In STUCKVILLE and CLUTTERVILLE

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

November 10. It’s strange how easily I’m sidetracked into scrolling and reading trash about aging movie stars. Who are these people writing these stories and what is their agenda in hijacking my and others’ attention? It’s difficult enough dealing my own aging journey – fading memory, hair loss, wrinkles, crickety joints.

November 16. Absent almost a week. I’m still not immuned to scrolling, having just read about the life of Brooke Astor. It is rather fascinating though of what use to me, I have no idea. I seem to have these stuck inescapeable moments of uselessness. Rather than trying to fight them, I might as well ride them out as best as I can. They must serve some purpose somehow. Drat, now I’m caught up in a post about Lisa Marie Preseley.

November 17. Still in Stuckville and Clutterville. My inner world is reflected in my outer world. I shall not fret so much upon everything. It’s a difficult thing to do. The news is full of how much our world is over run by the flu, our healthcare system overwhelmed and lack of medicine on the shelves. This morning I got one of those bothersome phone calls. The voice was ominous, full of dire and threatening if I didn’t know any better. I didn’t press #1 to find a solution. Who are these people preying on the fears of people? How can we discern real information from fake ones?

I shall not try to do any deep thinking or problem solving. My brain is unreliable presently. It is best that I just deal with the bare necessary items essential to having an ok day. Having a set routine is good. I like to play Wordle in the morning with my tea. The exercise is good for warming up my brain. I’m still doing my c.a.r.s. exercises waiting for the kettle to boil to make tea. The reason the habit sticks is because it works and I feel the benefits every day. I can get out of bed every morning without collapsing, feeling fairly limber. I can go for daily walks without pain in my left ankle. So not all is lost. I can still do some good stuff.

I made yogurt this morning and cleaned up right after. I’m finally making some progress with this post. It’s a far cry from showing up every day like I wanted to. But I am showing up when I can. I made an order to Lee Valley. I was late in getting the pie plates on sale. That will teach me to dally instead of acting on it when the sale was announced. I felt the pain at first but it disappeared after I finalized the order. It is just a number. The pie plates will last my life time.

SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND

January 11, day 11 of the Ultimate Blog challenge. I wonder how I am going to write this post. I feel as if I can’t even work myself out of a wet paper bag. I did go for my ski, though I can’t remember how I got there and back. It wasn’t a great outing. I had a fall trying to sly down the slope. My legs and butt got a head start. I forgot to bring the rest along. Down I went! I haven’t fallen much at all this year. It was hard to get up. I’ve forgotten how without practice. I ended up taking one ski off. Practice does make for better.

So here I sit, fingers on the keyboard. My desk is crowded and full of paper clutter again. It adds to my can’t-get-out-of-wet-paper-bag feeling. At least I am at peace with it at this moment. I was not so this morning, digging through the piles and boxes for art supplies. They are not in one place but scattered here, there and everywhere. My head was in a spin. I want to throw up my hands and give up, but the Introduction to Watercolours is starting Saturday. I need to focus and see if I have all the material on the check list.

If I hadn’t chosen the word FOCUS for my year, I probably wouldn’t have stayed with the hunt. I probably would have left it till the night before and then get into a frantic mad search. I felt frenzied but I don’t think I was frantic. I slowed down, went up and down the stairs a few times, pulling out various drawers. I found things I’ve forgotten I bought. I found art that I have forgotten I made. I have a lot of supplies. I made a lot of art. Parts of my forgotten self stared back at me. They made me feel good.

Life is messy. I am messy. I’ve gathered up my material. I am short of just one or two things. I’ve got it under control. This is no time for me to be Wonder Woman and whip all my clutter in shape. I feel like a wet noodle. It is sagging time. I can just let it all hang out. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow I can regroup, refocus and get back into the track.

