5 February 2018

Last night was better. I woke at 00:30 and 01:30, restless, but F slept through aside from some mumbling and yawning at around 05:30.

I cleared out more stuff in the cupboard today. Most of the things I don’t use that I find hard to part with are sentimental. I had this old scrabble set in there. It used to belong to my parents and I’ve carted it around for decades. The box long ago disintegrated so I kept it in another box, along with the original box lid (missing the sides), because that had the official instructions printed on the back. The tiles were all in an ancient co-op plastic bag. There were four wooden tile stands.

We never play scrabble. But I always pass over this boxed up ancient game when I clear things out.

Today I took it down from the shelf and thought to myself,

I’ll put it in the loft.

However, once I was done with the shelves I was sorting out, and I’d cleared all the other things away, I hesitated. Why was I putting it in the loft? Was I ever likely to play it? What was the real reason I was keeping it?

I searched inside myself and looked for the honest answer. I was keeping it because I was sentimentally attached to it.

I opened out the box and knew deep down that there was no reason for me to keep it any longer. I lifted the ancient box lid out, with its coffee-coloured and stained inside that must have once been white, and I held it up to my face. It smelled like home.

That’s why I was keeping it.

The home that fell apart when I was in my early teens. It came from before then. From the days of security and fun and wonder and childhood. The delicate, dusty scent contained fragments from my old bedroom – long forgotten moisturisers and the dry rustle of childhood books. It reminded me of both my Mum and my Dad, and of our house where I grew up, sold when I was 16 as my parents divorced.

I sat there and cried and cried over a fucking 63 year old scrabble set (the date on the inside of the box was 1955). And I knew that what I felt was a longing for that feeling of home, of old things of my Dad’s and the distracted busy-ness of my Mum. And I also felt a great sorrow inside that my parents were not more affectionate towards me when I was a child. I found my comfort in the physical home I lived in, not the flesh of the people that brought me into the world. I knew the walls, the cupboards, every corner, intimately. It was my sanctuary. My parents loved me dearly, I do understand that now. But they were not good at showing it. They were distracted with their own problems, their own difficult lives, difficult upbringings.

As a child, when I was sad, I sobbed on my bed, not in their arms. When I played, I sat alone on the floor, not on their laps. When I was happy I smiled and watched the world outside my window, I didn’t share it with them. I was dismissed, too often. So my love of that scrabble set is a tender affection for the home I grew up in. It was a part of it that I brought with me when I left.

Buddha says that attachment will only bring dukkha (suffering), and suffering was exactly what I felt every time I looked at that old game. Emotional suffering.

I did the quirky Marie Kondo thing of thanking it for being a part of my life, and then I let it go.

And I knew I had done the right thing, because as long as we hang onto the past, we can never be fully present in the gift of life that we have today.

4 February 2018

Just when you think things are looking up, last night F woke at:

22:30
00:30
03:30
05:30

Crying rather than the howling screaming she usually does, but still horribly disruptive.

She was up for the day at 6:30am and both of us felt rotten. She was grisly and miserable. I was tired and depressed. She has a cold and last night it was a blocked-up nose that was stopping her sleeping well. I felt so down this morning, wondering when this cycle of illness and bad sleep is ever going to end. However, the husband took the kids out to see some planes at a war museum and I did a week’s worth of meal planning and an online shop order. Then I did two loads of washing and cleaned out the linen cupboard, setting aside a big bag of stuff to put in textile recycling.

There is nothing like a good sort out to lift my spirits. The more functional and essential my possessions, the happier I am. My love of minimalism is still strong and it’s something I’ve really neglected since F was born. I find modern life and all its trappings and choices so overwhelming. I crave simplicity and order, and it’s a hard thing to balance in today’s world, especially with young children.

Is it odd that paring down the bed linen to 2 or 3 matching sets per bed and folding all the towels in neat piles by size makes me so happy? I keep looking in the cupboard, just because it looks so lovely.

