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Friday, January 24, 2014

I think it is Paris...well, almost

This is where I am supposed to go in my head when I get nuts...just saying.

So the news is good...Jane Davis my organizing guru returned today.  And lets just say she was thrilled.  May I repeat that?  Thrilled.  

I don't think you are grasping the enormity of this....a woman who understands organizing, considered my efforts and deemed me a success.  Gasp!!

She confided that she didn't think I would do it...or could do it.    Not sure which one she chose.  Any way I cleaned out 5 drawers of stuff....going through it was like rings on a tree. I found things I hadn't even thought about for years.  It was interesting and it took 3 days.  I am not happy with how slowly I churned through it, but slow and steady wins the race, right?  I threw out tons of written things that are easily found on the computer and realized no one needs that many pencils. I discovered tape, paste and dry erase markers have a shelf life and I spent half a day looking at ancient pictures.

I also found 13 cents.

Then I tackled the book shelves.  They really are just a big scrap book.  Besides my books, which take up a lot of room, I have all my families pictures on top of them to the side of them and in front of them.   

It's a good room. 

I only got rid of books I had already read or just didn't need, for instance why do I have a 1984 writers manual?

My desk was heaped....and for some reason that took forever.  Getting organized has it's hiccups.  I would walk around it, like it was a waste dump.  It felt toxic.  That took forever. But then I found some ways to have some fun with it, I cleared off several shelves next to my desk, and then just sat there.  What do I need?  That has been my problem, if I need scissors I have to hunt for them....and its...the only thing that was right where it always is is the scotch tape.  So I put everything next to the scotch tape and promised myself I would put everything back where I found it.  Maybe I could velcro it to the shelf.  

This is right next to my is still intense, but handy.  The printer is on the bottom, above that a 3 tier paper organizer thing, my calendar, all the office supplies I need.  And they won't move from this spot.  I found a small silver cup to put stamps in.  A basket for the post it notes, a container for all the computer things... a shelf for the calculator, pictures of my kids, and a magnifying glass.  And it was my goal to find the most unusual containers I could find...all around my house.


My pens are in one place, my calendar.....a fun little desk container for my notes.  I feel so much more confident and capable.  I have a stack of books to trade or give away and 4 count them 4 empty drawers.

Jane gave me my next assignment, separating bills.  I told her my avoidance problem, my finances are weak so bills make me apprehensive...but if I incorporate the wisdom of my dear friend Valerie, we attract what we fear.  Attracting poverty seems counterintuitive, so I plunge ahead.

She is going to find a form for mileage...caterers drive a lot

Date the receipts.

Clear out the file cabinet, since it is filled with files 5 years old it is as helpful as the 4 huge drawers of "stuff".

Now I have room....

I really don't want to be like those people on hoarders, they get their homes organized and then they go right back to how they were before.

So I have the queen to watch over me and make sure I don't slide.

She is a gift from my friend Betsey who knows I need someone with authority to keep me in line.  So she stands next to my computer and waves at me.  Her purse has a solar power thing on it.

The Queen would never tolerate clutter.

I will be good.....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It Should Be Paris

It should be Paris but it isn't....It is clutter 1,2,3 and 4.

No this isn't a resolution, this is reality....fixing my unorganized mess. It has been impossible to find anything and very hard to do business.  I do everything at this desk and it has been a frustrating ball of tangled yarn getting anything accomplished.

When I realized I needed an intervention I called Jane Davis, who is to organization what Philo Farnsworth is to television.  Jane came over and surveyed the whole situation, because I really wanted help I remained ego-less and simply hopeful there was a solution.  I didn't cringe when she saw just how overwhelmed I was with paper and stuff, I just wanted a road map.

First she told me I wasn't a hoarder and she had seen much, much worse.  Jane is an extremely patient person and wasn't critical.  She explained to me how many offices and homes she had organized and how much better they ran after a few simple steps.  Easy Peasey.

