Project: Simplify presents: My Wardrobe

First of all, let me just say: wow. This so needed to happen. Inspired by Simple Mom's first "hot spot" I went through every single piece of clothing I own. I mean it. Every shoe, every pair of pants, jacket, sock, and scarf was touched. Winter wear, summer wear, fancy clothes, yoga pants - all were assessed. Pre-baby clothes and post-baby clothes - all examined and classified. In total I went through 8 drawers, 7 shelves, 2 closet racks and 1 closet floor. I was merciless. I was honest. I was decisive. I was... surprised.

My bedroom closet is so very tiny that it is hard, even for me, to keep it in check. My before:

I am by nature a very organized person, so while this might not look too bad, for me, this was really a pain. I had lost any sense of order whatsoever in this closet, and since it is so very small, that really made it hard to find anything. In addition, making the switch into maternity clothes caused a real organizational avalanche. I would move clothes in (but not out) as I needed new ones, and just put them anywhere. Plus, I had lots of stuff that I would just shove back in the closet or dresser in frustration, because it didn't fit that day and I wasn't in the mood to deal with it.

Post baby, when winter came, I brought out sweaters and boots and things, but didn't clean out anything, just moved it aside because - hey! - I had a brand new baby and things like being able to find my clothes were pretty far down on the list. No pre-baby clothes fit yet anyway, so what did it matter?

I was excited to have the motivation of the Simple Mom blog to get my going on doing the much-needed wardrobe overhaul. But in the end, I was actually shocked at how much I truly needed to remove. Here is a rough calculation:

  • 2 boxes of clothes + 3 pr shoes to consign
  • 2 boxes of clothes + 3 pr shoes to give away to charity
  • 2 bags of clothes + 4 pr shoes so janky they had nowhere to go but the trash
  • 1 under-bed storage bag of clothes that were out-of-season
  • 1 under-bed storage bag of clothes that don't fit (but for baby reasons I'm keeping)

Ok, the last two bullets actually represent items that were stored, rather than removed from our home, but still. I got rid of things that I had no business still having, like a black suit that I have had since I was 18, and that hasn't fit me for at least 6 years. Or the fun halter top I wore to Mexico 5 years ago that didn't really fit then. And the orange sherbet colored sweater that I wore on my honeymoon that got an entire can of hairspray emptied onto it in the suitcase, and thus picked up a lot of weird colors in transit. The color on that sweater never was really right after that.

I also decided that now that I am a mom, I really should follow the advice of all the pros (you know, and act like the adult I'm supposed to be): I finally removed every last wire [dry cleaners] hanger from my closet. I took my heavy sweaters off of hangers and folded them. I organized my closet by item, then color. I actually removed every item that didn't fit RIGHT NOW or wasn't in the right shape to wear, for whatever reason. The result?

See the cute containers? I splurged and spent $30 to buy 5 containers (that would actually match!) to make things easier to keep tidy and organized. I moved all shoes out of boxes and off the floor. I removed all the crummy hangers. I sorted everything first by type, then color (dark to light, left to right). I swept and dusted inside the closet, and put everything in appropriately sized containers to make it easy to put away again. And I LOVE IT!

I've already gotten rid of half of the items that need to be given away or sold, and the other half will be going this week. Despite the snow on the ground, spring cleaning is under way here!

Next: the home library/office (or, the-place-all-pieces-of-paper-go-to-and-never-leave).


Spring Cleaning

Now that I am at home full time, taking care of my beautiful son, I have a lot more time to observe all the things in the house that don't "work" for us. Like the endlessly growing piles of paper junk that accumulates in the living room, dining room, and library. Or the never-ending stream of baby toys, clothes, shoes, hats, blankets and other debris that can be found in every room in the house. Or the closet and dresser that are never empty, even when all the laundry baskets are full. We are being taken over by stuff! In addition to feeling a bit overrun by stuff, and longing for open spaces, filled with light, fresh air, fresh flowers (you know - the stuff of magazine spreads, not real houses) we have had a bout of illness that has hit the whole family one at a time, and I am just coming back to some health myself. Therefore I feel that it is high time for some wall-to-wall cleaning to get any lingering germs out. So, without further ado... I am embarking (albeit 3 weeks late...) on the Simple Mom: Project Simplify. Five weeks to a more orderly, tidy, simplified home. Sounds like heaven to me. Stay tuned for progress...