Tonight I’m in bed before 9pm and all the children are asleep (even L, which is unusual). Here’s hoping for a decent night.

Cupboard Sort Out – Before and After

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent job in sorting, decluttering and tidying. The whole house is starting to feel a bit neglected, and messy.

This Sunday afternoon, with the school holidays just two weeks away (and more mess and chaos imminent), I decided to do a quick clear out of the left side of the upstairs cupboard. I realise that to some my cupboard will already look pretty tidy. It has been a long journey to get here and we are still downsizing and learning to live without so much excess. However, we have already let go of so much (and feel so much lighter for it), that it may look as though we have no need to sort through again.

What I will say though is:

a) things have a habit of accumulating when you are looking the other way,
b) it is good to regularly question the value of things you don’t touch from year to year, and
c) there is never really an ‘end’ to living a more minimalist lifestyle.

Needs and wants change with the seasons and years, and the ebb and flow of our possessions reflects this. But if it is all arrival and never departure then gradually your life becomes fossilised as layers and layers of stuff that (let’s be honest), are going to be someone else’s job to sort through when you die.

So, out of the cupboard today came:

  • Sony laptop box – to sell with the laptop as I have a desktop and really don’t need both.
  • Large baby floor blanket – donate
  • Spare cushion – replaced the old one downstairs
  • Picture that C painted when he was 4 that I love. I put it in the frame properly, not perfect (perfectionism is something I’m trying to overcome), but just got it done, then hung it on the wall. C loved having his picture put on display (and it was a 2 year-old job off the list).
C’s picture, kept in a frame to protect it for two years but never finished off. Until now!
  • Portraits of my mum, and several old relatives from my Dad’s side. Put up the ones of my mum, Emanuel (my great great grandfather), and Amelia (my great grandmother). Stored two others behind these in the frame.
Portraits in the cupboard. It’s unfinished projects like this that create mental clutter.
  • Baby carrier – to sell
  • 4 moses basket sheets – donate (Now,  some things are harder to say goodbye to than others. They brought back such memories… but, I’d rather they were used for a lovely new baby than being left in a cupboard gathering dust, so off they went after some sentimental brushing against my cheek).
  • Baby blanket, bought for us when I had my first son and used for all three but still in very good condition – donate
  • Two horrible, old, spare, white pillowcases – recycle
  • 4 out of 6 plastic-backed cot sheets. They are spares on top of the four normal ones in the event of serious vomiting episodes. Decided I only needed 2 – donate 4
  • 2 out of 4 spare cot sheets. Decided 2 was fine (I have four others I use regularly) – donate 2
  • 2 out of 4 moses basket blankets. Useful for cool nights and car trips – donate 2
  • 4 out of 10 muslin cloths. I donated around 40 of these last year, but have used only a couple on a couple of occasions since – donate 5, recycle 1 stained.
The pictures were framed and went up, with some slightly dodgy ladder-on-the-stairs DIY. The photo wall is coming along nicely. I’ve got some smaller frames to go in the central vertical gap, but that’s for another day.

Into the cupboard went:

  • The storage box for a fan we are currently using (crazy hot weather). Most of the year the fan goes in the box and the box goes in the loft.

And there we have it. Probably a couple of hours work in between doing everything with the children at home, but SO nice when finished. I then refolded the remaining linen, just because it looks nice ?

This Week’s Goals & Training Log #4

I’ve decided to put everything in one post, since I’m updating on these weekly.

I had a much better week, and managed to knock off a lot of stressful tasks that were really getting me down – sometimes I procrastinate over things that I think are going to be difficult to do, especially work tasks, and then I find I just get annoyed with myself that I haven’t done them. The feeling of actually getting stuff finished that I wasn’t looking forward to doing is always relief. When will I ever learn that procrastination is always the enemy?!

However, although the week started well, I’ve ended up feeling overwhelmed and overworked again at the end of it. Sometimes I literally hate all the possessions in our house. I fantasize on a regular basis about throwing EVERYTHING out. Mum popped in on Sunday morning and she always brings something – toys usually, or clothes (which I prefer) – but you know what?

