This is a True Story

I haven’t written because I am troubled by a recent experience of a shattered reality.

The grass has always been greener on my neighbor’s lawn.  During the 16 years of living across the street from them, I have always admired their neatly trimmed and nicely landscaped yard around their beautiful stone house.  I am fortunate that they live across the street from me because they give me a nice view from my front windows.

The family that lives in the stone house are as manicured as their yard.  We live in a small town outside of a large city, so it was amazing that I happened to work in the city with a woman who went to high school with my neighbors.  She told that the husband and wife met in high school.  He played football and she was a track star.  My source tells me that my neighbor was the prettiest girl in the school and her husband was always handsome and popular.  [awww — queue the theme song from Love Story.]

They have two sons and a daughter.  Both boys were track stars and qualified to compete at state in the hurdles.  Their oldest son won first place at state and their youngest son was favored to win but unfortunately fell while running the hurdles and lost his first place position.  Their daughter has artistic talent and after inheriting several million dollars from a favorite uncle she moved to New York.  A PERFECT FAMILY!

Okay, so there may be no such thing as a perfect family but I was happy with the thought that they were as close to perfection as anyone.

I first met my neighbor Jane (not her real name) when she was petitioning the neighbors to show up at a town hall meeting to lend their voice to a zoning change.  She was beautiful, slender and sweet.  I liked her instantly and we became friends.  Not the “talk everyday and do everything together” type of friends but the “come over and chat every once in a while neighbor because it is always good to see you” type of friends.

When she invited me into her beautiful home I saw that it was just as beautiful inside.  She has great taste.  The house was built in the 1930s and has been well maintained.   The rooms were organized and uncluttered.  Something that I am trying to accomplish as you know from reading this blog.

They have it all and I was happy with that impression — until that reality shattered and a new reality showed up.

Where we live, winters are harsh so we hunker down in our homes during the winter months and we lose touch with our neighbors but in the spring we get reacquainted with each other.  So on a recent spring Sunday morning as I returned from walking the dog I stopped to talk to Jane’s husband Richard (not his real name) who was trimming lilacs to bring to Jane.

That is when reality was shattered in a rapid fire style.

Richard was very drunk and it was only 9:00 a.m.   As I looked down at their lawn (that I always envied) I saw there were weeds sprouting up everywhere and it showed signs of neglect. Jane emerged from the home with dark sunglasses to hide a black eye.  Richard was quick to say that he did not cause the black eye but did share that he was headed for jail in June due to an incident that he and Jane had in December.

It was all too much too fast.  I walked back to my house in a dumbfounded stupor asking myself, how did they stray so far from what was once perfection?  When did things start to change?  Did I miss the clues all these years?  What happened to Dick and Jane?

I want it to be a bad dream; I want them to always remain perfect as I perceived them to be during the past 16 years; I want this sadness to go away.

My apologies for being a downer but thank you for allowing me to let it out.

The Thief

Time is a thief and I have allowed myself to be its favorite victim.  Has anyone discovered how to successfully tame time?

To-Do List Failure

I have found that making “to-do” lists have been helpful but I have experienced failure in completing the to-do list because more times that not time claims the victory as time runs out before I am able to get to the bottom of the list (even when I add a buffer of time to complete the list).  Time is able to chew up the estimated time to complete a task and the buffer of time built in “just in case” the estimated time is too short. That is failure at a whole new level.

Time Blocking

I am going to try a new weapon that I am going to add to my time-slashing arsenal.  It may not be a new concept but it is new to me.  It is called “time-blocking” and it is the reverse of a to-do list.  Instead of making a list and estimating the time it takes to complete a task, the time blocking method blocks a certain amount of time to get the task completed and organizes my day in a series of time slots.

Productive Times

With the time-blocking method, I identify parts of my day when I am very productive and times of the day that just aren’t productive for me.  I am a morning person so I start out strong and can get a lot done in the morning but as the day goes on my giddy-up gets-gone.  So hopefully the time-blocking method will allow me to slot some time in the morning for tasks and maybe I can get more time at the end of the day for me.

Focus

The concept of time-blocking promotes focus on the task and completing a task within the slotted time instead of just completing a task so that I move on to the next task.

So this looks good in theory; who thinks it will be successful?