Then she said something I had to hear in order to go forward....."Time is money".  Jane told me about a law firm she started with that basically operated out of a bedroom and is now 18 attorneys.  She attributes a great deal of their success with the organization she instituted in their office.  As she surveyed my mess she told me the hard truth, it is impossible to do business when you don't know where anything is.  Time is wasted looking for things that should be within an arm's reach.  I know this is true when I would think about all the times I wrote notes on anything I could, envelopes, scraps of paper and open books when I couldn't find my note pad.  I would search endlessly for my calendar which would be at the bottom of the bills, or in the kitchen, dining room or even one time my car.  I know I lost business just because I was so unorganized.

Here are the simple steps she asked me to do this week.

1.) Accept change.  That is actually the hardest part, but I have to make our business work, so I will change.  Done

2.) Clear off the desk....of everything....some things can be added back, but for now a clear surface

3.) Clear out the bookshelves next to my desk, I can put files there....or things that have something to do with work and not art books, unfiled papers and broken scot tape containers

4.) Get containers...the chest above was filled with papers I hadn't looked at in 5 years, and that chest can be used for the business files.  Space is important, stuff isn't.
Stuff falls into 3 categories, possessions (accumulated stuff) Treasures (things you love that cannot be replaced) Keepsakes (things people have given you that you really don't care about but you keep them in case your Aunt comes by and looks for lamp she gave you).  So I went through the chest and didn't have to decide about a lot of things, I could just put them in the clear container - has to be clear so that you see what it is right away.  And I could go through it on a Sunday afternoon, no pressure.  It actually took away some angst I would experience when trying to decide to keep something or not.

She also told me to get rid of anything that can be replaced for less than $50.  You know what you say, "I might need this one day"  And maybe you will, but when a whole cupboard is filled with things you might use, then it is just clutter.

I have one week to get this done and she is coming back to help me with the next step.  She isn't coming to check on me, she is coming to implement the next step.  No pressure, nothing hanging over my head.  She was very persuasive in her approach in helping me understand what I will gain from organization.


I don't believe in complete control, things always occur, but I will have a much better picture of what needs to be done.  And I will be able to find it.  I have to put things I use in the same place every time.  Every time.  Just a few steps will give me the tools I need.  One thing Martha Stewart always says, use the best tool for the job.

Back to work, Paris is under here somewhere...

Monday, January 13, 2014

"I am too old for this!!"

So how many times have you heard this?

"I am too old for this"

I have heard it a lot, mostly in my head.  When I started this journey I began to ponder the words I used.  The catastrophic things I say are just empty words with little or no worth, said out of frustration. And besides, what am I too old for, other than being Miss Texas?  I really wanted to be miss Texas when I was little with big hair and a fabulous accent.  I was even the crown bearer for the Miss Water Festival pageant.  I wore a cute little bathing suit with a sash that said "Miss Water Festival 1971".  The winner went on to the Miss Houston pageant which feeds right into the Miss Texas pageant.  I was 8.  I was never even a real Miss Water Festival much less Miss Texas, so today I am too old for that.  Nuts.

Too old for Astronaut, Swat and Seal teams too.

When do you hear "I am too old for this, or I don't deserve this" the most?  You know when, when you are ticked and don't want to do whatever it is you are doing that you think you are too old for.
It's not like age is some line on a wall like a height requirement at Disneyland.  You really aren't too old if truth be told, you just don't want to be doing whatever it is you are doing.
I am too old to be raising children - a friend who is raising her grandchildren is chasing toddlers at 60.
I am too old to take care of my elderly parents in their dotage....I am a almost senior citizen, right?
I am too old to be taking care of my husband/wife who is sick.
I am too old to be working full time with no retirement in sight.
I am too old to get divorced.

Granted none of those things sound fun, mostly because we want Nirvana.  We want to be planning endless delightful trips, getting our nails done, eating food with no possible chance of gaining weight, and spending an afternoon a week with spotless grandchildren.  No shame here, it's what's called the natural man syndrome.  The natural man is always looking for the easy way out....let's find the easy button!  But since life doesn't have an easy button, how do we handle the disappointment of the reality of life?
Or better yet how do we answer the age old question...

"I don't deserve this."

No worries, you don't have to confess that you have at least thought that a few hundred times...after all we live in a world with a bunch of air brushed women and blue pilled men all youth worshipping.  It's easy to  measure your life against the make believe lives and come up wanting.  But it isn't real.  Stop comparing your life with a shadow on the wall that is taller and thinner than you.  It isn't real.
The home magazines?  Staged.  Women magazines?  Vogue, 17, Allure, Mademoiselle, Glamour...all air brushed and staged.
Here's another, Martha Stewart has a staff.  She doesn't do everything on that dumb calendar in the front of her magazine alone....she staffs it out.  She wants you to do that crap alone while she pulls on her waders and strolls down a beach in the Hamptons.  Read it all if you want, take an idea or two from them, but don't buy into their definition of beauty or success.  It isn't real....

And get rich quick schemes, anything done too quickly, doesn't work.  Slow and steady wins the race.  The turtle not the rabbit...If there is something you really want you are going to have to tough it out, put in the time and be patient. The adversary (whatever that is for you) wants you to buy into thinking everything has to be done quickly because then you will be disappointed when quick doesn't work and he wins by making you miserable.  Did you see Saving Mr.Banks?  Walt Disney tried for 20 years to get permission from the lovable P.L. Travers to make Mary Poppins into a movie.  20 years!!  Slow and steady won that race for sure!!

Here is the truth...listen up.  Everyone has a problem, everyone.  A wise man once said, "treat everyone as though they have had the worst day of their life and you will be right 50% of the time."  The worst thing is thinking, "I am the only one this has happened to, everyone else in the world has life wired and I am the only one with financial problems, the only one with marriage problems, children problems.  The adversary wants to single you out as the only one.  It makes it easy for him to get you to feel like a failure if you think you are the only one with the problem, right?  Reality is you aren't the best little kid on the block, but you aren't the worst either.  The best way to be unhappy is to think about yourself too much.  Do you see how many times I have used the letter "I"?  I am too old, I don't deserve this....I need better boobs, I need less lines on my face, I need to be in love, I need to be alone, I need, I need, I need......I I I I I.

Stop it...that's right, stop it.  it is as easy as me and realize that happiness is a choice.
So make a better choice.  It's a choice to save the china instead of using it.  It is a choice to write the book or the poem, to paint or run for office.  It is also a choice to watch Netflix all day every day.  Think ahead one month, just one month, what could you do that would make you feel really accomplished about your life?  It doesn't have to be enormous.  Maybe you did the elliptical for 10 minutes a day, or read a classic, maybe you began yoga.  What do you want to do?  When you thought about your dotage did you envision sitting on the couch watching TV just because you can?  Or did you imagine all the time you would have to learn another language, crochet, do genealogy or have an ant farm?  Did you want to direct a play, sail a ship or write a book?  If you are going to dream, dream big, you aren't too old for any of your dreams (unless you want to be Miss Texas).

Do you spend so much time counting your problems that you have lost the ability to count your blessings?  No matter what your circumstances are you can still do things to help you feel accomplished.  I know the closer I am to God the clearer the answers are....that is where the energy is, and that is where the peace is.  I know the further I am from Him the more I experience fear.  I don't like the feeling of being afraid.  Even if you are fighting oil rig fires you don't have to be afraid.
Remember you are a mammal with opposable thumbs so you can reason and you can choose.  It might take a lot of practice but as soon as you feel those negative feelings, the ones that tell you you aren't good enough, tall enough, lovable enough, them away.  Hand those negative thoughts over to whatever higher power you subscribe too and feel peace.  Really do it, don't just say you will.

This is what I am going to do for one month 10 minutes of some kind of activity...I might dance for 10 minutes, or do yoga....I might do the elliptical, or remember cheers from high school.  I am going to do something and have fun doing it.  Then after a month I am going to look backward with a big 'ole smile!!

How about you?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

All The Possibilities

I used to do all the things people do this time of year.  Wonder how I gained so much weight, cried when my children went back to college, tried to organize my Christmas decorations so they would be easier to assemble next year....typical stuff.