Time keeps on slippin' into the future.

I find myself being disappointed too often. And from my readings in yogic and other Eastern texts, I have come to the conclusion that it is because I set too many expectations out. However, I don't think that is quite right. I need to set more expectations for myself, and less for other people. Or to borrow another yogic practice - I need to dwell less on expectations and more on intentions.
Let's use a very current example. It is noon, and I'm still in my pajamas, haven't really eaten much (but am hungry) and haven't done a single thing on my to-do list. I haven't addressed the laundry in the washer, the empty coffee cup next to me, the baby who needs a bath (not that he cares about that), the stack of tax crap I have to sift through, or the mending pile that really needs work. So as the day goes like this (many of my days seem to) I come to the end of it feeling like I didn't really get to much of what I would have liked and I don't even really know why not. Sometimes I think that I should just "let be" and "go with the flow" and all that. And then other times I think, perhaps, I need to be a little more actively managing my time rather than frittering it away.
I didn't have much in the way of expectations today, but I didn't have any intentions either. So you might think that no matter what happened, I should be content. But my general and evergreen expectation is that I should do something with my day. Be productive! Be clever! Make, fix, clean, organize... something. Have a brilliant thought and immortalize it in words.
But I'm a stay at home mom now. Full time. My life revolves mostly around one 5 month old little boy. And I love my time with him. I am ecstatic to have this chance to be home with him. So, why do I get so disappointed?? I think it is time to clean the ol' slate, as they say, of the expectations I had for my pre-mom, paid-work, post-college me. Maybe if I can leave the slate clean... now that would be something.



KT Tunstall says in her song "Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree:"
My heart knows me better than I know myself, so I'm going to let it do all the talking.
I have been feeling lately that my brain and my heart (or gut, or whatever you want to call the feeling-part instead of the thinking-part) are not working together very well. I think my brain is trying to tell my heart to stop telling my brain the wrong things. Sound confusing? It is. Who I want to be and who I feel like I am do not match. My time slips away and I have not spent it on the things I want, but I can't seem to figure out where the time goes or get a hold on it. Time and purpose are like slippery, shiny bubbles. I see them floating all around. I chase them, but as soon as I try to grab on - pop! - they disappear out of reach forever. I have begun to try to dig in to myself, gently, to try and figure out where all this dissonance is coming from and how to stop it. I want my inner me and my outer me to be in sync again, and for myself and my shadow to be back in step. Remember how Peter Pan's shadow gets away from him? Well, I need to find mine, sew it back on, and get back into one piece. Then perhaps I'll feel better.


Nice Girls Don't Bitch

I am pissed off. I mean, just damn mad. I am furious with everything. I'm mad at asshole drivers that run red lights because they feel like it is their turn; thereby making my turn not my turn and fucking everything up for the rest of everyone because THEY are so important. I am pissed off that nothing ever fits me right. Ever. Bra straps fall down, shirts ride up. Buttons strain over my breasts while the rest of the shirt is baggy. Pants have to be rolled up, pulled up, and shifted all the time. My underwear either rides up my ass or slides down it. Oh how I would love to put an outfit on in the morning and be done with putting it in place! I hate that everything is messy all the time. Life feels like one long cleaning session. Cleaning myself, my counters, my clothes, my closet, my dishes, my drain, my baby's diapers, spit up, piss, and otherwise. I am pissed off that as a race we are killing our planet and pretending that we aren't. I am mad that there is such a gap between the wealthy and the poor. I am pissed off that Republicans have control of the house again. I am fucking furious about the state of health care and that I have to go to fifteen different places and pay way too much for too little help and a lot of blank looks. And that the Republicans want to repeal the first health care law that is trying to fix that. I am pissed off that I was born with a body that constantly betrays and pains me, in addition to being apparently the wrong size for any and all clothing. I am angry that I got a shitty deal in the parent department (50% of it, anyway) and that I have to sort out all the problems that caused. Nice girls don't complain. Nice girls forgive, are patient, understanding, and generous. I don't think being nice is really working for me anymore. So I'm going to try being angry for a while and see where that goes.


