The Problem

plant

After a year of disposing of the spoils of my late husband’s accumulating, aka hoarding, there was still a lot of stuff in the house.  In my naiveness, I assumed that if you want to minimalize, you simply get rid of stuff.  I read books and articles, and I had down pat the rule, “if you don’t use it, don’t love it, get rid of it.”  Stuff remained.  That’s about the time when I realized THE PROBLEM.

I love and use a lot of stuff.  My whole life needs to be examined, not  just my stuff.  If I’m going to simplify my life, I need to look farther/deeper than just the stuff.  A diletante by nature, I have somehow taken it to new extreme levels.  I go in too many directions with all my stuff in tow.

I’ve had to think about what’s important to me, and there are still decisions to make.  I love blogging, so it’s going to take place here.  Welcome to Connie sorting her life!

These are briefly the basic areas that I have identified to date:

ART – I do pottery, but most of that stuff stays at Mudworks.  Alas, I also like to paint, draw, sew, cross-stitch – well, just about any crafty thing you can imagine.  Of course, it all requires stuff – acrylic paints, charcoal pencils, pastels, canvases, sewing machine, pattern books, project kits, how to books.  I have boxes and boxes of loved and needed stuff.  Goal is to pare down my art.  Do I really need to do it all?

HOBBIES – I love photography.  I love family history.  I love gardening.  If these things stay, then a lot of other activities need to leave.  After all, for my own well being, I do need to keep my bicycling and yoga, and they have been at the tail end of my list for too long.

COOKING – Now that I’m cooking for just myself, I can’t decide how or what I want to do.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  Do I want to eat vegetarian? vegan? gluten-free? Paleo?  Should I cook country style? Italian? French? Bake my own bread?  I gave away most of my cookbooks, and yet somehow I still have forty or so, all because my cooking goes in so many directions.  Not just cookbooks, but all the gadgets that go along with it.  I can juice, make pasta, decorate cakes – it’s overwhelming.  And I’m not even cooking!

FINANCES – After years of priding myself on my simplified record keeping, I am overwhelmed with the stacks (more like boxes!) of papers.  Who knows how it happened, well okay, I can trace it all back, but I found myself with accounts at too many institutions.  At the time, I’m sure there were reasons, but it’s gotten out of hand.  The process of paring accounts down isn’t as close to my heart as art and cooking, so the simplifying is quickly happening.

WORK – Here again, too many directions.  This is how some of those accounts came into being.  If my CPA business wasn’t enough, I added some other small (but time consuming) ventures including creating e-courses for creative entrepreneurs.  This area is going on the chopping block.

GENERAL STUFF – Yes, I have too many clothes, too many books, too many personal care products.  Slowly, it’s heading out the door.  These are easy decisions, once I realized my bigger problems.  I have heeded the “I wanna do ____” far too many times, and stuff just naturally follows along with it.  I’m sort of like the plant above, growing is too many directions, with one thing leading to another, and just about to tip off the ledge.

I’m committing myself to simplifying my life, and then I can deal with the stuff.  Who knew simplifying could be so complicated?

 

Becoming a Potter

It’s funny how seeds that are planted decades ago have a way of persisting and sprouting.  January 1970, I tried to throw a pot.  “Someday, I’m going to do this.”

potter

January 2015, forty-five years later, I started wheel-throwing classes at Mudworks.  Lots of things through out my life have come easy to me, and if they didn’t, well, then I just didn’t do them.  This certainly isn’t the easiest thing I’ve done, but I’m not giving up which is a relatively new thing for me.  In addition, to throwing nice pots, I think this wheel-throwing has even more to teach me.

Non-attachment, for example.  Even if you throw a pot that you like, there are still numerous other opportunities for its demise before it becomes a finished pot.  Cutting off of the wheel, drying to leather stage, trimming, bisque firing, glazing and final firing are all hazards the pot must survive.  In my short time of classes, I have already destroyed a good pot at each of those stages except bisque firing which I’m sure is coming soon.

Letting go of perfection for me is sometimes a problem, although I’ve been working on it for the past couple of years.  The clay we use in class is recycled and used again, so it makes it easy for me to toss a mistake into the recycle bin.  The problem is, as the instructor and the other students keep telling me, is that if I don’t save some pots, then I won’t have anything to use for practicing glazing.  Even with their imperfections, I’ve been keeping some pots.

