Friday, January 20, 2006

The Organizing Lady Comes to Visit

Our house is a disaster.

For a long time, I couldn’t figure it out. The more I tried, the worse it got. So I grew a shell, like a turtle, and pulled myself inside. It made walking by the same magazine on the floor for a week — no longer having the motivation to bend and pick it up — something I could do with ease. It got so I didn’t even see things anymore. Clutter was where we lived.

Who knows how many “tried-and-true” (or “tired-and-false”) housecleaning books I read. Everything from House and Gardens to Feng Shui. Nothing worked for very long.

Someone introduced to the Flylady and while I agreed with her philosophy, I couldn’t put it into practice. Except for keeping the sink clean — I did manage that one. And getting up every morning to dress, do my hair and put on make-up before I started anything else. Usually, I dressed, put on my make-up, etc., and then went back to bed. Hey, you do what you can, right?

And then one day, a few months ago, while perusing Amazon, I ran across a book on cleaning. Sorry, I ran across yet another book on cleaning. I have a small library of them, as though if I collect enough books on the subject, it will all come together. Fat chance. They simply totter on the shelves, or fall sideways and lie there gathering dust.

But this book seemed different. I was skeptical and decided I’d look at it and return it if it were just another routine about routines. It wasn’t. It’s a book about how we get stuck with things and how it gets beyond us. Life happens, things change, and we find it hard to change with it.

So there’s the pile of Shelagh’s stuff…that’s one obstacle. And there’s the “Music Room” which is no longer a repository for music since the Boy went off to school and the piano went to the next generation for lessons, and the guitars went with the Boy. A sad and lonely hymn book remained behind until…it became the room to put things “for awhile until I figure out what to do with them.”

Thus, a clue to your problem is labeling rooms by names that no longer function. It’s a junk room, not a music room. It needs to be a media center, and Wally Ballou has even gotten the sound equipment to go with the wide screen I have yet to get because first I have to move all the junk out (WHERE???), pull up and replace the rug, paint the walls, and then make it a Media Room.

So after reading the book, I looked on line for a person who was trained in this meta-organizing. Sure enough, in Li’l’ Kumquat, there were four. I picked the one who seemed to have been doing it the longest, and she came today.

Peggy, the Baron and I talked for two or three hours and she walked around and looked at things and asked questions and discussed styles of organization and how we use space, etc. It was exciting and exhausting.

But now we have taken our first step. And I have three steps to do before I decide what to do next. The first one is to remove every single book from my bedroom that there is not room for. A good beginning. When that is finished (put them in boxes until the shelves are built), I get to reward myself with flowers…

A wonderful, hopeful beginning…I laugh and wince when I remember that I used to do this for a living myself. Cleaning people’s closets, I mean. And now you barely open mine. The Baron used to say that I didn’t just clean, I went on search-and-destroy missions…but that was then. Now?

Now I watch the glisten of January's afternoon sun as it shines through a particularly large and intricate spider web in the corner of the “Music” Room.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Ah, how the mighty are struggling to arise.
Hey! Look me over!
Hey, lend an ear,
Fresh out of clover
and mortgaged up to here…
But don't pass the plate folks,
Don't pass the buck,
I figure whenever you're down and out,
the only way is up!
And as soon as I can find the book in the midst of all my clutter, I'll let you know the title.


At 10:49 AM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

I feel for ya, (not sorry for you).

I think you need to lighten up (a bunch) and read this about "Stuff".

I have a little (almost 5 y/o) [s]uper [s]weet and [A]ctive GrandDaughter that has more toys than all the kids, put together, in her head start class.

I know, my fault, but hey, We need something to play with when we are not watching one of her over 300 videos and DVDs or playing on her homemade, super big playground equipment complete with a spooky, scary, cave with water fall, rapids and creepy reptiles. (Ok, it's not that neat, remember it's all homemade and I am not a professional builder.

And we live in a little trailer that has 940 sq feet (and that is not all livable space).

We have a 15 X 15 ft storage building that is full (forgot what it is full of because we can't get in more than 4 inches past the door.)

There is (are?) more good stuff to read and get your perspective back.

Get a drink, set back and go HERE.

Life is short, but that doesn't mean you have to make it hard.

Hard is no fun.

Easy is fun.

If it feels good, do it!

If it hurts, don't do it!
(unless your getting paid a good wage to do it.)

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Dymphna said...

Papa Ray, I like your philosophy. Especially this

Life is short, but that doesn't mean you have to make it hard.

Hard is no fun.

Easy is fun.

If it feels good, do it!

If it hurts, don't do it!

You see, everything feels "hard" right now. And hard is no fun. If I could find something that "feels good" I would do it. Problem is, most things hurt, so I've already been following your advice: I don't do them.

Having "stuff" (as in the George Carlin link you put up) is quite wearing. If I had the burden of 300 videos and DVDs I would go out behind the storage shed and shoot myself.

