Gone KonMari crazy with a little weep

For about the last 18 months, I have been on a mission to declutter. I mean, it seems like I am always decluttering my closet (that infinite space that reproduces even more crap the minute I close the doors). But I’m more serious this time. I’m even openly attacking Mark’s clothes, albeit rarely worn dress clothing that was once worn by the much bigger man version of him. Really easy to tell him he’s absolutely NOT wearing dress clothes he wore when there was almost 40 lbs. more of him a few years ago.

My friend C told me about her volunteer job – a thrift store boutique that specializes in high quality, exceptional condition and very gently used donations. I had been in a quandary as to what to do with my stuff, because it felt like it was too nice to just drop off at my local Goodwill. I could have tried selling it online, but honestly, it does not seem worth the effort to me. If I were still doing eBay selling regularly (something I did during my last major purge a few years ago – handbags alone netted me over $2,000) I would probably be more inclined. I rarely to never even look on eBay for anything, and for clothes the FB group sales will consume my available time and generate a disproportionate amount of resentment. Nope, C’s mention of her volunteer job is a perfect solution. I do believe my donations are a close match to what they are seeking and this stuff will soon be out of my house.

So, thus far 5 large shopping bags of clothing. Due to my physical person downsizing, beloved workout capris, leggings, tops, sweatshirts, and light jackets have been neatly folded and now bagged. There are also skirts and dresses I have saved and maintained well but now find are too big for my evolving frame. I’ve also packed up some of M’s slacks, dress shirts, even ties. In another bag there are handbags, wallets, gloves, knit hats and scarves. If they accept them, I also have several pairs of worn once or twice (or not at all) running shoes waiting, plus athletic bags of various sizes that I had tucked away in a box and forgotten. I also have more dress shoes to sort out if those are something they could find useful.

A lot of stuff I have worn, loved, maintained well. It is good to pay it forward and let it go to its next owner and perhaps generate some income for a good cause.

But I am far from done with my decluttering. Next I am back in the kitchen and will be ruthlessly weeding out items we no longer use. Tomorrow, perhaps. Today was all about clothing and accessories.

I cried while doing a lot of this activity. Not at all about the items I am releasing to others so much as grieving the loss of my friend. My heart seems to shatter again each and every day. It’s hard learning to accept the finality of such change, a lesson I must learn, relearn, learn again daily. While it’s only been a week, the leaden weight is so heavy it feels like months and years.

I am grateful for any and all distractions, including going through all my stuff and seeking out that “spark joy” feeling. While I feel broken and sad inside, I am a master compartmentalizer and so much of life still sparks joy. Frequently tiny sparks build into something bigger, and in this, in the aftermath of loss, I have no choice but to be patient and wait for events to unfold. In the meantime, it gets tucked away in its box through day to day demands and responsibilities and taken out so I can bawl over a functional sun hat that I do not even like very much and am actually delighted to be shedding.

This process reminds me again that my needs and wants are actually pretty simple and continuing to filter and simplify as I mature and move along. Yep, still have a drawer full of clothes for the gym, but as it’s my new hobby-obsession, it feels relatively justifiable and almost required. The rest of my closet is FINALLY looking like I have decluttered. My business clothing closet is manageable, my supply of jeans, shorts, and weekend casual tops still quite flush with things I wear all the time. I do have my next clothing purge in the planning stages, though, because I think there are some jeans and pants from winter that will be too big this year. But when it’s hot outside, even in the comfort of my air conditioned home I do not want to be trying on flannel lined jeans, wool slacks, sweaters of any weight.

For someone who is not much of a fashion follower or clothes horse, I have a lot of clothes. Since I am not a slave to fashion or the trendy sort, pretty much everything I own has simple lines and is consider classic pieces. All good, as I believe it makes reselling relatively easy as well.

I won’t miss a single item that I have bagged or boxed for donation. I probably will not think about a single thing in any of those bags or boxes after I drop them off. But my friend has become as much a part of this home as the foundation and the house itself. I miss him terribly and I resent his death and the rollercoaster of emotions it has unleashed.

M and I went to his pod late yesterday, allowing ourselves only an hour to gather some specific, personal bequests to pack and ship to other friends. It is a bittersweet act for me, but one I take seriously and feel compelled to complete as quickly as possible. It’s written down, on a list, and I want to get it resolved as quickly as I can. I recognize the actions as something within my control, versus everything else well outside of it. Idly, I wonder how I am going to feel when the list is cleared and there is nothing left for me to do. Will I feel better? Worse? Relieved? Still angry?

Unpacking and repurposing stuff – it’s part of life, I suppose. The adventure is sorting out the emotions attached to the experiences as I move through it.

It is a challenging balance. Decluttering is good. Grief sucks.

Work is Godzilla in my life right now

For awhile there, I really thought the whole better health quest with its diet and exercise components would be the thing that took over and dismantled life as I knew it the way the giant, fire-breathing lizard used try to do to Tokyo in the old movies. Instead, I think diet and exercise have been surpassed by work. It’s just diet and exercise are easy to talk about in excruciating detail here on the blog. Work, not so much to not at all.

Lately there has been A LOT of work. Worse for me, the work is interesting and fun, challenging puzzles that capture my imagination and will not let me sleep peacefully until they are concluded. Fortunately most are short, intense projects with hard deadlines. Whereas before they used to be once or twice a month, the last couple of months they have become more once and twice per week between my part-time law firm job and my own little business. And it seems to be evolving into an addictive problem for me.

As a self-employed person, it’s hard to turn away new clients, new work, or redirect existing clients. It’s nearly impossible for me to tell people their work is too small for me to handle, so I have by systemically subcontracting them out to others I know and trust. I have been telling the clients that so they are aware that it is no longer me doing the actual work, merely reviewing it for accuracy before returning it to them. For now most are fine with that. I’m hoping by the end of each quarter to have a few more transitioned completely to my subcontractor so they can simply take over that project. These are small clients, small jobs; most take less than 6 hours per month to complete. Unfortunately the way things are going I need the hours for other, more lucrative work.

It feels risky to me. It feels like I am putting my self-employed eggs into one big basket and the engagement is not guaranteed to last for more than a year at a time. On the other hand, I have a part-time job, one that could easily transition into a full-time gig if I wish to return to those ranks. The partners at the law firm love, Love, LOVE me and give me lots of room and flexibility with my in-the-office work schedule. For me, my life and lifestyle, that is priceless. In return no matter how little I may be in the office, I stay on top of my workload and ensure I am available when needed to meet with staff and/or clients.

But setting and enforcing boundaries about work is almost impossible. I am not tired so much as frustrated that I need this much sleep and have these other rigid, cannot-be-devalued priorities. Like the exercise. And sleep. And healthier eating. And in its own way, the blog. Time with M, family, friends. These things impact my time working.

And I cannot believe I am complaining about it. But I am, after a fashion. I like what I do to earn a buck. I like the way it makes me feel. I even like the way my brain feel tired at the end of the day from processing all the stuff that had to be done, remains on the to-do lists. Perhaps I would feel more resentful or unhappy about all the extra work if I were not being paid to do it. I have been a salaried employee enough years to know when it feels as if I am being taken advantage of and asked to shoulder additional tasks and/or responsibilities because of my job classification. Not at all the case now. There are a lot of things I do, am doing for which I do not bill, but the bulk of it – yeah, I am well compensated for the work.

There are no simple solutions, and in reality I do not suppose I am seeking solutions. Because the problem, if I can even label it that way, is temporary. The tsunami of high priority rush projects will wind down by the end of June and regular life will return to its normal ebb and flow. And I suppose when talking about work and the circus-like crazy in can bring with it I want to be listened to and heard as a venting and sharing thing, not as needing advice about taking a break or needing a vacation.

Occasionally I wonder if I need to or should reprioritize the other important aspects of my life. The gym thing. The healthy eating thing. The work thing. The marriage and family things are like the operating system of my life and cannot be turned off or demoted in importance. But everything else is available for tweaking.