Sugar and Spice Alphabetized is Nice

Today a slayed a monster.  I completed the dreaded task of organizing the spice cabinet. I have two full shelves of spices and I am certain that is more spices than the average home.

This task was enlightening because I realized that being unorganized was part of the problem that caused the cabinet to be more crowded.  I found four bottles of cloves and because the bottles are so small I couldn’t find them in my overcrowded  unorganized cabinet so I would buy more cloves.

I wrote a little poem to describe my adventure in slaying the monster.  I hope you like it.

The spice cabinet below is crowded and scattered
It needed to be organized just because it mattered

The spices were pulled from the cabinet in droves
Why in the world are there four bottles of cloves?

The scent of cinnamon sweetly filled the air
As each jar and bottle was sorted with care

A B C D the alphabetizing had begun
starting with Allspice; ending with Tarragon

Some spices were old and thrown into the trash
Others were brand new and will save me some cash

With the task complete it feels so divine
I deserve to open that bottle of wine

 

Pay Attention

My son was discouraged at the end of the day because he wasn’t doing well at something. I had to remind him that he wasn’t doing well because he wasn’t focused on it.  It wasn’t difficult to ramble off a list of activities that he was good at to prove the point that he does very well at the things he focuses on.  I have found that to be true for me.

Spinning Plates

I think about an entertainer I saw as a child who had a row of 5 foot tall dowel sticks and at the top of each dowel stick he would place a white dinner plate and spin it.  While a plate was spinning he would go to the next dowel and spin a plate on it and then the next and the next.  Eventually the first plate he began spinning would lose its spinning speed and start to wobble so he would have to go back to that first plate and start to spin it again, and then he would resume placing plates on the other dowels with the goal of getting a plate on each dowel like so:

Spinning Plates

The entertainer had to pay attention to the spinning plates because if any lost too much spinning speed they were at risk of falling off the stick and smashing on the floor.

My Plates

If I look at the areas I want to focus on right now, and if they were like spinning plates, there are only two spinning plates — decluttering and health.

Maybe I will add another plate like focusing on my finances but I don’t have that plate and stick yet.  I am only spinning health and decluttering at this time.  Already I noticed that my health plate is starting to wobble.  I have been eating junk and so the weight that I lost during my cleanse is starting to creep back on and I am starting to wobble.

 

Kitchen Kick

My inspiration for the kitchen, like everything else, is taken from somewhere else.  This time I am using my sister’s kitchen with its neat uncluttered drawers and its spacious cabinets.

I don’t have spacious cabinets in my kitchen but I can make the inside of my cabinets look spacious by limiting the items in them.

Let’s take it from the top — the top cabinets were my first target.  They are also the least overcrowded except for one cabinet where the cans that have been in the cabinet so long they are leaving rust rings on the shelf.

Closing my eyes and mentally putting on my “get it done” self, I began to pull out anything I no longer needed or would use until the contents in the cabinet were no longer touching.  I organized the remaining “deemed worthy to stay” items into like categories and it is good.

I will be decluttering the countertops and drawers together but that will have to wait for another day because my hour is up.

Does anyone have a trick to keeping the cabinets looking this nice and not going back into its clutter stage again?

The Closet

Nothing exciting to report on the bedroom closet organization.  I have done it before and it requires few decisions and can be completed by answering questions:

  1. What is this article of clothing?
  2. Have I worn it in the past year?  If no, skip to final question 5 below.
  3. If yes, then will I wear it again?  If no, skip to final question 5 below.
  4. If yes, put it back on the rod and skip question 5; your done with that piece.
  5. If no, is the condition good enough for someone else to wear or should it be thrown away? Place item in the appropriate chosen pile (donate or throw away); your done with that piece.

Mentally putting on my “Get It Done” self, I did the five steps above for each article hanging in the closet.  I kept a vision in my head on how I wanted the closet to look when the job was done.

My vision was taken from a magazine picture where the clothes in the picture were hanging freely and not crammed in between other clothes and sticking out in every direction.  The magazine pictures had the clothes categorized by type (shirts, slacks, suit coats, etc.) and organized by color (dark to light).

Mission accomplished and I did not even use the full hour I allotted for the job.  I was pleased with the results and boxed up the items for donation and stuffed the ragged clothes into a garbage bag and out they went.

The box of donated clothes were placed in the trunk of my car and will remain there until I know for certain that my “Get It Done” self was not overly zealous and decided to donate clothes that were still loved more than anticipated.

