The endpoint of perseverance is compassion

We’ve Moved!

I’ve so enjoyed the support of people visiting and commenting on TurtleWords, my blog about facing fear. Thank you!

My topics here have include motorcycling as a beginner, a little bit about loss, and just recently, decluttering.

I’m heading in a little bit of a different direction now, and I wanted to celebrate that with a new motto: I am worth it. And with that, comes a new blog!

You might recognize some of the posts, but there will lots more new stuff coming. Check it out here and drop me a comment if you like!

A little tweak

I have a morning routine which helps me start my day off right. Hot tea, free-form writing in a journal, jotting down some quick gratitudes, and a short meditation. I also have a bullet journal to help me track projects, tasks, and some habits I’m trying to build.

There is a corner in our library I use for this. It has a set of comfortable wing chairs (inherited from my grandmother), and a table.

But I was getting frustrated because I somehow ended up with all these books hanging out on the table.

And then one day, I realized that I could put them on the shelf with the books. Since we have removed about 20% of our books so far, there is room on one of the shelves – right next to the chair! All I have to do is turn to the right and slide them off and on.

It’s working great, I’m actually putting them back. Everything goes in the shelf except my bullet journal which follows me to my desk. It feels good to not have them sitting out all day when I only use them in the morning.

Why, that’s a big subject

Why do I want to declutter? There are several reasons.

One of the most significant reasons is that we want to move to Portugal in several years. We will be taking a minimal amount of stuff, and I certainly don’t want to try getting rid of it in the last months before we leave. More on that another time.

A more immediate purpose is that I think it will make me more comfortable in the house. The visual clutter contributes to my anxiety. It is like a low-level buzzing sound in my brain, a scratchy tag on a shirt, an underlying annoyance that I’m often not fully aware of.

I hadn’t realized how it was affecting me until we got some areas cleaned out.

There have been many times when I wouldn’t work on a hobby project because I would have to clean off the table so I could have room to work on it. That was frustrating because I didn’t know where to put all the stuff that was laying around … that I had left there. Because it was too hard to put away. Either because there was no good spot for it, or the spot was under the lowest shelf, back in the far corner of the closet that was only accessible by getting down on hands and knees. And it was in that corner because…

Why? Why in that corner? That was the really tough question that I kept on bumping my head up against (sometimes literally).

I finally realized that I wasn’t using much of that stuff… that the chances of me using it were low, that perhaps, maybe, conceivably I could just let some of it go. That it wouldn’t mean I was lazy for not using all the craft materials up.

Way more supplies than I will ever use.

Which leads to the realization that if I just need 5 beads, it might be okay to just buy 5 beads, even though buying a 30 pack would be less expensive per bead. Because I don’t have a plan for the rest of the beads! For some reason, I was blind about this regarding craft materials and office supplies.

I don’t do this with food or other consumables, or even other non-consumable items that come in packs.

Have you recognized any blind spots like that for you?

So this is my bathroom right now:

Ah, so much nicer. This side of the bathroom is decluttered, tidied, and cleaned. Most of that did not happen today; a big bout of decluttering happened a few months ago. And I have been able to keep the counter junk-free most of the time.

It feels really nice. I think twice when I get ready to leave something on the counter that doesn’t belong there.

Tear off the band-aid?

Since the pandemic, I’ve been working from home. I had a sit-stand desk at the office and it really made working more pleasant. I finally ordered one for home, and I’m very excited!

I had to remove everything from my desk to move the old desk out and get the new one set up. So this is before (sorry about the shaky picture):

My computer, router, laptop on top of a riser, work journal, box of scrap paper, cup of tea, word-per-day calendar, papers, scrap paper, post-it notes, old computer, pens, highlighters, phone.

And this is after my wife very kindly put the new desk together and I set up my computer:

Glasses and computer.

So… obviously there are a lot of things from the first picture I have to figure out what to do with. My tendency is to just put everything back so I can get on with it.

That clean desk sure looks nice and a lot calmer though! My hope is that I can trim down what I think I need on my desk. To do that, I need to come it from multiple directions: find better places to store items, carefully consider each item and whether I really need at all, and decide what needs to be on my desk.