Being in the moment and focusing my attention is a tough one for me.  When a pot is spinning, the slightest movement is exaggerated.  Countless potential pots have gone to the recycle bin because my attention wandered.  I’m working on it.

pots1

This is my first batch of pots.  I got lucky on some of the glazes, but I don’t have a clue how to do it again.  I’m resisting pointing out the problems with these pots, and hopefully in the future my pots will improve.  And maybe I will too.

The Ugliest Backyard Makeover

As if the repairs on the Dudley House that I wrote about here weren’t enough, I just had to start thinking and dreaming about the backyard.  My dream for the backyard is to be a place of relaxation and beauty.  A place for the dogs to run and people to gather.

backyard dream

If I could do half the things I think I can do, then I would be amazing.  Alas, I can’t, but that doesn’t stop me from starting projects.  I call this project The Ugliest Backyard Makeover.  You can find it on Instagram at #ugliestbackyardmakeover.

The Dudley House is in an area of town where houses have very small yards.  I see people mow all of their grass in less than ten minutes with a push mower.  As the 1928 original farmhouse before dividing, it has a big yard, bigger than any others that I have seen in the neighborhood.

As I was visualizing a pool, expansive deck and lush landscaping, the pictures below are what my camera was capturing.

backyard5

backyard4

backyard

backyard 3

backyard 2

 

The Dudley House

The Dudley HouseBack in January, I posted about finding a house in Lexington, the perfect house.  I ended the post by saying that I would be sharing with you all the makeovers in the coming months.  I had in mind sharing cute decorating, ways of making the house warm and inviting, etc.  Bet that’s what you were thinking too.  It’s been a long and tiring journey to get to that place, but five months later, I’m almost there.

When I looked at the Dudley House (By the way, I named it.  I just think that houses need names, don’t you?), I saw the perfect house.  It’s small, but very open with lots of natural light.  It needed some things done, but nothing seemed overwhelming.  What was I thinking?  Here it was the beginning of tax season, and this was basically my need/problem to do list:

  • No back door, only plastic
  • Walls removed from back porch/mudroom
  • Broken basement windows
  • No way to open/close door to side porch
  • Dishwasher pulled out and disassembled
  • HVAC duct work removed
  • Baseboard removed in random spots throughout
  • Trim removed from windows
  • Screen ripped off screened in porch
  • Door to basement missing
  • Neither toilet functioning
  • Large area of side porch roof missing
  • Electrical system ungrounded
  • Several windows ready to fall out
  • Broken light fixtures
  • Hardwood floors downstairs needing refinishing

I thought it would be no problem.  Had I realized what a job that I was facing, the sensible thing to do would have been to hire a general contractor and had them do it all.  Instead, it was an exhausting several months with numerous individual contractors.  No, it isn’t all done yet, but it’s getting closer.  I’ll be sharing some of the interior soon.  In the meantime, here are a few pics that I took before the work began.

back porch

Fire place

front door

half bath

inside front door

lights

livingroom

side porch

 

 

One Little Word 2015

For the past several years, I have been participating in Ali Edward’s One Little Word Project.  It’s a year long project with monthly prompts.  I began in 2011 with “Nurture”, then two years of “Organize”.  I could do a lifetime of organize!  Last year was “Embrace”.  This is my fifth year, and I have yet to get further along than doing the January prompt.

January OLW

Once again, my January page!  Although I never get past January, I do keep the word in my mind all year.  Last year’s “Embrace” was the perfect word.  It was a tough year, and I had a new life to embrace.  This year, I’m ready to explore!

january olw 2

In my mind, I’ve sort of divided my life into thirds.  Believe it or not, I gave this a good bit of thought, e.g. divided in fourths gave me too little time left, divided in half gave me too much, and divided into anything else was too complicated.  I’m beginning a new phase, and this year I’m concentrating on exploring what this third phase of my life might look like.

January OLW 1

In addition to Ali’s January scrapbooking prompt, I also have a physical version of my word.  No idea how she does it, but Colleen Attara makes these custom words from recycled plastic.  She calls them salvaged words.  When it arrived, I was surprised to find that not only did she send me a big EXPLORE to hang where I’ll see it often, but also this smaller one.  Her packaging was so cute — it included the little sewn tag above and a sweet note.

explore

Will I go further than the January prompt this year?  Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Let’s explore that idea!