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Clean and Clutter-free: Which approach is most effective for you?

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summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 2, 2011
8:12 PM

Post #8914413

Let's say you have 3 giant couches & you've washed all the slipcovers, linings AND cushion parts. Putting them together is a tedious, difficult chore. Do you:

1) Bull through & get the whole thing done, even though it takes 2 hours & you break 2 nails & can barely lift your arms afterward?
2) Just pick at it over the course of a couple days, knowing it will get done eventually?

I washed all these things on Oct. 7 in advance of my b'friend's visit. He helped put the frame covers on but then I bogged down because I needed to repair some of the cushion linings. Last night I decided to tackle the project just in case I felt like straightening up the house enough for Christmas decorations. And finished settling the last cushion just now. Helllooooooo, December Third!

I use my timer a lot for 'don't wannnnnnnnnnna!' chores but am not sure whether to rely on the baby-steps rule or just grit my teeth.
ladyfiresign
Richmond B.C.
Canada

December 3, 2011
8:41 AM

Post #8914809

My advice, grit your teeth! Whenever I try to do baby steps I get discouraged at the lack of visible progress and give up! Then, nothing gets done... Gritting teeth though...amazing how good real progress looks!
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 3, 2011
9:08 AM

Post #8914835

If it's a "don't wanna" chore and I can't dump it off on someone else, I buckle down and get it done as fast as I can. The thing is, unfinished projects just eat away at me and the longer I look at them, the more energy they drain from me. In most cases, I'd spend more time avoiding the projecting that it takes to actually do it. So I just do it and get it off my back. You just feel so much better when it's done and over. Things like that just oppress me and deprive me of joy until they're done.

My mom raised us to do our chores/homework before we go out and play and I still follow that rule. I always try to keep on top of the housework, bill-paying, and other chores and projects so that I feel free to go play when anyone asks me. Even when I go out of town, I get my house all clean and wash all the laundry before I leave. I guess Mom's teaching has stuck with me all these years later.

I never use a timer. I just do it. But I also follow my moods. Some days I'm not in the mood for yardwork so I do housework. Somedays I'm not in the mood for yardwork or housework, so I clean up files in the filing cabinet or on the computer. I usually do something each day, but I find that I need to follow whatever mood I'm in to achieve the most results.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 3, 2011
2:02 PM

Post #8915125

Yes, I hope this is my final lesson in JUST DO IT. For two months I've skirted a living room that looked like the Island of Misfit Toys when it could have looked nice like this.
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 3, 2011
4:51 PM

Post #8915315

We all do it from time to time. Sometimes you just can't get in the mood to do it. I just stall out sometimes and don't do a thing. Then a mood strikes me and I can get several things off my to-do list quickly. I love productive days. I feel so useless on those lazy, uninspired days.
JuneyBug
Dover AFB, DE
(Zone 7a)

December 3, 2011
4:56 PM

Post #8915321

I ditto BC on this. I HAVE to finish it now or it drags me down (and I can procrastinate a whole lot harder than any job has ever been hard)


ButterflyChaser wrote:If it's a "don't wanna" chore and I can't dump it off on someone else, I buckle down and get it done as fast as I can. The thing is, unfinished projects just eat away at me and the longer I look at them, the more energy they drain from me. In most cases, I'd spend more time avoiding the projecting that it takes to actually do it. So I just do it and get it off my back. You just feel so much better when it's done and over. Things like that just oppress me and deprive me of joy until they're done.

My mom raised us to do our chores/homework before we go out and play and I still follow that rule. I always try to keep on top of the housework, bill-paying, and other chores and projects so that I feel free to go play when anyone asks me. Even when I go out of town, I get my house all clean and wash all the laundry before I leave. I guess Mom's teaching has stuck with me all these years later.

I never use a timer. I just do it. But I also follow my moods. Some days I'm not in the mood for yardwork so I do housework. Somedays I'm not in the mood for yardwork or housework, so I clean up files in the filing cabinet or on the computer. I usually do something each day, but I find that I need to follow whatever mood I'm in to achieve the most results.


summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 3, 2011
5:41 PM

Post #8915363

Procrastination or not, it sounds as if you guys have no trouble staying on top of things. I do. I'm not a hoarder & have no clutter, but struggle with some sort of issues that keep me from being organized & clean.
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 3, 2011
7:26 PM

Post #8915470

Is it a time thing? Are you busy doing other things that are top priority? One thing I've done to help me stay on top of things is to finally admit that I really shouldn't have to do it all myself. I'm working part-time (in addition to my full time job) and I use that money to hire someone to do things I don't like to do and don't have time to do.