I have to figure out how to shake up my thinking about what I keep and need. For example, I have a “saying a day” calendar and I’ve been keeping the old days, because they are really good sayings. But I really don’t need them. I don’t even really need to new days, come to think of it. So I won’t get one next year.

A truckload

Whew. Wow. We just did a massive declutter. This is a box of fabric, yarn, knitting needles, and books.

It was joined by four more boxes of a similar size and contents, plus a treadle sewing machine, office supplies, scrapbooking paper, costume jewelry, huge embroidery hoop, and a dry mount press!

Wife showing off the treadle sewing machine in its cabinet.

So much stuff that wasn’t being used. Most of it hasn’t been used for years.

I am trying to get to a point where I only own things that I actually use. Or are beautiful.

Yesterday and this morning, my mantra was “If I send it away, someone else can use it. If I keep it and don’t use it, no one gets use of it.”

Do you have extra stuff that is a burden to you?

Craft Room

Today, I am decluttering my part of the craft room – our middle bedroom of three. Note that this is after I already went through massive amounts of stuff earlier in the year. We are lucky to have a craft thrift store in town, so it was easy to donate items in good condition before the pandemic.

The hobbies I have supplies and tools for are sewing, polymer clay, beading (for jewelry), knitting, leather working, card making and other paper crafts. Oh, and paper making, journals, and storage for sentimental papers. I’m also taking up painting with acrylics.

So this is the starting point. There is a lot that goes into deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. One of the hardest mental leaps is realizing that some of the in-progress projects are not going to happen – and that is okay. It is okay to get rid of that stuff.

They Called Me Messy Mesi

My last name used to be Mesi – a Sicilian (Italian) name that we pronounced like the store Macy’s. The kids at school called me Messy Mesi. It stung, but it was accurate. Imagine a desk like this old-fashioned school desk…

Old fashioned school desk with wooden top over a metal desk with room for papers and supplies.
Old Fashioned School Desk
“Matthew at school desk” by Jim’s Photo World is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

…stuffed to the gills with crumpled papers, school texts, notebooks, and pencils. Maybe a bottle of glue. (If you’ve never seen one of those, the lid lifts up and there is a large open area for storage).

Imagine books late back to the library. A crushed lunch bag. A frantic search for the other saddle shoe. That was my life in elementary school.

And this is what my bathroom looked like just a few weeks ago. It is tiny, so does that give me a little bit of an excuse (ha ha, no!). Only I use it so it’s all my stuff.

Bathroom counter completely covered in items.
Yeah. That is really a mess.

Yowza. This stresses me out just looking at it. Want to follow me on my journey from Messy Mesi to uncluttered and unstressed?

On our way!

… and it is going great!

Since I decided to go on the trip, I’ve practiced on the motorcycle more than I have since I first learned.  Lots of fun and lots of cursing, a little sunburn.  

I’ve gained a lot of confidence.  One of the biggest changes is that my very mechanically inclined wife added a Brown side stand, which is much much much easier to use and takes away 95% of my fear of dismounting.  Thank you, sweetie!

I’ve haven’t quite fulfilled my mission of discussing the heroes journey as it happens — I tend to do it more afterwards.  Well, it’s a new day, so here we go! 

I got an 800cc motorcycle – quite a lot bigger and heavier than my 250.  I was searching for a 650, but just wasn’t finding one, so I went with this one.   It is rather nice, but a little intimidating.

It was just pride that caused me to hurt myself.

After two incidents I was just not feeling the love with this motorcycle.  The first was a fall at a stop — I wasn’t hurt, my wife got the bike back up for me, and back home without more trouble.

The second time, as I was dismounting, it started to fall, and instead of letting it, I held it up, at the expense of hurting my shoulder.  It was just pride that had me do that, as I had practiced picking it up and it is doable.

So, now I am going on a group riding trip over Labor Day weekend — a very easy trip designed for beginners — with some friends.  They’ve been very encouraging and letting me know I don’t have to do things perfectly.  But it is still pretty intimidating.  So this morning, off I go on the bike to practice.  

%d bloggers like this: