The Adventures of Letting Go

Monday, January 25, 2010

Less Junk Mail!

I have an email account that I use for retail outlets. That way, I can receive the great coupons they periodically send, without a daily onslaught of email junk cluttering up my business account.

Over the past few months, I've let the email pile up. So, tonight, I went through all 753 messages. There were a few great coupons, two personal emails I want to save, and a whole lot of Facebook friend requests from an account I forgot to deactivate.

It took a little time, but the email inbox is clear. Now, it should take less time every day to check for fabulous freebies! And I got rid of the old Facebook account.

(I also cleared out the snail mail on the dining room table. It's never ending ... But, inch by inch, row by row, I'm going to make this work!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Time flies ...

... whether you're having fun or not.

Today, I have less of a mess in the kitchen shelf that holds the Tupperware and all the other assorted plastic storage bowls. This wasn't so much a matter of tossing things -- although there were some solo pieces that really weren't serving a purpose. It was more a matter of organizing.

So, containers and matching lids are now easy to find. And, most importantly, lids are stored in a container that actually contains them. I won't open the shelf door and be attacked by an avalanche of cascading plastic. It's good. It's real good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Step by Step

Since this is My Year of Less and not My Week of Less, I guess it makes sense that some days the steps I'm taking are small. I can't work, blog, take care of family and friends, and make huge leaps in simplifying my life every day for a year. But, I can do something LESS every day.

Tonight, I've just been going through a few magazines, cutting out collage material. The process has been a littler slower than expected, because I found stories I wanted to read. (Vanity Fair is dangerous. Long, well-written stories.)

But, every magazine that's out of my office and in the recycling bin is a step in the right direction!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oh. You have to keep it clean.

As it turns out, simplifying something isn't a one-shot deal. Once you clean a room, and throw out all the extra stuff, you still have the room. And you still get more stuff.

Today, I spent hours cleaning those rooms and making sure nothing junked up what I had cleaned up.

On the progress front, I have less food in the kitchen and more in the basement. This is good -- I was using an area of my kitchen as a pantry that wasn't really a pantry. Now, I've moved the extra food downstairs into my basement version of Costco.

Halfway through the first month, I'm feeling pretty good about the progress made!

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15: Progress Report

I didn't post every day this week -- the week started out busy, and then Peggy died on Wednesday. One thing I've learned about death, life goes on. That may sound cold and I don't mean it that way at all. It's simply true. Someone you love dies, and the kids still need to be fed and the dogs still need their walks and the bills still have to be paid and the sun continues to shine.

On Thursday, as we waited to find out if there would be an autopsy, when we would go to the funeral home, etc., Tom and I both kept busy and the bathroom remodeling continued to be a source of less. There is now less in the bathroom. We've not only stripped all the wallpaper, but Tom sanded all the walls and the woodwork. He has taken the knobs off the cabinets. I've washed it all down.

While we were taking out drawers, etc., I took this as an opportunity for less. I went through everything I had in the bathroom -- under the sink and in my appointed drawer, and tossed a lot of it.

Also, I found a fun way to deal with one clutter collection. Lots of the clothes I buy come with extra buttons in a little envelope. I had developed the habit of just tossing that tiny envelope into my bathroom drawer. No more. The buttons are all in an antique glass bank -- I was already using it as a piece of decor, now I'm also using it as a button jar. Double purpose, and it takes up no more space. A big less yes!

I also have less on my "to do" list, because I got Kate's tuition paid, got the taxes paid, picked up Mary's contacts at the eye doctor's office, etc. Little things, but those little things add up to one long list and it can be overwhelming. And I want my lists to be underwhelming this year. So I have plenty of energy to deal with everything else life hands us.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Less Person

My sister-in-law Peggy died last night.
Sometimes, we have less time than we think.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Big Less: The Office Mess

Tonight, I started on a huge "less" objective. I'm tossing things out in my home office.

You will not be seeing "before" and "after" photos of the office, because I have some pride. Let's just say that very little has been disposed of or organized lately. And, we can also say that whoever predicted computers would lead to a paperless society was insane. Or, to be kind, overly optimistic.

So, the trash bag is filling up, and I'm feeling hopeful. I may even find the tax papers that I need to file by this weekend. I know they're in here ... somewhere ... surely...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Year of Less: It's Not Semantics

When I first announced My Year of Less, a friend corrected me and said I really needed more -- more time spent doing what I love.

My friend is wrong. I really and truly do need less. Let me explain: I have a remarkably full life. I spend a great deal of time doing what I love, with people I love. I'm blessed with family and friends. I write every day -- and not just for clients. I write for myself every day, even if it's simply a blog entry. I bake. I cook. I doodle. I do collage art. I go to the gym. I read -- the newspaper, books, magazines. I have a Kindle. (I'm cool like that.)

And the full life extends beyond me alone. Tom and I are planning an anniversary trip. We're starting the home remodeling project. The whole family plays Wii. We watch movies in the home theatre. We shop. We go for drives. We eat out. We put together jigsaw puzzles. Seriously. We play together. It's good.

So, trust me, I don't need more. I don't even need more time. 24 hours per day, seven days per week, is plenty.

What I really and truly need is exactly what I'm after. Less. I'm beginning with less clutter and other stuff -- I'm expecting to find less stress and anxiety. We'll see how it works. So far, one week in, so good.

Today, I have less of a mess at the front door. Three dogs and 23 years had resulted in massive claw marks on the front door. No more. Larry the Handyman was here and fixed it. Sanded the scratches off and restained the door. Yes! One more thing to scratch off my list. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) This change also creates one less reason to avoid inviting people over. I've been so embarassed by the front door (the last dog really clawed it), that I haven't wanted to have people over to the house. I don't even know that other people noticed the marks -- but I did. So, one less excuse. It's progress.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cutting Up the Clutter

Some people cut out clutter. I cut up clutter. Today, I'm starting to go through magazines I've saved for my collage art. I'm grabbing the scissors and a few magazines, and making progress! It's a way to have less stuff in my office, and it's fun, a treasure hunt of sorts -- I never know what words or images I'll find in one of the magazines.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lesson Learned

Today I threw away two things, one good and one bad.

We'll start with the bad. At dinner tonight, I threw away an opportunity to stay on my healthy eating plan. I went for the big burger and fries. And, while Mary saved half her burger for tomorrow, I ate the entire humongoid U.S.A.-sized deal, and now feel like a hippopotamus.

I must do better.

On the "toss it" side, I am doing better. I'm getting rid of more free stuff, threw out address labels today. I mean, seriously, how many address labels can one person use in a lifetime? If I stopped saving them now, I probably have enough for the next five decades. Assuming I don't move or change names.

I'm also making great progress in the organize-and-toss approach to putting the holiday decorations away. I was going to finish the job tonight, but now that I have supersized myself, all I can do is wallow ...

(Is it a bad sign that we're five days in and I already have two entries in the "oops" category? Hmmm.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Less Patience

Hmmm. Having less is not always good. Today I had less patience. Of course, today I had to leave the cozy confines of my house and head back into the cold -- and I do mean cold -- work world.

I belong on a beach. I would have patience on a beach.

But, to get back to the "less" adventure, I stopped putting away the holiday decorations to write this. And, before I paused, I was throwing away holiday stuff that we don't use. Less stuff. More ho. Ho. Ho.

I'll go back to it now ...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bye-Bye Wallpaper

Today, I have less wallpaper. That's right. The wallpaper that I chose for the master bathroom 23 YEARS AGO when we built the house is gone. History. Toast. Kate and I peeled it off and threw it away this afternoon.

I like the bathroom better with drywall staring at me than I did with the wallpaper.

This "less" is part of a much-anticipated change. We're working with our handyman Larry to remodel the bathroom and turn it into a Kansas version of a beach cottage bath, with white wainscotting, pale yellow walls, white wood trim, new tile floor, new shower. New shower basin. New grout.

I'm in heaven and it's just beginning. This less is more than I expected.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Toss: The Makeup Mess

I'm a big believer in small steps, so for my first "throw something away" exercise, I tackled the makeup basket in my bathroom. For makeup, it was not pretty.

So I started tossing. I threw away free samples of products I will never use -- perfume, skin creams, lip gloss. I got rid of old lipsticks. I put the razor where it belongs. I pulled off the basket cover and tossed it in the laundry. (Isn't it amazing the things you can forget to wash/clean/dust/whatever? Or is that just me?)

The result will not win an organizational seal of approval from Better Homes & Gardens. But it makes me happy. Step by step, I've started.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: My Year of Less

I've been doodling with a few resolution ideas -- very creative, such as lose weight, exercise, yada yada yada -- and finally landed on the real deal. This will be my year of less. I am going to give something away, give something up, throw something out, every day.

This is based on discussions with my sister, my best friend and my mother. They all think I should take better care of myself. I think a year of less fits that bill.

Today, I gave up the expectation of perfection. Well, maybe not totally, because that would be perfect. But I did lead Friday night services and laugh at the one big mistake I made. You know, rather than focus and obsess on it. I wasn't perfect. But I was fine.

I hope your year is less. I hope you have less stress. Less struggle. Less time away from the people and places you love. Less worry about things you cannot change. Less noise. Less.