 and eventually made two more passes through the house, particularly my kitchen, before starting a zero waste year in 2016.

And here we are, 2019 and I’m starting to declutter again. Um, how many times am I going to have to do this?

Never mind, rhetorical question. All of that is just to say, here we go. One more time. And probably not even the last.

I’m actually a couple of months into this and, wardrobe aside, it’s going fine. What’s really helped me is following the FlyLady zones because it gives me a set area to concentrate on with the added bonus of mini-missions. I can’t say I follow what she prescribes each week because I have a different agenda. But I do give myself five chores at the beginning of each week that can be accomplished in 15 minutes.

Spoiler alert: I generally manage to get four of the five done, which I count as a success.

Anyway, it’s been quite helpful in getting down to the nitty gritty of cleaning and purging that I haven’t had time for / haven’t wanted to deal with in the past. I’ve cleaned under the bathroom sink, tackled the top shelf on my side of the closet, gone through and wiped down cabinets in the kitchen and started in on the hutch. I kind of like the hopping around from space to space because then I don’t get bored. And because I set a time limit, I don’t get frustrated or bogged down.

One thing I’ve learned in all that past decluttering is that you can burn yourself out quickly if you try to do too much to fast. Which is why I am a big fan of this slower route. 

It amazes me how much cleaner a particular area can look after each of these small sessions. How it all adds up. And how accomplished I feel. It’s not all about decluttering for me, per se — it’s about getting a handle on my home. Getting rid of stuff is just an added bonus.

I guess my point is this: No matter where we are on our minimalist journey, there is still work to be done. And half the battle is starting. AGAIN.

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Plan B is the new Plan A

Aaaaaaand the self-destructive streak continues!

My phone is telling me my screen time was up 62 percent last week, and I’m sort of shocked it wasn’t higher. Work has been a trial, and I’ve slipped back into my come home, veg on the screen routine. I gave up social media for Lent, but I downloaded a couple new mindless games for the sole purpose of wasting time. Johanna showed me how to put my phone on airplane mode so I can play the thrilling adventures of Block Games without having to deal with periodic ads. That game seriously gives me anxiety (it’s like Tetris, kinda), but I can’t stop playing.

Because I am an idiot.

Look, I’ve done the reading and the research, and I’m actually not an idiot — or, I’m smart enough to know that I’m dumb, I guess. I know that after a stressful day at work, I should take a walk or a hot shower or do some yoga or grab a book. I’ve got my spring cleaning list going and know the mental lift it gives me to see sparkling light switches and decluttered cabinets.

And even at work, I know that if I take a walk break after I finish my first cup of coffee, that makes the rest of the day better. I know that if I take a lunch break instead of eating at my desk, it helps me mentally get to the end of the day. That if I turn off my email notifications, I will be able to concentrate on the task at hand.

And I am willfully choosing not to do ANY OF THAT.

I’ve kind of had it with self reflection. I’m tired of weekly goals. Unrealistic work expectations are bringing me down. (What, three and a half people can’t do the work of seven? WHAT IS THIS CRAZY TALK?)

But, for better or for worse, that’s my personality: Take too much on, like to work towards something tangible, want to be a better person, get by through sheer force of will — until my will fails and then it’s me, the couch and my phone. And freaking Block Games.

This week, I am looking forward to taking Friday off — we’re going to spend Easter with Abby and are making a long weekend out of it. I’m looking forward to the FlyLady’s “bathroom and one other room” focus because my one other room is going to be getting Abby’s ready for summer vacation, which for her starts in May. I’m looking forward to Eric’s meal planning extravaganza and the new meals he’s making that meet my dietary restrictions. I am looking forward to warmer temperatures even though it will still be cloudy and a bit rainy.

My gut is telling me not to undertake any new personal focuses or plans or whatnots, to just let this week play out the way it’s gonna play out. To give myself a break with all that. But my brain is telling me I need to figure out how I’m going to do that ahead of time so I have a better chance of success. HA HA HA. The internal war that is Trisha, my friends!

Um … so I have no idea what’s going to go down after it’s all said and done. Will my brain or my gut win?

I don’t know that this is much of a post, but here we are. Maybe I’ll have it together by the time next week rolls around.

Let’s get happy*

Spring has never been my strong point.

I’m not one for change — give me sameness any day of the week, and preferably every day of the week — and this includes the seasons. Spring in Oregon is a mixed bag, and that’s hard to plan for: Do I need a rain jacket today or can I get by with a light sweater? Do I dare wear my pretty new mary janes or should I opt for my ankle boots AGAIN? It’s also a busy time at the newspaper because we put out a four-section special insert to coincide with blossoms on the fruit trees … as well as a home and garden insert, a review of business stories and, you know, our regular biweekly editions.

Spring break passes and everything I want is in the future: Abby will be home from school around Mother’s Day and I’m counting the days until the Walker Four is all under one roof again. I’m looking forward to the long, hot, lazy days of summer.

I strive for contentedness each spring — hey, winter is past! The hard part is over! The sun is coming! — but mostly I feel out of sorts, anxious, overwhelmed and detached.

I’m never going to be happy in the spring — I feel like I need to grit my teeth and just get through it — but this year, I am trying something different: Tackling a spring cleaning project.

I’m looking at this as a way to give myself something to focus on that produces tangible results but doesn’t take up a lot of time.

One thing that DOES make me happy is how my house looks when it’s freshly cleaned. We don’t have a lot in our house (thanks, minimalism!), but we live with three cats (hair and dust) and a kid (art projects). We have a woodstove (ash). We live here (a stack of my journals is currently taking up half of the dining room table)!

Which is how I decided on the spring cleaning project: A clean house makes me happy. I am feeling out of sorts. Plans and schemes help me feel more in control. Crossing items off my list makes me feel productive. And I don’t even have to think too hard about it, because the FlyLady already has.**

She has the entire house broken up into sections; each section is the focus of a particular week. The order of the sections never changes. You set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on one task in that one area each day. What you don’t get this time around, you’ll get next time.

I don’t know, I find that very comforting.

I found myself looking forward to setting my timer and tackling a job in the front entrance or dining room (week one zone). I detail-cleaned our main light switch. I cleaned out five drawers in our hutch and polished the (bottom) front. I dusted underneath the thing (and found a couple of cat toys, which Bean and Goose thoroughly enjoyed for 10 minutes before losing them again). I wiped down moldings and doors and knobs. I got rid of a couple of candles and a wobbly platter that I’ve been hanging onto out of guilt (I spent A LOT of money on that thing and have always regretted the purchase).

This week is the kitchen, and I already know which areas I’m going to focus on for some serious cleaning and decluttering: Two catch-all cupboards, one by the fridge, the other by the stove.

I may not be happy this spring. But I feel like I’ve at least got a plan to get through it until summer hits and I can breathe again.

*My title today comes from a song by The Cure: “Doing the Unstuck” from the 1992 “Wish” album. I like the manic hopefulness of it. Sometimes you have to talk yourself into being happy.

**When the girls were little, I found FlyLady — which is also what led me to minimalism. I haven’t followed her system in years, but I remember how helpful it was and am grateful to have it as a resource. I also like how it’s not about perfection, but about getting shit done. I can get behind that.