Holiday Haze

I always have mixed feelings about the holidays. I love Christmas and always have. I love the potential for wonder, joy, magic, love, and all the warm-fuzzies that come with those things. I enjoy the anticipation of parties and family and presents and goodies (cookies!). I like thinking of things to give people, creating items, first with my mind, then my hands. Like this year, I made all my Christmas cards from pieces of cards I've gotten in years past. It was fun to piece them together in different ways and personalize them all for the recipients.

Yet mixed in with all this happiness and joy is frustration, disappointment and irritation. I get frustrated with all the "buy! buy! buy!" messaging we see everywhere. I get frustrated with the incessant faux-holiday spirit we are bombarded with in every retail outlet we go to, every radio station, every website ad. I get irritated by the sheer madness of trying to do everything, see everyone (and please everyone) and get done all that I want to in the period of one month. I am inevitably disappointed by the things that do not live up to my expectations, especially those that I had hoped for the most.

Every year I long for something simpler, more honest, more pure. I hope for less frenzy and more friends. Less commerce and more conversation. Less expectation and more surprise. This year I am doing some of what I can to make that happen. I made my own Christmas cards. I visited friends to make Christmas cookies, and then shared them with my neighbors. I am giving nearly all recycled/reused gifts, and of course everything is wrapped in reused packaging and tissue paper. I have spent less time out (actually, none) desperately trying to find something to give to someone because of an obligation, and more time thinking about what I love and cherish about this time of year.

I am trying to release my frustration that others may not do this. That our family and friends will have limited time, energy and focus. That we will get cookie-cutter-Christmas cards instead of phone calls. That we will get presents that were well-meaning, but not really about us, but about giving "something." That we will go to several parties where everyone is already worn out and sits around the TV instead of around the fire.

I am also trying to remember that I can only do what I can do, and that I have to give my best to the ones I love without expectation. That is what a gift is. Not an exchange, or a trade, but something freely given without strings, conditions, or requirements. So perhaps the best gift I can give this year is my own patience, non-judgment, and love to all those I encounter. In that way perhaps I could create more of the Christmas spirit I so long to see.


What I like to call Food

I just finished reading my quarterly newsletter from the Organic Consumers Association, and learned that they are still trying to convince the USDA not to allow GMO (genetically modified organisms) salmon to be marketed without being labeled as GMO.

I really find it irksome in the extreme that we have to cajole, connive, and convince the powers that be that we deserve to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what we are eating.

There should not be any need to explain the importance of knowing what you are eating, but there is. In today's world (or at least in this country) people have come to accept a lot of "food products" as food without asking any questions. Considering that we truly are what we eat (since there is no other input, save for air and H2O, other than the calories we ingest) I think it should be a given that we have access to full information about what it is we are eating.

I want to know if the food I'm being sold has been cross-bred with another species, dosed up with antibiotics or growth hormones, fed recycled animal parts, or sprayed with lethal insecticides or herbacides. I want to know what food is being fed to the animals I eat because they are what they eat, too. I want to know how many additives (and where they came from) are going into my food, and why. Yet, again and again the USDA and FDA are convinced by -- get this -- the corporations who make money on food modifications and additives, to keep much of the process from seed (or birth, in the case of an animal) to plate in the dark.

I'm tired of having to defend my right to know what it is I'm putting into my body. I'm tired of being asked to accept on pure faith that everything served to me on a plate, in a bag, from a bin, is healthy for me and the planet. I want to see less useless, public- relations focused, obscure snippets: "all natural!," "good-for-you-grains," "heart-healthy." I want to see more information about what is in our food, how it was made/grown, and what the source of all ingredients are.

I will continue to stand up and demand that the basic building block of our health and our lives is pure, safe, and, further, labeled so that we can determine whether it is or is not worth our money and our calories. I hope, however, that I don't have to do it for much longer.