Day 51 ~ Cursed No More

I haven’t written in three days because I somehow came in contact with cooties. I looked this up and my dictionary says cooties is a children’s term for an imaginary germ or repellent quality transmitted by obnoxious or slovenly people. The only problem is, these germs aren’t imaginary. (I’m not sure who the obnoxious or slovenly people are, but I’m sure they’re at fault.) I have a nasty cold and feel ghastly, which of course negatively impacts my whole program.
I can’t do my exercise, because I can’t breathe (through my nose at least). And I get lightheaded standing for too long, so I have a sink full of dishes. My husband is taking care of dinner tonight so I can crash. Bless him, he’s good that way. He and my children are a tremendously positive aspect of my life.

But all this illness doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening. We finished Aurora this weekend, so I have my table back. For us, puzzles are a fantastic family activity because we all enjoy them, and even the seven-year-old got several pieces in.

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Aurora .. and my daughter's geometry

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What I really wanted to share, though, is a conversation I had over the weekend with my sister. I am the youngest of four girls. My two grandmothers were a nurse (very organized) and a teacher (not so much). I happened to get the not-so-much genes, while my sister got the organized ones. She asked me how my “organizing project” and blog were going, and I told her there was measurable change (although I still see miles to go). Then she said, “You know, you’re breaking a curse.”
She’s (of course) talking about the curse of disorganization that I inherited through my bloodline. Maybe the use of the word curse seems melodramatic, but in the past, it has felt like the appropriate term. There are many times in my life when I have felt helpless and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that needed changing. I didn’t know how to change it, I didn’t know where to start, and I couldn’t figure out how other people seemed to make it work. But I am breaking the curse, by changing habits and behaviors that I’ve always been predisposed towards, but have seriously fallen into since I was sick.
It’s an act of my will. It’s an act of faith. It’s an act of commitment. I pray for strength, and God gives me that, but it is I who must take the steps. And so I do, one at a time, shaking off the curse and walking toward the blessing.

Day 47 ~ The Beautiful Aurora

I noticed something today, and it’s quite fabulous. I was able to measure my progress. My little one has a friend over spending the night tonight. In the past, when someone’s going to come over, it has been a sprint to get everything picked up and ready. Not so today. Because of the 10-minute tidy, and because I’ve been successfully keeping my sink and stovetop clean, there was nothing to do. So we spent 20 minutes running the vacuum and cleaning the bathrooms, and we were ready. Totally stress free.

Since the bathrooms were cleaned this morning, I figure it’s as good a time as any to implement the 90-second hard surface clean in both the bathrooms. This will be every day upstairs, where we all do our bedtime and morning preening; and every other day downstairs, where a lot less happens. I was going to wait until I’d finished organizing the bathrooms, but couldn’t think of a good reason. Why procrastinate, after all. For those who are wondering, the 90-second hard surface clean includes buffing out spots on the mirror with a microfiber cloth; wiping the vanity, faucet, outside of the toilet, and rim of the tub with a chlorine-free cleansing wipe; and doing a quick swish with the brush in the toilet bowl itself. I estimate this takes about 90 seconds, but haven’t actually timed it.

So now my daily routine will look like this:

  •   15-minute morning exercise, focusing on breath;
  •   10-minute tidy, including dispatching the day’s incoming mail by shredding-throwing-filing;
  •   Cleaning the sink and stovetop (whatever that requires);
  •   One load of laundry, if needed;
  •   90-second hard surface clean; and
  •   Feng-shui the dining room table.

Of course, I’m not currently feng-shui-ing the table because of the beautiful Aurora, who has taken up residence. I thought I’d share our progress with you, dear reader, since progress is what today’s all about.

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Day 46 ~ 10 Minutes to Change My Life

What a difference one day makes! Today was so much better than yesterday (and by better I mean smoother, more efficient, more productive.)

10-minute tidy happened today, and because I had to catch up from yesterday, it took more like 20 minutes.

Kitchen got cleaned and I made homemade chicken noodle soup and made-from-scratch wheat rolls for dinner. Since it didn’t get above freezing today, this was appropriate.

I couldn’t feng-shui the table, because it looks like this. The children are happy, but this puzzle is really hard.

