Category Archives: Life Lessons

Happy August 8!

In 2005 on this day, I had a happy accident, I found 43things.com. The website (the original, not the altered/resurrected one currently available) changed my life. I made friends, I found a family.

Ever since, I have celebrated 8/8.

Thank you folks from the original 43t, although I think only one person from there reads this regularly.

It changed my life for the good and I will miss it forever.

J

My Methods

am decluttering/dehoarding the house, a bit at a time. I am changing my ways, although I can’t show anyone a habit tracker with lots of little checkmarks indicating things get done day in and day out.

That said, I have learned a few things about what works for me. I realized that because I’d never really been taught how to clean a house (the housekeeper not only was abusive, but she was also lazy and inefficient) or maintain it. I can read books and lists all I want, but there is a kind of natural pattern which I found which works for me. On the good days, this is what I do:

  1. Get out of bed, turn back the covers.
  2. Go down, get coffee, while it’s heating (if it needs it) I wash or rinse whatever is in the sink or wipe down the sink counter, depending.
  3. Go to office, get email, finish coffee. [Future piece to add to this is to straighten the desk or an area in the office.]
  4. First trip to bathroom, drop denture cleaner tabs in toilet (we have a lot of iron in our water, this helps keep the iron munge down). Wipe down bath sink first time sink is used.
  5. When I return to the kitchen for the 2nd cup of coffee, put away dishes or wash/rinse more, depending again.
  6. By this time I’m usually actually awake. If I remember, this is when I’m supposed to make the bed. (Making the bed is the newest piece I’m adding to this routine; not there yet!)

What I know about myself and shows in the list is that I hate “just” cleaning something. I want to do the maintenance cleaning while I’m doing something else: getting coffee, using the sink, getting my email, whatever. Ideally, I’d never do maintenance cleaning as a “chore” by itself, but it would be done along with something else: the prep dishes washed or soaked while dinner was being made or served is another goal.

I haven’t figured out how to add floor cleaning yet. I have routines for cleaning mirrors, bathroom chrome, and many other items, but some are still in process.

Seems like a PITA? Yes, it might be to someone else, but because setting out to “clean” something as a goal for decades pushed on the PTSD, I had to find other ways to approach the issue, and this works. I can add the little bits of maintenance cleaning to the things I do every day: getting coffee, getting out of bed, using the bathroom, etc. I can’t decide I’m going to clean for an hour between 9 and 10 a.m.!

 

Workin’ On It

Our house feels like it has been attacked by giant termites. In reality, what’s going on is that they are (finally) tearing the roof off the laundry room. Hurrah!! The old roof has to go before the new roof can be put on.

I intend to make cookies this morning. It’s a grey/gloomy day here and although there are a few drinks in the cooler outside, I think the workers would like warm cookies more!

Opened the memoir file this a.m. and got through the front matter and first 3 chapters before I quit. If I keep myself doing 3 sections at a time, eventually I’ll get through the thing. I’m sick of working on the piece!!!

The “feeling stronger” I talked about in the last post affects this. I have two or three things I’m feeling a lot these days: I want to keep feeling safe, I feel strong enough (I think) to finish things, and I’m tired of wading through my past/stuff associated with it. Time to go on!

street signs

The One-Trick Pony Lost Its Trick…

There are days when I wonder wtf I’m doing on the planet, except wasting resources?

I haven’t changed the world, I doubt that there are more than a few lives which are better for my having been here, and I wonder, seriously at times, why I’m here?

I used to feel heroic, challenged, and as if the challenge mattered. I had to feel that way or I would’ve quit. I didn’t quit and I made it through.

So what?

My last insight isn’t mind-shattering, but obvious, if you’re not me. For years decades I thought if when I beat the PTSD/pain I’d be invulnerable, super-powered!!! Then when I did get to where I could really cope, I felt like a wimp and tissue paper.

I think I finally know why: after fighting for approx. 50 years, I was emotionally exhausted. Sounds obvious, right? Much of my life I thought of myself as an “emotional heat sink.”  Throw trauma at me, I’d “hug” it and push it down into my gut. I’d get up again and keep going, over and over, like the stupid Eveready bunny.

Suddenly, I couldn’t cope — I became someone who was weepy at nearly any challenge — and I’ve been that way for years now.

So instead of ending a 50 year challenge with strength, I became a quivering nerve. I’ve just wanted to nest: stay isolated in these woods, this house, my marriage. I’ve wanted to cook and garden and read and hide from almost anyone and everything. There was a part of me, a small part —  it was the old voice — that just couldn’t understand it? I had never been like this!

I spent 5 decades fighting myself, the terror that I was a homicidal maniac, really f’n crazy, actually damned or flawed in some awful molecular way, only to win against that and see that I wasn’t crazy, or a murdering maniac, or damned — and I became a weepy raw nerve???

Talk about unexpected consequences! And no wonder I wasn’t interested in being an advocate for anyone or anything!

I have had to grant myself grace. I have to understand that yes, I’ve been exhausted, and that’s okay. I also have to let myself move on.

I’ve been afraid, as much as I let myself get involved with anything, that there was nothing else, I was a match, I’d burned myself out, and now it was my time to die. Seemed pretty stupid and it’s the damned Ibsen play I always wanted to avoid being. But. Maybe there’s more? I don’t know.

