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?


Angela said...

So glad the quilt is finished at last. It is utterly stunning xx

Leslie said...

Beautiful, beautiful quilt. I think you have a good excuse to not clean, you are a quilt artist. Who has time for the mundane when you are adding beauty to the world and to future generations? It's a calling, a destiny that must be fulfilled. :)

gretchenjoanna said...

You have got me thinking with this one....and I think you have some habits of mind typical of a creative person. You are in the habit of making quilts, writing books, playing music, and while creative endeavors can include the creating of a light and spacious environment, there is only so much time and energy to be had. Maybe it's not so much a radical change in middle age that you require, as a gentle shifting of focus of a few of your creative hours.

Tracy said...

It's so nice to have you back. I've missed you and your musings.

Your quilt is stunning, which is pretty much what I expect, because you make beautiful quilts.

I've just read Marie Kondo's book too. My problem is that the clothes that give me joy don't fit too well at the moment. I need to change that so I can wear them again, don't I?!

You asked about how fasting has impacted me...
This year we are doing a Daniel Fast for the second time round. Last year I was consumed with what and how to eat while providing for our children that I wasn't really able to focus on the prayer part of "prayer and fasting". This year I've been much more relaxed about food and the kids' meals so I've been much better at the praying bit. I'm often awake around 4-5am so I lay all cosy in my bed and pray my heart out. I think my praying has been more faith-filled and determined. I am yet to see the breakthroughs I am seeking but I am told they won't necessarily happen right when you're fasting, but maybe a little bit afterwards. I am learning be still and listen as well as just talking, too. Tricky for us girls, whose thoughts are constantly scurrying about in our heads!

The other thing I've noticed is that I'm very uninterested in eating very much. I'm sorry to all the Vegans in the world, but I'm just not being thrilled by my meals! This is a very new thing to experience, when I'm normally a bit of a foodie.

I am looking forward to the end of this fast, but at the same time I'm a little bit reluctant to go back to all our old eating habits.

Jo said...

Only three years for a quilt. I have one I started when my children were babies, (the 21yo one) and haven't finished it yet. In fact, I have never finished a quilt!

But throwing everything out? I highly recommend it. We don't need stuff. I have been reading a fabulous series with the 10yo, called Dragonkeeper, by Carole Wilkinson. The child protagonist frequently leaves on epic quests with only a back pack containing herbs, a pot, and a pair of chopsticks. I am inspired by such minimalism:)

magsmcc said...

Ah but look what Kondera had to say about the lightness of being! So good to be reading you again. I was often thinking about you, but always doing nothing about it, as is my lazy wont. Do I need to buy this book? Is it like Cute and Easy Crochet, a set book for life? Do I need things to bring me joy? Or are they just things? That are temporary. Like our footprints. I do love the quilt. Real women make quilts. They don't need to worry about dust.

Nancy McCarroll said...

Continue on with the de cluttering because when you are one generation older than you are presently, it will be a godsend. I am there, age wise, and can attest to being free-er, although I still have room to grow, or shrink in possessions, however you look at it.

Good job on the mosaic quilt.

Heather F said...

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?" Improvement is, of course, always to be strived for, but my demise is when I try to make too big of changes that never end up sticking because they are not really "me". Oh, golly, I think I've gone off on some weird tangent now, haven't I? Decluttering is so refreshing, but I have accepted that I will never have a spic and span, white-glove testable home. Unless I could ever afford to employ a maid, I suppose.
Love your beautiful quilt!

Gumbo Lily said...

Your mosaic quilt is lovely. you always impress me with your quilting talent and persistence. It takes much persistence to see a quilt to completion.

As I age and the children are gone from home, housework is not so much a priority as it once was. Tidy, yes. Deep cleaning, rarely.

rivergirl said...

I thought at 50 I might not be starting too many things but, you never know. Inching closer to 50 and listening to friends talk of getting up at 5am and the like, I realised I've spent my whole working life getting up at the last minute and dashing out the door on an empty stomach. I dream about sipping a chai latte before I go to work! So I decided no more excuses and no more learnt laziness. Since November I've been getting up 40 to 50 minutes earlier than I normally would. Winter's approaching now so this will be the real test. The other thing is that I started running last year for the first time ever. My goal is to get to 5k. I haven't gotten there yet. Hurt my back twice....hope to start attempt no. 3 very soon (and hope that I make it this time! Two goals/habits I thought I would never do. I must say I was motivated by it's "now or never" and I didn't want to be old and look back on a life where every morning was a mad dash out the door.

Pom Pom said...

The quilt is GORGEOUS!

Time crunches or even just an overactive awareness of time can torture us, huh?

In this moment. Joy.

I've missed you terribly, good truth teller.