Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's been a while since I posted anything and some of my long time fans (and all two of you know who you are) have been dropping hints that I needed to get back to writing and posting the mini chronicle of my life on this blog.   I am a person who needs something to write about and I have to get "inspiration" before I can get going on these writing projects.    So I was preparing to get dressed yesterday and, as is my habit, found myself standing, slack jawed, in my closet, hoping against hope that the contents had miraculously tidied themselves up.     Nope, didn't happen.    So I grabbed a few things, shoved them back on the shelf and re-arranged a few things lurking on the floor and NO, not all of them were shoes.    

The sad state of affairs in my closet kind of stuck with me and even as I tried to sleep last night kept nagging at me.  Do something, I kept hearing in  my head.   Quit putting this off.   You KNOW what needs to be done.    So in the middle of my sleepless night, I vowed to get going on a long overdue project.    I would tackle my side of our closet and eventually, get Larry's side back in order, too.   

First, the Good about all of this.   I have a friend who persists in telling me that I am "the original happy camper".    And she is mostly right about that.     I do have my moments of being unhappy and rather vocal about it, but for the most part, I have a good attitude and have dealt with difficult and dreaded situations quite a few times in my life.    As a nearly 24 year survivor of breast cancer, I can tell you that I've faced far worse things than a messy closet.  The strategy I adopted when I was under treatment was rather simple.    I would say to my self, "I can handle or do anything for five minutes."   And I did.  And when that five minutes was up, I'd say it again and again, as many times as it took to get through it.     I got through radiation and chemo that way, often quietly muttering this mantra to myself.    MRI machines, laser beams that marked the places the radiation was to go and needles attached to bags of chemicals designed to chase any remaining cancer cells from my body were NO match for that fierce determination to get through the procedure and get back to living.    

And when you think about it, this strategy will work for many different scenarios in life that are not exactly our cup of tea but have to be done any how.     So adopting this same philosophy, I thought to myself, what would make doing this job better?    I had toyed with the idea of grabbing every single thing in the closet and yanking it out, hangers and all, tossing them willy-nilly around the room.  Then I'd spend days going through the piles and piles of clothes and accessories.    It would disrupt my life, my sleep and my calm demeanor and I rejected that method almost immediately.    

After mulling over the project, I decided the "I can do anything for five minutes" strategy would work better.    So instead of grabbing handfuls of clothing, shoes, purses, scarves and making a horrendous hot mess in the middle of my bedroom, I am going to use the small section at a time method.     One shelf, one drawer, one rod at a time will work better, won't cause me instant regret and will make it much likely that I'll finish this project like it needs to be done.   

Now for the Bad.    We all have habits and these habits are often what cause us the most problem --- like finding our closets could be making us prime candidates for an appearance on the TLC television show, Hoarders.     Personally, I think one of the reasons that show is a success is that after watching an episode or two, most of us can honestly say with relief, Thank goodness I am not THAT bad!  That does not mean, however, that we're off the hook.   The primary reason my closet looks like it does is simple:  I don't follow the rule of a place for everything and everything in its place.  So my closet gets really out of hand and messy.    

So what to do?    I have concluded after many years of dealing with my bad habits and the resulting messes that follow that it's a matter of making a strategy to deal with the bad habit before it has a chance to sabotage my efforts to keep my closet tidy.     First order of the day is to purge my closet of clothing and accessories that I can't or won't wear any more.    Just thinning the herd of so much stuff will help cut down on what has to go back inside.     Second strategy is to make the closet so much better than it was that I'll want to keep it that way.    To that end, I have decided I want my hangers to match and the mishmash of  hangers from the dry cleaner, clothing I have bought and a wild assortment of metal and plastic have got to go!   But following up on a tip I read somewhere else, I won't be buying anything for storage or hanging until I have purged first and know what kind and how many I'll need.    

Now for the Ugly.   That would be in the inside of my closet.    It's not pretty and certainly not functional in the way it needs to be.    Not ready for Hoarders, either, but still not at its best.    So I am going to post these pictures as a way of holding myself accountable.     

 Egads, that is bad.   OH and ugly.    But it had to be done.    So you see what I am up against.   But the important thing is that I have a strategy to deal with it.     I've used the other method of just pulling it all out and making a royal mess and then ended up with a back ache and lots of angst, only to discover six months later that the problem has returned.    I think my method this time will be less stressful and I hope will serve as a way to make this problem go away.   

 *   Tackle the problem in manageable bites.   Adopt the saying, "I can handle anything for five 
      minutes."    Set a timer and get to work on one section.    When the time is up, assess what you've 
      accomplished and start again.    You can do a lot if you stick to it in small segments.
 *   Start thinking of what your bad habits are.    We all have them.   If you want the closet to stay 
      neat, you have to have a plan to always return things to their proper place.   Come to think of it, 
      that applies to any place you want to stay tidy.   Your kitchen, your desk, your car.    So a change 
      of  bad habits to good ones will go a long way toward making your make over stay made over.

*    Find a way to hold yourself accountable.     I posted pictures on the internet.   That means they
      are here forever.   Even if my blog ends, these images won't.    I am sending a notification to 
      people I know and allowing them to see my nightmare.     What would make you accountable?
      Sometimes just involving a friend or relative who is willing to encourage you and maybe even 
      help you will do the trick.    In fact, I think it's always a good idea to inform someone of your plan
      and ask them to check in on you now and then to see how you're doing.     Accountability is a 
      strong motivator and sometimes is the key to success.  

So now it's time to put my plan into action.    Starting bright and early tomorrow morning, I will get out my timer, put on some tunes to listen to while I work and I'll start the purge.   My life these days mostly requires jeans, shorts, tee shirts and athletic shoes.    The clothes I have left from the days when I was employed outside the home need to find a new home.    I purged some things after I retired but clearly not enough.  Dressier things that I no longer need or use were donated to the Rescue Mission.  Mostly what remains now are a few dressier things I saved --- just in case I needed something dressier. I didn't.  And there are some well worn items that have seen better days.  Tee shirts that are stained, stretched out and raggy?   Well, they gotta go.  Things that my sister, Charlotte, used to call Old Comforts are headed for the rag bin.  This is going to be a test of my resolve.    

I will report back on this.   I promise.    And if you have suggestions or hints to make this task more palatable, please leave a comment in the box below.   Or just send me an email.    I can use all the encouragement and support I can get!    

Happy Trails,