PROBLEM SOLVING – still a gerbil on a wheel

It’s hard to pull up my socks once they’ve fallen down. The struggle is real. Things are piling up on my desk, the dining room table and in my head again. I hope I have caught myself in time before I fall completely down the rabbit hole. I’ve stopped the conversation on the keyboard for just a week. It is hard starting again. I’ll just sit awhile and drink my tea and try to feel out where the difficulty lies. There’s no rush. It’s not going away. It’s waiting for me.

What I’ve learned from this is not to let things come to a grinding halt. It felt good the first day so I did it again the next and the next and so on. And here I am, trying to work myself back into a schedule, a routine of some sort wherein I can feel good and alive – that I am interacting with and a part of the world. I am not happy with persistent languor, hanging out amidst and buried under my unfiled, undelt with and unfinished piles.

When I think of clearing and dealing with it all, I feel overwhelmed and hopeless. I move a few things around and about. I have not made space or homes for anything and everything. It’s not a surprise that I got nowhere and gave up, moving on to familiar, more comfortable activities like watching Inspector Wexford on YouTube. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a British crime series, a Ruth Rendall mystery. The episodes have a story and plot. They are quite unlike a lot of modern American crime shows where the catch is violence, sex and fast car chases. Still, it is a crutch I fall on when it is hard for me to do what I need to be doing.

Talking about movies and distractions, I’ve come to realize that I am addicted to crime genres in movies, TV shows and books as well. I haven’t been always so. I used to like a good story and romance. Now I find them a bit tedious and slow going. My attention span have been shortened by action dramas and crime fiction. I’m trying to work my way back to being not so lazy. I used to read books like Marjorie Morningstar and East of Eden. Now I read Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series and such. But I am working on J.R. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy. It’s slow going but she is a very good writer with lots of detailed descriptions. It’s a good exercise for slowing my brain and hopefully help increase my attention span.

I am having a wee bit of success. I’m concentrating on finishing this post. I am taking more time in proof reading and editing. Hopefully I am making more sense. I’ve identified a few of my clutter problems. I need to find homes for my things so that they are not strewn here and there. I need to deal with my mail (electronic and snail) daily. They build up quicker than I can think. Yesterday I deleted hundreds of emails, some from July. I’ve been in this spot more than a few times. I’m still the gerbil on the wheel. The best solution for me is to think things through slowly, identify, have an action plan and follow through.

BEYOND STUCK, HOPING AND WISHING

Can I tell you something? It is difficult to write and work on being stuck when you are! Sometimes I feel so disgusted with myself. I try not to stay there. Yesterday I talked about how much time we spend on scrolling. I know that I haven’t always done so. I was a very late comer to the computer and smart phone. I was the smart one then. I’m not so now. It’s really not my fault. I fell into the same trap as many other people. Now I am determined to get out.

Instead of wasting time fighting my urges, I gave in and let my fingers wandered over the buttons, the mouse and keyboard. My brain still has some control over where they go. It can still say, enough now! I found this video this morning on clutter. It was a bit long, an hour. But since that’s what I am working on, it was well worth my time. I made my breakfast while I listened to it. I got some value from it.

I agree that the 3 things to work on are my emotions, time and stuff. And to work slow and prioritize, of course. I am not what you would call a hoarder. My house is not jam packed with stuff. I am a clutterer from way back, getting worse with each day. I tend to drop things wherever they happen to land. They never seem to be able to find a home. My worse traps are the dining room table and my desk.

The best time to work on anything is the present moment. That cuts the procrastination. I took her hint, got a box and cleared off my dining room table into it. That is, whatever could fit. Other times, I used a shoebox. I have a few of them around, waiting to be sorted and emptied. Next, I whipped off the tablecloths and threw them, along with a few other items into the washer. What a relief! I’ve been wanting to do that for quite a few days, but unable to, being paralyzed by emotions of I don’t know how. I know it sounds silly and lame. It is what it is.