We have enough.

And that is the crux of the matter. It’s not that they don’t want more toys (what kid wouldn’t?), but we have enough. We don’t need more. We don’t need to be contributing to endless, blind consumerism. I think that too many toys contributes to a lack of focus, an inability to keep things tidy and an attitude of not caring about possessions. Not to mention that instead of building a relationship, my mum is creating an expectation of always providing gifts. I need to tell her this, but I can’t find the right words and I am afraid of offending her. (UPDATE: I phoned her later and tried my best to explain… talking to my mum is so hard when I need to ask her to do, or not do, something. I feel so horribly guilty and un-daughterly. But I did it. I just hope she hasn’t taken it the wrong way.)

Christmas and birthdays are particularly stressful for me, as I see things flood into our house only to be discarded after opening, and lost/broken before they are ever properly played with. It’s not the right way to treat the resources of our planet.

Sigh. One day I really might just gather everything up and be done with it. I know everyone will think I am crazy, but stuff just brings me down, and clutter drives me crazy.

 Goals

From this week onwards I’m taking a completely different approach. Instead of having iddy-biddy piles of stuff that I need to do, and bouncing around from project to project, I’m going to focus on ONE project at a time until it is DONE. In the background I will still be doing all the normal household stuff, working, exercising, shopping, cooking and looking after the kiddos (i.e. life), but if I get any time to focus on a particular job I’m going to prioritise my one goal over everything else.

I’m also going to record the hours that I work on each project (I use toggl).

I spent a long time sorting through my todo list and relegating projects that I get distracted by and I finally decided that the one thing that I’ve been meaning to do for such a long time is get our family photo books printed. I need to do every year from 2010 onwards (omg, I can’t even believe that it’s got this far and I haven’t done them). 2009 is sat nicely on the bookshelf and I really want the later ones there too. The boys especially love to look back at old family pictures, so I think it’s important for them that I do this. It also shows that I care about our memories rather than just letting them sit on the computer ignored.

So, I’ve set myself a deadline of 15 Jan 2018 to get them all done (including the 2017 one). All I will do between now and then is update with hours and progress and pics. Now I’ve actually made the decision to get them done, I’m really glad (and a bit nervous at leaving everything else aside).

Current goal:

Finish family photo albums, years 2010-2017.

How last week went:

  1. Collect together ALL the paperwork scattered ALL over the house and make sure there is nothing urgent in there – Done.
  2. Get back to inbox zero for business account – Not done. Bah. I am struggling with work at the moment. Such a lot on.
  3. Three runs – Done
  4. Completely clear the table and the floor area around it – Done.
  5. Think about moving from Omnifocus to Things 3, because Omnifocus is just not working that well for me anymore – Done. Moved and loving Things 3 so far.

Training Week 12

A good week, although I was tired at the start after last week‘s PBs. I’ve randomly dropped half a kilo (must’ve left it behind on a run, haha), which is a nice surprise as my weight had gone up and then sat there for the last few weeks. I’m not obsessive over the numbers, but I really want to lose the jiggly belly. Three children have lived in there, and at the moment, it shows.

Monday

Rather uninspired 4km run. My heart really wasn’t in it.

Tuesday

Rest.

Wednesday

Met some friends at the park, so did a bit of walking in the 90 mins we were out. Put it down as recovery.

Thursday

10km run! Super exciting to do this! I ran it in 1:14, which is slow, but I wasn’t aiming for speed. I’m just trying to get my body used to running for longer distances as my knee often plays up when I do. No knee pain at all, which I am super-chuffed about and barely any soreness in the leg muscles the next day. It was a hot morning and I really enjoyed it. I’ve gone from nothing to being able to run for 74 minutes non-stop over the course of the last 12 weeks, which I can barely believe when I think about it. Really, really pleased with this.

Friday

Rest.

Saturday

Parkrun 5km, PB 30:59

Sunday

2km walk (tail walker at Junior Parkrun)