Owning "Stuff" is hard. I don't like having "stuff." Sister Marie Therese, my eighth grade teacher, asked me recently if I wanted some "stuff" as she is clearing out, getting ready to go home. Which is what you do as you get to that age, I guess.

Being precocious, I want to lighten my load now. Just in case.

The Baron and the Boy, they like "stuff" and like to have it around. Since I like them, it is something I've learned to live with. But that doesn't make it easy -- sometimes love is hard because you have to make room in heart for someone else and that someone comes with "stuff."

Fortunately, I will lighten up as I get rid of the burden of all this stuff of mine that I don't need, don't want, and someone else could use. It's just that the pile of my dead daughter's "stuff" is very very hard to deal with. She is gone and I need to let her things go, too.

"Fun" and "easy" is in the heart of the do-er, Papa Ray. You are fortunate that you possess these qualities. For those of us who find them rarely, it only feels worse to be told to "lighten up."

However, I do have the choice of not doing things that "feel hard." As a result, I live in chaos. And I plan to change that, hard or not.


At 3:49 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Dymphna, when our son was killed, we did nothing with his "stuff" for about two or three years. Then I built a chest in the style of the bedroom suite I will one day complete, and put those things in it we could not bear to part with (his hockey helmet and gloves, his cowboy hat, pictures, the book from his funeral, copies of his eulogy, certain particular toys from his childhood) then gave the rest to his brothers and his friends, or threw it away.

We also started a special Christmas tree for him that sits on the trunk, buying a new ornament each year. My wife and I alternate chosing. I get the even years she gets the odd. My choices emphasize his sense of humor, hers that he was her baby. Our niece that took a summer vacation with us to Put-in Bay on Lake Erie found a light house modeled after the one at Put-in Bay, so we keep it as an eternal light on the trunk. We change the bulb on his death date.

Adam is always with us, but his "stuff" doesn't overwhelm us. I suspect that until you overcome that hurdle, the others are insurmountable.

May God help you to find peace and a solution to all this.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Jeez, is this a convention or something?

I too, (thats sounds so banal)lost a child, not just any child my First and Most beautiful Daughter.

She went to her Father in Heaven when she was in her 12th Most Wonderful year.

I went insane for almost five years. I left everything behind, got divorced and generally messed up my life and many others at the same time.

With some help from friends that wouldn't give up on me and a lot of help from God, I came back and through my sorrow and pain.

Yes, it was impossibly difficult and there are days even now thirty eight years later when I let my self sit and think about my sweet little Marena and how much I still miss her.

But not too often and I do it now with a smile and with the knowledge that she is in good hands and that someday we will again be together.

Like I told her once or more times, when she was crying, when one of her animals died or was killed..."Don't worry Honey, you will see him again in Heaven". She would then be full of questions about it and how I was so sure and would he remember her and on and on. I tried to answer as I thought she needed to hear at that sad and critical time of her loss.

Never knowing that I would need that and much more when she went in search of her animals long departed.

But it still comes down to this. The things I told you before. The things I had to learn the long and hard way.

Life IS as hard as YOU make it.

If it hurts don't do it.
Grief hurts, sadness and depression hunts and makes you worthless to yourself and anyone else.

If it feels good, do it, and do it often and do it with friends, family and with no excuses needed, no worries about if you can afford it or if your too old or fat or whatever other excuse that comes to your mind.

There is no closure, no getting over it as such. But there is acceptance and there is responsibility to yourself and others and to the one that you have lost.

What really brought me out of my sickness and despair was a dream. Don't laugh, don't scoff, because in that dream my Sweetheart said to me, "Daddy, please don't be so sad and unhappy, I still love you so much and want you to be happy again."

Those words in a dream, that I still think were real, even if no one believes me, allowed me to start believing my friends and to seek professional help.

So, get up, empty out as much of the stuff in that huge sack on your back and look yourself in the mirror and say every morning and twice on Sunday.

"Life is what you make of it."

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...


Yeah, a memorial of some sort helps keep one's love intact.Part of the problem for me has been that my daughter's father has not yet permitted a headstone to be put on her grave. I can't bear to go there -- just a blank place with a tiny plastic marker sticking out of the ground.

Papa Ray--

If positive thinking and telling myself those things you suggest had worked for me, I'd be in ecstasy right now. "Been there, done that" is only a tiny example of the "positive thinking, doing, being" approaches I've tried.

Feelings are not always amenable to our demands that they be different than they are.

This post was about my beginning to return to a life I like; you seem to have read it as a complaint.

Glad you weren't around when I was going through chemotherapy or Chronic Fatigue. I did all that stuff back then and IT DID NOT WORK FOR ME.

Different strokes for different folks, Papa Ray.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Visiting your neighborhood is so very helpful to me.
I would like to say more, but I don't even know where to begin. I'm just glad you're around. And I;ll be checking back for the title of that book.


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