On Wednesday night my grandmother exclaimed she was in a hurry to leave my house because every time she came to my house, it drove her crazy how messy it was. Her exact words were, “Me voy porque cada vez que vengo aquí me vuelvo loca.” Thanks, Abuela.
The next afternoon, my mother (Abuela’s daughter) dropped off the older kids. Daughter noticed the work I’m doing on the home office corner including bringing in a bookshelf. She was excited. “Abi,” she said excitedly. “Come here I want to show you something!” My mother looked up at the direction Daughter was pulling her in and said, “What do you want to show me? The disaster your mother is making?” Thanks, Mom.
Like mother, like daughter? And if that’s the case, what does this mean for me? And for my Daughter? Is it really such a surprise that I have such a hard time maintaining positive outlooks when I come from a line of women who are specially trained Fault-Finders? They walk into the most glorious room and zoom in on the one tiny thing that might be not right. In my house, they have to zoom in on the one thing that might be right and that requires effort, dedication, and purpose. These little admonitions drive me batty, of course. It does sting after working at something every extra minute you have available, to have your effort reduced to a disaster or a trigger for insanity in mere seconds.
But, I take a deep breath because I know how much work I am putting into this new endeavor on top of maintaining the other things I have going right. Things like the Glorious Kitchen (including dishes and pots/pans), lunch boxes prepared the night before, putting things back when I’m finished, finishing what I start, and almost daily laundry. When I started Endeavor: Kitchen Organization, I wasn’t up to date on any part of my house and related chores. Even being able to focus solely on the kitchen, and the kitchen being a hundred times more organized and de-cluttered than the hall closet/home office, it took me a few days to get it in tip-top shape. And, it takes a conscious daily effort to keep it where it’s at. Besides, I’m really encouraged with these projects because I’m able to see something important.
Boy, have I changed. This has actually been sort of fermenting in my brain for a while now but they’ve been mere whisperings. Going through the hall closet is a walk in time. It’s not a smooth stroll, but quite jolty and jumpy from one year to another to back another two. I can only wonder what my financial life would’ve been back in the day had I been even just tracking everything the way I am now. But there’s no sense in really dwelling much on what’s happened before is there? I guess it really is important to just think about now. What’s going on now? I’m letting go of so many things and I’m feeling completely alright about it. I’m thinking much clearer about possessions than I used to and there is little to no guilt attached.
Last night I was thinking about the kids’ ideas on material things and so this morning I asked my son what he thought a good number of toys a kid should have would be. His response? Between 80 and 70. My jaw dropped. This is not what I’m trying to work for is it? So I asked him a few more questions. Does he know exactly which toys he owns, every single one? No. Does he know where each toy is? No. Does he play with all of his toys? No. We talked a bit more about how hard it is to keep the toys clean and to keep track of them and I think, when they get back from their Dad’s house on Monday, we might work out a system. I’m thinking some sort of limit of 20 toys each kid, but each would have certain subdivisions. Like Lego’s for instance, would count as one item if he can keep them confined to the bins under the block table. If he needs to use other bins, they become additional items. I’m thinking I’ll likely keep reducing this number as we keep working on it. And I’m pretty sure this project will most likely really go into effect next month at the latest. Endeavor: Playroom can only commence once I complete Endeavor: Hall Closet/Home Office. I feel like I’m playing a video game and going on quests. I should make myself digital trophies to track my progress or some sort of medal collection. Hmm…
Another hmmm, it seems I’m setting myself up for Monthly Challenges like one half of Grumpy Rumblings.
I, of course, think of myself and all of the things I own. How much of what I own do I actually use? There’s definitely lots of room to clear out. A few things are on Craigslist after all, since a friend volunteered to help me sell them. And I listed a few books on Amazon as well. I am still amassing a big donation for the VVA (which reminds me I have to schedule a pick-up). And the trash can is filling, and emptying, at a brisk pace. Going through my stuff I can’t help but smile at the things I’ve kept over the years like an entire set of the chocolate dinosaur lollipops I made for Eldest’s first birthday party. You should know, I was actually quite talented and the chocolate lollipops were in color and even had details painted in different colors. I was impressed with myself. But then I threw them away. I got rid of tons of cards given to the kids and me over the years that had nothing but vague signatures splashed across the bottoms. I kept most of the ones where people actually bothered to leave a meaningful message, and all three of the super cute handmade ones my cousin made for Eldest.
I think a lot these days about “enough” and the myriad of studies out on it and other things like fulfillment and satisfaction. I think, like apparently so many other Americans, Ex and I flew right past the Enough peak without even noticing and fell headfirst into a “too much is never enough” downward spiral. I know the role retail therapy used to play in my life. I make a conscious effort to resist it and yet, I can do better. Next week, I’m not ordering the dinner delivery service. I just can’t afford that sort of luxury right now, and that’s what it is no matter how I want to call it. I have a freezer full of chicken breasts, drumsticks, and ground, shrimp, grouper, and pork shoulder ribs. I have two slow cooker cookbooks at home. I definitely think I can take a week and abuse the slow cooker while emptying my freezer. Obviously, I value convenience. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a dinner delivery service. But, I can strike a compromise and get most of the convenience offered by the delivery with a bit of elbow grease. I might have to spring a bit to get some missing ingredients but it won’t come near what the dinner service costs. And I’m still chipping away at my hall closet and the clutter.
So far, my No-Spend month has gone rather well. I paid $81.99 for this week’s dinner service, $4.91 for power steering fluid, and paid/scheduled most of my bills. The only thing that has not gone well is the income. Ex shorted me again on child support. To date, he owes me $2,000 and that doesn’t include extras like uninsured medical costs and extracurriculars or whatnot for the kids. So, I’m pretty sure instead of my initially budgeted $670 for expenses outside of monthly bills, I have to go down to $500 to make ends meet which means I have $413.10 to go. This, of course, is in combination with me not paying anything on top of minimum payments to my creditors and it also includes my not refilling my mini emergency fund. I might be getting a $400 FSA refund this month but it looks like that has to go to an emergency car repair as my car is leaking power steering fluid viciously.
But, it’s fine. I’m going to be ok. We have more than enough when you really get right down to it. I have to remember that. I may continue finding small unexpected sources of income in my home as I go through the de-cluttering process. The jar of spare change is very heavy and full. I have a well-enough stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry that should get me through next week and maybe even the week after that. I’ll know for sure once I’ve sat and done my meal planning. I am much more confident we can get through all of this and without feeling any sort of deprivation. It works out well that I’m tackling the messiest and most cluttered part of my home during this time because I have so much more to remind me of how much abundance there is in my life.
Meanwhile, my condolences to those of you living in most of the United States dealing with that cold white stuff you all call snow. I really do live in paradise.