Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It takes a village

As I am currently in the throws of de-cluttering I wanted to share a few things about what's been going on.  First, I feel very good to be back on track, back to business.  It really helps to have someone holding me accountable.  If you are wondering why am I blogging instead of working, Hey, we all need a break here and there!  Monica has been emailing me with questions and just plain keeping me on board.

Today I decided to stop lamenting about the closet situation upstairs, and decided to tackle the bathroom.  I keep pulling myself every which way.  I tell myself that this room, no, this room, no this room…and on it goes.  Today I said, "Jolene, every room needs to be done, therefore you must pick one, no priority necessary, just pick ONE.

One thing I have noticed is that I am determined to have a place for everything, but the problem is that I do not want to re-store the items back in the same place they were, when I know they go somewhere else, I just don't know where yet!  So I have made my spare room my catch all until I can get all rooms de-cluttered, and my mind opened.  The things I do NOT store in the spare room are: Good Will stuff, and the baskets labeled "to another room".   I try to empty the "other room" basket after every de-clutter session, and today I am making  run to GW before I pick up the kiddo's.  So, the spare room currently holds: Sheets, my entire clothing and shoe collection, the printer, kids shared toys, and then the stuff that actually goes in that room.  I am very excited at the thought of putting things where they make much more sense.  My other family members might not be so excited as I am, but they'll get used to it :).

I have a lot of storage space in my bathroom, which is where I housed my sheets.  This house did not come with a linen closet.  I did not have to throw out stuff, as much as put stuff where it belongs.  It will never cease to amaze me at the items which end up in the bathroom!

A word about the organizer lady situation…

Thursday I had lunch with my friend Katie, I was telling her about the de-cluttering situation/progress.  I told her about not knowing where to place things, and how I was looking for a decorators eye.  She said, well I am pretty good with that stuff, I can come over and help you.  It was like a huge light bulb went off over my head.  I am talking flood light here.  Katie is the first one I thought of when I thought of asking for help, as her house is very simplified and immaculate!  The reason I did not ask her is because I was mortified at the thought of her seeing my mess in the deepest extent.  But now that I am seeing things getting cleaned up and looking better, I am all for it!  She will be coming to help me with the decorator portion.   YAY!!!!!!!!!

This took me to another thought, I have been thinking and praying over this situation with the organizer lady coming out to help me.  Every time I think about her coming out here, and think of what I need from her, and the cost of it all, I am just uneasy.  Being a personal trainer, I can understand needing something and paying good money for it, but would I be getting what I need for the price?  I cannot say I know for sure, because so far I have not really given her a chance, but there was no peace about her coming out here.  I went to her website that had been down for about a week, and finally was able to see before and after photos.  She got the stuff organized and cleaned, but the after photo was not stunning to me, not for the price she asks $50 hr.  Also I had to look at how God has shown me the help I can get within my very own village.  As women, we should glean from each other and never underestimate the power of helping a friend.

I explained all of this to Monica over the phone, and we came up with a place for my sheets and blankets. The kids sheets can go in their bedroom closets.  The extra blankets can go in the linen space in the kid's bathroom.  We had a long discussion about the entryway and what to do.  She suggested I look up entry ways online.  I did, and got some great ideas!

 This "bench" is actually a desk topper that has not been in use for a long time, and was taking up space in our master bedroom.  I took the idea Monica suggested about having a storage bin of some sort that the stuff to go upstairs can go into.  The baskets on the top are my kid's baskets.  This morning all I had to do was ask the kids to take their baskets upstairs and unload them in their rooms.  VIOLA!!!  I am thinking of refurbishing the "bench" and decorating the wall with some family photos or something, this would be Katie's department.  The space is not finished, but it's a good start!
 My husband likes to exaggerate and weave through the entry way like it's an obstacle course.  It is not really that tight of a fit. Company has a place now to put their keys.

This is the sewing table that so desperately needed a home.  Monica gave me Kudos and congratulated my new skill to shop within!  I love that I already had the stuff to make this happen.  

Today is Jan 28th and I had to write down what my plans are so I would not get overwhelmed.  I am tackling laundry mountain, and grouping my closet items, then cleaning out the girls bath.  I also hope to get some client stuff accomplished.  I plan to have more photos of progress by the end of today!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's progress at least

I have not been as busy de-cluttering this week as I had hoped, but I did manage to get my clothing and shoes moved from the master bedroom to the spare bedroom.  At first I thought this may be a permanent fix, but now that my stuff is out, I can see the space a lot better.

