Friday Frolics #12

Friday Frolics #12

What a beautiful Friday here in New Mexico – the sun is shining, the wind hasn’t picked up yet and it’s time for a quick Friday Frolic!

April is the quintessential springtime month and, as such, a perfect time for our minds and hearts to turn to thoughts of spring cleaning. Personally, I think if I’m moving everything around to clean around it, I might as well re-think my organizational plan as well so I get a fresh start every spring. Doing this each year helps re-energize my home and me for another year with a fresh outlook and helps keep clutter at bay. This is no small task for someone who is, at heart, a hoarder. Many of these ideas ultimately came from my mother but didn’t sink in until I had a family of my own – others came to me as a result of struggling for solutions through the years. I struggle with the clutter monster daily so a yearly fresh start is a must. Being organized is critical whether you’re juggling a busy career with family life or just trying to achieve a sense of normalcy while living with the limitations of a chronic illness – a sense of balance and harmony can be healing. Let’s get started:

To-Do Lists. I love lists. Long-term Goals, Short-term Goals and To-Do Lists separated by Tasks related to those Goals are a must. Keep it all in your planner so you work from one central information clearinghouse – paper or electronic, it’s up to you and your personal style. There’s a particular sense of satisfaction when one marks off completed tasks, knowing the goal is one step closer.

Clean as you go. Gather the supplies/materials needed for the task at hand before you start and clean up after yourself as you complete various stages of the task. The relief at the end when you realize the task is complete and there’s no big clean up waiting is so empowering the next task on the list is not so intimidating.

Sort as you go. Inevitably, as you clear an area for cleaning, you find yourself sorting through excess things – clutter, if you will. Designate four categories and set up a box or bag for each: Keep, Toss, Donate, and Undecided. The Keep pile is for items that are currently in use and valid in your life. The Toss pile is for items that are trash – no good to anyone and need to disappear. The Donate pile is for items that need to be loved by someone else now. The Undecided pile are for those things that are still friendly but not so current that they need to take up valuable real estate – they go in a box with the current date on the outside. If you haven’t opened the box within six months – it moves to Donate status without ever being re-opened. If you do open the box within six months, put the new date on the outside – once six months has passed without opening the box, it gets donated.

What does it mean to you? As you sort, clean and designate categories for your belongings, be mindful of what each possession means to you. Keep what you love – re-home the rest. If you don’t love it anymore, it’s either time to toss it or time to give someone else an opportunity to enjoy it.

Like with like. Remember the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place?” As you return your belongings to their appropriate places think, ‘like with like.’ You probably already do this with many things, T-shirts with T-shirts, socks with socks, etc. Can you take it a step further and put all the white T-shirts together, then the yellow, green, blue, etc.? All the summer clothes grouped together, by color, followed by winter, by color. Better yet, if you have a spare closet, split the seasons so you have only one season of clothing in your closet at a time. Then, sort by color and keep the accessories (think purses, shoes, etc.), by color, on the shelves above each color grouping. It may sound trivial at the moment, but the time and stress it saves in a busy morning, allowing you to get out the door looking pulled together and serene is immeasurable.

Expose everything. In the dresser drawers, that is. Most of us stack our T-shirts, shorts, pajamas, or whatever is in the drawers so what we see is just what is on top, and that’s what we wear most often. Try rolling these items and lining them up like logs instead. You will see everything you have in each drawer resulting in more items being worn more regularly plus, the items wrinkle less when they’re rolled versus being folded. Of course, as you’re rolling and re-filling the dresser drawers, you might as well sort by color. I also take this opportunity to check for stains, wear and tear, etc., to make sure what goes in the drawer is wearable.

Keep workspace clean. Moving on to the office area, keeping your workspace clean and clutter free is key to increased productivity. Using the same rules as the household (only keep it, if you love it or it serves a real purpose), clear the desktop as much as possible. Keep the current projects in a vertical file on the desktop or credenza close at hand – other projects go in a file drawer.

Streamline files. Current projects close at hand – in a vertical file or top file drawer of desk. Research needed within a month or two – bottom drawer of desk or top drawers of file cabinet that’s close by. Completed or legal files – file room or bottom drawers of file cabinets. If original documents aren’t needed, consider scanning for digital long-term storage and disposing of originals.

Cleaning products. I give this category a paragraph of its own because I veer off from the ‘like with like’ philosophy on this point. I keep cleaning products in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms so I don’t have to drag them throughout the house as I’m cleaning or every time there’s a spot mess to address. This has become even more important through the years of dealing with a chronic illness – fatigue is an issue that requires streamlining everything. The bathrooms have ‘scrubbing bubbles’ for the tub and toilet as well as mirror cleaner while the kitchen has grease-cutting spray cleaner as well as appliance cleaner and dish detergent. The hardcore cleaning products for the floors and furniture polish are kept in the laundry room. Additionally, I have the swift duster things strategically stashed throughout the house for quick touchups. Obviously, if you still have children in the house, you need the cabinet locks to keep these things out of the hands of the little ones, as did I. The minutes saved and the ability to do spot clean ups without the extra steps is invaluable. Keeping up with the cleaning as you go through the week virtually eliminates having to spend an entire day on the weekend catching up with chores – spend the day with your family instead.

Hopefully, these ideas give you a starting point for your own foray into spring cleaning. It can be a formidable task so take it one room at a time and before you know it, you’re done!

Enjoy your weekend!

Advertisements

Writing101 – Character Building

Writing101 – Character Building

Her booth at the Craft Fair was just catty-corner behind the booth I was visiting. When I first glimpsed her, I thought, “My word, we have a visitor from another time here today!” A time that never was, indeed.

She wore a corset on the outside of her gown. A gown much too adorned for modern times and much too short for the Victorian times, which the fabric, cut and adornments otherwise suggested. Her headpiece was a cross between ladies’ and men’s wear (like a mini-top hat) with a bit of netting (tulle perhaps?) attached as a headband and terminating in a poofy train at the back rather than the veil one might expect. The best part of the costume-that-wasn’t-a-costume were the lovely Victorian-esque boot-shoes! Her clothes indeed blended the best of the modern day and the Victorian age with ease and apparent comfort.

steampunk

Besides her eye-catching apparel, this woman possessed an air of kindness and a sparkle of intelligence and self-confidence I haven’t encountered in a lot of women recently. The aura of gentleness mingled with the edgy exuberance of her public persona made me curious as to her backstory and what it must be like to occupy a place in her inner circle. Her eyes twinkled when she smiled and the flush in her cheeks was an inner glow, not from a bottle. She was a woman of a certain age, a person who has experienced life and lived to tell about it – but who was too clever to drop names.

She easily could have stepped from a time machine directly into our midst at that Craft Fair on that sunny Saturday. Her mission? To observe free enterprise at the community level? To track crafting traditions through generations? Did she come from a timeline where craftsmanship has been lost? Was she sent to recover something or someone? We may never know…do time travelers ever visit the same timeline twice?

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit #9 – Snapdragons

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit #9 – Snapdragons

Thanks to computer issues (quite possibly pilot error), I’m posting my Tuesday Treasured Tidbit on Wednesday but better late than never, right?

Last week, I was delighted to see my first snapdragon blooms of the season!

snapdragons

It’s a little thing but to see these lovely ladies appear after a winter of erratic weather, when I was fairly certain I had doomed them to an early death by planting them in late September, was a treasure indeed.

Enjoy your 24 hours!

Writing 101 – A Letter Found – A Message Lost

Writing 101 – A Letter Found – A Message Lost

This assignment designates I have found a random letter along a path with a moving message making me wish I could return it to its proper owner. Tell the story briefly.

As I walk along the path, my mind a million miles away, I almost miss the greenish blue paper peeking from beneath the leaves covering the path. Of course, I pick it up, open it and read it once, twice, a third time.

She loves him – deeply – shamelessly – forever. She loves herself more. She has to leave to save herself. There’s no more to say. My heart breaks in an all-too-familiar place.

I look for the address – the dampness of the forest floor has washed it away. Whoever ‘he’ is – he’ll never know how she really felt. Then, again, if she had to write it down, he was never going to know it anyway.

Friday Frolics #11

Friday Frolics #11

Happy Friday!!!

Today’s Friday Frolic is one of my favorites right now, especially since I just dropped my favorite blush AND eye shadow palette breaking them to pieces on the same day! I know many of you have done this, thrown the remaining product away, and headed to the drugstore or department store for a replacement. No need to do that once you know this save-the-day process.

After decades in the beauty industry, this is a trick that I learned and have used many times – it’s simple and it really works to repair broken ‘pan’ type cosmetics. Think: eyeshadows, face powder, blush, bronzer, etc. I’m not sure what it is about spring and summer, but it seems I have need of this particular trick at this time of year more than any other time.

What you need:

The broken product
Rubbing alcohol
Eye dropper
Paper towel
Drinking glass

What you do:

Using the eye dropper, drip rubbing alcohol into the broken product until it turns mushy. I use the handle of a small makeup brush to stir it around and spread it back out to fill the pan again. Once it’s all mushy and spread out, let it air dry until the majority of the alcohol has evaporated. Then, place a piece of the clean paper towel on top of the product and weight it down with the drinking glass. The product should be usable by the next day – good as new!

Hope this little frolic saves you some money and headaches somewhere along the line.

Enjoy your weekend!

Writing 101 – Innocence Lost, Part 1

Writing 101 – Innocence Lost, Part 1

Our assignment for today is to write the first installment of a three-part series about something we lost. Yes, what I lost was my innocence but it’s not that innocence of which I speak at this time.

In the 1990’s, I lost the innocence many of us possess concerning our health in that we take it for granted. Oh, we’ll always be healthy, and we’ll always be able to do what we want to do whenever we want to do it – at least until we’re old and decrepit. Well, not so much when one has the misfortune to be one of the millions who live with a chronic illness.

