The Year in Review

With 2011 drawing to a close, it feels appropriate to look back at the year and see what there is to be…seen.

So.  How about a few superlatives?


Most Liberating MonthJanuary.  The month of purging- I got rid of 5 things per day.  Lots of stuff went to Goodwill.  Even more than Goodwill donations, however, were the things like library books, dishes that friends had left at our apartment, or random things that belonged in the shed but had somehow ended up in our living room.  I didn’t realize how much space we were donating in our little apartment to these kinds of items until I took a month to get rid of them, return them, or put them in their proper place.

Our most common dumping area was our bedroom, since it was the only room in the apartment that we kept closed off (usually), so it just became this room of assorted piles “to be dealt with someday”.  Someday was in January, and it felt awesome.

Here is a post about how I stayed focused in the midst of all of the mess and little things, and here is a post that shows just a few of the things that I got rid of during January.

Most Defeating MonthMarch.  The month in which I UNSUCCESSFULLY tried to curb my internet usage to 60 minutes per day.  It was a dismal failure.  Yes, I did accomplish a few things that I may not have otherwise (see this and this) but…that might be all.  I had no idea I was so addicted.  Bleh.

Most Indecisive Month: May.  The month of being facebook-free.  I realized my addiction, my perpetual refreshing of the page, and decided it had to stop.  I alternated between missing the announcements about new babies and new jobs (what happened to good old-fashioned email announcements, people?) and feeling totally liberated of the compulsion to check.

I still remember talking to my friend Megan about being off facebook (I just hopped off my account for a month- she canceled hers altogether) and I told her I sometimes thought in status updates.  Let me repeat that:  I THOUGHT IN STATUS UPDATES.  Here is a post about the withdrawal symptoms.

Month I Am Most Likely to Continue to Keep Up With: June.  The month of going to bed by 10:30 and getting up by 6:30.  Months later, and I am still a 6:30’ish riser.  My kids wake up at varying times, so sometimes this gives me 30 minutes of a head-start on them and sometimes it gives me two hours (bless those days).  But any head-start just feels like a nice way to start the day.  Breakfast is frequently the only meal I give my undivided attention to, because I am not sharing that mealtime with a preschooler and a toddler.  I like the quiet and not starting my day in reaction mode.  Here is a brief post on what I liked about getting good sleep and here is when sleep was alluding me.

Wow, I am old.  Only old people wake up at 6:30 on purpose.  Huh.

I learned a lot that month about how to really prepare myself for rest (turning off my laptop well before I am trying to sleep, for example) and how getting adequate sleep makes a pretty big difference in my days.  For example, my need for mid-day snacks (especially sweet ones) really decreased because I wasn’t relying on the sugar to boost my energy.  Also- melatonin.  Love that stuff.  Available at your natural food store.  I use it periodically when my mind is racing and I need help quieting down.

Most Popular PostThis one.  A few tips for how to add clutter to your life.  As the title says, I cannot take credit for these ideas.  Totally lifted it off another blogger.  But darn funny.

First Runner-Up Most Popular PostThis one.  About me and my beloved three year old Chicken Little.  I don’t know- I guess this strikes a chord with preschool parents everywhere.

Most Commented PostsThis one and this one.  The former is about beans (definitely worth the read!) and the latter is about saving money on groceries and fighting over a can of beans (no joke).  Beans- they really inspire people to comment.  Also this one about moving.

Lamest Month for Goals:  December.  Because I did jack-squat all month in terms of goals.

I’m deciding now if I will continue with goals and blogging for the next year.  I think I’ll keep writing because I enjoy it, but I don’t have much inspiration for another year of goals.  I could really see repeating a few from last year, and I have gotten some good ideas from friends about new things to try.  I don’t, however, have the long list like I did at this time last year of things I want to try.  And would people really want to read another months’ worth of writing about 5 more things I got rid of?  The expired medicines?  The trash can lids?

With all that being said, I am taking any and all suggestions for goals for next year.  I need a little more oomph before I roll into 2012.



>Soliciting Ideas for April


I’m looking for an April goal. Now soliciting any and all ideas. To refresh, here is what I’m talking about when I say “goal”. Here, here, and here are my goals for January, February, and March.

A few ideas:
One bag of trash for the entire month. (Apparently there is a Charlottesvillian who only goes through less than a bag a year!)
No shows for a month.
Read (fill in the blank) number of books.
Run three times a week.
No-spend month.