This is a pic of my closet before I emptied everything.  The words in the box just explain that I don't want you the viewer to see my undergarment that is behind the box.
So this is what it looks like when it is clear.

The next step in this process is to come up with a plan for all our clothes.  There is a dead space to the right of our closet.  On the other side is a small closet made to fit into that same style of space.  We are considering a few options that involve lumber and nails :)

Meanwhile downstairs I was able to get the large cabinet in the dining room cleaned out.  Now, instead of much odds and ends, the cabinet has more sensible things in it, such as some office supplies (the office area is just off of the dining room), placemats and pot holders, small tools for use around the house, flashlights, and such.  On the top of the unit there are two plants and two decorative items from our Chinese exchange students whom we housed a couple years ago.  I have pulled all of the other items off the top and set them aside, as I do think they have a place in my home, I just do not know where.  

Now that I am coming out of the muck of clutter, I am looking forward to the organizer lady to come and hopefully have some great ideas of where and how to put stuff.  

Remember how I told you my sweet husband worked on and cut that desk for me?  Well here are the photos. Thank you Monica for suggesting that I put them up.  

Sweet labor of love

So Monica reminds me that it is a process.  I think I finally understand what she is saying.  As most of you know, I equate this process to losing weight in a lot of ways.  If a person were to wake up skinny, they would not have put in the hard work and practice to be able to keep the weight off.  In all this de-cluttering, and seeing spaces transform into open, clean, freedom, I have noticed a change in my behavior.  I now see a reason to make sure my counters are cleaned off in the evening, and socks to be picked up off the floor.  Oh, by the way, I know why those random socks keep ending up all over the house.  It's courtesy of one of the furry occupants living under this roof.  There are other small things I have been changing.  I have noticed certain things that lead to messes, like not putting something away.  I am the biggest offender of setting something that belongs somewhere, near where it belongs, but not going the extra step and storing it.  

Here is an excellent email from Monica:

Miss Jolene,

How blessed are you to have a handy man. He had a vision and executed the project. Perfect!

My advice is to get the TAPE measure out and tape a visual on the wall and floor. This will give you a better perspective of the units dimensions and if you like it. Take a step back and talk it over together. 

Great coffee table for the sun room. It will allow more storage and a place to set items on. 

Your Personal Organizer

This is the table to which Monica is referring.  It is so pretty!

And check out this powerful advice!  

Hi friend,

I totally understand about needing to set things in order before delegating out. You will get to a place of simplicity and serenity. Sometimes it looks like it's getting worse before it gets better. Patience 

This process is not just about gaining lost order, but questioning ourselves along the way as to how we got there. It sounds to me that you are incredibly determined and motivated to implement and practice new systems that will keep you organized. You are retraining your brain. In this journey you are also modeling to your family " how to get organized". 

Time management comes in many shapes and forms. It applies to many sections of our home as well. You have a 2-story home which means that a distribution box of some sort needs to be in place on each level. It does not make sense to run upstairs with one one or two items. Collect them over the morning, noon or night, then run them up to the rightful places. Better yet, delegate It! 

As you are de-cluttering play a game with yourself and the family. Pretend you are about to move again. When you moved from Astoria you scaled WAY down. Your house was on the market and you new potential buyers would be super snoopy. With this mindset it might push you to think differently. You were ready at any given moment to let any person roam free in your space. You were confident of its appearance and proud to show it off. Trash, donate and recycle are your key new words to changing your mindset and obtaining the organized house you desire. 

Just a thought for today,

Hugs from your personal organizer,

Trash, donate, and recycle ARE my new key words!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pause for emotion

My husband is on project duty, for the rest of the school yearS.  Right now we have the beluga whale model being created.  When I see the project sprawled out on the dining room table, I am not upset about the mess.  I am elated that I can go about my de-cluttering, homework helping, memory verse recital hearing, state capitol memorization policing, dinner making, laundry doing…you get the idea.  I am no good at those school projects.  The teacher requires 75% of the work be done by the child.  The last project I helped with, the teacher said "It is good when I can see that the child has actually done most the work."  Yep, that's how good I am with those projects.

Have you ever asked God to examine your heart?  To show you what you need to change?  I have, and on occasion still do.  I have found that when I do that, I get to see things that make me very uncomfortable and unhappy.  It is never enjoyable to see how I have allowed the ugly junk to creep into my heart and out of my emotions and, sometimes, words.  It hurts to know that I am not as great as I imagined myself to be (tongue-in-cheek).  Though I may have never imagined myself to be great, I certainly can get high on my hog every now and then.

