Thursday, March 31, 2005
I'm carrying stones from the mountain.
I need to come up for air and ... clean the bathroom? Well, yes, but first I need to go run errands. If I start back in on the books when I return, I'll never get to cleaning. Heh, heh, heh.
I'm forcing myself to stop listing books for the moment!
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Too Busy to Write
It feels good to be making progress!
Friday, March 25, 2005
The Mountain of Books
Am I hoarding books for leaner times? Is it a weird form of security? Is it some kind of protection? Am I nuts? Do I think that books will be burned (Fahrenheit 451) and I'd better have plenty?
My estimates may be conservative, but do I need four linear feet of books on Feng Shui? Another four on Tai Chi and Qi Gong? At least four more on alternative medicine? Sixteen feet or more of varied self-help (I need all the help I can get!)? Maybe eight or nine feet of assorted art books, from how to draw and paint to clay and sculpture? Untold quantities of fiction? At least four feet of travel books and at least that many on languages? Who wouldn't want to learn how to read and write Kanji? I don't know how many cookbooks ... that I'll probably never use. There are more categories still. But you get the idea.
So, what on earth do I think I'm doing? I just like the idea of books? Not just ... I do like to read them, but it's recently occurred to me that I don't have to have every book on a subject that interests me! No more book hoarding for me!
Part of the problem is that I find so many different things interesting ... the possibilites of what I could do seem endless ... what a great book on paper making ... growing your own plants for dye ... oh, wilderness survival ... hmmm ... candle making ... soap making ... weaving. What a great book on architecture ... cultural etiquette ... electricity ... whatever ... the list does go on and on.
It is clear that I need to bring a few interest into sharp focus and actually put my attention there. My maternal grandmother told me when I was in my twenties ... paraphrased ... do you know what your problem is ... you're too scattered, you need to focus. She was right. For years I've been trying to find my true passion ... You know: find the work you love. Of course, I've been so scattered that I've only touched on things, really, skimmed the surface. Did I pass it by, not recognizing it? This is too sad to ponder.
I'm digressing a bit. The matter at hand. Reduce the mountain of books. Lighten my load. Make these wonderful gems available to someone else who might actually read them.
You already know I'm not giving up every single book. I don't think that I need to at this point. I'm going to shoot for keeping about six (arbitrary number) books in each category (except fiction), give or take ... six books that I will actually read, use, study. Can you imagine the possibilities if I actually read and studied and applied what I learned from six self-help books? The mind boggles.
If I can really pare my book collection (it's more an accumulation), I will truly have a big start on decluttering ... myself and my environment.
So, I'm going to militantly look at my stacks of books, one at a time and list as many as possible for sale (www.half.com - this is a great place to sell your books and videotapes; of course you have to price to sell. You won't be "making" money in the usual sense. If you paid $19.95 for the book, and are selling it for $2.25, that is not a profit. But, it is cash flow and it is "recycling" -- It's going to someone who wants that book and finds the described condition acceptable.) For the book where the competitive price is down to 75 cents, and there are 22 people who have already listed it at that price, I may decide to keep it ... or find it a different home. Overall, this is not a bad way to go. It does take some time and organization (you have to be able to find it to mail it as soon as you make a sale).
Last night I listed at least 40 books for sale ... and considered at least 25 more that didn't make the cut .. ones I decided to keep or didn't list because the competitive price was too low and the value of the books were far greater.
If I can turn the mountain into a hillock ... I will be making real progress.
Maybe my space won't always look like an attic. I'm beginning to think this might work. Of course, I'm writing this blog instead of listing books.
Rationalization: If I can determine how I've gotten myself into such an overwhelming state ... so much stuff every which way, maybe I won't automatically create such a condition again.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
And I lied (unintentionally) about having my meditation bowl with its stones clear of clutter. When I looked at it last night, it still had a white plastic eraser, a pen on a key chain, a folded paper with appointments listed for today, and two clean knives -- one a butter knife and the other a serated edge paring knife. I removed them. Now they're next to the bowl instead of in it, at least until tomorrow. I thought about giving the bowl with its stones away ... until I picked up a handful and felt their energy. Wow. I guess I'd better keep the bowl clear!
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Inch by Inch
I see how it naturally gets filled back up. I originally put the box and bag on my bed, but my little dog wanted to climb up there and take a nap. I couldn't refuse her, could I? So I took the box and bag off the bed and put them on the floor next to it.
While working on the 2X5X2 area, I filled 3 plastic grocery bags with debris and threw it out in the Trash. And, I also shredded bunches of things with my name on it.
I semi cleaned off the top of the bookshelf by my bed, which has on it a lamp, two alarm clocks (one electric, the other a very loud battery operated one), a lovely wooden meditation bowl filled with wonderful polished rocks of all types that I bought at a craft fair a few years ago ... which I don't get to enjoy because it's usually covered with books and receipts, pens and crumpled tissues ... and I slid all the change from the top into my Dragonlance bank bag that I use as a change purse ... I didn't count it, but it could have come to around five dollars. The top still needs to be dusted and polished and I haven't done the two shelves below. I didn't check to see what might have fallen behind it. I did get the floor in front of it cleared though ... that's where I put the box.
I also managed to clean off the folding table (4 feet by 2 feet) next to my computer ... that is I sprayed it down and cleaned up the coffee stains and sticky bits. There is stuff on it, but ... believe it or not, there is much less than there was. (I shifted a large stack to another table ... but it makes this one feel better.)