I’m kind of drawing a blank and feeling a little uninspired. Calling all blurkers- come out and give me a suggestion. I loved my goal for January. February was a great goal to get me moving and out of my winter stupor. March has been a struggle, which is great to realize. More on that later.

What is inspiring is this picture, which also came up when I googled “person thinking” images. Courtesy of tovadarling. Ha.

March’s goal of limiting my internet use has been difficult and that is great to realize. Like the other two goals, when I started out I think I envisioned it being pretty simple to stick with. Not so. I am more aware of how often I flee to my laptop to just zone out and relax once the kids are (finally) napping. I’m embarrassed to note how poorly I’ve kept this goal. And that’s good for me to know.

Here I thought I would wile the hours away, contemplating life, writing poetry, doing yoga, or arranging flowers in a vase whilst enjoying the late afternoon sun. Such lovely things would I do, instead of losing brain cells by looking at other people’s vacation pictures from 2003 on facebook. I would journal! I would pray! I would make complicated dinners! I would do sit-ups!


>B & A: The Dreaded Laundry Closet

>I am so far off the wagon with my March goal that I can’t even remember what the wagon looked like. I can’t motivate to do much. I am devoting some mental energy into figuring out why I feel compelled to “produce” or “accomplish” things with my days. Maybe having something to show for my days (a new light fixture or a cleaned out cabinet) is a necessary balance for having so little to show for the majority of my time. I mean, raising kids doesn’t really come with a report card or something to “show” for how I’ve spent most of my day.

Now before you get all “but you’re doing the most important job of all” and “you have beautiful, perfectly behaved children to show for your time” (oh, stop. really) just hear that I do not really think that I have absolutely nothing to show for spending all day with my kids. It is valuable time and they are better behaved with me mothering them all day than if, say, the feral cats in the neighborhood raised them.

Sure. But most of the kids’ awake time is spent in repetition- change diapers, wash diapers, serve meal, clean up after meal, and so on and so forth. And some days it is hard to feel like that adds up to much but crazy-making.

So periodically I like to tackle projects with a definitive “before” and “after”. A finished product. Cue the laundry closet.

You threatened to defeat me, oh laundry closet. Oh yes you did. But in the end I prevailed.

The laundry closet has been the bane of my existence for several months now. We have open shelving on the right, the stacked washer and dryer dead ahead, and tons of crap on the floor at all times. When it is time to load the washer, picture me standing in the doorway to this laundry closet, trying to chuck various clothing items into the washer from about five feet away. There’s always so much stuff in my way that getting to the actual washer is not really an option.

See how this is ripe for a good cleaning? And would give me such a feeling of accomplishment?

Here’s a few tips when you decide to clean out an area. It doesn’t matter if it is your bedroom or the top of your dresser. These rules apply:

1. Start in one place and work your way in one direction.
Start at the top and work your way down, go left to right, or (if you’re tackling an entire room) work clockwise. For this project, I started at the right side of the bottom shelf and worked my way to the right, then moved up to the next shelf, and continued the process. Don’t move onto the next area until you have finished the one you are currently working on. Do not move onto shelf two until you have finished shelf one. See?

2. Stay the course. Don’t take this opportunity to empty your vacuum bag, even though you move the vacuum and see that it needs it. You’re not doing that right now– you’re organizing your laundry closet.

3. Get rid of as much as possible.
Recognize that you don’t need a good percentage of what you have, and getting rid of things frees you up to enjoy what you hold on to. Some things I got rid of: old medicines, cleaners I don’t use, the bleach container that held about 1 tablespoon of bleach, ratty old towels (some repurposed for rags, some tossed), dvd’s we haven’t watched in years, and cd’s.

4. Leave space so you can move things around on your shelves.
This applies to dressers and closets, as well. If you have to stuff things onto your shelves, balanced precariously so it all stays put, chances are that you’re missing out on lots of things that have gotten jammed to the back of the shelf. So get rid of some stuff so you can actually access all that is in/on your drawers, shelves, and closets.

5. Resist the temptation to buy lots of storage containers before you organize.
Purge as much as is necessary, organize, and then see if you still need containers. I ended up with two spare containers at the end of this project, to be used elsewhere in the house. Score!

6. Keep in mind that the space you have right now is all that you’ve got to work with. Don’t buy clothes or linens or cleaning supplies as if you live in 3,000 square feet with too many closets to count when, in fact, you are actually in 900 square feet with one closet. As my friend Carolyn said- “get real with yourself”. This applies to the things we hold onto, and the space we are actually living in. Get real with yourself. For real. Like, seriously.

Behold the “after”: