Category Archives: Organizing

Happy New Year!

I admit that I’m a little smug about resolutions now. As I read the Facebook posts and e-mails about 2012 resolutions I catch myself thinking, “Oh yea? How about making 12 resolutions? Then I’ll be impressed.”

It may not surprise you that I have a bunch of possible resolutions in mind for 2012. The conference room of Shelbies in my head has been having a three-day retreat to consider the options and make some final decisions.

Just a few of the early contenders are

  • 10,000 steps a day December
  • Scanning September
  • Organizing October
  • Nothing New November
  • No Meat May
  • Canning August

Some favorites from 2011 will likely be revisited, with some extra twists. I’m currently planning No Alcohol for February again, for example, but this year I will invent new Virgin Cocktails each week.

Who knows what shenanigans are in store? I certainly don’t.

What I do know is that somehow, this process of making resolutions and blogging is helping me to live a more present life, and to have more fun with every day challenges and the small but meaningful goals I have for myself. I find humor in my failures as much as I find delight in my successes. And I also now have great dinner party conversation available to me at any time.

So, now’s your chance. What monthly resolutions do YOU think 2012 should include for me?

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Filed under Alcohol, Organizing, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

Scream!

You know those movies, where the teenagers are all hanging out at a camp or at a friend’s house and then suddenly: THEY HEAR A NOISE?  From the deepest corners of the house, a noise that is clearly not human and not mechanical.  A noise that says something is seriously wrong.

One brave soul (usually dressed in a really tight cheer leading uniform) goes to investigate, and opens the basement door.

“Don’t do it!” we yell!  DO.  NOT.  GO.  DOWN.  THERE!

But she always does.  She goes down there, and what happens?

She gets chopped up into tiny pieces.

Why can’t she just look away?  Run? Hide?

Well, that wouldn’t be much of a movie now, would it?

The funny thing is, in real life, I think we often do look away. We  do run. We do hide. But in the end, those monsters in the basement get us anyway.
Because my friends, the monsters are us.

They are our childhood dreams, turned into resentment at lost opportunities. They are our life’s disappointments, turned into anger that things didn’t work out differently. They are our missed opportunities, turned into fear that no more opportunities exist.

In the movies, there is always scary music to let us know that danger lurks below.  In life, though, there is no scary music to tell us to when those monsters are about to attack.  They lurk for years in our psychological basements until they grow so big and powerful that we cannot ignore them any longer.  And by then, it is often too late.

Who knew I could turn a simple organizational project into a metaphor for the darkest parts of my own psyche?

YOU DID!

Seriously, I think that we should all be in the discipline of cleaning out our basements – literally and figuratively – more regularly.  We shouldn’t wait until the basement is so out of control that it is unmanageable.  We should face it, regularly, so that it is not such a big f*ing deal.

In addition to enjoying an organized pantry and a workbench free of clutter, these past weeks of spending time with my basement monsters has provided me with some incredibly useful insights and lessons.  It has been painful and a bit scary.  It has definitely not been pretty.  But I am still whole.  And I don’t need to run and hide.  AND, I have a clean basement.

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Filed under Divorce, Life, Organizing, Uncategorized

Is the basement clean yet?

Um.  No.

I have made progress, I swear!

  • I’ve taken one truck full of things to Hand’s Up, a regional charity (like Goodwill or the Salvation Army).
  • I’ve thrown out three extra garbage cans of trash.
  • I’ve given away several items through my workplace message center AND
  • I’ve sold ONE tool.
  • I’ve even posted a few things on e-bay (no bidders yet).

In addition to all of this great basement related work, I’ll have you know I have also:

  • patched holes in my bathroom wall because I
  • drilled holes in my bathroom wall to hang the
  • new shower curtain rod after the old one fell completely out of the ceiling

I have also visited friends on weekends instead of cleaning my basement, gone on several walks with my dog instead of cleaning my basement, attended several stimulating gallery talks and plays instead of cleaning my basement, and – most importantly, made home made beef broth and then home-made Pho, instead of cleaning my basement.

Perhaps I should promise myself to clean my basement all the time as a way to make every other thing in my life a more attractive thing to do!

Even though I estimate I am only 1/3-2/5 finished, I have learned a lot in the process so far.  Here’s some of my basement cleaning wisdom.

  1. If it hasn’t been out of the wrapper since you bought it, and that was more than a year ago, YOU DON’T NEED IT.
  2. Even though I am trying hard not to put things in a land fill, SOME THINGS JUST NEED TO BE THROWN OUT.
  3. Those pants NEVER LOOKED GOOD on me.
  4. There are some TOOLS THAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD HAVE.
  5. Apparently, cleaning the basement is NOT a one-month project.

Will I finish before 2012?  Maybe.

Do I care if I do or not?  Absolutely not.

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Filed under Hiking, Organizing

The basement in the basement

Cleaning a basement seems like such a simple thing.  You sort things, you throw things out, you organize what’s left.

Right?

Wrong.

When you clean a basement, you confront your past.  You argue with yourself about your future.  You even face failures.

Think I’m being melodramatic?

All I’m saying is no one ever puts their Academy Award in the basement.

As I (finally) took some of my ‘before’ pictures today, I spent some time just looking at my basement.  What’s in it?  What do I want it to be?  What do I need?  These thoughts quickly turned into conversations (remember the conference room of Shelby’s I have in my head?).

First, the gift wrapping station.  Yes, I have a whole bunch of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and craft supplies.  I used to be crafty.  When I was just out of college and had no money, I made up for my humble gifts with awesome wrapping.  As I got busier, and let’s face it, had more disposable income, keeping things simple was most important.  Family gets green wrapping paper at the holidays, friends get blue.  Seriously.

So that one wasn’t so hard.  I don’t need a gift wrapping station.

Next up, the workbench.  I have lots of tools.  My ex-husband wasn’t terribly handy, but he tried.  And he liked to buy tools.  So I have tools I’ve never used, tools I’ve never heard of, and tools that have never been opened.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know how to use a hammer and a power drill (thanks Dad!).  I understand how to use a level and a stud finder.

(Heh. Heh.)

I own a home.  And I like to imagine that I am a smart independent woman so I SHOULD BE SOMEONE who can repair things.  But the truth is this: with the exception of doing the most basic tool-oriented tasks, I would just rather ask someone or pay someone to do it.  I will never, ever, figure out how to put up crown moulding.  I just won’t.  Not because I can’t.  But because I just don’t want to.  It’s hard to admit this to myself, let alone to the world.  I like to think I’m more self-sufficient than this.  But I don’t think I need my tool bench either.

The pantry is easy – thank goodness.  An emotional break since I cook all the time, I use most of the items in my pantry, and the ones I don’t I can easily let go of.  I can check some expiration dates and pitch the year’s supply of store-bought spaghetti sauce that has been there since before my divorce.  (My ex-husband was also a big fan of Sam’s club.  Seriously, I have been using the same jar of capers since 2002.)

But oh no.  There’s another room.  And in that room is the memories.  And the dreams.

All of the jigsaw puzzles we built.  Supplies for the camping we were always going to do but rarely did.  Decorations from our annual Halloween parties.  Framed photos I took down but can’t bear to throw away.  The box of ornaments we exchanged every year.

What do I need to let go of?  What will I regret throwing out in ten years?  What represents a hobby I should return to and what is an old dream I should forgive myself for abandoning?

Egad.  This is hard.  And you know what?  If this is cleaning the basement, I think cleaning the basement sucks.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Organizing