Every so often, I hire a friend to come clean my house. She also gives me a pedicure so I can relax at home instead of making an appt in a salon. Occasionally I hire someone to help me work in my gardens or do some hauling for me. A lot of people are having a hard time right now and will work cheap. So I hire them or do some trading with them to get some things done that I just haven't gotten around to. I find that I am more motivated when people help me because I can see fast results. And I can dump some of the chores I don't want to do on them. Is there someone you can hire or barter with who might tackle some of the projects hanging over your head? Sometimes we all just need a little help.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 3, 2011
10:11 PM

Post #8915562

Actually, Butterfly, I fell into the deepest, helpless pit you can imagine back when I had almost unlimited resources. I even had a handyman living in a spare bedroom because my "to-do" list was so endless. My house was perfection after a few months of that. It didn't make me happy OR productive. I hired people to do EVERYTHING because I thought I was just overwhelmed & needed a hand to get things corraled. Once they left, I lapsed back into overwhelmed woman.

My situation these days is much different and I'm not even working, other than on stuff like writing & art that bring in some money if I'm diligent, so no time excuse there.

I don't know. I thought I had all these things licked, but here I am in a huge, uncluttered, beautiful house in a gorgeous setting & it is all falling in on itself somehow. I don't think it's depression, exactly (been there, done that). Maybe frustration, shiftlessness, a feeling that it's all for naught? I'll bet that if I could force myself to devote 2 hours a day to "don't wannnnnaaaaaa" stuff, the whole property would look different, but would I be happier? I suspect not.

Dunno! Confusion.
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 4, 2011
8:00 AM

Post #8915837

Summerkid, there's more to depression than crying and suicidal thoughts, I learned recently. That sense of feeling overwhelmed constantly and frustrated and useless is also part of depression. I felt some of that along with terrible anxiety to the point that I literally vibrated. I just thought I was hyper.

My doc explained that sometimes our brains just quit producing some vital chemicals that keep us "normal". He called it "clinical depression." It's not a character flaw or a weakness. It's simply a lack of the usual chemicals our bodies need to make us who we are. He put me on Cymbalta and within a month, I noticed a huge difference. I feel "normal" again, like the old me I was many moons ago. I LOVE IT!!! You might talk to your doctor. Make a list of the different feelings or behaviors you have and see what he thinks. For me, Cymbalta is my magic pill. Not only does it help with the clinical depression and anxiety, but it also helps with my osteoarthritis so my back doesn't hurt as much as it used to. The right drug might make you feel like a whole different person. My brain had quit producing serotonin and norenepherine (however you spell it) resulting in the anxiety and insomnia. I suffered for years! Within a month on Cymbalta, I was calm, able to think again, and I can sleep 8 hrs a night now. It's just amazing! I hope you find a solution yourself.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 4, 2011
8:27 PM

Post #8916671

I know you're right about all that. But my listlessness might be just situational -- as things have transpired this year, I'm somewhat isolated, a long way from family & friends, and a little unsure where to go from here, physically & otherwise. So limbo & loneliness might be taking their toll! I think I will call the doc tomorrow anyway & ask her opinion.
coleup
annapolis, MD
(Zone 7b)

December 4, 2011
8:50 PM

Post #8916718

Looks like I was typing while you were posting!!
Summekid, your words are resonating with me in the following ways:

I'm at heart a very social creature and thrive on a certain amount of everyday interactions, like being part of a neighborhood where daily contacts and acknowlegements occur and there is the possibility of deeper involvement at hand. So when that black hole sucks me closer to the " deepest helpless pit" I need to reconnect, reach out...best if it can be organic like roommates, friends visiting, family...other living things have kept me alive in these similar recurring cycles of wondering what itis all about.

Much of the world and so much of nature and our earth is soo hard pressed now and suffering/dying, living in situations so devoid of hope or any clear vision of a future, or a future so far removed from one individual having any effect, in despair beyond anything that I have faced as yet. I believe you wrote some where that you "are sensitive to beauty and its lack" so we take this in , this cud and chew and chew until nourishment for the journey is infused. There are rough times ahead, times when we need to circle the wagons, deepen connections, hold each other close, while at the same time we are ever so much more scattered and disconnected. And goaded by fear on every side and treated harshly if we "protest" that many things need doing and changing NOW. So, I practise in my microcosm life what plays out on the planet, our big blue marble home, hoping that the old paradim will hold a while longer. I don't know where my next hand hold is...spiritual limbo? climate change?

My personal struggle is pretty much what this quote addresses Chief Dan George said, "The time will soon be here when my grandchild will long for the cry of a loon, the flash of a salmon, the whisper of spruce needles, or the screech of an eagle. But he will not make friends with any of these creatures and when his heart aches with longing he will curse me. Have I done all to keep the air fresh? Have I cared enough about the water? Have I left the eagle to soar in freedom? Have I done everything I could to earn my grandchild’s fondness?"

And, the light always dwindles at this time of year a deep signal to both the industrious ant and the fiddling grasshopper. While you contemplate straightening up the house just in case you feel like Christmas decorations, perhaps you will find a way to observe the solstice return of the light there at Rose Lodge and make sure you have planty of vitamin D! I'm also told that the winter is when the growth and dreaming for the new year takes place.

Some of us never learned to be organized or clean and clutter free. And, I remind us that we have found our way out of that deep helpless pit and are wiser, humbler, and more compassionate for it. Perhaps we will take it off of our itineraries this time round...or transform it some how.

In short, summerkid, I hear you asking deep, profound, spiritual questions. Seek and ye shall find.

Here is a link to a story called "Follow the Star" http://infaith.posterous.com/follow-the-star

And a site I've found very nourishing and hopefull for where I am, definitely "kindred spirits"
http://takeonestepatatime.proboards.com/index.cgi

This message was edited Dec 4, 2011 11:53 PM

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summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 4, 2011
10:34 PM

Post #8916755

coleup, thank you for that response! I feel that you read between some clumsily written lines & deduced real heartache. I didn't intend to make my struggles a big topic of conversation but am pleased to have prompted some really helpful missives. Thank you all for reaching out to me. I am going to think on these thoughts & post tomorrow -- just wanted to acknowledge your efforts.

It is so true about needing that human touch. What if I were the most comical person on the planet, with the most pungent of observations, would it matter if there were not someone across the table who "got them" and laughed? If no one ever tastes what I cook, why bother with anything more than cottage cheese?

Ah, as I approach 50, I sincerely hope that there are good answers to these questions.
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 5, 2011
5:43 AM

Post #8916954

Summerkid, make the call. The stress of loneliness (or any stress) can do strange things to our brains. During this time, it might be especially helpful to have an antidepressant to help you thru this time. And of course it's the holidays on top of everything else. Many people get the holiday blues for various reasons. I get the winter blues myself. So getting thru the winter is a chore for me. I NEED sunshine.

I spend much of my time alone and in the last few years, I've learned to enjoy it. It's given me time to grow and learn new things. A year and a half ago, I started volunteering with a medicine assistance program (and they've now hired me part-time). I absolutely love it! I love that I am doing something to help others. And I love that I'm constantly learning. I just crave knowledge and can't get enough. I also started taking oil painting classes and find that I love painting. Perhaps you need a new hobby that puts you around people?

I read somewhere that certain things affect your brain positively by increasing the production of serotonin--our happy, calming chemical. Charity work and learning something new are two of those things. Exercise and socializing are two more. So maybe you can ease back into society and restore your spirit. Let us know how everything goes.

And of course how you feel spiritually will affect how you function. Why not use this downtown to celebrate your solitude and rejuvenate your spirit? Pamper yourself in some way. We women often pamper everyone but ourselves. Let Calgon and a glass of wine and some good chocolate take you away. LOL Do something just for you. Get a pedicure or a facial. Rent that movie you've been wanting to see. Take a walk. Go to the shelter and rescue a furry friend. Sometimes furry friends are really the best friends. And they're sooooo soft! LOL

NancyAnn
coleup
annapolis, MD
(Zone 7b)

December 8, 2011
8:55 AM

Post #8921366

summerkid,

As our threads and lives go quiet from reflection or busy doings, I thank you so much for acknowledging that you got that I was getting you!

Look forward to everyones posting again.

Sometimes motivation follows inspiration and sometimes inspiration comes while doing the mundane routines of our lives. And sometimes we remember what inspired us to do things in the first place!

