I’m sure it was just last year that I took inventory of the plastic water bottles in my kitchen cabinets and got rid of the ones that nobody was using anymore.  Then I organized the remaining bottles in three neat rows, and they all fit on the bottom shelf of one cabinet without any problem. So how did I end up with the shelf crammed full and one too many water bottles to fit?

 

Water bottles in a cabinet, with one on top of the others.

 

Those things always multiply. They’re given away at road races and plenty of other events. Although they seem like useful little freebies that shouldn’t take up much space, before you know it they’re all over the kitchen. Not to mention the ones my daughter forgets to bring in from her car after her workouts. Fitness is great, but water bottles spilling out of the cabinet are nothing but clutter! Once again, it’s time to look through them and pitch the old, unused ones at the back.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

Although my daughter’s puppy loves to play in the backyard, where she can find plenty of sticks and other fun things, she quickly gets hot and tired in the “dog days” summer heat!  So she comes inside after a while, drinks some water, sits on the register to cool off in the air conditioning, and then barks for someone to open the door and let her back outside.

 

Puppy sitting on a register enjoying the air conditioning.

 

Puppies don’t need to be reminded to take time for self-nurturing; they instinctively have a good sense of when they need to rest and cool off! That’s something we humans could benefit from cultivating, too, instead of letting ourselves get “dog tired” with all the distractions of our busy modern world.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

I generally prefer pajamas to nightgowns, although I wore nightgowns as a child.  While doing laundry a few days ago, I noticed there was one nightgown at the bottom of a stack of pajamas. Many years ago, I put it on sometimes to comfort myself if I had the flu or just felt tired and stressed. It made me feel like a little girl, well cared for, without any grown-up responsibilities to worry about.

 

nightgown

 

You can probably tell from looking at the wrinkled cotton (not to mention the old-fashioned style) how much time has passed since then. Looking at it gives me good memories of comfort; but even so, it’s clutter and needs to find a new home.

When I started writing these weekly posts about clearing away my clutter, I expected that they would serve as a record of my small successes and would keep me motivated to do more. Another benefit I didn’t foresee was that they would help me give myself permission to let go of old items toward which I had good feelings.  When I take the nightgown to the thrift store, it won’t be gone forever—it’s still right here in this post!  I hope it will bring as much comfort to the woman who ends up buying it.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

Last week I bought a salt crystal lamp to brighten an area of my house that doesn’t get much light.  The lamp is now sitting on a shelf that previously held a small plant and a fountain.  Neither of those items was well suited to that location; the low light meant the plant didn’t grow much, and the fountain caused some peeling paint because it was too close to the wall and there were occasional splashes.

As with any purchase in our consumer world, buying the lamp left me with the question of what to do with the things it had displaced. The best spot for them, I decided, was a corner of my kids’ study. That area was invitingly clean after some clutter got removed, and it looked like it could use some fresh new energy.

 

Indoor fountain with pebbles next to a houseplant.

 

The poor little plant definitely needed a new pot and fresh soil. I bought a larger pot and then filled it in around the edges with some cuttings I took from another plant, to make the arrangement look more leafy and cheerful. Then I put down a natural-fiber mat to absorb any spilled water. The plant seems to be enjoying its new home, and the fountain gives the room a better look too!

Although people tend to think of redecorating in terms of huge, expensive, time-consuming projects, it doesn’t really need to be that complicated. Just rearranging a few small things can leave the house feeling much more pleasant!

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

To read all posts in this series from the beginning, click here.

 

Although many people would put 12-step programs in the general category of self-improvement, there’s actually a strong focus on looking outside the self. When we get addicted—whether it be to alcohol, drugs, negative thinking, or anything else—the behaviors are habitual, without taking time to reflect on how others might be affected. Recovery involves learning to take a broader perspective, honestly examining the behaviors and their consequences to family and society.

Step Eight is about preparing to make amends to those we have wronged. It’s a methodical process, consistent with the overall reflective tone of the program. Instead of rushing out and apologizing willy-nilly to anyone we might ever have harmed, Step Eight calls for making a list of the people to whom amends are owed, in addition to willingness to make such amends.

There are several reasons why a list is important. First of all, putting it together promotes thoughtful, in-depth consideration of how our actions affected others. It also helps in setting priorities; after all, we can’t mend every relationship instantly, so we have to choose where to focus our energies. The comprehensive nature of a list makes it less likely that anyone who should get amends will be overlooked. And because people may respond in very different ways, there needs to be some thought given to finding the approach that will work best for each person or group on the list.

Amends are not necessarily apologies, though they can be. The word “amend” comes from a Latin root that means “correction.” So the list-making process at Step Eight has to do with deciding how best to go about correcting the mistakes we’ve made in our relationships. While in some instances an apology may be useful and sufficient, that’s not always going to be the case. Sometimes actions, rather than words, are needed. It all depends on the circumstances.

When it comes to negativity, often the best way to make amends to those we’ve harmed by being grouchy and unkind is simply to cheer up! Resolving to be consistently cheerful around our family members, friends, and acquaintances—even though we may not always feel like it—can go a long way toward making them happier and mending the damage from our past bad attitudes. Ongoing positive conversations can benefit others much more than a simple apology (though that’s likely to be useful too), and it’s a good habit to cultivate anyway!