I know my laundry is done by now. Time to hang it/put in dryer. I’ve done some dreaded dusting in the bedroom. The drapes are taken down and in the washer. It’s the blackout ones I made and hung last year. I’m sure they would appreciate a wash. Now that I’ve done that, I am not sure why it was so hard. I guess the hard part is if you don’t move, it’s hard to get it done. By taking ClutterClarity’s advice on going slow, I did kinda enjoy the process. It is nice to have a cleared table again. The next stop is my desk.

ON FREEDOM

I’m sitting here with my second cup of tea. I’m staring at my paper pile, readying, steeling myself to delve into them. My resolve not to let everything get into a clutter AGAIN had melted and I’m fallen into the same rabbit hole again. Having resolves, choosing a word for the year, making lists, self help books – all these tools have not work for me. So I ask myself: why keep using them? Clearly it’s an indication for change. And here’s that word again – CHANGE. How many times have I written about change? Have I changed? Clearly not! I’m in a pickle.

I shouldn’t beat myself up so. I HAVE made little bits of change here and there. I like to think that I’ve stopped working on relationships that doesn’t work. I’ve stopped blaming myself that it’s all my fault, that I’m not kind enough, generous enough, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes it is good to reread your journals, even though you’re not suppose to. They advise you not to look/read back, to burn them. I could’t quite do them all in and have read back. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve whined and whined about the same things/people/situations for decades. I think that’s call being stuck.

I’m slowly learning – not to blame myself. I’m thinking of watching a bee stuck in a spider’s web the other day. It struggled and struggled and finally broke free and flew off. So it’s taking me a little longer to break free. It’s better later than never. Some people are stuck forever in the webs they wove around themselves. I’m grateful that I can test out my new wings even just a little bit. Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose.

Freedom is ridding my piles of paper clutter, dust and outdated and expired thoughts, feelings and what-have-yous. It will take some doing but if I have courage and tenacity, I can chip away at them one day at a time. After all, they were accumulated over years and decades. I was hoping against hope that I could hit the DELETE button and they would be gone. Nothing is ever that easy even though we can send men into space and we can FaceTime with someone on the other side of the globe.

I’ve been working on this post for awhile, over a week. I’m in a bit of a dither this morning. I’m sure we had frost overnight. Even though I was organized in taking all the tomatoes off the vine and covering all my tenders, I see that the cover had blown off my precious Sunburst squash. It has many little squashes still trying to grow up. Oh, well, I can’t save everything. And though it is still early morning, the phone lines to everywhere are experiencing higher than normal volume of calls. One has to dial 911 nowadays to get a real person. I must calm down and not to get my panties in a knot. So I had to leave a message with a message for them to leave a message if I can’t come to the phone when they call. And I will call back with a message to confirm.

I’m feeling super cranky. I will go outside and to the greenhouse to get a dose of natural serotonin. The sun is out and I mustn’t stay grumpy. The clock is ticking.

FALLS AND FAILURES

The other day I wondered why I am still so caught up with all my stupidity on my clutter. I have been retired for 7 years and I am still writing on and on about the same things. When am I going to stop? It feels rather bizarre. I feel my life unlived. I need to stop. Right now! I can hear Caroline Myss‘ voice shouting. Stop it, right now! But you know that I won’t. I have committed a year to doing Stephanie Vogt’s A Year to Clear.

I haven’t made great progress. I am taking those ‘baby steps’, a phrase I hate with a passion. Let me rephrase it to little steps. No point in using words and phrases I do not like. It is important how we talk to ourselves. It could make or break us. I AM making progress. I feel my path clearing before me. It’s like being on the ski track. I am getting to be a better skier, too. Not speed wise though. I’m still mincing along, like a Chinese maiden of yore, on bounded feet. I’m using less effort and steadier, though I did tumble straight off today. I landed flat on my back. My head thudded in my soft snow.

