Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Stuff Chaos is Made Of

The Gone-with-the-Wind-Count is now up to 290 items.  I have earned myself almost 5 additional minutes of writing time, and I can already feel simplicity slipping into my life.  My focus this week was on my kids' rooms.  We've really been struggling in the morning, as their "upstairs chores" are making their beds, getting dressed, grooming, and straightening their rooms.   The problem was that they felt overwhelmed with a task that had reached epic proportions.  I may as well have said, "Clean out this landfill before breakfast."  Indeed, they were responsible for the mess, but looking at it all at once, they could not fathom where to start.  Unless, I sat there and directed the entire task, it  was not getting done; and I know you all will find this hard to believe, but I JUST DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME!
           If only cleaning up were the lone dilemma.  Once the mess started to creep, it also would effect their ability to imagine and play constructively.  They would be surrounded by toys, and play with nothing.  They would wrestle and roll and destroy things that were NOT toys.  They would pull apart beds, wrap themselves in curtains, or fingerpaint in Shampoo.  I was at my wits end, and I decided less stuff, meant less mess, which hopefully meant less chaos.  I was going to take them back to little house on the prarie--you know--where little Laura played happily with her one corn husk doll?
        I should have done it sooner.  I was brutal, and I don't think they even noticed.  They were too busy re-discovering things they'd forgotten they had--like it was a second Christmas.  I hauled four 13 gallon trashbags out of that warzone, and if Goodwill was a franchise, I could have started my own store.  As it was, I threw a few things up on the community website for a dollar apiece, and quite a few disappeared into the neighborhood while I was still dodging dust bunnies.
         Did it work?  Well, I think so.  My 3 and 7 year olds spent an hour and a half outside in the backyard today.  They didn't fight or get into things they weren't supposed to, and at supper time, I nearly had to drag them in.  Their play things?  A box, 2 dixie cups, dirt, a fire engine, and a lady bug.
Perhaps STUFF truly is what chaos is made of!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Addiction of Opportunity

The thrill of the hunt!  For bargain hunters it comes in many forms--yard sales, thrift stores, sale ads, coupons, free ads on craigslist, dumpster dives....
         As such, I have a confession to make.  After I spent several hours un~cluttering part of my kitchen, and then delivering some of those items to interested neighbors, I found myself pulling up behind a neighbors open garage.  I had fallen victim to a 'FREE' notice.  Someone in the neighborhood was moving, and they had posted that there were items in there garage they no longer needed.  There was a photo.  I didn't see anything I needed, or was even particularly interested in, yet here I was, the opportunistic browser.
         "What am I DOING?" I thought to myself as I pulled up.  But I still pulled up.  I still got out and looked.  Fortunately, the pile had been mostly picked, and I did not go home with any new domestic albatross, but the situation did wake me up to a once healthy habit that had turned into an addiction.
        Going into a Goodwill when you need a specific item that you are hoping to find lightly used and discounted is one thing, but weekly treasure hunting adventures that fill ones floors, rooms, closets, and cupboards with forgotten hodge~podge is another thing entirely.  No longer are my habits accomplishing positive ends or manifesting good stewardship.  They have descended into the realm of materialistic gluttony.  Time for a diet!
        I hereby swear only to go to the Goodwill if I need something specific!  There will be no casual visits!  I will on clip coupons for items I regularly use, from stores I normally visit!  I will not stop to peruse peoples trash.  I will not even look at the Craigslist free ads without a specific goal in mind.  So help me God.


Friday has come.  How is it, I'm only just writing about Monday? My current "get rid of it" total is at 56, so I have 10 minutes and 56 seconds to write this evening, starting NOW.
        Monday night is Maggie's night.  I have a special evening assigned to each one of my children, so that I am sure to get a special hour JUST with them each week.  I let them pick the activity (within reason), and we have had some extremely memorable evenings!  This week, Maggie wanted to have a make-up party.
       After dinner, we raced each other up to my bathroom, and she proceeded to pull out every bit of make-up and nail polish she could find.  It was my turn to go first, she said, because she went first last time.  Fifteen minutes later, I was a sight!  What a lalapalooza! My eye brows were traced dark, and she had drawn long eye lashes off of those.  She had used every color eye pencil I owned.  My cheeks were crayon red.  My eyeshadow implied a beating.  My lipstick--well--not too bad actuallly!
      During my makeover, a lesson was forming.  I had been up late the previous night going through a mere third of my kitchen contents.  Many, many items had not been used at all since I put them in the drawer; yet, I still felt the pang off letting go when I put them in the box labeled Goodwill.  Why?  Why did I feel the need to have all these THINGS even knowing I had not used them or needed them?
        It occurred to me, that my culinary collection was a lot like Maggie's total use of my make-up collection.  If a little bit was useful or attractive, why not assume that A LOT would be optimally useful or beautiful?
        I spoke to my daughter, hearing the words of my own mother come out of my mouth,  "Less is more!"  "It should look natural!"  And I felt the truth of those words when I finished one side of my kitchen.  Visually, it was approachable, inviting, and inspired thoughts of what could be; whereas, before, the sight of it had repelled me, and caused me to feel dread because of the work that needed to be accomplished before it was even usable.
        Finishing that first small section of my house was satisfying and fulfilling, and I am determined not to be a lalapalooza in the "thing" department, but rather a "lalapaLOSER!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jinright Lightens the Load

At least, this is what I would change the name of my blog to, if it weren't a proverbial pain in the behind.  Previously, I wrote A LOT about my weight loss journey, and truth told, I'm on that journey again; however, after two more babies, breaking my right foot (twice), and sundry other additions to my life load, loosing weight has been a much different process--a process I'm content to approach gradually.
       This blog will speak not of lightening body mass, but lightening life mass.  When I was moving out of my first home in South Carolina, and watching all of my possessions disappear into a truck, my mother put her arm around me and said, "Daughter, live large and travel light."  Well, God has blessed in so many ways, and with four kids, we are definitely living large (largely CRAZY), but as for traveling light....
     Recently, I have been frustrated by how much time I spent trying to keep up with the maintenance of my home--but on a larger scale--my POSSESSIONS.  We have been given abundance, but I dare say, we have gotten fat.  I am surrounded by so much that I don't need, and I am convicted by passages like Matthew 6:19-21 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
      Treasures surround me of a priceless nature, and I don't want to miss them, because I'm scrubbing rust off a collection or swatting moths away from a too-large wardrobe.  These earthly treasure steal my attention and my time.  In fact, to emphasize that fact, after tonight, I will only allow myself ten minutes to blog.  For every item I give away, I will award myself with an extra second toward some eternal pursuit--in my case--that pursuit is often writing to inspire, educate, or encourage.
      I hope you'll journey along with me, and maybe do some cleaning out of your own.  And to be accountable, as of this week, I have lightened the load by 22 items!  Two of the items were an empty journal and my favorite college poetry book.  I gave them to my 11 year old neighbor who has an interest in writing.  On Saturdays, I'm going to start teaching her my craft.
     See you tomorrow, and hopefully, my life mass, will be lighter!