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Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 4

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Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 4

Wow. This week’s exercise of posting the trouble spots in my house (ok, posting a small fraction of the trouble spots) and then posting “after” shots has been really encouraging. I’ve had a few insights I hope to hold onto, and I’ve made some real progress. I feel really good about my work on yesterday’s spot, but first let me share a couple things I’ve learned.

  • I need to pick small spots to redo one at a time. My whole house is pretty disorganized and cluttered, and frequently I try to get everything perfect all at once. Well, not frequently, clearly, or I’d be blogging right now on deep theological issues or world peace instead of a messy counter top. But my all-or-nothing approach is exhausting and unsustainable. Even with the self-imposed pressure to post each day this week, I’ve been able to make great progress on a defined space.
  • I’m not just a messy housekeeper. I am that, but there are other systemic issues at play. Our house is short on storage, and I need better space and better systems for my stuff – bills, kid papers, writing/blogging/speaking/comedy stuff. Those are both issues I can address, and there’s definitely an IKEA trip in my near future.
  • I have three little boys and a husband whose eyes truly do not register either messy or cluttered. He. Does. Not. Care.  A degree of chaos will always be present in our home. Since we’ve already established that I’m not a great housekeeper and I’d much rather read magazines than dust them, this ain’t never going to look like any of the houses IN those magazines. Life is too short for my house to be perfectly clean.
  • ON THE OTHER HAND, Mama deserves a little pretty, too. So I need to find the balance between chaos and perfection that allows me a few peacefully clean surfaces, a few beautiful sparkly things and a cozy spot to read those magazines, cause I’m worth it, baby! And speaking of magazines…….

Remember yesterday?

The Magazine Pile

So, there’s good news, and there’s bad news…..

I love my magazines, and I’m not ready to quit. I mean, I’m totally in control, I COULD quit anytime, just not now, you know? I mean, if I haven’t read them I could miss something awesome. So I did eliminate a stack nearly as big as the stack I kept, but that’s still a lot. But look, it’s a LOT better, now. Check it out:

magazines after

Oh, and those weird Sunday school sculptures? Let us never speak of them again….

Now it’s your turn, I’d definitely love input and advice from you, wise readers. What are your best tips for staying on top of clutter, or staying on top of messy, or staying on top of your magazine reading?

Did you miss the earlier posts? They are here, here, and here.

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Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

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Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

So……day 3 is actually happening on day 4. But you know what? That’s ok. This week is supposed to be about getting real on the Internet, and real is that life happened yesterday. Then I realized there were technical difficulties with day 2’s post which needed is now fixed, so I didn’t get my spot done til today. It’s as done as I can get it for now, but completion will require shopping! Yay shopping! A trip to IKEA may even be in order……oh, the excitement.  Here’s my clean and uncluttered, if not attractive, entryway:

Entry way after

Ready to see yet another photo that will make you feel FABULOUS about your house? Whoo, boy, my next spot to tackle is a doozy! This shelf SHOULD be beautifully decorated, really, because it is very centrally located on our open plan main floor, between the dining area and the living room, and it’s even visible somewhat from the front door. This spot, I’m ashamed to say, looked like this straight through Christmas. (On a side note, I think I have realized why I love decorating for Christmas – it seems so much more achievable than decorating my house without a festive theme and fun sparkly things. Perhaps I need more “regular” fun sparkly things to motivate me, and LESS un-fun clutter that overwhelms me. Hmmmmm…..)

Now, remember, this is about getting real, so try not to judge? Because this has clearly become a sad, sad testament to my addiction to magazines.

The Magazine Pile

I know, it’s out of control. But it’s largely my mother’s fault (and possibly the Mafia). First, my mom has always had a ton of magazine subscriptions, so I was exposed and then addicted at an early age. Second, about 6 months ago my parents started receiving about 15 MORE magazine subscriptions to their exact address, including apartment number, but addressed to “Sheepshead Bay Primary Care Clinic.”