I will drive around with the donation box in the trunk of my car for one month and then it goes to the donation center.

Moving on to the dresser and night stand with my vision for how each will look when I am done.

Once the bedroom is finished, do I dare move on to the kitchen?!  That would mean . . . gulp! . . . I will have to organize/alphabetize the spices!

Uncluttered

So I am moving on to my next adventure which is to Minimize My Mess (that will be referred to from now on as MMM).  I am aware that having clutter has cost me time which is something that I don’t have enough of.  In order to gain time I will have to give up some time to get rid of the clutter.

This is going to be a monumental task so I am going to follow that old expression — “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”  So here is the plan:

  • The house will be broken down by rooms
    • Each room will be broken down by zones (drawers, shelves, closets, upper areas/lower areas, cabinets, dressers, etc.).
    • The smaller the zone the better because time needs to be limited to one hour from start to finish at the most.
  • Before starting to MMM I need to have a vision on how I want it to look when I am done. How much space to I want have left and how minimum do I want the space to look.
  • When I begin to MMM I need to have the right mind set so I have to find my “get it done” personality.  The part of me that is “no nonsense” with strong decision skills.
  • At the end of my MMM I will have excess clutter that I will need to dispose of so the excess will be divided into sell, donate and toss categories and I will post the sell items on a website and if it does not sell in one month it gets transferred to the donate or toss category.

I like the plan.  It is short and I think it has the tools I need to be successful.  My tools include a target (zones); a timing goal (one hour per zone); vision; mindset; and an end game.

I will start small with a zone that will not overwhelm me from the beginning and I know I will gain speed/strength as I get energy from seeing how nice it is to be without clutter.

The first zone is my bedroom closet because I have done this area before and know that I will only have donate and toss decisions on this one.

Here I go!

The Cleanse

My next great adventure is attempting a green juice cleanse.  A lot has been written about the benefits of green juice cleanses so my interest has been piqued.  I found the following information online at Juicing: How Healthy Is it:

  • Promote weight loss. In one study, adults who drank at least eight ounces of vegetable juice as part of a diet lost four pounds over 12 weeks, while those who followed the same diet but did not drink the juice lost only one pound. The vegetable juice drinkers also significantly increased their intake of vitamin C and potassium, while decreasing their overall carbohydrate intake.
  • Boost your immune system by supercharging it with concentrated phytochemicals. Raw juice also contains biophotonic light energy, which can help revitalize your body.
  • Increase your energy. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients it needs, and your pH is optimally balanced, you feel energized. Since it can be utilized by your body immediately, those who juice report feeling the “kick” of energy almost instantly.
  • Support your brain health. People who drank juices (fruit and vegetable) more than three times per week, compared to less than once a week, were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Kame Project.1

Sign me up!   I want all of the above benefits.

I found a book at a book fair for a four day cleanse.  Four days!  How many times have four days passed without a second thought.  So I begin.

Day One

Not too bad.  Some of the juices taste like I am drinking grass but it is not as hard to swallow as I thought.  I had pings of hunger pangs (which I refer to as pings of pangs) but I distracted myself and after a little while the hunger would subside and I forgot I was hungry.

The green juice cleanse I am following allows a raw vegetable dinner which is pretty delicious especially after drinking green juice all day.

I felt full after chomping down on the red cabbage salad.

The first day is a success and I only have three more days.  I would say that completing the first day was a piece of cake but that would be a cruel joke to play on myself.

How will tomorrow go?  Stay tuned.

Day Two

My first question of the day was:  “What was it that I was doing?”

Then I remembered — I was on day 2 of my green juice cleanse.  I must say that I woke up feeling a bit lighter so I ran to my scale to see if the juice cleanse had any effect on my weight.  Two pounds lighter!

I was pleased but 10 pounds lighter would have made me more pleased.  Never satisfied with what I have.

Alas; it was pounds lost and not gained.  So I continued my journey through day 2 which was a little harder.  The hunger pangs were stronger and I got a headache in the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t like pain.  Drinking the juice did not get any easier.

Energy is good so I am seeing that benefit as well.  I press on because I want to see what the scale tells me tomorrow morning and, besides I am half way done!

Day Three

Great energy today!  Feeling very happy even though the scale only showed me one less pound this morning.  Nevertheless, I am still going in the right direction with my weight (a total of 3 pounds in two days which is better than I have ever done on a diet).