Rose Lodge sounds like a wonderful inspiration and I am sure not in name only!
huckleberry6
Eagle Point, OR
(Zone 8a)

December 11, 2011
10:54 PM

Post #8925778

I'm joining in a bit late, but BOY do I feel your pain. You are not alone, Summerkid. I will be 49 next month and I keep wondering how much more junk mail I will have to recycle in my lifetime. I remember my mother being completely overwhelmed by the grind of chores that were never done.
I have had to lower my expectations. I have had to give up on projects I lack the ability to complete. I have many other projects I refuse to give up on, and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! I know I am my own worst enemy, but I can't seem to exorcise my perfectionist demons, or is it just a demanding, bratty inner child I have? It is exhausting and frustrating. I don't really have the money to hire others, and I know it would not matter if I did, because no one would do the job as I think I want it done, and i would probably resent the job or person if it was done right. So it remains a vicious cycle for me in many ways.
I innocently believed if I cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer, IT WOULD REMAIN CLEAN FOR ETERNITY. IT DIDN'T! This made me so mad I refused to touch it for a while. I know I need to declutter because I know I can not deal with the necessary items, let alone the excess.
However, I have made real improvements and change by coming here. I have hope. I have community.
huckleberry6
Eagle Point, OR
(Zone 8a)

December 12, 2011
9:14 PM

Post #8927256

After my frustration tirade post last night, I woke up and decided to take on a chore today and finish it without distractions. I washed the bed linens. One load of flannel sheets, one load of comforter, one load of pillowcases. And I hand washed two sweaters while I was stuck in the laundry room. It took much less time than usual. So my vote is that it is FAR better to tackle a job and be done with it. Unfortunately, there is always another job waiting.

The 3 couches that got you feeling overwhelmed- maybe they are too high-maintanence? I also have 3 couches, and have removed the cushion covers and machine washed them once in 20 years(!). I remember it was a two-day job. The pets do not hang out on those couches. Our dogs had their own beds, and the cats sleep on our recliners, which I keep covered with cotton sheets in summer and blankets in winter. Anyway, good luck with the chores!
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 13, 2011
3:32 AM

Post #8927410

Well, I got back on the Lexapro last week & spent 4 days in bed over the weekend (yeah, I know, the weekend is only supposed to be 2 days). I grabbed my laptop, a coffeemaker, all my paints & markers, a sketchbook & all the pets, as much beer was in the fridge & hibernated in the dark.

I have surfaced, for the moment. Onward!
ButterflyChaser
Northeast, AR
(Zone 7a)

December 13, 2011
6:02 PM

Post #8928449

When I started Cymbalta, I was so sick for the first few days and I "held down the couch". Once the Lexapro enters your system good, you'll be feeling alive and energetic and focused, I'm sure. Cymbalta is my "magic pill". The difference in my life before and after is amazing!

Huck is right; it might be time to look for lower-maintenance furniture. I've gone low-maintenance everywhere. No carpet; all my floors are hardwood or tile. With two big hairy beasts and me running in and out of the gardens daily, carpet was a big waste of time. My furniture is all leather. It's easy to dust and clean. I've even discovered that I can use clothing dye to restain scratches on the leather. I've decluttered my house and bought a lot of furniture with doors and drawers to cut down on the time it takes to dust.

Even with gardening, I've simplified. My whole yard is a garden, but I'm widening paths to at least 4 ft throughout. And I'm building concrete or brick patios here and there, so that actually cuts down on weeding time. I also quit growing tropicals and houseplants--a big waste of my time and energy previously. Everything I grow is now perennial and can stay outdoors year round.

I'm still trying to simplify other areas of my life too. It really helps cut down on the sense of being overwhelmed and frees up my spirit so I feel more energized, focused, and creative.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 13, 2011
9:51 PM

Post #8928814

Oh, actually, these are super couches. Large & comfortable, and the slipcovers have held up to 10 years' worth of cats & a dog. Some of the arm fronts are beginning to give in to occasional clawing, but I'm shocked by how good they look given the heavy use. My Aunt Darlene was visiting this spring & asked whether they were brand new. The only reason I had everything off & in the wash was because my dog went through a period of incontinence & they needed a thorough cleaning. This happens once every several years even though I wash the cushion covers regularly. The fault lay in my inability to deal with a project that requires more than 10 minutes' attention!

If anyone is in the market for a couch, I highly recommend them: Pottery Barn's Charleston model with everyday slipclovers.

I'm slightly relieved to know that my hibernation might be a side effect of going back on the Lexpro, thanks.

