Sunday, July 30, 2006


I ran out of cold bottled lattes. Rather, my husband drank the last of them and didn't mention it. So the last two days I've been rather grumpy and uncaffeinated in the morning, too unorganized and listless to go to the store and restock. It's more fun to be a martyr.

I think the heat wave did more then trigger a few (hourly) hotflashes. I think it completely threw my hormones out of whack. It might be just a coincidence - heat wave and rocky patch of menopause (or perimenopause or pre-menopause or whatever the hell we're calling it these days), but I don't think so. It seems like the one caused the other. I'm trying to just sit tight and see if it doesn't all work itself out in a few weeks or so. In the meantime, I'm doing an excellent job of playing a deranged old cat lady. Yesterday I was tearing up at the dumbest things. No, really, I mean really, really dumb things.

Moving on, synchronicity. Do you know it took two people about five minutes to come up with that word from the ruins of their middle-aged brains?

Me: Honey, what's that word. Not "serendipity". It means things happening at the same time?

Jeff: I don't know. Coincidence?

Me: No.

Jeff: Providence?

Me: Nooooo!

and so on.....

Lately I've had several different messages from the universe, delivered in the form of ongoing sychronicities. The main one having to do with this whole decluttering my life business. Ever since I've been back home, which, if you disregard the time I've been hiding from the heat, hasn't really been that long, I've been feeling completely frustrated with the structure of my life. Not my life, just the structure of it. Or rather, complete lack of structure.

Well, that's not true. Everything has a structure, including my life. Including jellfish. Including a mud puddle. Including a scoop of mashed potatoes. It's just that different structures serve different purposes. Loose structures, like the ones I've just mentioned, including my life, can have advantages. And they can have disadvantages. Hmmm, I think I'm doing a terrible job of trying to explain this..... let's just say that this argument doesn't have a very good structure for what it intends to do - explain my frustration about my life. The bottom line, the structure of my life, recently, has left me feeling unsatisfied. It might have been a useful structure in the past, the flexibility allowed me to be available to my shoe full of children, allowed me to deal with any number of unexpected crises, but it no longer serves my needs, my wants, my desires.

So, I've been trying to figure out how to re-structure it. Imagine if you will, someone dumping an entire house, unassembled, in a field, and telling you to make it into something useful. I mean, an entire house. Picture a jumble in the middle of the field of two by fours, chairs, bags of nails, piles of books, plumbing fixtures, stacks of sheetrock, shoes, cereal boxes, photo albums, coils of wiring, shampoo bottles, magazines, lightbulbs..... You get the idea now? I've spent the last few days circling the damn thing, feeling completely overwhelmed.

I've figured out a few important things. First, I can't really start to build something out of the enormous pile until I figure out what I want the end result to look like when it's finished. But that doesn't mean that the most important thing is to figure that out. I mean, I don't even know what I have to work with yet. Maybe the most important thing is to start organizing the mess into piles of like minded things? Maybe it's most important to move it all over to the side of the property and start grading and laying a foundation so I have someplace to build? Maybe I need to walk away from it all and find a new piece of property without that huge mess in the middle of it? Mainly what I have been doing is walking around it, feeling like I want to burst into tears, or sitting on a small rise where I can see the whole frickin' mess in one glance, eating tortilla chips and ice cream, and trying to imagine what it would be like restructured in a thousand different ways.

I suppose right now some of you are still following me, being used to the fact that I tend to talk in wide sweeping circles, making numerous off road forays that have nothing to do with the original intent of the conversation. Some of you are stuck back at "So what does this have to do with synchronicity?" Well, not much really. Except that the messages I've been receiving all have to do with amplifying the already urgent feeling that it's now-or-never to clean up my act and do something new with my life. Everywhere I turn, everything I read, everything I see seems to be telling me to get my ass moving.

I was cleaning up apples in the backyard earlier. The apple tree set fruit on a bumper crop of apples this spring. Only, the apple tree can't support all those apples. All summer the weaker fruit, the ones that have too much shade or bug damage or less nutrients, have been falling off and littering the patio. I had William do a major clean up about a month ago but recently the apple fall-off has increased dramatically. I knew eventually someone would forget to shuffle through there safely and woosh, it was a slapstick comedy scene just waiting to happen.

So there I was, down on the concrete, gathering up hundreds of little apples and tossing them into buckets. It wasn't fun, my back doesn't like bending over, my knees aren't too fond of it either. It was hot, dusty, boring. And suddenly, it hit me - this is what my life is like a lot of the times. I'm so busy trying to deal with all these unproductive apples, I never get the time to take care of and nuture the ones that are still clinging to the tree, the ones that have a chance to come to maturity and become a crisp autumn snack or aromatic thanksgiving pie. Instead of spending my time pruning, watering, caring for the tree, I'm wasting all my time trying to save all these little rotten apples. It doesn't matter how much time they were still on the tree, how big they almost got - once they've fallen, they're finished. I need to accept that no matter how long I leave them to lay about on the ground, they're never going to become useful. They can't be salvaged. It's time to toss them in the compost pile instead of wasting so much time trying to pick my way around them every time I venture out, for fear of falling.

I spent the afternoon rereading a book I really love. It's called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. I had pulled this book off the shelf to read months ago and hadn't gotten around to it. It took me almost a half hour of digging around in piles all over my house to even find the book today. These ironies were not lost to me. It's a very small book. I read it almost all the way through in less then two hours.

The first time I read the book, years ago, the thing that stuck in my head the most was the advice not to keep something in your possession unless it can pass one of two criteria. It must either be a) something you use or b) something you truly love. Love. Not just like. Not "think is cute." LOVE. That's helped me a lot in the decluttering I've already accomplished.

The thing that stood out for me on this current read isn't one specific comment. It's more the idea that there's really nothing to it but to do it. It won't get easier at some undefined point in the future. It won't simply go away if I continue to ignore it. And like those apples, it won't ever be anything but a mess. I can't USE most of it. I don't even WANT to use most of it.

I don't know if that realization came from the book, or just that I'm finally reached that level of frustration with it, which is why I was desperate enough to find the book and read it again in the first place. And just for the record, it's not like I live in this frightening home with tiny passageways through stacks of old newspapers and 30 years worth of National Geographics. I don't iron my junk mail and keep it in boxes. It's nothing as bad as all that. It's simply that my life and my home are cluttered with too many hopeful collections of "things I will get around to" or "things that might be useful" or "we might need that some day" or "I'm not sure what's in that stack" or "I don't know where to put that stuff". I wake up every day knowing that I've got all this stuff to deal with and I never make it through the past responsibilities (or perceived responsibilities). I never wake up and think first of the fresh new possibilities I could do that day. I live my life in a continual state of "catching up" so that unless it's not home related, I'm never able to live in the present.

I only hope I can maintain this level of frustration long enough to get through everything that needs getting through. I've set myself a goal of finishing it by the end of this summer. Not every last niggling detail, but the framework, the structure. This means in part, deciding what the end result might look like, so I can make decisions on what to keep in my life and what to pass on to the world at large. I've been stalled at the "I don't know where to start" stage for awhile because I haven't been able to formulate a clear enough picture of what that end result might be. I was heartened by a passage in Kingston's book:

"When you live surrounded by clutter, it is impossible to have clarity about what you are
doing in yur life. When you clear it, you get fewer colds, you can think more clearly, and life
decisions become easier. Being clear of clutter is one of he greatest aids I know to
discovering and manifesting the life you want."

My gut instincts in the past have been that I really can't move on until I clean up my past. Basically, that's what my clutter is, unfinished past - both physical and emotional. Goals or projects I've started but no longer want to complete, yet I haven't felt comfortable letting them go completely. Emotional attachments to times in my life that, for better or worse, I can't go back and re-do, I can't have back or re-live. I've made a lot of progress when I've had time to tackle things, but I often get sidetracked with current life which, I don't begrudge. More frustrating, I would find myself wondering if I was only using the need to organize things first as another form of procrastination to avoid starting the things I really want to be doing in my life now. So I'd try to jump into something new, only to find myself bogged down or fizzling out on it. Again. The idea that cleaning and decluttering will clear the way (and my mind) for new things to happen organically, is something I've always believed. It was nice to have Kingstons's words affirm my sense of priorities.

Okay, I'm gonna be brave and just click "publish post" here without a backward glance. I'm gonna go to the market and get a half dozen four packs of those lattes - that should last me the summer - and then there's nothing to it but to get to work. I'm gonna start "eating that elephant." One bite at a time.


Blogger Janet said...

Oh, boy! I understand this one completely! I've been trying to "eat the elephant" for the past couple of months (with the exception of July which was just lost to heat) and am determined to rid my life of clutter for the very same reasons. A cluttered environment breeds a cluttered mind! It is not easy but I'm back on track again as of today! Your post was almost perfect timing.

6:10 PM  

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