Krissie: Decluttering

I’ve noticed this before. I have very red lips. They’re thinning with (choke) age, but it’s surprising how red they are. Makes me think of the scene in Venetia when she first meets Damerel and he quotes a poem about “cherry ripe.” Ah, don’t I wish.
So, on to the topic at hand. In autumn I nest. I bring fake autumn foliage out and stuff them in vases (real stuff would make me sneeze), I have autumn table clothes etc., and I like to declutter.
But here’s the strange thing. I do the tiny stuff. I don’t seem to be able to deal with the big picture. Last weekend I folded up all my panties and arranged them in my top drawer. Man, it was lovely. Because I have way too many pairs of panties, and I’m throwing out anything that’s slightly worn, and now I’ve got to get rid of the over-sized ones.
But on Sunday I had energy. I went for my walk, and then I made bread, and while I was doing the bread my utensil drawers were ridiculous. I can’t find my apple slicer and I realized I have so much crap in the drawers that I use maybe twice a year. So I took out all the stuff I rarely use, tossed some old stuff. I still need to pare down — I have like 8 pairs of salad servers and we seldom use them We just toss them with the fork. I have maybe seven spatulas. 12 wooden spoons. I’m insane. Anyway, I started with the main utensil drawer:
And then, feeling encouraged, I kept going.
So … with my house in disarray, why do I spend my time on meentsy (new word) little things and not just make things look neat. My sister, who bordered on a candidate for Hoarders, used to pile things in corner and throw sheets over them, so everything looked sleek (relatively) but there was chaos beneath. Chaos and slime. Whereas I like things clean from the bottom up — surface mess is less worrisome that nasty stuff around the toilet or dishes shoved in the oven so no one will see them. Of course I see the point if someone is making an unexpected visit … ah, no I don’t. People know what I’m like and I can’t fit all my chaos into the oven.
I’m not sure if fidgeting around in re-arranging drawers is a way of avoiding things, or whether it’s a bird by bird thing. Problem is, I don’t know if I ever get to the big stuff.
Does anyone else do that? I spent a day polishing silver when I’m drowning in crap. Does that make sense? And yet I really have a hard time cleaning surfaces when there’s chaos underneath.
Maybe that’s always been my problem. I sweat the small stuff and my energy and interest seldom lasts till I get to the big stuff. I don’t get the same sense of accomplishment from straightening the living room, because to do that I just move things into a different room.
I think this time I have to do all the levels. Rearrange the drawers — done! Rearrange the cupboards and get rid of duplicates. Clear off the counters. Make space in the pantry for the appliances that don’t get regular use. Tell Richie to stop feeding the cats on the counter.
Or should I even start in the kitchen?
Overwhelmed. I guess I need to figure if I’m doing things all wrong, starting with the small stuff.
I think it’s like writing. You can’t look at the big picture – it’s overwhelming. Another thing Anne Lamott said, apart from the bird by bird thing? That you should think about writing a book like doing an oil painting, and you only have to do a postage stamp worth of work at a time and eventually it gets done.
All I know is that decluttering my house and keeping it clean has always been an Epic Fail. And I just can’t live that way any more.

Krissie: Impossible Things

Damn, what great lists yesterday! There was probably a simple way of copy and paste to pick all the ones that spoke directly to me, but I was trying to read through (we were gone all yesterday) before I wrote today’s post. I’ll need to go back.
But man, what inspiration! Just some random thoughts:
I loved the one about wearing your nice clothes, not just waiting for good occasions. I have so many good clothes that get worn once or twice a year, if that. Mainly for conferences, and since I’m not going to Anaheim I won’t have that reason. I need to dress up.
And ditto with nice china and silver (I have a huge weakness for china. Don’t know why). Every day should be a celebration.
Great reminders that we need to work on stuff, not that we have to accomplish stuff. Progress, not perfection, it’s the journey, not the destination.
Because so much more of our time is spent on the work, not on the finished project, that we need to embrace the work, the journey.
I’m assuming you’ve all read BIRD BY BIRD by the divine Anne Lamott, but if any of you missed it, I’ll pass along (or remind you) of the story behind the title and the message for life.
The author’s brother was supposed to do a report on birds for school. So he spent weeks researching, had pages and pages of notes, piles of research books, all set out on the kitchen table, and it was time to finally write the effing paper. The kid stared at it, absolutely paralyzed, and said “how am I ever going to write this paper.” And the father said, “Bird by bird, son. Bird by bird.”
What’s how we have to live. How we plant our gardens for the summer, lose our weight, write our books, raise our kids, manage our marriages, clean our offices, paint our paintings. It’s how we make our quilts, learn to dance, help our aging parents.
There’s no way to hurry the process, get it all done at once. Bird by bird we get through it.
Wearing our good clothes, dancing when no one’s around.
To quote Jimmy O’Neill, a sage from my youth, “Rock on, Shindiggers!”