Oh fer !#%/’s sake

Has it really been 17 months since I published? Well, I thought of you more than I could call or write.

Decision time: is this blog a thing?



Accessioning commitment

Maybe the reason I have to start decluttering over and over again is because I’m taking on too much. Or maybe it’s because I’ve taken on too little. Or both. 

Let me explain.

Two schools of thought battle for the hearts, minds and cash of the clutter-bound. One represented by Andrew Mellen and Flylady believes decluttering must be taken on gradually but regularly. The other, best represented by Marie Kondo and businesses like 1-800-GotJunk, advocate the one-fell-swoop approach, where a single massive effort kickstarts the process. 

Both have their merits. So far neither has worked, or they sorta kinda work. 

The problem, then, is not the method, but me. Sure I had bad luck, and I’m busy, and no one helps me, and I’ve battled illness and depression and taking care of family members and having a new baby and working a bunch of jobs or working one really demanding one. But so does everyone else. Everyone has shit to deal with.  As they used to say in my Catholic girlhood, “Everyone has their cross to bear.” 

The good news is this: It will all change when I make up my mind. When I commit. When I make a plan, however simple or imperfect or provisional, and commit to it. 

God how I hate admitting those Just Do It people are right.  But they are. It doesn’t matter how you do it – bit by bit, tsunami, or both on alternate Wednesdays –as long as you do it and keep doing it.  Every day or most days or more days than not, but the point is that you do it more than you don’t. That you not wait for the perfect method, or plan, or mood, or pattern in the entrails of the chicken you sacrificed.  That you not kid yourself that a little doesn’t matter and that you’ll get the time you wasted back again. It does matter, and this is your one and only life.

No more bullshit. No more thinking you just need to find the secret. The secret is you picking up one thing and deciding what to do. And doing it again. It’s not about how you feel or what you think or about other people supporting or impeding you. It’s about you being here for yourself a little bit every day .

So: Will you be there for yourself?

2016 Update: Still at it


I really need to do something about this. A lot of it isn’t just mine, like papers, but since no one else will deal with it, it’s effectively my responsibility.

It feels like an insurmountable Mountain it’s hard for me to remember that it’s finite that I could do just a little bit at a time. It seems like it would take forever.

The truth is when I see that every morning it drags me down. I want to give myself the gift of cleaning that up, but it seems like so much.

I’m sure a lot of people would look at that mess and say it would stress them out to leave that there. They would dive right in to clean it up in order to avoid stress. Many such people find not getting right in it incomprehensible. “Why wouldn’t you…?”

But for many of us, the thought of tackling that mountain makes us quail. Procrastinating is our quixotic attempt to allay the real distress we feel at the thought of finishing what seems like an overwhelming task. It’s our pathetic coping mechanism, doomed to fail.

In The Now Habit Dr. Neil Fiore says that procrastinators focus on doing the whole thing and finishing, and so get overwhelmed. The antidote is to focus just on starting. We must ask ourselves not “How will I finish?” but instead ask “When is the next time can I start?”

In that way, with repeated starts, we mimic the small bites strategy of those blessed souls who are always advising us to break a job into chunks. The reason we can’t act on such manifestly good advice is that to do it, we have to think of the whole project, and we freak out. We literally cannot bear the thought of of taking on such a daunting task. We cannot even begin unless we first manage our stress and the terrible feeling of overwhelm.

So: when is the next time I can start?

What little thing can I do next? It doesn’t feel so stressful when I think of it that way.


Update: some progress. I had cleaners come in and that was a good little jumpstart. It was a big financial sacrifice but it seems to have helped.

Goodbye Teeth


Yes, these are in the trash after taking up room in my underwear drawer for …a decade? Maybe more. Called the dentist and asked if they were of any use. “You can make ashtrays out of them,” the woman said. I kept them out a couple of days. I learned that you cannot use them to make a credible bite mark on your own skin. I pondered their possible use as art (my usual category for utterly useless but somehow weirdly interesting crap) before I palmed my forehead and remembered, “But I’m not an artist!” But I am a blogger, so here they are: deaccessioned at last. And I was able to get the pile of scarves back into the dresser!

Starting over: Day 1


I pulled this mess from behind the door to the room, where it was keeping me from opening the door completely.  It toppled over as I was photographing it, but truthfully it didn’t look much neater where it was.  I’m following the Flylady rule of not pulling out more than I can put back in the time that I have.

How this is hard: I had a week off work unexpectedly and resolved to use the time to clean out my study so I can use it to write and work.  Monday and Tuesday went by and I found myself doing other things that just seemed so important.  Some were, and some certainly were not.

Resistance is a funny thing: It’s less a refusal than a kind of numbness, all the more lethal because it’s insidious.  I didn’t wrestle with myself about decluttering – I just kinda sorta never got around to it.  No drama, but the result is the same as a slow morphine drip: bury myself in trivial tasks and sudden emergencies until the day ends.  And days can stretch into years. 

I took the bull by the horns at 10:30 last night and set a timer. 15 minutes seemed like too much:

“I’m tired,” Stuck Me whined. 

Accomplished Me knows how to handle this:  “OK, how about 10 then? 5? 1? Can you declutter for 1 minute?”

One minute was too shameful even for me, so I chose 5 and went to work, just to break the ice for today’s attempt.  I found an Apple Gift Card and cleared off a 1×1 section of desk.

“That’s one more 5-minute section than if you hadn’t done it,” Accomplished Me said.  Even Stuck Me has to admit that if I had done 5 minutes even 3x a week over the past year the room would probably be pretty clean by now. 

Another reward:  much less resistance today.  Feeling pretty good – let’s see how it goes with the pile in the photo.  But first I’m going to vacuum the floor where it was, to give myself something tangible.

There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip

Dropped the ball for a few months, but this is my week: I’m cleaning everything out of my 10 X 8 study that I don’t need.  I have an involuntary week off work and I’m using it to make a better space for me to do my work in.

So the schedule for the week:
5:30 a.m. Arise; centering prayer; make bed
6:00 Medicine, start coffee, take dog out, cats, chickens, birds
6:30 Breakfast
6:50 Write 500 OR to Mass; Dialogue
7: 40 Back from Mass, write 500, dialogue;
8:00 declutter
9:00 check email
9:30 declutter
10:15 rest
10:30 declutter
11:15 rest
11:30 declutter
12:15 rest and check emails
12:30 answer emails
1:00 lunch
1:20 declutter
2:15 Rest
2:30 declutter
3:15 rest
3:30 declutter
4:15 rest
4:30 begin dinner
6:00 answer emails
6:30 housework, blessings
6:40 rest, read, weed whateve

Ummm, ‘scuse me? I know it was my husband’s grandmother’s and all, but IT’S BROKEN!!!!


Yes I am throwing it out. No, I do not have the missing piece. Not, I do not give two shits if I might later find it. Right, because no matter how campy tacky-adorable it is and no matter how cool it looks in my new blue back porch, I do not want someone’s glued or broken tchatchke in my life. If I need a hideous campy vase I’ll go to the so-called antique store and buy one from the other delusional hoarders – oops I mean dealers.


You were cute. NO, IT CANNOT GO IN THE HENHOUSE! Goodbye.