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I Need Advance Notice About Spontaneity

18 Nov

It has recently come to my attention that I am not the most spontaneous person in the world.

I thought I was spontaneous, but then my husband suggested an activity in the afternoon and I had to ask questions before considering the activity. He gave up fairly quickly.

I felt guilty when I saw how easily he gave up. Obviously he had been down that road before and knew it wouldn’t lead anywhere.

I thought to myself, ‘I want to be spontaneous…I just need advance notice first — you know, so I can plan ahead.’

I noticed the contradiction. Plan ahead to be spontaneous?

I know I used to be more spontaneous when I was younger. When I was eighteen, a guy told me he liked the fact that he could call me up and invite me out and I would be ready in ten minutes. Now I need to know what is going on, how long it is going to take, and what the weather will be like.

Is it maturity? Is it anxiety? Am I just no fun any more?

I blame children. I see the results of their spontaneity. Chaos, everywhere I look.

Once, a neighbor boy pulled the fire alarm in my apartment building. I think it was the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life, aside from monster trucks driven indoors. We all milled around outside at sundown, children without coats, a woman with a towel wrapped around her hair, waiting for someone to end the horrifying noise.

Another time, a different boy in our apartment complex found a large sheet of glass and broke it. I don’t know where the glass came from, but I know where it ended up: everywhere. In the parking lot where all the kids play Nerf gun wars. In the grassy area where people walk their dogs. Endless shards and shards and shards of glass.

I called out to the boy, ” Don’t you know any better than to play with broken glass?” and he dropped what was left and ran off. I spent the next hour or so sweeping up, filling half a bucket with glass fragments, abandoning the unfinished load of laundry and the boneless chicken breasts baking in the oven. My husband had to come out and ask me what all the timers were for.

Hey, maybe I am spontaneous after all.

Just not in a fun way.

I’ll have work on it.


Big and Small

14 May

My life has undergone significant changes this year. So has my body. Most of my clothes are two sizes too big.

I can’t afford a new wardrobe. I was smaller and then I got bigger. I thought I would never be smaller again, so I got rid of my smaller clothes. Now I am smaller but I can’t get rid of my bigger clothes. This is a problem.

Who wants to hear someone complain about losing weight? Not very many people. Of this I am certain.

I am happy to have a more active lifestyle, which is cheaper than a gym membership and more effective.

I have stairs in my life. I have a job where I can’t sit down or stay in one place. I have laundry facilities outside the home. I don’t know where various things are at home, so I spend a fair amount of time walking in circles, looking around and inside and through and under and behind. I am using all of the prepositions I can think of.

Months after moving, we still have Mystery Boxes. If you have ever moved, you probably know exactly what Mystery Boxes are.

We also have a shortage of furniture. We left things behind. Big things. Things that held smaller things. Where do the smaller things go when they are no longer held by the bigger things? They go on the floor. I can’t afford to get new bigger things to hold the smaller things. This is a problem.

These problems are not big problems.

I have loose clothing. I need to step over things on the floor.

These problems are small.

Creative Designs For The Home

11 Jan

Doing any redecorating or organizing in your home this year?

Love Letters to Strangers has a great DIY idea for scarf organization for the “lazy and cheap”.

Design Within Reach has some colorful wall hooks that look like art.

Designer Daily features a lamp that holds books and charges your iPad. (How cool is that?)

January: Your Pants or Your Life

3 Jan

The month of January has come around again and people want to be perfect. It happens every year.

No point in trying to overhaul your life all at once. Relax.

Just pick one specific problem to solve. When that is done, think of another problem.

CAUTION: Be sure not to think of all of the problems at once! That is a rookie mistake. You might end up catatonic.

Recently, I thought about my pants and felt annoyed. I realized that I had a pants problem. Some pants were too big, some were too small, some were too long, and most of the pants were not where they were supposed to be. (I was going to say that some of the pants were “too old”, but let’s be realistic — too old means too small.)

I have the pant situation under control now, thanks to some hemming, some hanging, and some handing off to charity. I have nine pairs of pants, and that is plenty.

Pants can be symbolic of life. I have watched What Not to Wear enough times to know that I am supposed to dress for the life I want, and the body I have. Those shiny, stretchy, hot pink pants I used to wear would not work for me now. I am a decade older, I am a size larger, and I go out less frequently. This sounds bad, but it isn’t. I would not trade the last decade for a trim waistline and a pair of pink pants.

There is a happy middle ground between pink pants and mom jeans, however, and that is where I am staying.

What Did You Learn in 2011?

30 Dec

I would like to share this wonderful post from Susan, author of the blog The Great Balancing Act.

The Great Balancing Act: “Things I Learned In 2011”

As you all reflect on the year’s end, I hope that you find some meaningful perspective.

I know that a few of Susan’s personal lessons rang true for me, although my struggles have certainly been different from hers. It has been one of the worst years of my life, but I have learned so much that I can carry forward with me into the new year, whatever happens.

Oh Magic 8 Ball, will 2012 be a better year?

I would love to hear some of the lessons you have learned in 2011, and I hope you will share.

Letting Go

30 Nov

Let go of your past (what was and what wasn’t)

Let go of those years of clutter

Let your fears fly away

Live your life as if it were new

Be free

This Mess Is So Big

1 Nov

“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”

― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

This is untrue, of course.