I have passed a magic marker, somewhere. I can feel strong now for short periods. I can and have been making small lines in the sand and I’m doing whatever it is. Things are getting done, finished. I don’t feel like a dandelion floating in the breeze all the time any more. The anchor maybe very thin and long, but it’s still there.

For the last 3 years or so of my therapy I’d just get overwhelmed by the idea of something and say I couldn’t cope. My therapist would reply, “You’ve weathered so much. Why wouldn’t you think you’ll be able to cope with this?”

I never had an answer: I had no strength. More, I had no belief in my strength. Maybe that is (finally) turning around?

Rather like this blog — this is NOT the topic I intended to write about!

The human brain is bizarre and wonderful.

 

REAL Zero Waste

Because it’s summer, we’ve been using our freezers a lot. We have a small, non-defrosting freezer we bought as a back up when the fridge was dying/not dying the second time. The long-term plan has always been to get rid of it, probably next year.

That said, one way we work to keep it more energy efficient (and less of a PITA) is that we keep an ice scraper in it and when the door is opened, we scrape off some of the extra “snow.”

I debated what to do with this and found a solution. I toss it on the ground, push it around and use is as a sweeping compound. It picks up the dirt, leaves a very slight skim of water on the wood floor and when it’s dirty gets tossed into the garden. Water + dirt, and that’s it. No soap, no extra cost, no extra power used, nada.

I had used snow as a sweeping compound on the concrete floor of the bookstore, but it never occurred to me that I could partially defrost the freezer AND do this mid-summer!

I wish I could find 100 things like this, but 1 counts ‘eh?

J

So?

We sold a bunch o’ stuff and donated a bunch more. My biggest frustration is that I either 1)donated the accounting with the things we donated or 2)put it into the storage unit with the items we returned there. At any rate, it isn’t in the cars. Fortunately, I DO know exactly what I took in money-wise, as I was doing a running tally with every sold item. I had $x until just before we packed and I thought that was it, and sold another item for $5 last thing. The money checked out the way it should (start cash + sales = expected $) and I would have been very surprised if it hadn’t.

But it’s annoying in the extreme that I don’t have the actual tally. I can only recreate about 1/3 of it out of my head, what sold and for what, and I’ve done that. Hopefully the stupid piece of paper is in the storage and I’ll find it tomorrow. Otherwise I have the partial tally and I’ll have to put something like (unknown qty/items) sold for $xx.xx in my accounting, and I really don’t want to do that.

The flea market was a success, both in terms of selling things and doing a major cull o’ stuff.

receipt book

Obviously, however, I have some work to do yet on actually getting organized. Or, more accurately, getting organized for not in a store event. I will probably just go buy another receipt book as that always worked before. It isn’t records I have a problem with, it’s when they’re on odd sheets of paper. I’ll fix it.

Going Down for the 3rd Time

I can’t do this.

No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there’s more. No matter how many books I get rid of (and I’ve been doing that for 13 years now, ‘eh?) there are still more.

It will never end.

I have (literally) gotten rid of 1,000s of items. And I’ve done it for years. I’m still drowning in stuff.

See? I can’t do this. It will never end.

The old storage unit still has stuff in it. I don’t have anywhere to put it. I don’t know what to do, donate boxes to Salvation Army tomorrow I guess. I have a bookcase in the old unit which came from S.A., I can donate it back. The library is taking books again. But that’s one piece of furniture, there’s at least 3. One of which has to come home (no room for it either). There’s about 25 boxes of books, maybe more still in the old unit. I have given away books every-single-day for the past 3 weeks. EVERY day. As few as 3 and as many as 3 boxes at once.

drowning

This isn’t quite as bad as figuring out I couldn’t beat the PTSD (or whatever it was, before I •knew* what it was) by just being stubborn and being willing to work at it, for 42 years to diagnosis, 50+ for most of the rest of it. So, the last piece, the very last piece is this stupid, neverending purge o’ crap, which believe it or not hurts on occasion, and is terrifying on occasion too. I do better and worse and I’ve kept going. I have been determined that I’d win — at least this battle.

But I think the abuser won instead? Can I just blow my brains out? (No gun.) You can bury me under a pile of books and papers and put on the headstone: she never actually accomplished anything and couldn’t finish anything, except her life. I really have no desire to commit suicide, but if suicide is the absence of pain, yes, that I DO want! How squishy does your brain have to be from beating it into the wall before you just give up?

Maybe the abuser was right after all? There just is something “not right” about me. I can’t do things.

Or maybe I’m just discouraged? I wonder why! And I suppose that tomorrow will be different. One of my largest life lessons was that I learned to “skate” when things are bad. Just let it go and don’t do anything permanent or dramatic: don’t break up a relationship, don’t hurt yourself, don’t drink & drive. Just find an emotional rabbit hole (for me that’s a book) and jump in, and hope you keep falling — at least until tomorrow. And tomorrow? Tomorrow you may find your life is completely different?

It usually is.

Let’s see, tomorrow starts in three hours. Can’t be here soon enough!

J

Note: Tomorrow, having come, isn’t perfect, but I’m not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday. Of course I didn’t sleep well, which never helps, but it is what it is.