But this year is different.  2014 is my year, the year of Jubilee plus 10, the year I turn 60.  That number caused me to do a lot of thinking.  Sometimes pivotal birthdays come and go with a little fanfare, but not much more.  When I turned 30 I was pregnant, we went golfing and my husband wisely gave me a beautiful gold bracelet.  When I turned 40 we went out to dinner with friends and I remember feeling  everything was where it should be, I was married and had wonderful children, we were building a house..nothing to complain about, 40 was fine.  When I turned 50 my children and Raymond gave me an amazing party...They invited every one of my dear friends and asked them to bring their favorite memory of me! You know how we say at funerals that we should have said all those nice things to the guy when he was alive?  Well I had a "live" funeral and it was fabulous!  And I decided 50 was the new 30 anyway.

Turning 60 is another milestone....except this one is different.  Instead of just thinking about the things I want to change or just dreaming about the things I want to do, I   am   going    to     do     them.  I am not setting goals or making resolutions, this isn't about that.  I am going to do the things I have been wanting to do for a long time.  The last couple of years have been something of a personal challenge.  The recession (hell, it was a depression, wasn't it?) kicked our butts and put us in a place where we had to completely financially start over.  Maybe that would have been exhilarating at 30, but at almost 60 it was ghastly.  I didn't react as well as you might think, in fact I reacted rather badly.  I felt sorry for myself, I began to envy other people, I felt hopeless and became increasingly pessimistic about the future.  To say this was a bad time for me and that the minions were winning would be an understatement.

In the worst of it I knew 2 things, I knew I just needed to change my thinking (but I couldn't figure out how) And I knew I would never forget how badly I felt, and that I would use everything going forward for anyone going through the same thing.  It took me a while to get out of the "worst of it", knowing you need to change your thinking and actually doing it is a real challenge.  I started working with a woman who was able to help me change my attitude of things will never work out, to I know it will work, I know I will be successful.  I found tools to use, and I put them into practice.  It has not been easy, I slip back into negativity sometimes, but now I know how to erase those negative thoughts.  I remind myself, they are just thoughts, they aren't real.   My catastrophic thoughts aren't real, they are just thoughts.

This experience was eye opening for me I wasn't just getting mentally better  I saw that I could change!   If I could change something in my life that had literally paralyzed me  I had the power to change other things in my life too.  I saw potential I had never seen before.

God wants a powerful people and I am starting to flex my muscles.

As I said I am not setting goals or resolutions, I stink at goals and I never follow through on resolutions.  I am simply going to change the things that have kept me from really enjoying life.

I am going to take this in stages.  When my children were little they would often sit in the ruins of their room not having a clue how to clean up such a huge mess,  I would tell them to eat the elephant and in order to eat the elephant you do it one bite at a time.

Where to start?  One answer, at the beginning.  I am not a professional in change, I am not a life coach, I don't have a degree in psychology but I am well read and I know where to go to find the answers I need.  I went to my friends first.  I asked them to tell me where they get inspiration, what affirmations work for them, and how do they handle the nonsense that life can throw at us.

I read everything they recommended, a lot that was very helpful and a lot that was very motivational.  Then  I did a mental inventory.  Sort of like the scene in Apollo 13 when after everyone realizes there is a huge problem the first thing the scientists do is find out what is actually on the space ship. They can only find a solution with what the astronauts actually have to work with.

So what do I have to work with?  I have a healthy body that has gotten me through almost 60 years of life (thank you!) I have a curious mind....sometimes too curious.  I have a supportive family, I have a computer (thank you Ashleigh) and I have the will to make the changes I want to make.

The next part of my plan is to pin point exactly what I want to change.

If this project sounds appealing to you, join me.  If you want to join me don't think small, think big, dare yourself to let go of the side of the pool and dive in!!

My friend Mark Andrews recommendation was by the creator of Dilbert - Scott Adams In his Nov. Blog called Systems vs Goals( he writes about how his tiny little blog led to more writing and more writing led to more readers which led to more exposure which led to guest blogs on the Wall Street Journal, which led to where he is now.  That is the pattern my life has followed.  Everything has come though a series of stops and starts.  All the good things have taken time and my dear friend (and wildly successful businessman) Charles Miller always said, "Slow and steady wins the race."

This is what I am going to do this year.  I am going to chronicle my journey to 60 through writing.  And writing is coincidently something that is on my list.  See how it works?  One thing turns another.

I am letting go of the side of the pool and diving in.....