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So, it was a good day, but this is my problem – I’m doing pretty well maintaining the to-dos I’ve added to my daily list. But I’m struggling to add anything else. I still have a paper backlog. I haven’t finished organizing the bathrooms. I want change every day, but it doesn’t work like that. I’m trying to change habits that are extremely easy to fall back on when the stress levels are high. And so, for now, I’ll work on maintaining.

This is the plan: I have three action items on my list each day. At least one of these (more preferably, two) are in furtherance of my goals. But all too frequently, the items don’t get completed. When I analyze this, I realize that my action items are frequently too big, so I’m going to try limiting these items to 10-minute projects (since the 10-minute tidy is working so well). It may take me forever to eliminate the filing-shredding-throwing pile doing it this way, but each day I will be ten minutes closer. I have to take small steps, because the alternative is taking no steps at all. When there is too much on my plate, I become paralyzed and do nothing. So tomorrow will be all about Ten Minutes.

 

Day 45 ~ When Your Bank is an Army Surplus Store

simplicityToday has been a day of craziness. First of all, the wind’s been blowing at about 40 mph, gusting to around 80 mph. My friend posted a quote from Catherine the Great on facebook this morning: “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” Well, for me – I had neither. Why, you may ask? Because I spent the morning chasing down a mistake I made in our finances. I didn’t have a headache, although it was a headache, if you know what I mean. It required going to my actual, physical Credit Union, which I haven’t done in months. So when I got there (on my way home from dropping my elder daughter at school, because I had an efficient plan) it was an Army Surplus Store. I mean – really… who would do that? So I went north to a branch that wasn’t on my way home, and the one day each week that they don’t open till 9:30 is – you guessed it – today. It was only 8:25 – so I went home, but that start (combined with the emotional yucky feeling of knowing I messed something up) established the tenor of the whole day.

10-minute tidy: didn’t happen.

Dishes: didn’t happen until 3 o’clock.

Professional blogs (this is what I do for a living, and they’re usually done by noon): last one finished at 4 P.M.

Homeschool: not really great today, unless you count reading aloud from a Fisher Price catalog and counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s while in the car. (She also did a reading program on the computer, but overall, it didn’t feel great).

So, lots of things went wrong, and there was not a smooth flow to the day at all. However, I want to end by reminding myself what I did do.

I woke, and did my exercise, focusing on breath. Although I’ve plateaued, only having lost the 8 pounds then stopping, this program makes me feel great. My body is happier, and probably healthier.

I spent time with both girls, letting them know I love them.

I prepared a hot meal for my family – bison meatloaf, brown jasmine rice, and steamed vegetables, and we sat together and ate.

And now I’m heading to my Daisies club, where I mentor kindergarten girls. I will leave my agitation from the day right here – discarded on this page – and I will go and give those little ones my very best. As a matter of fact, just talking about it, I feel better already.

Day 44 ~ Walking the Path

This is a re-posting from Brave Girls Club. This little encouragement spoke so clearly into my soul today, and it came on top of a simplicitydiscussion at a women’s Bible study I attend where we talked about focusing on the process, not the results. For a “destination oriented” girl, this was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s all about the journey. I think even from God’s perspective, it’s about the journey. Yes, someday we’ll turn around and see how far we’ve come, but our character is exposed, and God’s creation in us is revealed as we walk the path. So, dear reader, keep walking the path before you. Be encouraged. Celebrate each step.

Dear Strong Girl,

So much good in life happens simply because of consistency… frustrating but true. So many times, we begin something that we know is very good, and we go for a while…but when it becomes tedious or boring…we stop…and then we wonder why we are not getting to where we want to go.

You see, dear girl, very good things often happen a tiny tiny tiny bit at a time…adding a little bit on top of the little bits that happened day by day by day over a loooong time. Then…these little things, done regularly, consistently, over time bring us to a very BIG place.

So, keep going, beautiful friend. Keep going even when you can’t see the big results that you would love to see. Keep going and celebrate the little things you’ve done at the end of each day. Know that you are getting there, because you are. If you have stopped doing the little things…just begin again…and then keep going.