On it still is a lamp, a phone, a box of tissues, an apple, a clean napkin, a roll of 3M Durapore tape, a yellow Page Up with nothing in it, 2 unopened bandaids, 3 rolls of packing tape, 2 post office receipts, a 1/4 inch thick pad of white 2 3/4 by 2 3/4 "post its" that were advertising a bank, a red, hardcover Webster's II New College Dictionary, a cassette player for the book I'm listening to, the cassette case for the book, an empty water bottle and one that is 3/4 full, a small cute teal and black calculator, a perpetual "Travel" calendar with wonderful photographs and quotes ... today's is:
"Nature never did betray, The heart that loved her" -- William Wordsworth, poet. The photograph is captioned, "The annual migration of the Norwegian reindeer is nearly two hundred miles long." The reindeer are coming down a slope in a field of snow and it looks as though they're coming out the mists. In the foreground is a person on what looks to be a snowmobile with a trailer hitched behind it ... the only thing that places the picture in this time.
Back to my space, the table flanks my left side when I'm sitting at the computer. I like it. It protects me from the rest of the room. To my right is a window, which is covered right now because it's dark outside. Also to my right is my scanner ... oops, it's covered with dust. Hmmm. I guess I should be using it the scanner. And ... I'll need to dust it ... when I have the energy to get up and get my micropore dust cloth. I haven't addressed what is directly before me and what's behind me. Enough for now.
Believe it or not, I even bent over and picked up the water bottle tops that didn't quite make it into the wastebasket.
And I did this all before going to work ... when I still had energy.
Well, I shouldn't be unhappy, even if I'm the only one that would notice the miniscule differences I made. I guess something is better than nothing ... after all, I am making progress, even if it is only inch by inch.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Does Cleaning Up the Computer Count?
I need to do something visible to feel like I'm making progress. Hmmm. Maybe I should work through the spilled pile of things near the bookcase by my bed. There are books, papers, receipts, clothes and other assorted items pretty much taking over a 2 foot by 5 foot area ... and it's about 2 feet deep. Pretty much.
Start anywhere. Pick a place. I can't go wrong.
I know ... I still have to tell you about the amazing Kingston tape. I think I'll finish listening to it before I review it.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Almost 30 years ago I went through a brief period where I walked away from or gave away most of my Stuff. A year later I looked around me and wondered how I had gotten all the Stuff that had since accumulated. Was I a Stuff magnet? Am I genetically predisposed to accumulate Stuff I don't really need.
I have a personal mountain of Stuff right now and it is so overwhelming that I hardly know where to begin. If I consider the magnitude of the project, I will be frozen in my tracks. If I try to plan out what I will do on which day and for how long, I will be frozen in my tracks.
I clearly come from a long line of clutterholics. The effect of the depression on my parents no doubt magnified these tendencies. My dad would save rubber bands and twist ties and wash out plastic bags, scrape margarine wrappers with a rubber scraper ... and the peanut butter jar (I didn't know everyone didn't do this). He has never liked to throw out junk mail ... it might be important ... and still doesn't ... to this day. The decision to throw it out is so difficult for him, that we end up sneaking junk mail into the burn barrel ... as long as more has come in to take its place ... so he has a comfortable quantity to feel secure in its presence.
I think that somehow Stuff takes on a different meaning than its function. It becomes insulation, comfort, something to do ... you get to move it around and look at it from time to time ... clean it if you're so incline and can find it. Then, if it's out of sight, you forget about ... plus you can't find it, so you have to buy another one of the same thing ... because it's easier. I know I have at least 6 pairs of tweezers and I don't know how many nail clippers. I have enough pens and pencils to stock a store. Of course the erasers are so old on some of the pencils, I would have to get those little pink eraser tops to be able to use the eraser end of the pencil.
If you have to take care of Stuff, you don't have to take care of other things ... it becomes a convenient excuse for not doing anything else.
Stuff has become a true burden to me. I can't stand it! At this moment, I can only take care of My Stuff, not my husband's, my son's, my dad's (living), my mom's (deceased 7 years), my grandmother's (deceased 15 years). And I'm not living in my own place. My husband and I are taking care of my dad (84), who still has strong opinions on his Stuff, in my dad's house. This puts a bit of a damper on things.
Self (carrying big, stuffed, garbage bag down the stairs).
Dad: What's in the bag?
Self: Just some of My junk I'm throwing out.
Dad (looks at me disbelievingly) ... he thinks I'm throwing out something of his.
I usually carry the junk out when my dad isn't looking.
If it were mine, I would have big dumpsters and pitch things out the window, I'd like to think. That would certainly hurry along the process.
My husband and I have many of our things (they'll become important once I see them, but right now, I can't really think of what might be out there) -- our Stuff -- in a portable "fabric" storage shelter that looks like a quonset hut.
My personal area looks like an attic ... in that I have to weave through mountains of Stuff to get to my bed (which I do manage to keep clear). I go through another path to get to the computer on the opposite side of the room and another to get to my clothes closet, which has way more than just my few clothes. Stuff includes books, papers, art supplies, toiletries, papers, books, vitamins, herbs, books, papers, stationery supplies, boxes ... flattened as well as put together ... unopened useful things, books, papers, gifts, wrapping paper, videos, dvds, cds, books, paper, memorabilia, photographs ... Stuff!
I have a theory that if I can truly get my personal Stuff down to what I really love, and use ... and feel comfortable with this new streamlined environment, then the Stuff I wrap around myself in the form of Fat will naturally melt away. Just a theory. Melting away the fat that protects me from the world and myself is my other new project blog. I think these go hand in hand.
Maybe if I clear my clutter, it will inspire others in our house to to the same. Maybe.
During the process of actually clearing the clutter, I need to re-educate myself so that I'm not right back where I was in short time after I do this. Clutter has a way of insidiously creeping in.
I have to do this bit by bit. In my next post I will tell you about the wonderful audio tape that I am listening to by Karen Kingston.