For many years, my husband and I kept a waterproof cordless phone on the kitchen counter.  At the time we bought the phone, it seemed like a useful gadget because we wouldn’t have to be concerned about it getting wet when we took it outside.  In today’s world, there are always lots of interesting gadgets to buy.  The problem, of course, is that they soon get obsolete and turn into clutter.

 

Old waterproof cordless phone.

 

My husband unplugged it yesterday when he realized we hadn’t used it in years. Although we still have the land line to which it was connected, most people who call us now (other than telemarketers and such) would call our mobile phones instead. So it’s almost entirely useless, and we need to get rid of it. But because it sat on the counter for so long, that seemed like its normal place, and we didn’t even think about the fact that it had no use anymore. Often that’s the way with clutter; the hard part is not cleaning it up, but realizing that it is there in the first place!

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

I’ve got the sprinklers set up today because the weather has been dry, the grass is turning brown, and the lawn service company just did the yearly aeration.  Also, while I was outside, I watered the gardenia that I keep in a pot next to my garage (shown in my June 12th Nurturing Thursday post).

 

Sprinkler on dry grass.

 

That got me thinking about how we notice when our yards need watering, but sometimes we overlook the signs in our personal lives that tell us we’re in need of more nurturing. When we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re probably not going to look in the mirror and think that we look parched like the grass, even though we really do look tired and stressed. Just like our yards, we need to “water” ourselves regularly.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Sometimes my husband, who is a software developer, says that he doesn’t think of himself as creative. But I beg to differ—there is a lot of creativity involved in building things that didn’t exist before, no matter what their genre. Software programs and DIY home projects can be just as creative as novels or artwork.

Over the weekend he set up this blog so it can be followed (yay!) in WordPress. That wasn’t just a simple matter of installing a plugin. Although WordPress provides follow capability and other features for self-hosted blogs, they’re all in a big bloated package called Jetpack, which wouldn’t run properly until my husband wrote additional code to turn off some unnecessary and incompatible stuff. There were also style sheet issues he had to fix. It looks like everything is working well now (if you happen to spot any glitches, please let me know).

Another weekend project was a dog gate to keep our daughter’s new puppy in the kitchen. The puppy will be moving to Cleveland with her, but that’s not for another three weeks, and we’d rather not have to clean up surprises on the carpet in the meanwhile. My husband built the gate out of PVC pipe, two strips of plastic lattice, some two-by-fours at the bottom, and feet to make it slide easily without scuffing the linoleum.

 

DIY dog gate in my kitchen.

 

And here’s a photo of the pooch—she’s four months old, a mix of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. She has learned how to sit on command, but still needs some work when it comes to housebreaking.

 

Puppy sitting in the kitchen, looking up at the camera.

 

She’s a cute little thing, and very affectionate too—she loves being around people.

August 10, 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Although my daughter had planned to move at the beginning of August, she is still here because she didn’t put down a deposit promptly enough after finding an apartment she liked.  They gave it to someone else, and now she has to wait for another unit in that complex to come open at the end of August.  It’s a good life lesson for her, but in the meantime her clutter is still occupying my house while she procrastinates about cleaning it up.

I reminded her about a desk she used in high school, which has a drawer crammed full of junk. “There’s nothing much in the drawer—just a few pencils,” she tried to convince me. As you can see from this photo, she didn’t get too far with that argument.

 

Desk drawer full of old pencils, pens, and other junk.

 

And this is what the shelf under the drawer looks like. The boxes to the right contain ancient CDs for stuff that became obsolete long ago.

 

Desk shelf full of clutter.

 

I’ve been patient with her because she did very well to get through a rigorous nursing program in four years while also playing soccer. Not many college athletes can manage that. But that junk in the desk is going to have a close encounter with a big black trash bag in the very near future.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

Many of us keep a gratitude list as a reminder to appreciate our everyday blessings such as family, a home, clothing, and food. When we’re feeling stressed and grouchy, taking a few minutes to consider the good things can be enough to banish that rotten mood. And when gratitude becomes a regular habit, it can bring about a far-reaching shift in perspective.

When I wrote yesterday’s post Moments of Grace, in which I mentioned wanting a deck of miniature cards as a little girl and then unexpectedly getting them as a prize from a gumball machine, I thought about how children naturally appreciate those small wonderful moments. And that led me to a question: What can we do as adults to cultivate that sense of life being filled with magical prizes everywhere? Well, how about starting a new kind of gratitude list called the Bubble Gum List?

 

Antique bubble gum machine.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

As I envision it, the Bubble Gum List would be for moments that inspire a feeling of “I just got the biggest, bestest prize ever, YAY!” Moments when you just can’t believe your luck, when everything in the world suddenly feels so right that instead of walking, you just want to skip and dance.

Children have moments like that all the time, of course. But as adults, we set the bar much higher when it comes to allowing ourselves to feel spontaneous joy. After all, sensible adults don’t go around singing and dancing just because of a happy little moment, do they? So we subconsciously deny ourselves permission to acknowledge those feelings and don’t pay them any attention when they show up. Keeping a list of joyful moments can go a long way toward changing that mindset and convincing ourselves it’s all okay.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.