Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Quick Hello

So you know how last week I was all over it? I was organizing and eating right and changing my life by not really changing my life?

This week I have a bug. Or maybe it's a combination of bugs. Plus allergies. Or maybe it's just one, cruddy, pernicious bug.

I hate bugs.

But it always seems to happen. I get organized and energized and I'm on a roll, when all of the sudden, splat! I hit a wall.

Oh, well. I've gotten a lot of reading done so far this week, and guilt-free reading (i.e. reading on the couch all afternoon long) is a treat. I finished A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, which I liked very much, and Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy, which was fantastic, though sad. Yesterday I read August Wilson's play The Gem of the Ocean. I'm trying to finish his whole Century Cycle this year. I've already read Joe Turner's Come and Gone and Fences. Next up: The Piano Lesson.

I hope I'm all better by Sunday, because I'm doing a charity walk for hunger. I've wanted to do this walk for a long time, but I hate asking people for money. So this year I came up with this great plan: I emailed all my local friends and asked them to pledge $5 each. My reasoning was, whenever I get asked to pledge for somebody's 5K or fun run or whatever, I never know how much to pledge--what's too much? What's too little? Also, I always think I should pledge $25, but I can't afford to pledge $25 for every charity event in town.

But if someone said, pledge five bucks, I'd be like, you bet! Happy to! So that's what I decided to ask my friends for. And most of the people I emailed emailed back and said, you bet! Happy to! One friend pledged ten dollars, and another friend pledged $50 (!). So my pledges are adding up.

I guess that's it. I hope you're feeling okay and don't have this bug that's going around. Or spring allergies. I ran into my friend Mel this morning; I was walking Travis and he was walking his crazy Boxer Cricket and a neighbor's dog, Abbie. Mel felt terrible. He's in his late sixties, and usually he's healthy as a horse. His goal is to run a marathon in every state, and he's getting close. But today he was dragging. Alleriges. Sinus. The bug. Poor guy.

So stay away from Mel! And stay well!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Me Again

My basket of yo-yos. One day, when I have around, oh, 500 or so of these suckers made, I'll sew them into a quilt.

Look at me, a twice-a-week blogger! Sometimes I think (speaking of habits, as I was earlier) I  should blog every day, because it can be easier to do something daily than to do it sporadically. Who knows; maybe I will.

I appreciated all the comments on my last post (especially all the nice comments about my quilt--thank you!). Heather brought up something I've thought about a lot:

I feel as if I go through most of my days noticing what needs to be changed and thinking about how to make those changes. Thinking and doing are two different things, though. Then I start to think, "What's so wrong with me that I think I need to change anything? Isn't the way I live the way I'm most comfortable and the essence of who I really am?" 

I wonder about that, too. Obviously, there are changes that really should be made--dealing with addictions, changing eating habits that are detrimental to good health, taking up exercise if you're sedentary--but like Heather I sometimes wonder why I can't just be who I am. My habits are formed around my likes, dislikes, tendencies, weirdnesses, passions, etc. What are the odds of me changing my essential personality?

All this to say, it is possible the bathrooms in my house will never be really, thoroughly cleaned more than once a month. I need to face that.


I have made some changes in my life very recently, and I'll be interested to see if they stick. First, I've given up dieting forever. I'm over it. Instead I am embracing the food I love, which is for the most part good old hippie food--grains, fruits and vegetables, hummus, tabouleh, beans and rice. And absurdly dark chocolate (honest--the other day I bought a bar of 99% dark chocolate and I LOVE it). Horrifying, huh?  Well, if you've been on the low-carb bandwagon over the last few years, as I have, then yeah, it's pretty scary. My carb count has gone through the roof since I put on that first pot of quinoa. But I'm very happy at every meal and have lost half a pound.

Secondly, I've taken up yoga. I've been to two classes this week, and I loved them. I love all that stretching. I don't feel half as goofy as I thought I would. I've discovered my balance is for the birds, but I hope that will change.

Why make these changes? In some way, to quote Heather, to get to the essence of who I really am. I am an eternally chubby middle-aged woman who loves complex carbohydrates and stretching. I will give up counting calories and obsessing over my weight, and in exchange for that freedom, I will exercise and dance and take a lot of walks.

We'll see how this works out.


Having said all that, where are we on decluttering? I'm still all for it. In her comment, Nancy advised, Continue on with the decluttering because when you are one generation older than you are presently, it will be a godsend. 

That's on my mind, and also the fact that one day we'll move out of this house. It's too big for just me and the Man by ourselves. I'd rather work on getting rid of stuff now than to wait. And Marie Kondo promises that once you do a thorough decluttering, you'll never have to do it again. Or even tidy. Everything will stay in place and be joyful and perfect forever.

Well, that's a hard deal to pass up, now isn't it?

Besides, I agree with Jo's comment: We really don't need all this stuff.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coming Out of Hibernation

Finished the Mosaic quilt! After three years, it's finally done.

I know, I know--it's been ages. And I don't know why I haven't been posting, other than not feeling motivated. I've been unmotivated about any number of things in 2015. Certainly cleaning my house tops the list. How glad I am that you're not here to investigate the nooks and crannies and corners of my house! Cobwebs! Fingerprints! Little bits of paper, strands of thread, dust and more dust!

And on my nice yellow bedroom rug (see above)? A footprint. Mine, by the size of it, and it won't wash out. What did I step in? Was it the nicely-scented cream I use, imprinted now forever on my floor? I just don't know.

It's funny; I just went over to Gretchen Joanna's blog, and there's a selection of quotes about habits. That's exactly what I've been thinking about lately. When you're fifty, can you break life-long habits? I quit smoking seventeen years ago, and I've always felt like if I could kick nicotine, I could kick anything. Over the past few years, I've more or less kicked sugar (I still eat it, but not four or five times a day, not even daily, and usually only in the form of very dark chocolate). That's another big one.

But can I kick the way I keep house, which is to say, haphazardly? Making piles of stuff instead of getting rid of it? Squinting as I pass through certain rooms so I can't see the messes, big and little? Not replacing what needs to be replaced when it needs replacing?

Well, I'm trying. On the advice of my friend Amy, I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Earlier this afternoon, I went through my drawers and closets and tossed everything that doesn't bring me joy (everything you have should bring you joy, according to Kondo), except perfectly fine underwear and my gym clothes. Then I went into the boys' rooms and put all their tee shirts on their beds and asked them to get rid of any that they don't wear. (All discarded clothing still in good shape will be donated, of course).

Kondo's advice for decluttering is: clothes first, then books, paper and finally miscellany. I was relieved she doesn't want me to start in the attic; my spirit has been broken too many times that way.

BUT even before you start, you need to have an idea of what kind of lifestyle you're aiming for and why. I'm not a lifestyle kind of person, but I know that I would like my home to be clean and comfortable and--I don't know if I can explain the third thing. The word that comes to mind is "light." As in "lightness." As in "nothing weighing me down." I feel weighed down by stuff.

Mostly I feel weighed down by stuff I'm not crazy about. That's why I like Kondo's emphasis on only having things around you that fill you with joy. I have those things, but I have a lot of stuff that's old or worn-out, stuff that worked in our old house, or worked for us when the boys were younger, but now just feels junky and not what I want.

So I'm going to try this Japanese art of decluttering. I'm not done with clothes yet, though I filled two garbage bags this afternoon in under thirty minutes. I still have to do shoes and coats and handbags. I don't have one jacket that I really love. I think I should get rid of all my jackets that I half-love and buy one fabulous jacket that I'll wear for years, don't you?

Can we really change ourselves in middle age? What do you think? What's the biggest change you've made as an adult?