The first bout of the condition laid me low for over three years, much of which I was bed-ridden. With the help of some great doctors, family and friends, I was able to rehabilitate myself to the point I was able to return to work part-time and eventually full-time. I did so with a different attitude about work-life balance than I had before and with an understanding that this return to normalcy had to be on my terms.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned through this experience was to value those people who stay in your life during the difficult times. There will be those who pay only lip service to being supportive, and there will be those who dig in there up to their elbows to help you. The latter of those two groups of people are the ones to value and keep around. I learned that having a few people who really care about you is far more important than having throngs of people who barely care.

In the next installment, I’ll talk about what I learned when the condition reared its ugly head again after 14 years. See you then.

Writing 101 – Songs in My Life

Writing 101 – Songs in My Life

This assignment is two-fold: it’s about the three most important songs in my life but it’s also about committing to a writing practice. That’s a timeframe every day to write, whether it’s ten minutes or an hour or whatever – make that commitment. Big ones!

Let’s start with the music since it’s the title of this piece. Let’s start by saying I am not a musical person. As my mother would say (and often did), I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if my life depended on it! Given that little tidbit of insight, you can well imagine that my appreciation and enjoyment of music may not be on the same level as someone who can sing or play an instrument. I very rarely remember the names of songs or the people who perform them. I may recognize a song when I hear it but not by title or artist. So, asking for three favorite songs of my lifetime doesn’t do much for me because I can call up song titles but usually can’t attach any meaning to them.

Having said all of that, let’s think about some songs that have had some impact of some kind, good bad or indifferent – so I’m not so sure they’re important in that they haven’t changed the course of my life in any way. I’ve been married a few times so I’ve heard The Wedding March by Mendelssohn a few times in my life although the jury is still out as to what the end result will be in the long run. How Great Thou Art by Carl Gustav was my mother’s favorite hymn and was played at her funeral – I still can’t hear it without getting a lump in my throat. Celebration by Kool and the Gang (I had to look all of that up!) never fails to make me smile from ear to ear. So there you have three songs that come to mind out of the myriad of music through my fifty something years of listening. I wouldn’t say they’re the most important songs of my life but they are three songs that came to mind when confronted with this assignment so they obviously have some sort of meaning – I think there may be a therapy session or three in there somewhere but that’s for another day of writing.

Now, for the second part of this assignment: to make a commitment to a writing practice. I have almost completed my first installment of that commitment, which is to write at least 15 minutes daily even if that’s simply a session of free-writing. These sessions may or may not be published on the blog, but they will happen either on the computer or in a notebook.

Thanks for joining me today – feel free to grab your computer, or a notebook and pen, and get ready to ride shotgun for the rest of the journey through Writing 101!

Writing 101 – A Room With a View

Writing 101 – A Room With a View

One does not merely walk into this room, one has the sense of arriving upon entering this room.

The door is massive yet swings aside with just a touch. The gentle curves at the edges of the walls create a seemingly endless horizon where the light simply fades away. The shelves are packed with volumes old and new; musty, dusty but never misused or abused. The smells of well-oiled wood, leather bindings and ancient paper blend in mysterious, languid waves. The lamplight gives off a warm and loving glow like a lover’s embrace beckoning you in deeper. The desk is cluttered enough to show work in progress, yet clear enough to show a sense of order.

Yes, yes! This is the place to stay cuddled up for hours with a favorite tome to read to the end and beyond or a pen and paper to write the next masterpiece waiting to publish to the world. Oh! But that world beckons me back much too soon…

Writing101 – Unlock the Mind

Writing101 – Unlock the Mind

Our first assignment for this course is to ‘free write’ for 20 minutes – about anything – anything at all.

So, of course, this is the time that I have nothing going through my mind! Me – the one of the racing thoughts keeping me up all night, distracting me all day – now I have nothing to say.

Wait! There’s a thought – it’s April! My favorite month of the year is April. Yes, it’s my birthday month but that’s not the only reason it’s my favorite month. Yes, I like birthdays because the alternative (not having a birthday) really sucks! This year’s birthday was really special to me because I came close to not making it to this one.

Besides all that, April has the prettiest name of any month. When I was a child, and even into early adulthood, I often dreamed of changing my legal name to ‘April.’ It has such a lyrical, fantastical sound to it – is that a word? Fantastical? Anyway, it’s a pretty name that churns up all kinds of amazing images in my mind of worlds and characters that could be, should be and may be somewhere, sometime…

April is also the month when Spring truly seems to arrive although logically I know that scientifically Spring arrives in March. April is when Spring ‘springs’ in the form of so many blooms and the nurseries are full of gardening potential. I love to roam the aisles looking for the next masterpiece lying in wait just hoping to be chosen for my garden. Well, at least I used to do that…these days with the health issues, I only dream of roaming the aisles like I used to. On a good day, I can manage a few minutes but nothing like the hours of years gone by. I miss those times but know that things change and I have to make the adjustments to save my sanity and that of those around me.

April is the month of young love, just check out all the nests of baby birds and litters of kitties and puppies and skunks and who knows what else in the wild! Love is in the air! Isn’t there something about springtime in Paris too? April is simply a magical time and forever reigns as my favorite month of the year so I don’t just celebrate on my birthday, I make every attempt to celebrate the month every day of the month – to enjoy it in all its glory.

April showers also bring May flowers but that’s a conversation for another day.