As far as I can Google, such a clinic does not currently exist. There was such a clinic in Brooklyn, NY which was slated to close in 2009. I don’t know if the clinic and the magazine orders are some complicated Mafia money laundering scheme, the result of a rift in the time-space continuum, or just a boring error by a 3rd party supplier of magazine subscription packages to doctor’s offices. Either way, my sweet mother here in Oregon has tried to cancel each magazine individually and the magazines tell her they don’t have records of the order. Whattya gonna do? Fuh-geddabout-it!

It would be WASTEFUL not to try and read the magazines, right? I mean, it’s not like we read the baby magazines, that would be silly. (Because MY baby turns 8 this weekend. WHO LET THAT HAPPEN?) (Apparently, baby magazines are delivered in bulk to doctors, so it caused quite a stir the first few months my folks received 25 copies of the current issue delivered to their senior living community.) But there are some primo magazines too, and I can’t let them go unread. Add in all of the magazines I already get, and it’s out of control. Not sure the fix, but tomorrow I vow ACTION.

That’s right, even if I have to read magazines straight through the weekend, I will persevere!

Here are the links to day 1 and day 2 if you missed them!

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 2

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Today’s post is the second installment of my “Getting Real on the Internet Week”, which isn’t really a thing except according to Real Simple magazine, which made it up. But I’ve adopted hijacked it for my purposes. Instead of overly shiny “fakebooking”, or posting inauthentic but pretty things online, I’m forcing myself to go to my awesome blog readers for some down and dirty accountability in helping me Get It Together, Already. Today is going to be short and sweet:

Awwww, pretty!

Awwww, pretty!

I did it! Look how pretty my “launching pad” looks now! The one remaining item out of place is the rolled-up print in the back corner. I am embarrassed to say that according to the receipt still attached, I had it printed – gulp – three years ago. I don’t think it’s been here the whole time, but seriously, how hard is it to go buy a 16×20 frame and hang the thing? Pretty hard, apparently. But this week?

IT SHALL BE FRAMED. Watch, I won’t even like the picture anymore.

I promised to post before and after pics every day this week, so here’s the next one. This spot should be pretty easy, but tomorrow is a pretty booked day and I’m being realistic.

Entry Way Before

This is actually the corner next to my front door. This (?!) is the part of my house I WANT to say “Hi, welcome to our home and our family, come in and let’s have a peaceful fun visit.” But instead, right now, it says “What’s this? Look at me! Why is that plastic box there? Why would they leave broken hanging hooks on those mirrors? Why has that bottle of spray paint been there since before Christmas? Why is that weird cat toy staring at me?” (Let’s pretend you can’t see me in my jammies, ok?) 

I am finding that the problem is once I leave clutter – or allow someone else’s clutter – in a spot for very long, it gains magical properties of invisibility, and we stop seeing it. It’s still there, looking awful, subconsciously making me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t really see it anymore.

Parallel to real life, anyone? Anyone? I am definitely feeling like it is time to move things out of my life which aren’t helping me, or are passively making me unhappy. Anyone else feel that way?

I have also realized that I need to establish my own personal office space, stat. Much of my clutter comes from truly not having a spot designated for my stuff – comedy stuff, the book project, speaking engagements, etc. So that is a bigger issue, but one I am committing to tackle starting this weekend.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I’ve done here, and where I go next!

Did you miss Day One? Find it here.

I Win Father’s Day

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Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. But I win. No competition. When the Head Dad up high was handing out fathers, I won. And I find myself this year at a loss to let my dad know how much I appreciate him, what a blessing he has been to me, to my younger brother before he died, and to all of the others in his life that he has “fathered.”

Well, that’s not entirely true, the “finding myself at a loss” part. Cause, you know, it’s me, and I’ve got stuff to say. But this year more than ever, I find myself full of emotion, appreciating my dad more now than ever before, at a time when based on the reality of human lifespans and forward motion of the calendar I have less time left with him than I’ve ever had before. Funny (NOT) how that works.