Even though I am not high on my hog when it comes to my house, I guess I had not truly examined it before.  The deeper I get into this adventure, it has caused me to take a microscopic look at the mess I have created.  As I not only notice all the stuff I have that I do not need, or that is out of place, I am forced to notice the dust that I have ignored.  I find myself saying things like, "why is this sock here?", or "how can dust be so thick?".

 All this revelation has led to a sort of downer.  Right now I am in the valley with this process.  I had a very rough week last week.  From a house in shambles and a desk dilemma, to a couple of runs gone bad (I am training for a half marathon) I was really feeling down.  Try as I might to not be in the poor pitiful me state of mind, I could not get out of my slump!

I took Friday off from de-cluttering and had lunch with my husband, that was a bright spot in my week.    Saturday I was really hoping to get the 10 mile run over with that I was feeling anxious about. When that did not happen, I went into a downward spiral.  I was nobodies friend.  I just wanted to disappear.  I had so much to do, and all I wanted to do was cry.  All because of a missed run?  Not sure.  I do know that the enemy was taking full advantage of the fact that I was feeling sorry for myself.

The next morning my husband was sitting with me on the couch drinking coffee.  This was after we had to clean 4 piles of dog puke in random carpeted spots around the house. Yes, first thing in the morning we were doing this.  As we sat there, he looked at the desk.  He said, "What if I cut the desk here?" We talked about what he was proposing and came to an agreement.  He looked at me, then looked at the desk and said "Well, I better get to working on this if I am going to get it done."  I can cry right now at why he got up off the couch and started on that desk on his day off.  I can cry happy tears at how wonderful of a man he is.   My day began to uncloud.  Not because I was finally getting the desk the way I wanted it, but because of the determination of my husband to lift my spirits.  It was as if I was being shown a huge blessing in my life of which I needed to be aware.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Losing steam already?

Before I get started on today, I will fill you in on what I accomplished.  So after I cleared off the desk and got all the unnecessary stuff out of the way, I moved into the sewing table.  This is how it turned out.
I cannot believe I was able to move into such a small space.  I do have to come up with something for the inbox/outbox situation, because it is necessary.  Until then this will work.  

It's been a rough start to my morning emotionally.  The day is super foggy, and cold.  I feel overwhelmed with clutter and am quickly losing excitement now that I am experiencing what it really takes to make it happen.

Having all this clutter makes me realize how lazy I am.  As I group items together and put items in the "go to another room" basket, I am reminded of why it is in the wrong room at all.  Why is it so difficult to go put stuff away!!!  I have become so lazy, and that is why my house is in the shape it is again.

I told Kurt last night.  "This is like when I first lost the weight then gained most of it back.  Then lost it again.  This time I am not going to gain my weight back, I have kept it off for a year and a half.  This time I am not going to get cluttered again!!!!"

I believe that I have strategies in place in my mind that I can implement to prevent a backslide.  I will make it a habit just like I did with exercise.  I am in training right now.

So, I sent a video to Monica of my house.  There is no way in the world that I am going to share that video here.  Here is the email she sent me, and here are my replies.  Does anyone reading this feel this way?  Am I making too many excuses?

I have a headache…

Hello Monica,

I am going to continue de-cluttering and setting aside favorite items that I wish to place around the house.  For now I will put answers down to your questions.  I know you are asking them so I will think about them, but I will send you my responses, and that way they show you where my head is at, and they give me something to look at and think about.  I hope your work days are going well, and that your clients are cooperating.

Thank you for the video. A few questions for you to think about and discuss with your family.

Let's start ant the entry:

Is the entry functional for you and your family?  Unfortunately the entry has always been a frustration.  At one time it was an incredible eye sore, but now it is at least under somewhat of control.  It looks much better in the summer when there are no coats or backpacks.  Instead of making a closet under the stairs, the people who built the house chose a bathroom for that space.

Does it represent you and your style when guests appear? I would love to have it be more welcoming _I have some decorative ideas rolling in my head that I may implement once the mess is gone.

Are your guests able to set down any personal items when they arrive? Nope

Moving into the family room:

I love your sectional couch with a nice size coffee table. Great pieces!  Thank you

Is there storage under the coffee table? Yes, this is where I try to convince the family to keep the remote controls
Is there space behind the center of the couch for lighting? Yes, there is actually an attractive floor lamp there.
Is there a console table you could match up to the coffee table under the TV? This one is a great idea!  I am officially on the lookout.

Going upstairs:

Is that your time out chair at the top of the landing?  lol LOL, I wish it were MY time out chair!  No.  In fact I should have pointed out more of that area to you so you could help me make it more useful.  There are some curious spaces at the landing.
What is your laundry system? Are the girls accountable the there portion?  My laundry system is: girls bring it down, they help me sort it.  I wash and dry it, and they help fold it.  Laundry is a 5 step process, and I have fallen off the wagon on step 5.

Master Bedroom:

Try moving your bench to the wall by the mirror then flank the bench with the hall tree.  Which side of the  bench should I put that "hall tree", that is if my husband lets me move it.  Which side of the mirror should I put the bench on?
Is the shelf in the closet blocking any light?  The shelf in the closet is blocking the window.  
When was the last time you did a Big purge of clothes and shoes? I have purged clothes and shoes more times than I care to remember.  It seems as though I keep getting rid of stuff, and still cannot manage what I am left with.  Maybe I should just make the official move to the guest bedroom.  Seriously, my bedroom is NOT set up for a husband and wife to share a closet.  What bedroom ever is????
It's time to simplify and figure out your true inventory for 2014. This goes for everyone in the house.  My kids have done it, but if it's REALLY going to happen, I need to be over the shoulder.  Haley just did one during Christmas break and I helped her.  Kurt definitely needs to, but I cannot push him on that yet.  I know he wants too though.  

Master Bath:

Lets take a closer look in your linen closet and focus on grouping items together. This will allow you to know what containers to purchase to house them in.  Okay, will do.

Treat yourselves to new towels you deserve it!  Maybe

Keep delegating out tasks. We are not meant to do this alone. You are amazing and keep living " one day at a time".   I understand that we are not supposed to do this alone, but I need to get it to a state of well being alone, so I can think and not get confused over delegating and being worried about what they are doing.  Once it is done and cleared, then I will begin to dole out responsibilities. 

Hugs from California,
Monica (your personal organizer)

Thanks for reading.  Back to de-cluttering I go…it is all going to be worth it, you'll see. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Now that I've decided to get rid of that desk, I want it GONE

Crafty was my middle name in the early part of the century.  If it was popular I was doing it, if it was a lost art, I was doing it!  You can imagine my excitement when my husband and I found an incredible deal on a large desk with room to house many of my craft digs and surface space enough to spread out projects.

Monica called me last night and we talked about the computer/piano/sun room.  This room is without a doubt my favorite room in the house.  It has several windows and lets a gracious amount of light in during the day.  There are a few problems with it at the moment.  The first problem is the lighting for the evening.  There is no center light in the ceiling, which has led to the need of a lot of floor lamps. The couch sits against the windows so there is no way to sit on it and look out at the beautiful land we live on.  This would be the only room one could really do that in.  Monica spoke out loud about the room and what it had to offer, tossing around ideas in her head.  One of the ideas had to do with a possibility of the couch floating.  I have had this same idea in the past, but with the size of the desk awkwardly taking up half the room, it was never possible.  I said "I could get rid of the desk."  She said "If you want to, that would certainly work." I think she was more excited about the prospect than she let on.

That was all I needed.  I cleared off the desk with intentions of following Monica's instructions to divide up the papers into sections of what they are to me, such as, Need to be reviewed, filed, mailed, etc.  That way if I have piles that have a name to them, then I will have an idea of what things migrate to my desk, and will better understand how to manage them.  She spoke briefly about having three stackable boxes for floating papers.  I was on cloud nine.  Things were really moving forward in a direction that put me in line for smooth household conditions.  No more dreaming of getting to the things I want to do as I am cleaning up my mess and everyone else's.  No more getting an hour or two to myself then feeling guilty because I am using it for something other than cleaning.  Nope, my plan is to declutter, repurpose, organize, and create a cleaning schedule so that my home will be maintained on a daily basis by only needing 1 hour a day to keep it that way.  1 hour!!!  Do you understand?  NO MORE BEING OVERWHELMED!!

When the kids got home Haley was the first to notice the cleared off desk.  She was yelling to Emily that she had to come in here and look at this!  She was ecstatic.  Until she realized I was getting rid of the desk.  Her claim to be upset was that there were memories tied to that desk.  I basically told her it was my desk, and it was going.  When I asked her to change the location of where she normally puts her back pack, I thought the world was going to end.  Ugh why do kids have to be such creatures of habit?