With the exercise, I am starting to have new questions I want to ask and yet cannot quite get my arms around the thoughts and ideas adequately to articulate them in my own head, much less out loud or in text to J. Or I am afraid to think about it too much, much less ask. My trepidation is not the answers so much as the question itself, as if I am about to jinx myself by trying to expand my understanding or change what has evolved into a better habit. Or it is possible my fragile little ego cannot handle whatever J’s reply might be to my questions. I would probably have a better sense of what is holding me back if I could get past the current block and to the heart of what I am actually thinking about and wondering. Sounds like a new kind of crazy, I know, but the more exposure I have to other ideas – whether from glossy magazine articles, blogs, podcasts, or even interacting with friends and coworkers – brings forth other scenarios to evaluate and contemplate what it might mean to me. J has done a great job of gatekeeping and helping me evaluate sources, etc. I enjoy the discussions with others about their training experiments; what they have tried, what has worked, what has been a joke or a miserable failure. I have to filter it in ways that keep it separate from me and out of the clutches of negative girl or into a tidy package that allows me to ask reasonably intelligent questions. Lately there has just been so much information coming through, and I am so busy and focused on work matters any other information I am reading or hearing about comes in and gets stuck in the processing through my head. But at least it does not make me feel bad about me and my health and fitness efforts.

Healthy eating is on the autopilot of eating the same foods, same sorts of meals right now. But again, a couple of the girls in my office are on Whole 30 and at first were chattering excitedly about the pounds lost to now when it seems that the sacrifices they are making with eating are not equaling the weight loss they are experiencing. RD and I have discussed these things, and healthy eating does not have to be that difficult. Hence my present eating of vegetables and proteins and trying very hard to be being mindful about what I am eating and when I am eating it. At the moment I do not want or need to delve too much farther off the mainstream eating track than that.

It was a long day, part of it in the law firm office, part of it meeting with a couple of my self-employment clients. All the partners and several associates were working today, many of them still there when I left at nearly 6 p.m. This does not especially surprise me; there are a couple of bigger cases coming up and the life of practicing attorneys is not that  different from the life of other professional services consultants. I am now pretty much caught up on everything work-related and prepared for whatever the coming week brings.

With the blogging and its standing as a priority in my life, I find it therapeutic and a positive experience. And my latest mission in life is to prioritize positive experiences. I have found myself getting annoyed by bloggers who are stop posting for no apparent reason and when they return they explain their absence with the “busy” excuse. Probably I should not care; I can vote with my mouse. But the thing is, I typically find that “busy” excuse annoying in general, because vast majority of us are busy with something all the time. If writing is a priority, you make time for it. If not responding to people and friends in your life is not a priority, just be honest that you attention was elsewhere and it was easier to just ignore the white noise. Particularly with other blogs, I find myself wondering why I am annoyed in the first place; not everyone lives their life or inside their own heads in the same ways I happen to do so. The blog is just another way of processing my thoughts and presenting them outside my head to move to and fro like chess pieces on the board.

After a bit of a tumultuous Friday with a couple of friends (one I referenced in yesterday’s post, another who tried valiantly to play peacemaker and kind of ground to a dismal halt, but I still appreciated the effort), I got some good advice and pep talks from others. Again, striving to prioritize positive experiences, so the pep talks and the analysis was good for me. I’m working on thickening my hide; in their own ways, even J and RD work with me on that aspect of my training. TM, well his fine handiwork could be the catalyst that caused the adverse reactions … I can hear the unanimous “you’re welcome” from my village echoing in my head. *smile*

It’s been a fabulous Saturday, all told. I took some shoes back to Nordstrom after I left the office and ended up with other shoes as well as a few new casual tops and professional blouses plus shorts for summer and capris for casual workdays … all at least a size smaller than last I bought such items. Except the shoes. Shoes are pretty much my usual size in sandals and wedges.

I love progress.


Toms Black Floral ballet flats … I love, Love, LOVE these!

Toms Black Floral ballet flats ... I love, Love, LOVE these!

It was late 2013 when I discovered Toms ballet flats … and my life has been forever enhanced. In a few short months I have gone from someone who did not own a pair of flats that were not sneakers of some sort to the proud owner of 4 pairs of Toms ballet flats. It is now 5 pairs, since I spotted these beauties on the website and immediately ordered a pair for spring.

It seems like I have been trying for years to find flats that work with my foot. Now that I have found Toms, I check in every few weeks to see if there is anything new or on sale that I like. Where I once thought I might like a pair of Toms classics, any thoughts of buying a pair are now gone; all my shoe cash is being spent on their ballet flats.

I used ebates (10% cash back), $5 coupon off orders over $25 coupon, and it was free shipping. At least this is what I will be telling M when these arrive next week. I am expecting yet another epic eye roll on my current flats obsession.