Just when you feel most overwhelmed, an angel appears, right? Last night I needed dog food so drove to town around midnight to hit Safeway & then stopped by my favorite pool joint. Then didn't feel much like playing pool because the guys at the table were all way better than I am. So sat at the bar kind of morosely, nursing a beer & reading the paper. But one of the pool sharks, an older widow named Marty, noticed & came to chat me up & wonder why I wasn't playing. I launched into my sob story about being overwhelmed & how I blew the electric to half my house & the floor warping by the dishwasher yadda yadda & how I can't afford to keep this place nice yadda yadda. He pulled out a business card & said, "I do more with my life than give you free pool lessons, you know." He's a handyman! And he said he never charges friends more than 10 bucks an hour, less if they offer him lunch or a beer.

That I can afford! I know he's partly looking for company, plus I'm pretty sure he can use the money. This could work out! Of course, I'm always excited about a new handyman & they have all turned out to be nightmares one way or another. He spent 25 years working for carnivals, so that's a new wrinkle, at least.
rubyw
Crozet, VA

December 25, 2011
2:03 PM

Post #8942473

No activity here for a while. I haven't been around the boards much the past few weeks, so just read this through today. I hope that by now the anti-depressant has kicked in Summer and that you do indeed have a better outlook on life than when you first posted this.

Please update on how the ex-circus worker is doing. I hope too that he has been able to get some things back in better order for you.

Listen to these folks here, they know of what they speak. I too appreciate that there is community among members at Dave's. I know that de-cluttering and trying to do better in any area of our lives is always easier when we are able to get feedback from others who have been through whatever we are facing at the time. Support...I am big on it and owe many people who have supported me through less than ideal times in my life.

I hope that everyone enjoyed Christmas Day.

Ruby

summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 25, 2011
2:59 PM

Post #8942509

Merry Christmas, my friends! Yes Ruby, thank you, the medication made a huge difference almost immediately.
And on Friday my carnival friend & a new cleaning woman worked here ALL afternoon & the house is sparkling.
Just in time for my b'friend to arrive from Chicago. His plane takes off in 10 minutes.
So that lifted my mood greatly, too.
Sometimes you're depressed because of temporary (or worse) situations, right? Being with your significant other at the holidays might be all the medication you need!
rubyw
Crozet, VA

December 26, 2011
6:49 AM

Post #8943024

Summer, the reading between the lines I did with your original messages was to think that missing your boyfriend would certainly be enough to put me in poor spirits anyway. Is there a way for either of you to make a move so that you can be closer? I know that many people seem to make long distance relationships work, but I don't believe I have the personality to make that happen. I would always be thinking of ways to be closer and yearning for more time together. I was once in a relationship where the gentleman lived about three hours away. That was too frustrating for me and it didn't work out in the end.

I send best wishes for good happenings in your life for 2012. So glad you have a sparkling house to look at though. That always lifts my mood tremendously. Here is wishing the very same for all reading.

Ruby
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

December 30, 2011
2:05 PM

Post #8948025

Thank you Ruby!
You know how things never work out the way they're supposed to. Well ... on Jack's last few visits we were supposed to figure out our next move, either together or not, kind of fish or cut bait. Except neither of us is the type who's exactly eager to hash out all the issues, so it never happened.

Welllllllll ... on Jack's 2nd day here, we had rented a lovely beachfront house & were joined by several of my friends from Portland, and Jack gets the message that his diabetic brother-in-law, who recently had half a leg amputated, developed a blood clot or had a heart attack & ended up in the ICU with a dire outcome in the offing. So Jack immediately changed his flight to the next morning & in all the chaos we retreated to the bedroom to cry a bit & try to gather our nerves together. Amid the shock of it all & the visit being cut short, we had a "come to Jesus" talk & decided that it was time to put our lives together as a real-life couple.

So, no timeline yet, but it looks as if I'll be moving back to Illinois for the time being while he wraps up his career.
I'm still reeling from the week's fast-moving events & not quite sure what to think or do next but I feel a little "safer" now, not so on my own.

Oh, and the best news is, his BIL is going to live & is even able to talk to Jack on the phone, so Jack ended up redoing his flight. He's still here & will leave in the morning, just a couple of days early, to spend time with his family before he has to go back to work.

Happy New Year, all!!!
rubyw
Crozet, VA

January 9, 2012
1:38 PM

Post #8960897

Great news on all fronts Summerkid. So glad the Brother in Law is okay. I truly believe that being with your love will make all the difference in the world on your outlook. Gosh, I can think of times in my past when I pined away many hours due to not being with the one I loved. Thankfully, they are just a memory now and oddly, none are a part of my current life.

I too want to wish anyone reading a great new year that is upon us.

Ruby

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