Our failures lies not in our falls but in not getting up. I rolled onto my side. Got my skis out from underneath me. Bent my knees toward my chest and got up almost gracefully. It is very satisfying rising with my boots still attached to my skis and my feet in my boots. Hooray, I am risen! I will have to practice in leaning forward more. I am still falling straight back, right on top of my skis. Amazing! And the day was so beautiful, the trees casting shadows in dappled sunlight on the snow. The dogs across the back alley barked as we circled around the park. I did my usual 2 to the guy’s 7.

It is almost the end of the day. I am tapping and waiting for supper. My sourdough chocolate chip cookies are in the oven after the roast came out. It’s not the baking and roasting that is labourous. It’s the dishes and cleaning up after. I did a whole mess of washing dishes, pots and pans today. I made Chinese steamed buns this morning. Then there was lunch and the cookies. I try not to think of how much work or time it all takes. I said to myself, OK, it’s a process. Do one thing at a time. There is no rush. No need to count how much you have accomplished. It works pretty good. I got into a flow, washing one dish, then two, a pot, a pan and so on.

Now I need to set an intention to sew another mask tomorrow. I have the pattern and material ready and set out.

LOST IN SPACE

I think I am uncomfortable with the emptiness of spaciousness. Hence all my clutter. It’s not that I am a hoarder. It’s not that my house is jammed full of stuff. I have pockets of stuff here and there. My desk, diningroom table, sewing table, coffee tables…There’s a common theme here. Tables! Things do not get thrown out or put away. I have an inability of finishing tasks. They are sitting out, waiting for me to come back. It is the same way with a trip. I love the tripping but I don’t want to get to the end. It’s when I get there, what will I do? That is the discomfort, the emptiness, the unknown. Then the unknown is forced upon me because a trip does end.

How silly is that fear and whence did it come? There are no answers to some questions so I shall not waste time mulling it over. I let the feeling come and work through it. Now when I start something, I try to finish it in a reasonable timeline. I work on it with simple tasks. When the dishes are done, I dry and put them away. I hang up the laundry after it is finished. When it is dried, I take them down, fold and put them away. I haven’t made great strides but I do feel a change. It took a lot of effort at first. The inclination to leave things for ‘later’ was so strong. It’s much easier than. There’s almost a pleasure in completing a job and doing it well.

I have the same aversion to ’empty time’, too. It is uncomfortable/strange to do nothing. I am always doing something, reading, writing, drawing, cooking…..It’s not that I can do nothing now. I just do fewer things. I do things slower. I make more time for slow walks, slow baths, sleeping in a bit. I’m getting back to more how I used to be. I used to be able to sit, sip tea and just listen to CBC radio and do nothing else. There was time for my brain to rest. There was time for me to feel the pleasure of just being. Now I am almost afraid of empty time and spaciousness. It is time for recovery and retrieval.

THE YEAR AHEAD

These may not be the best of times. It certainly is the strangest of times. Most of all, it is the only time we have. I’m trying to find a way to make the most of it. I’ve been a little frustrated, irritated, a little angry, a little up and a little down, feeling the whole kaleidoscope of emotions. Today I’m feeling more at ease and relaxed. I’ve come through the clouds though it is a cloudy day. No sun at all but it is a mild December day. It is -1 degrees Celsius. It is cooler in the greenhouse, -1.6.

I’ve been frustrated with my clutter, my inefficiency. It seems I’ve been working at it for years. Or have I? I’m probably just spinning in my tracks, going nowhere. I have Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear on my Kindle app. Maybe it’s time for me to open it and follow it daily. The chapters are in weeks and within days. Surely I can tackle a single day at a time. It will be good training for my errant brain. I really have difficulty concentrating and doing things step by step in order. I often skip the middle of the book and read the ending. I am impatient. I can’t tolerate/enjoy the whole process. Often I don’t make it back to read the whole story.

I’m practicing on being more patient, tapping slowing and patiently on my keyboard. Sometimes my thoughts race ahead of my fingers. It’s torture to proofread but I will start to do that from now on. I’m good at figuring out computer glitches. I tap here and there until everything works. I can’t tell you how or why though. That’s what my brain is like – a mess of synapses snapping away. Order inside and out is what I desire. I will put that down on my list on my Notes app.

The day has progressed into evening. I will shut it down soon. I have opened A Year to Clear. I will take the time to work through the days and weeks. I am taking this week to relax into the process and to reflect on what it is that I want to clear and what to keep. It is not just about stuff. My mind is as cluttered as my dining room table. I will take it slow and easy. I have a whole year ahead.

A GOOD PRACTICE

It’s another first day of the rest of my life. I’m as grumpy as all get up. Summer heat makes my whole body ache on rising. But I shall grin and bear it. I’m going to tackle my most dreaded chore of tackling the paper pile today. I’m not exactly fresh nor energized but mornings are still my best time. We’ll see how I will progress. Nothing happens if I don’t begin. Beginning is hard. Beginning is the magic word.

Purging is the first step. Boy, what a chore! I’m very bad at not opening my mail. That was my first pile. They’re mostly opened now and put in their appropriate piles. I’ve had this problem for a long time. It’s something that I do know. There’s only one way to correct it. That is to open my mail and deal with it ASAP. Let me put it on the list of bad habits to correct. I’ll start off August with opening each piece of mail. Let me to see if I can do that for the whole month.

It is now middle of the afternoon. My box of paper is not overflowing anymore. My bills are paid. I will not try to do any more hard sorting today. I do feel less overwhelmed. Why do I keep doing that to myself, eh? Over and over. I will not try to deal with the psychology of all that. No need to be that gerbil on the wheel. I can just fall off and do the work.


It’s another first day of the rest of my life. There has been a couple of such days since the last. I don’t profess this great or inspired writing. I just want to chart my progress of this journey call life. Once you hit a certain age and certainly after retirement, there are less significant markers. But I can’t say that for this year. Covid-19 is a huge marker of 2020. Myy mother’s shingles experience is memorable but with a good outcome. Sheba’s leaving us for doggy heaven was heart wrenching but natural in the order of life and death.

It’s good for me to do my tapping/talking here. I know I’m not being correct when the words hit the page. I can do an edit. But if I keep it all inside, the words and worries will turn over and over, fester and grows infectious. They can poison my body and soul. This is a good practice for me. Now that I’ve tapped out a few words and thoughts, I will head over to sort some paper clutter. Another day in the life of….

NO SHAME AND BLAME

I feel very tired and cross after my second day of excavating the rubble in the basement. I am making progress but it is always a bigger job than I envision. It always is. And I would abandon the project time and time again. I should have been listening to Benjamin Franklin when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I haven’t done any maintenance work in the basement for two years. I take things down but nothing comes up – not even dust. Now I’m paying the price. I’ll probably be a few pounds heavier after I’m done. It’s hard and stressful. I’m snacking.

I’m trying to be more efficient and tough with the stuff – recycle or throw out. No saving in case of it might come in handy later. Some things are difficult to recycle because frankly people rather get new stuff. I hate cluttering up the landfill with my stuff, so for now the rowing machine, exercise bike, mini stepper and slant board are in the garage. Maybe in summer I will bring them out as free grabs. Then what do you do with all those cutesy baskets and containers? I blame them for my accumulation of stuff. Then there’s my very old computer. How do you get all the data off the hard drive – smash it? And how do you get the hard drive out of the tower? I suppose I should ask at a computer store.

I’m feeling better, not so cross or tired. I just ate a bowl of chips. They help rid the dust in my throat. Yes, it is a little dusty down there with a few cobwebs. I should be ashamed of myself but what good would that do? I’m feeling bogged down as it is. Shame would add to the load. So no thanks to shame or blame. Life happens as they say. Tomorrow I will do a little more and a little better.