You are so very loved.

xoxo

Day 41 ~ Ickiness and More Ickiness

Well, today I dealt with some ickiness, and by ickiness I of course mean organizing. There is something about the actual act of deciding (store, throw, give, keep) that I truly abhor. I don’t know if this is psychological, but probably it is.  It’s probably based in some poverty mentality, and deep in my sub-conscience I think that if I let go of something, I’ll be left with nothing. So I tell myself, “I have plenty. My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” The problem is (of course) believing it.

So today I continued to work on my backlogs. This includes laundry, which is down to hand-wash delicates that must line-dry, and today I washed three. The other is paper, and I did one small pile (shred, file, throw). Then I decided to start in the bathroom. The truth is, I’m basically a chicken. I’m slightly intimidated by what needs to be accomplished in my house, and the bathrooms are the easiest rooms to start with.

Today, I did the medicine cabinet upstairs. This is how it looked.

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And this is how it looks now. All the things in here that weren’t here before were on my counter. It was so cluttered. Now, the only things on it are hand lotion, hand soap and two small jars with Q-Tips and cotton balls. Many, many things got thrown away (like expired medicines and almost empty cosmetics).

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This is a magnetic strip for nail clippers, scissors, and tweezers. Never again will I be digging around for these things. I was thrilled to discover that bobby pins stick to the strips, because I used to have so many that are now all lost. I’ll put up a strip just for bobby pins if I need to. By the way, this idea is not original with me. I’m just not sure where I ran across it. However, not long ago, I was shopping at IKEA and I saw a system where metal tins of herbs were stored on the wall on magnetic strips, and I thought – I’m doing that! (I may actually do that in my kitchen, when I get there).

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Overall, I’m pleased with this. Very little effort has resulted in a major change. When both bathrooms are completely organized, I’m going to add a hard-surface clean to my daily routine. This will include wiping the vanity, the outside of the toilet, the mirror and a quick swish in the toilet bowl with a brush. I estimate this will take about 90 seconds for each bathroom, so in three minutes a day, I can keep my bathrooms looking fresh and tidy.

Each step encourages me to take the next. And each day the lesson is reinforced – little steps consistently taken in a positive direction have a cumulative effect. I’m starting to see changes. I’m implementing systems that work. And each day, as I do the work, the life I am living becomes new.

Day 40 ~ 10-Minute Tidy

The 10-minute tidy is like a miracle. Seriously, it’s going so smoothly, and the main-floor living area (den, living room, kitchen, dining room, one bathroom, laundry room) is staying, well… how do I say this? Clean. It’s stunning.organization

I know exactly why this failed before, and why it’s working now, and it all comes down to choice. Before, when I tried to implement this, it was just a general idea in my head. I’d think that at some point during the day, I’d have to do a 10-minute tidy, but everything else was more important, or at least demanded my attention more effectively. So, the end of the day would come, and I’d be too tired, and it wouldn’t happen. A few days would be skipped, and then it would be more like a 25-minute tidy, which would feel like too much, and so we never, ever developed a rhythm.

Now, it’s part of the daily schedule. I clean my sink and stovetop, I feng-shui my table, I do one load of laundry and I 10-minute tidy. When we start homeschool, we set the timer and my daughter and I race around and do as much as we can. When the timer goes off, we stop, even if it’s not all “done.” And this has had interesting results.

The house is less cluttered, and therefore more peaceful. I’m less likely to leave things out, because those things are more obvious, simply because they are fewer in number. And my husband is less likely to leave things out because he doesn’t want to mess up my success. He’s also been helping with the mail, which is easy for him because I changed the system. I moved the shredder from the office to the kitchen (where mail is dealt with), so it’s extremely easy to dispatch everything. And I stand amazed.

I’m amazed that the organizational efforts are working. I’ve tried before and failed. (Please be patient with me, dear reader. I know for some of you this comes so naturally, but for me, it’s like re-learning to walk after an accident). Why the difference? I think it’s several things. For one thing, I’m making very small changes, then keeping with them day after day until they become part of my routine. Secondly, I’m writing everything here, which keeps me focused and accountable. And I’ve been at it long enough that I’m actually feeling the difference. It feels good. I don’t want to go back. And so I keep putting one foot in front of the other, so to speak, and I guess that’s what makes the journey. That’s what it’s all about for me these days – not getting there, but going there.