Charming, but untrue.

This is what children say when they don’t want to clean their rooms, only they don’t rhyme as well.

If you are an adult, and you catch yourself making this kind of excuse to avoid cleaning or organizing, you must remind yourself that you CAN do it. It might take a while, and it might be stressful, but it can certainly be done.

Have some faith in yourself, focus on the goal, and take breaks.

You can do it!

5 Signs That You Need to Organize Your Home

31 Aug

Sign #1:  You found your hairbrush in the microwave.

Sign #2:  The spiders have constructed a town hall and drafted a constitutional charter.

Sign #3:  The coat stand tipped over and crushed your favorite end table.

Sign #4:  To get to the spare room, you need to climb out the window, dangle from the eaves and crawl through a ventilation shaft. (Be sure to bring a flashlight and a grappling hook.)

Sign #5:  Poor Aunt Delores hasn’t been seen since she opened up the pantry door to find the dog food. What day was that? Where is the dog? Well, maybe they went for a really long walk…

Back to Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

17 Aug

If you are a parent, or an experienced student, you know that paperwork is a key part of the back to school process.

Fortunately, most schools have the important information online, so if you misplace those important papers (or never receive them in the first place), you can still have access to much of the information you need. Later, you can even check your students’ grades online.

We never received the promised back-to-school information packet in the mail, but thanks to the internet, it all worked out.

I spent an entire morning at a middle school orientation, and it was no more pleasant for me than it was for my children. This is saying a lot, because I made them wear their uniforms for orientation day, only to find that virtually all of the other students wore their street clothes. There is nothing like standing out on your first day at a new school district where you don’t know anyone. Bless their hearts for not complaining about my error.

I made my way through crowds. Why am I waiting in line while others inexplicably step ahead?

I became flustered. What do you mean you don’t have my son’s schedule in the stack?

I ignored the standard fundraising promotions. No, I don’t want to join the PTA, can I go home now?

Frankly, I think being a middle school parent is nearly as bad as being a middle school student!

10 Ways to Make Space When There Just Isn’t Enough of It

20 Jul

Are you living in a compact space?  Do you want your home to look and feel more open?  Here are some quick tips for increasing the amount of usable and/or visual space in your home…

1-Turn shelves into “drawers”.  Measure the depth, height and width of your shelves and look for some woven or plastic bins just under those measurements. The look is clean, and a bin generally holds more than a shelf.  If you can’t find the perfect measurements, feel free to mix and match.

2-Use fuzzy space-saving hangers. (The Real Simple variety is my favorite.) They really work, and in spite of their narrowness, they won’t stretch the fabric.  A stretched out shoulder “bump” happens when garments slide to one side, leaving all the weight on one corner of the hanger.  Hangers with a no-slip fuzzy texture will not allow sliding, and can often be used vertically, saving even more space. As a bonus, the similarity of the hangers will make your closet look neater.   Avoid the plastic hangers with the evil swiveling tops, commonly used in clothing stores.  The swiveling leads to annoying tangling, not to mention clanking noises.

3-Look for furniture with storage options, like seating benches and ottomans with removable lids.  Consider replacing end tables and night tables with small cabinets or dressers.

4-Use hooks in closets, on the backs of doors and anywhere else you think a hook can work for you.  Some hooks fit over the tops of doors, some require screws, and some stick on with adhesive.  If you want to hang something heavy, screw a hook into wood, not drywall, to prevent damage to the wall.

5-Before you buy, consider whether something you already own can serve the same function!  For example,  a firm ottoman can work as a serving table (and as storage: see #3), a sturdy drinking glass can hold flowers, and a vase can also function as a candle holder.  Some hangers can double as outfit planners, holding scarves, belts, or jewelry.

6-Use more vertical space to preserve horizontal space.  A narrow table lamp with a high shade leaves more usable surface space than a short and broad lamp.  Better yet, use hanging light fixtures suspended with ceiling hooks — you don’t even need an electrician for those!  (Not that there is anything wrong with electricians; I happen to be married to one.)  A loft bed can allow space for a desk underneath. Mounted shelving eliminates the need for bookcases.  A hanging pot rack can open up new cupboard space.

7-Decorate on the floor or walls, instead of furniture surfaces. Vases and candles can cover up a table and leave no room for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, magazines, or mail.  If you have a small sofa, the last thing you want to do is cover it with “accent pillows”, no matter how great they may look on HGTV.  Pillows reduce seating space and will also make a tiny sofa look that much tinier.  If you want to add accents of color to a room, try a bright patterned rug, new curtains, a hanging mobile, or a bold shade of paint.

8-Use under-bed storage.  Some bed frames come with drawers.  If you want to use storage bags under a plain frame, be sure to measure the height of your bed-frame first.  There are bed risers available if you want to increase this space.

9-Use collapsible items.  They do the same work, and they can squeeze into limited storage space.  I have seen collapsible or fold-able dish drainers, vegetable strainers, tables, chairs, storage bins, laundry baskets, hampers…

10-Get creative!  I was looking for a place to hang an over-door shoe hanger in an apartment with no doors, and found it worked well as a “curtain” hanging from the closet rod, with a shelf of shoes fitting nicely behind it. (These are not my shoes.  I own a total of twelve pairs, including my rubber rain boots, so shoe storage is not an issue for me.)