Tag Archives: stuff

Dealing with the stuff of life

My family trends toward the hoarding side of the spectrum. Grandma was not a hoarder (Gramps was). I like to think I am moderate, but don’t we all? I keep things I am fond of and things that I think will be useful. My greatest weakness is being optimistic about what I will actually use. Now and again I do a purge…and get motivated to do projects. But mostly I don’t think too much about stuff.

The big move brought stuff to the front of my mind.

When I went down to California to help Grandma pack for the big move to Seattle I packed a whole lot of things that I knew would not see the light of day again until they found new homes. A whole lot of things.

An almost empty garage.

Before heading down to help pack, I had cleared away a lot of our life “savings” and had the garage pretty nearly empty (the first time in years we could have even considered putting a car into it!). After being so ruthless with our own belongings I had to make an effort to turn off the purge switch when I got down to the desert.

Continue reading Dealing with the stuff of life

Scrubbing bubbles?

What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?

I don’t use buckets all that much. Mostly for cleaning and sometimes for gardening. So my “bucket list” is cleaning supplies, pruners, trowels….

I don’t have the kind of bucket list where you decide you want to do thus and so before you die. I plan to live until I die. That means dealing with regular stuff and taking opportunities that come along. My best life experiences have been things I wouldn’t have thought to do, so I would rather just go along enjoying life as best I can and taking things as they come, but not fearing to try something new now and again.

A cleaning bucket seems most appropriate right now: Cleaning, clearing and tidying have been a big part of my 2016 so far and it looks like that will continue as we have some major work done in the kitchen this spring and summer.

It started with mice deciding to use my car engine as a warming hut.

KSM-20160124-ScrubbingBubbles-01-720pxKSM-20160124-ScrubbingBubbles-02-720pxThen the tree pruning company I use was booked out through the end of March so, in addition to cleaning up the back yard to discourage rodents, I had to prune the trees myself (they can’t wait till the end of March and they have been neglected way too long). I hurt for over a week after I finished, but the real bummer about this is that the tree company chips and removes all of the branches and debris. Unlike my spouse, who said he will trickle it into our regular yard waste pick up…

I go out and rattle the piles hoping to discourage mice, but I am still parking on the street.

Now comes trying to get all of the things we had moved out of the way first for the electrical rework, then for the drywall repair and painting back. Since we had to completely evacuate my son’s room (his ceiling material was so old it disintegrated when they cut through it to rewire requiring us to have the entire ceiling replaced instead of patched). He is coming home for a visit on February 1 so getting that room back into functional shape is a priority. But everything is all mangled up together, we used his room as a kind of catch all since he left for China over two years ago.

It is always nicer to read about things like cleaning and organizing than it is to do them, so, in a moment of weakness, I picked up a copy of the best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.   I am not saying the author is wrong, I am sure she has some insight (although she looks pretty young and doesn’t seem to have a family). But I think it is naive to believe that you can deal with all of your stuff at once, once and for all. Who really has the time and space to pull everything out, sort it and put it back?

Not me. So I plod along, exactly what the book says not to do. Is one to do nothing because one cannot do it all?
Kick It


The point is not to do remarkable things. but to do ordinary things with the conviction of their immense importance.-Teihard de Chardin

It feels good to have a cause. Passion makes effort seem effortless. You focus in on the task, the cause, and don’t notice how much time and effort you have expended. After the thrill is gone you are tired and things seem to drag that you never noticed before.

“Flow” is what it was called in some homeschooling circles. I love flow, but in real life, at some point, you have to wash the dishes and clean the toilets (unless you are wealthy enough from your flow to hire it done). Otherwise your quality of life deteriorates, flow or no flow. That means learning how to control the flow, how to stop and restart. This is not my particular gift. I like to finish things, not leave them hanging.

My life has had both flow and ebb. Lately I am in an ebb energy wise. I have been doing a lot of dealing with what I call “the stuff of life”.  A surprisingly large amount of this comes from causes. Then it sits, useful and valuable, waiting for the thrill to return, which it rarely does. More often a new passion starts up and, since clean up is not much fun, the detritus from the last project gets shoved into a box and more stuff comes in. Dealing with the stuff of life brings back memories, good and bad, but for me the energy drain comes from the feeling of unfinished projects looming. And, as much as I like to finish things, I hate to give up on things, so dealing with the stuff hits me hard. I get no sense of accomplishment from dealing with the stuff of life. 

The Teilhard quote above is one I ran across over 20 years ago, in a Chinaberry book catalog*. I had a young child, a husband who was working all hours and out of town a lot, and worked as a stress engineer at Boeing. (In case you are unaware: A stress engineer deals with strength of materials, not psychology.)

An awful lot of what I did both at work, like evaluating no less than thousands of  over-driven and under-driven rivets, and scratched and dented parts, and what I did at home like change diapers and do dishes was not remarkable. I felt overwhelmed a lot of the time and like a failure. Where was the bright shiny future I was educated for? When I came across this quote I wrote it out in pseudo-calligraphy on a 3 x 5 card and posted it in my cubicle.

Another quote I came across during that crazy time is:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes is is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow.”-Maryanne Radmacher

This also helped me to survive that busy, stressful time. I realized that I am not a driven achiever who thrives on success and have slowly started to come to terms with the reality that maybe my “cause” is the everyday stuff.

On into the foreseeable future my cause is to keep trying again tomorrow as I go through stuff. Trying to see, and embrace, that just cleaning things up is worth doing. It would be a lot more fun to start a sewing project…however, I have just been told that it is time to feed the cat, the most immensely important task there is.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Blogger With a Cause.”

*Chinaberry is a good example of someone (obviously with more energy and talent than I) making a fine business. I do not usually promote any business, but Chinaberry does have wonderful products chosen with a sense of stewardship of the world.