Not long after, my husband came home.  I was chattering on about the desk and giving it to my sister and possibly trading it for her old one, but that it might be too small, etc.  He said nothing.  Then about 10 minutes later I asked him if he thought I could start taking the desk apart without him.  He stopped what he was doing and looked at me with a most seriously stressed face.  "Why do you need to get rid of the desk? Is it so you can go buy one?"  I said "I don't need to spend a lot of money, we can just get one at the thrift store, I know I can find something good there."  "Oh, like the chair you found there?", he said pointing to a chair he has detested every since I brought it home from the Salvation Army.  I will admit the chair is rather homely.  It is time to get rid of that chair too.  But before he said any of this, he said "That desk has a lot of memories."  Seriously, he said that.
Said chair, that is assisting me in organizing by holding recycle

Just like that, the wind was knocked out of my sails.  Not because my husband knocked it out, but because I was feeling guilty for not consulting him about it.  I try to make those kinds of mistakes once because they make me feel so crappy.  I apologized to him and told him I honestly did not think it was that big of a deal.  He told me it really was not, but he just wants to make sure we don't get some piece of junk to replace it.

Update:  Professional organizer lady who was supposed to come on Monday needed to reschedule.  This, for me, was a blessing.  I am taking that time to get the clutter out so when she does come, it will not be mess she sees, but rather a way to repurpose.  I am secretly hoping Monica and I will have it done before then.

Today: Tuesday.  No clients so I am able to de-clutter carte blanche!  (Forget the dishes!!)  I put all the stuff from my mega desk onto the dining room table (forget dinner!) and began to arrange my piles.  Here is what I came up with.
 These piles are divided up as follows: 
To be filed, Blank paper for use, Used on one side scrap, check carbons can't get rid of, check register
 The right corner is office supplies
Baskets are: Middle is stuff that needs to be relocated
Right side is stuff that can be sold or given away

When Monica lived near me and we were working face to face, she would take my stuff for me so that I would not be tempted to pull it out of the trash.  That was such a huge blessing!  Speaking of blessing, she prays for me, much like I do for my clients.  Okay, I am going to post for now, and work on something else until I receive instruction…Oh, did I mention how great Monica is with communication?  I should really take a lesson from her. (Oh wait, I am!) :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Building operation De-clutter

Whew!  Well, today began with an email to Monica telling her I was getting a consult with a personal organizer and asking her what to look for in her services. Monica called me right away and suggested that I grab a clip board and take it into every space with me all day long.   The things to write were all about what I needed and wanted for that particular space.  She also said something about dividing a paper up into quadrants…after the thought of math entered my mind, she kind of lost me for a minute.  I will have to ask her again about that.

As I did this, a lot of things rolled through my mind.  The thing that spoke the loudest was, "you don't need help de-cluttering, just repurposing.  You should call her and tell her not to come for another few weeks."  Then I thought about the fact that just the mere thought of this woman coming to help me had lit a fire under my bum, and I had done more today than in the past two months.  So I am hanging in there.

One thing about Monica that I cherished about her skill was her ability to take things that I already own, and put them where they will serve me better.  She calls this repurpose, and shopping from within.  The way she explained it was that I buy the things I like, but do not have a purpose for it. What she had done was simply shopped from what I already had, and found a more suitable purpose for it.  She said that is completely normal.  I explained that I am aware I like to do that, and have had to really back off from it.

When I spoke to the personal organizer over the phone she asked me which spaces I would need help with.  I thought to myself "All of them, of course!", but really thought about it from a financial perspective and came up with the kitchen, master bathroom, and master bedroom.  Now that I have had time to evaluate my home with a critical eye, I have settled on the master bathroom, master closet, computer desk, and kitchen.

The deal I wish to work with her is that I will do my best to get rid of the clutter, then she can move in and help me put things in places that make more sense.

My plan
1. Clear clutter
2. Organize what's left
3. Make a cleaning schedule.  I used to go by the fly lady's plan, and I loved it!  I haven't followed in years :(
4. Finally have a clear mind so I can focus on the People I love, and the things I enjoy…like personal training!  I already focus on that, but cannot imagine the possibilities of this mind once the weight of my house hold responsibilities are manageable.  I may even discover that I like cooking!

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!