The headache disappeared today so that could attribute to my happy disposition.  I am craving bread.  I did not think that today was as hard as yesterday.  I am amazed at how many times I reach for food unconsciously but thankfully I am able to wake up and remember that I am in the middle of the cleanse before I go too far.

I am also amazed at how many commercials on television advertise with food.

I must say that I am glad that I only have one more day.  The book I am following stated that I could find myself craving the green juice.  Yeah, no, that is not happening.

I look forward to getting on the scale tomorrow morning and seeing today’s results and I am happy for the energy that I have.

OK day four — here I come!

Day Four

I am writing this section after completing day four so I am looking back.

The final day started as a success with the scale going down another pound and a half.  So that is a total of four and a half pounds lost as I began day four.  The cravings were gone (no sugar or bread cravings) and I found it easy to get through the day.

When I got on the scale the next morning I was another pound and a half lighter.  In four days I lost a total of six pounds.  Pretty amazing especially since I gained energy.

Looking back on all four days I would say that the second day was the hardest just because the headache made the day uncomfortable and the hunger pangs were the strongest.

I also came up with a theory that the more juice I drank the more weight I lost.  I have not been able to prove this theory and it is only a guess because I only drank one 8 oz glass of juice on Day Two (I skipped the lunch juice) and the scale showed I only lost one pound but on Day One I drank three 8 oz glasses of juice and lost 2 pounds and on Days Three and Four I drank two 8 oz glasses of juice and lost one and a half pounds each of those days.

Makes me wonder if the weight loss is related to the number of glasses of juice I drink.  I will definitely do the juice cleanse again because I liked the extra energy and the weight loss.  I also want to try out my theory.

I just need to find a more comfortable way to get through Day Two — if possible.

The Great Explore

Looking Back

Today I looked around my new site, but first I want to document how I got the site up since I am from another century and this technology does not come naturally to me.  I may want to have another site but there is no way I will remember how I did this one.  So this is how I did it in 2017 (but knowing technology, it will all be different in a couple of months):

  1. Set up a new e-mail so that I can keep all e-mails concerning this blog in one place;
  2. Access WordPress.com;
  3. Select “Create a Site” https://wordpress.com/start/design-type; and
  4. Follow prompts to set up a new site (insert e-mail address, name of website and pay fee).

Being so easy I am certain to forget — but now I have a 4-step process and a link.  I am glad that I bookmarked both my e-mail address and my WordPress login in the bookmark bar yesterday because I know I would have been lost how to get back here.

Taking Care of Business

The first actions I took after logging in to Word Press was to select “My Site” in the upper left hand corner and also select “Settings” at the bottom of the left hand column.  I was able to give my site a site title and a tagline.  I selected the site title “The Warehouse” because this is the blog that is going to house the trials and errors of my new journeys.

I checked out each option on the left hand column to see what was available to me.  When I got to the media line I realized that I had the ability to upload a picture.  So just for fun I uploaded a picture that was on my desktop and now I can insert it into my blog right here below:

Glacier Crossing
Crossing over to Blogging

I like this blogging so far and I am certain there are a lot more features that I may never know because I don’t know they are there or what they can do.

Looking Forward

After saving this blog I will try to access my blog through a search engine to see what the public sees.

This seems to be easy to do and does not require high technology skills especially for the not so techie like me.

On to the next new journey which begins tomorrow morning.

The Start

Exciting!  This is a perfect time to start a blog because it is spring and for me that means new!  I have never blogged before so I don’t know how this will go.  It could be a burden or my new addiction.  Whichever way this goes doesn’t matter right now because I am excited about this new adventure at this moment.

I have several reasons for starting this blog which are:

  • To see if I like it
  • To start something new; a new adventure
  • To document my experience in this new adventure
  • To get in the mindset of blogging (finding my writing style, working my way through the technology of the software, get into the habit)

If I had to say which reason above was the most likely the biggest reason, I would have to say to document my experience.  This will be a good reference if I wanted to blog for keeps or blog for money.

But just starting something I have never done before is so exhilarating!  It’s new, it’s different, and I am outside of my comfort zone.

Let’s not get too much of ourselves.  Keep calm; act like you’ve been here before.  You have had enough blogging for today.  You can play with your “more options” button tomorrow.