Spark Joy, and Thought on Re-Grouping

I’ve been trying to get back to KonMari. After getting through the first large batch of clothes, I was gifted another batch of clothes about the same size as what I discarded. While I am grateful for a new-to-me work wardrobe, I also know that I don’t like everything. I don’t have to like everything, especially since these all came from a nice lady who hoarded and then passed away. I received a curated collection since I am likely closer in size to her than other people.

After gathering courage and joining a Facebook KonMari support group, I tackled that extra batch of clothes. As of two weeks ago, I finished four loads of laundry, and then proceeded to fold up the clean clothes KonMari style and she was right! They folded up super-small, and they fit into my drawers with plenty of space. So, Clothes worked. Next was books. I did not inherit that many books, but today, while reading Spark Joy, I removed an excess book that DID NOT spark joy. Pinterest has removed the need for “idea-generating” books and hence the book is now in my Goodwill pile.

I also remembered that I have a bunch of books that I kept because they were sorted out due to being valuable- meaning that they were books that were actually worth money, or they were books that I needed for completing my second Masters degree. That degree is not finished, although there are only six credits left for it. *sigh* I don’t know whether to sell the books or to keep them. They don’t bring me any joy, but having the degree and the job descriptions/money attached to the resultant degree would be fine. I believe that sticking with my first Masters degree and working on more knowledge and information that way would not be a bad thing. Will pray about the second Masters degree.

While reading Spark Joy, I also had a realization that some parts of my house are organized completely wrong. While I’ve tended to organize things for where I use them, there are some things that could easily be used somewhere else. And there is nothing holding me back from using those items elsewhere. I started visualizing a different kitchen setup, and a way of changing where I do makeup. These are simple things, but they would make a large difference in how I run my household.

As of November 4, 2017, I am on Paper. I need to make sure that my clothes are all put away and stored properly, but the next item I have never worked on previously is Paper and all that includes. I have more motivation for working on it and completing it because I want to get to komono, and I need to tackle my kitchen versus my kitchen tackling me. Will post again soon.


Personal Thoughts on Mother’s Day 2017

Growing up, Mother’s Day was a regularly observed holiday in the house. We never did breakfast in bed because my parents had a waterbed, and that plus food was never a good idea. My Mom loved dirt, flowers, and semi-precious gemstones. Or anything that we wanted to give her. She was fairly flexible. I don’t remember what we did or didn’t get her.

I remember one year when the Bishop at the time planned to have his son’s mission farewell that Sunday and just to “skip” Mother’s Day that year. My father was the Executive Secretary, and while it didn’t sit that well with him, the idea of skipping Mother’s Day for some teenage boy made my mother furious. Instead of “skipping it,” my mother drew up a battle plan. We had a bunch of single-serving plastic yogurt cups left over from cups designed in the 90’s as upright, self-balancing containers. Store-brand, I’ve never seen anything like them outside of the DC area. We made a stack of them and counted one out for every woman over 18.

From there, my Dad had an old soldiering gun and he drilled three equidistant holes in the base rim of the clean cups. We added a mix of dirt, vermiculite, and wax begonias that would bloom all summer. There were different colors, and we had 5 or 10 more extra in case of need. Learned quickly to add just a little dirt at the bottom, then add the plant and barely more dirt, and not to water them. Just to place them in large overlapping squares of tissue paper and wrapped with a nice fabric ribbon. We did this a day or two before Church, but not much before because we knew that they would need water. We attempted to water one batch one year and learned that the drainage holes worked, so that stopped. From there, we stored them in boxes overnight, and delivered them to the women on Sunday. Told the women to take them home, remove the packaging, and water them immediately.

It was a hit and the Bishop was grateful to us since he really had no idea what to do to honor the sisters on Mother’s Day. Although he was highly educated, he learned much about women during his time as Bishop in that ward. The “Mother’s Day Flowers” became a tradition and we did it for at least three years after that. After those years, the Bishop figured out that women liked chocolate and decided to do that instead.

Mother’s Day had that tradition in my head until 2005, when my Mom passed. Two years later, life didn’t get worse but got a little awkward. Greeting card companies don’t have cards for new step-Moms who you barely know. I got the step diamond earrings that first year. From there, I got laid off, moved across the country, and generally tried to forget about Mother’s Day in general as it was a painful reminder that time passed when otherwise I was in stasis and numb.

Mother’s Day got more awkward once I got married and everyone expected me to be the person who should be celebrated. Even if they didn’t have the outright expectation, that’s what it felt like. No, I don’t have any children. Not sure if I ever will. Do I like children? I don’t have anything against them. I’ve never been the go-to person for babysitting. While I look forward to some day having kids with my husband, there are a lot of factors there including biology, economy, and other things that don’t need to be a part of a public blog.

Last year, I made Mother’s Day more of an “All-Women” day. The Bishop appreciated my choices, and liked things. Told me that he did and that I was diplomatic, but I asked why at least one of the hymns was unusually quiet. He and I both had no idea. Turns out that I got side-swiped by an over-reaching organist printing off his own version of a hymn, and then getting told off second-hand that my choices were not what people wanted for a day about MOM’s. Relief Society was a battleground that day, and I was just glad when it was over.

This year, I learned my lesson and decided to make the biggest gestures that I could. Miracle that it was, I found an appropriate card for the step, and made a point to remind the chorister to have the Primary Mother’s Day songs picked out before the chorister moved. At least six week’s time before deadline. The hymns were carefully picked from the Motherhood topical section. For the choir treat, I got something chocolate. Personally, having a small stash of chocolate-covered almonds on which to rely during a non-Fast Sunday on the hardest Sunday of the year for me literally got me through the day.

I also prepared for Sunday School and RS with bringing a project on which I could work. My version of an adult quiet book is crocheting/knitting the hours of Church away. May not be the best attitude ever, but I’m in the pew and for the worst Sunday of the year, that’s not a bad thing. My phone speakers worked for the practice hymn as all of the women were together and there was no piano, so that was also a mercy.

While I almost got blind-sided by a request by a senior missionary, I told her that I was not making any decisions that day and kept myself in good control. At the end of it all, the three people in there who are as sincere as pure glass talked with me quickly, and my husband and I gave a ride home to a new person who lived five minutes from us. While I wasn’t in a good mood over the course of the meetings in general just attempting to keep my emotions in some version of check, it could have gone a lot worse. I’m grateful that it’s done for the year.

Anyone who doesn’t think that I honor my mother should say it to my face. I do not guarantee violence, but they would get a sound tongue-lashing from me if they did. This was the first year that I posted my mother’s headstone as my facebook cover photo, and I got less commentary this year than any other. I believe that the lack of commentary at me about the day is a good reason to do this every year.

For my step-mother, I do the best that I can. For the mothers in the ward, I venerate their titles and positions. I’m NOT a mother, and I don’t take that title. Mother’s Day is a day for those who have either born, raised, or worked extensively with children and I have done none of those things. I believe that I have the eternal capacity for becoming a mother, but I don’t yet know if my biology will work that way and will not assume fertility or procreative abilities. In the end, it’s not women’s day. It’s MOTHER’S DAY. And I’m not there yet. Thanks for the chocolate, but technically, it doesn’t apply.

KonMari, Day Two

I have to take a break from sorting clothes. The pile has grown to nine kitchen trash bags. I have a scheduled pickup for Salvation Army for six bags next week. Considering that the first 6 were mostly shirts, it may not seem like a lot, but my getting rid of things is showing “holes” in spaces at the end of the bed. As I work to gather socks, I realize how awful my dresser really is. And that I don’t own a lot of socks. I’ve never done much of anything at organizing my underthings. Strange as this may sound, it never occurred to me to organize them. Actually it did, regularly, but I’ve never taken the time to do it.

But today was finish going through the bottoms and hang-up clothes (like dresses) day, and whether a surprise or not, I didn’t let that many dresses through. Although I appreciate people having been generous and giving me clothes, I am extremely picky about dresses and not really in the mood to alter them or to redo zippers.

I haven’t bought a dress for myself in many years, especially because everything at discounters like Ross is meant to make a woman look like the broad side of a barn if the person is over a vanity size 16. I agree with the man who said that American fashion has ignored its main group for years and has done a disservice to us. Yes, of course I want to exercise and get thinner, but you have to be able to wear something in the interim besides sweat pants! This is part of the reason that I took up sewing, although I’ve learned that knits are much more easily sewn on a real serger. I do not own a real serger. I own a “tiny serger” and without a cutting blade, it’s not the same thing.

There is also a vast lack of quality fabrics available locally to me. Well, quality fabrics aren’t cheap and much of America has stopped sewing so there is less trending demand at stores. I’ve been playing with quilts for the last few months, but haven’t made anything for myself because my hips are too big for the Big-4 patterns. Fabric and patterns will have to be bought online. I found a pattern that I like that is in my size, but it is expensive. Perhaps a full bust adjustment would help, but I am learning this all by myself and don’t know what to do about my hips. I wish that there was a Home Ec class for adults that didn’t cost an arm, leg, and pint of blood. Especially sewing. Will review more of the sewing books that my Mom left behind, but I need to figure out more about fit and I am about ready to learn how to draft my own patterns because this is so frustrating!

Ready to kill some socks- getting rid of the socks and stockings that I don’t wear will feel like sunshine after a cloudy day.

FollowUp to KonMari Day 1

Yesterday was the start of things and I got mostly through tops and part-way through bottoms. That alone took 6 kitchen trash bag’s worth out of my bedroom. While I was at it, I removed a bunch of hangers that were set up hanging items that went into the categories and moved them to the closet. I believe that I will remove many hangers by the time this is done.

Because I already know that I hate my current clothes drawers, I am considering adding satchets of lemon or lavender to them, and/or to change out the drawer liners to a nicer contact paper. I hate them, but they will not change until we move at some point in the future, so I may as well make them more live-able.

It may sound stupid, but I am proud of myself for getting this accomplished and focusing on the things that spark joy versus scarcity. I am currently relaxing at home, waiting for missionaries to show up, sitting in my favorite black yoga pants and a Tshirt that may not make anyone else happy, but it makes me smile internally. Logo or not, it sparks joy.

KonMari Method, Day One

I feel like I am living on a reality show. The one about hoarders. I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder, but over the past two months I’ve noticed that it’s not easy to walk around the apartment. I don’t live in a tiny apartment. Whenever I go to friends’ houses, their spaces feel open and livable. I come home and feel claustrophobic. My husband is a much neater person than I am, and I realize that he doesn’t have as much stuff as I do.

For my reasoning and excuses, I admit that I’ve been given approximately 14 bags of clothes from well-meaning people. When my father and step-mother moved for his new job, they took my childhood stuff out of their storage and gave it to us. We already had a two bedroom apartment’s worth, and then here comes my childhood items and my mother’s kitchen. Nostalgia that I haven’t had time to go through. I had some things before, and my husband used to say that I had a lot of clothes. Now, we’re inundated.

I realized that other people don’t live with so much STUFF. And over time, I’ve thought about getting rid of x, y, and z items, but then I would hesitate because I wasn’t sure how to go about it without making a bigger mess than what we already had. I don’t remember where I first came across the introduction to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but the introduction allowed me to be me and to not change my personality completely while going through the process. There are parts that need re-hard-wiring, like using a soldiering gun to get the right wires into the right spaces.

I’ve waited my entire life to get to a point where my space was MY space. I am a younger sibling, but the house belonged to my parents. I lived in dorms for years, and then in apartments with roommates where my room was mine, but what was the point of decorating when I would move within months anyway? From there, I’ve felt like I never had enough clothes. I believe that is where the 14 bags of clothes came into play. I’ve learned that there was not enough of something although my Dad normally had a job that supported four people well. My mother had a household where they had enough to get by, but there was a feeling of scarcity. I don’t know where the feeling of scarcity came from unless it was my grandmother (father’s mother) in the Great Depression. At this point, I am adult and I am married. My husband has his own thing going on, and it’s time that I claimed my independence from STUFF!

While reading Marie Kondo’s book, I love the introduction that allows a person to not have learned how to tidy. Osmosis tidying does not necessarily work. My mother tried to tidy, but my father did not ever tidy, excepting to throw everything from one room into another whereupon my mother would have to go through everything that just got thrown and make sure that things were tidy. Mixed messages don’t help people. My parents tried, but whatever the case for genetics or otherwise, I am willing to make changes that will positively impact our lives.

My husband might get freaked out by the amount of stuff that I get rid of, but when I talked to him, he was fine with me doing whatever I needed to do. Supportive spouses are wonderful. And it helps when the book says not to touch the stuff of the other people in the household, but only to focus on your stuff. When I look at the amount of stuff that I have to focus on, I am ready to clear and clean out things. Luckily for me, I have also looked up the pickup schedule for the local Salvation Army. I have no idea how many bags I will go through, but I know that it is time.

I am starting today with having read the book through last week and realizing that I would need a few hours to go through even the first part, but to be determined not to stop at the first part, clothes. This morning I brought in all of my tops (only tops) to my bedroom, on top of my bed. It’s the largest open surface in the house. And the mattress is a normal height for an American mattress on a regular box spring and basic frame. The pile of shirts is almost as tall as I am, and I am less than 5’5″. It looks like a bell curve, but a mountain-shaped bell curve.

As I continued bringing in clothes from various parts of the house, I started saying, “I can’t believe that I have this many tops.” From there, it felt like it got worse and worse. At one point, I had to lay on the ground in my husband’s man cave just to let some of the enormity of the amount of tops process in my subconscious. I really did not think that I had that many tops. I am not yet dealing with dresses, sweaters or cardigans, skirts, pants, shorts or capris, or anything else yet. Only tops. Whew. That is what brought me to writing today. There was so much happening in my mind that I was gushing for a psychological release, and so I wrote.

Nothing else in the house has changed yet. It’s just me, learning a little of the size of the issue, and ignoring the size, but focusing on the items that bring me joy. As I was going through the shirts, it was pretty easy to feel the items that made me happy and the items that made me cringe internally. Or the items to which I normally say, “No,” and keep on going. Those needed to be weeded out a long time ago, but will definitely be weeded out now. And for the items where I am wishy-washy, there’s a way of letting go in the book that I loved. Thanking the items for what they taught me, and honoring their service, and then putting them in the bag, trusting that fate will give them a different home where they can be better loved. As I started through the book, there were so many things in there that I did not expect to relate to, but I know that this is a best book of wisdom for me and for my life right now. I need to open my house internally to more light, to more wisdom, and it helps by removing the things that block light. Whether or not this is psychobabble doesn’t matter. When it is time to move to a new place, I want only things that spark joy there with us, and this is a step in the right direction.

Is Happiness a Chicken Sandwich?

Today I got out from buying my lunch/dinner near Loyola and passed by a lady from the #Chicago #ChickFila who was passing out free chicken sandwiches. I initially passed her by, but said that she should give a sandwich to the homeless guy down the street. I passed him by earlier because I didn’t have the fund ability to do anything. Then I stopped, turned around, and picked up the sandwich from her, went back and gave it to the guy. Quick, easy opportunity to do something that could make a difference in someone’s day. I’ve been hungry before. Thankfully, not homeless, but I know what it’s like to have been down to your last bag of onions and have people treating you badly for your penury.

I went back for another sandwich for myself- I haven’t tried a ton of ChickFila’s menu, but I do know that it tends to be good food. A little pricier than other fast food, but typically good quality stuff. The man standing next to her was holding two sandwiches as she looked me in the eye and replied that it was only “One sandwich per customer.” I was a little shocked, and told her, “I gave my sandwich to a homeless guy.” She shrugged her shoulders a little coldly, but I figured that she was just doing her job. I kept walking.

No, I didn’t give the guy the sandwich to write a blog post about it. If I took away her opportunity to give the man a sandwich later, I’ll never know. Luckily, I’d already bought my own food. I didn’t give the guy the sandwich to dismiss her, or to keep him from finding a job, employment, etc. but to help someone live. Don’t care what kind of praise or ridicule that it would get.

Last time I checked, I try to be a decent human being. I would think that ChickFila would appreciate that, but I know that when I said that she might want to give the sandwich to the homeless guy, she looked shocked, disgusted, and appalled as I walked past for a second. I looked back and she was completely happy to give sandwiches to everyone else who was out there.

I overheard her mentioning to someone when they asked why the free sandwiches that the store wanted to get to know the community. She’s doing the same job as any Costco sample person. I love the samples, and I’m grateful that they’re there, but please don’t tell me that they’re to increase good will in the community. It’s selling product. All of the people that she gave samples to were well-dressed Gold Coast types.

Who is she to judge him? To me, it’s not a race thing, and it doesn’t matter what races the people were. It might be a socio-economic thing. Normally I see myself as one of the poorer people when I come to this area of the city. I have as many flaws as the next person, but I am confident in doing well. If she saw him every day, and he swindled people, that’s not my concern. My concern is making sure that I do the best that I can with the circumstances given. Last time that I knew, that’s the meaning of life. Maybe that’s what she meant to do, too, but the interpretation of commitment was shaky.

And no, I didn’t give the guy the sandwich to get another one, but I was honestly surprised at her reaction. And I’m grateful that I didn’t have to worry about someone else’s good will to feed me tonight. Perhaps it says something about American society that it’s not acceptable to #sharegoodness unless it’s to the people who we deem worthy of it. That’s not acceptable to me. I’m working on forgiving people. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate when it comes to what I need to do and how I need to live. I’ll be lucky if I can make it to Christmas this year. That said, a free sandwich making a man’s face light up like there was nothing better on this earth? That’s the stuff that makes life a little better. I don’t know where the nearest shelter is or if he’d take the help. However, I was able to do something and did something for once. With or without coming out of it with a sandwich, it was worth it.

Answering the Ultimate Question

In a recent meeting with an advisor, he brought up a question, “Where do I come from?” as an example of the ultimate question for historians and genealogists. Culturally and religiously, I grew up knowing the answer to that question, so I started giggling a little, but quickly went quiet as he took the question seriously. I’ve never seen anyone actually ask that question out loud before in earnest and it took me a second to realize that it was a real question for him, and extrapolated, for others.

I already knew the answer to the question and it was obvious for me. I wasn’t giggling at him for asking the question. I thought that he already knew the answer, and that he was sharing a small private joke of some sort as he studies religious history. What floored me was that he didn’t seem to know the answer. It wasn’t a hypothetical exercise for him, and this rather shocked me.

I grew up in and am an active member of the LDS Church. Part of the theology is that before mortal existence, the spirits of all people were with God as his children, learning and growing. There was a grand council in heaven regarding mortality and a war of ideas that resulted in the expulsion of Lucifer, or the devil, from heaven. I believe that Adam and Eve actually existed. Though I don’t know every aspect of their existence, I believe that there was a Fall and that mankind are the offspring of Adam and Eve. I stick with the Church because I’ve prayed asked God whether it was right and He said that it was true. The knowledge of where I came from came before I learned basic arithmetic. My initial witness from God occurred at around ten years old, and through the rest of my life I haven’t completely stopped communication with God. That said, my life hasn’t been easy, but my challenges keep me progressing.

My advisor knows my religion. He’s actually one of very few people who are not of my faith who I know where I live that are open to positive academic discussions with someone of my faith. I’ve never met someone as supportive as my advisor, and I will never be able to adequately express how grateful I am for his attitude, counsel, and training.

At the time of the conversation, I did not answer his question. He studies religious history, but I don’t know if he follows any particular doctrine. Typically I think of professors as people who eschew religion, unless they either openly study it or teach at an actively faith-based campus. That’s not to say that I would ever be against my professor learning more regarding my faith. There are some things that I’m trying to weigh in my mind and heart regarding a best approach on such a topic. Somehow I hope to be able to give him a gift for the help that he has given me. He may not agree with my answer to his question, but it’s something that I hold dear. I think that he might at least accept the basis for the answer as a gift, no strings attached.