So, for my Dad, thank you.

Thank you for setting me straight and strong and true in this world. For never allowing me to seriously question if I was good enough. For making sure I valued who I had been created to be, and Who had created me. And I love you.

For the rest of you, allow me to share 10 lessons from my father. These aren’t a top ten, because he’s taught me far more than that. These are just the first ten that come to mind, in no particular order of importance. You’re welcome.

Ten Lessons From My Dad

10. “What kind of tree is that?” Life really is more interesting when you know what kind of tree that is. Since my parents were both teachers, we took a lot of long summer vacations when I was a kid, and several over Christmas breaks. Those trips were always peppered with my dad asking “What kind of tree is that?”, and with us kids and my mom rolling our eyes at  him. When I was a kid, I Really. Didn’t. Care. But now I’m the one asking, and noticing, and appreciating the amazing little details of the natural world around me.

9. “Mom, come on……!!” Now my kids pull on MY elbow after church. As a child, the fellowship time over coffee and cookies was always torture for my brother and I, a frustrating attempt to get my extroverted dad to STOP TALKING ALREADY so we could go home. Now, it’s MY kids who are bugging me after church, trying to get me to leave, as I wander about my family of faith, touching base, catching up, and being love. He did it then, I try to do it now.

8. Keep loving your people, no matter how hard, no matter how inconvenient. This is a foundational part of my dad’s character, and it was deeply ingrained in my brother before he passed away, and I hope it is in me. Didn’t matter if it was my dad’s childhood friend, violent and angry from mental illness; or my dad’s extended family, tense with division and hurt feelings; or a close friend, broken by his own mistakes and misjudgements. If they allowed it, Dad stood by them, walked alongside them, spoke truth to them, and always, he loved them. (There has really been only one exception to this that I know of in my dad’s life, and it was not for lack of trying. But this tremendously broken person not only could not and did not change but was hurting innocents in the process. Walking away from that was an equally valuable lesson.)

7. Life is interesting and there is fun to be had. My dad has always been interested and engaged in the world around him, teaching courses, taking courses, learning new things and sharing that knowledge with excitement. Even now, as he has struggled with health issues and the loss of his home a year ago to a fire, he is still engaged in the world in a way that inspires me. He’s currently taking painting classes, tai chi and a brain health class! Go Dad! I want to grow up and be just like you!

6. Family isn’t just to whom you are born, it’s also to whom you are called. I have always had to share my folks, particularly my dad. It seemed like young people were and are (although my definition of young has, um broadened over the years) always coming to my dad for advice, for a listening ear, for perspective and occasionally for a strong kick in the pants. He has been a surrogate father for granddaughters, for students, for people who have sought him out for his wisdom, patience and love. Have I always enjoyed sharing him? Not really. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

5. Keep your eyes on the road!!!! That may, in light of the other points, sound deep and philosophical, but it isn’t intended that way. In the midst of his zest for life, learning and new experiences, my childhood road trips were also full of one or more family members yelling “Dad! Eyes on the road!” as he allowed the steering wheel to drift towards whatever had caught his eye alongside the road. Still a good reminder for all of us.

4. Making gestures is important. My dad loves to give gifts and make gestures. There have been many throughout the years, all of them coming with the message that Dad loved us enough to take the extra time, the extra thought to make it special. The car I thought we were negotiating payments for me to make after college that he’d saved up for to buy me outright. The special earrings he wrapped and hid in the Christmas tree for my mom and I. (I will always hide gifts in the tree, it is now family tradition.) The romantic anniversary flowers and gifts for my mom, after 50 years of marriage. Gestures are important, because people are important.

3. Don’t research it to death. Do something, even if it’s wrong, so you can get on with enjoying your life. Case in point – several years ago, my husband and I (ok, mostly me) were in the market to buy our first barbecue grill, and I was armed with reviews, product specs, prices and comparison articles. I spent so much time researching “the best”, that I never got around to buying anything. One day, my dad showed up with a perfectly fine middle-of-the-road grill he’d bought for us. Was it the “best”? No. But we sure got to grilling on it, and enjoying our yard and our deck and each other. Classic Dad, and he was right.

2. Keep loving your people, even when it’s hard. Yep, this is basically a repeat of #8. But who likes a list of 9??? Not to mention, this one is the most important. Those extended family members who stopped talking to each other? He’s never stopped talking to any of them, updating them on how the other is, gently reminding them without words of the bond of family. He’s still hoping for reconciliation. (I’m hoping it doesn’t happen at his funeral. Seriously people, let bygones be bygones. Family feuds are a tragic waste of time.) Granddaughters who struggle with mental illness, with good choices, with loving behavior? He’s there, forgiving, loving and encouraging. And a daughter who is frequently overwhelmed, and frequently not quite as THERE for her folks as she’d like to be? Always patient, always forgiving, never guilt-tripping.

Yeah, this one’s the most important, because through my dad, I’ve gotten to know my Father.

1. Spoil your kids, even when they are far too old for it. By spoil, I mean surprise them by watching their small monsters children so they can have a date night, or with the occasional cash encouragement and direction to treat themselves. Say, maybe when they are in the middle of a difficult season of tight finances, trying to be responsible adults and feeling deprived of small luxuries like tomato plants and flowers. Such small spoiling says “I love you, you will get through this rough patch, but don’t forget to enjoy life in the meantime.”

Tomatoes and flowers from my dad

Tomatoes and flowers from my dad

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Sorry dear readers, but really, I win Father’s Day.

I love you, Dad.

Two Funny Friday Videos

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For you today, dear readers, some thoughtful advice and inspirational videos as you approach this SECOND TO LAST WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS GET GOING ARE YOU DONE ARE YOU READY??????

First of all, to those of you (mainly women, let’s be honest) like myself who tend to get a wee bit…..shall we say……high-strung during the Christmas season: BREATHE. At times in Christmas’ past,  I have found myself ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that if I could just complete the themed decorations, down to the last matching homespun Santa toothbrush cozy; if I could JUST bake/craft/spin/carve the perfect teacher gifts; if I could JUST wrap all of the presents in matching, themed, handwoven wool gift scarves with matching themed crocheted ribbons; if I could JUST get that PERFECT present for the random family member and if I could JUST get the cat to wear the elf hat at the PERFECT angle for the family photo shoot; THEN Christmas would be perfect.

Well, guess what? JUST. STOP. The cat is going to throw up on your aunt’s gift, the kids are allergic to the crocheted ribbons, and ewwwwwwww. Toothbrush cozy’s/cozies(?) are unsanitary.

Guess what else? Christmas – the real one – has already been here,  and it was perfect. We don’t even factor in to that success algorithm. So relax, get in your pj’s early, and watch a couple of funny videos I poached from Matt Chamber’s blog today.

My favorite part of this training video, “Sales is Service, Service is Sales”? Well, there’s two. First, it’s such a great reminder of how varied are God’s creations, and how He loves us all, including the ones who have no rhythm. Second favorite part? The reference to the oosik (check wikipedia for walrus oosik) that they are selling, which I know from growing up in Alaska. Which clearly fills a child’s head with rarely useful but funny trivia.

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Finally, some funny from comedian Jim Gaffigan. Love it.

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Enjoy.

And if you are a little thrown that in this post I’m back to funny, after my last post was all “Christmas sad, Tara sad”? Well, join my husband and welcome to the rollercoaster. He says you’ll probably get used to it. And really? Christ is coming, Christmas is coming, and that’s joy over everything else! So I’m laughing through my sad, OK?

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