Friday, March 10, 2006

little feats and little stripes

Life has been very, very difficult this week with my mother's situation. I have encountered my boundary, I think - the place where my tolerance for stress ends and hives begin. I should have remembered this from last October when a similar thing happened, but I didn't and had to get the message again: my poor mother is in a place where nothing I do or give will be enough and so I have to set the limit for doing and giving where I need it to be for my own health and well-being.

I feel almost desperate that these changes I'm trying to make in my life do not get sabotaged by events and responsibilities. I probably spent two days this week in a kind of de-stressing crocheting mania, and have created some marvelous hats, but the bills weren't getting done and there was no decluttering and guilt began its dreadful nibbling at my spirit. And so I resolved again that every day I must do something, anything, even the tiniest step onward (little feats) towards my goals.

I do count as "onward steps" my taking the time to maintain order I've already established, and I have continued to do that. This is really a remarkable shift - I used to run out the door on errands or appointments leaving behind the clutter and mess of whatever I was working on up to the last minute before I had to leave. It is starting to become more of a habit for me to make myself stop working so I have time to tidy up. And it really only takes few minutes.

Here's one of the little feets I accomplished:
This was the result of doing laundry and also gathering together two huge batches of single socks I had been accumulating in the hopes of finding their mates.

Alas, this following is an After picture, all the socks still left partnerless:
At least they can all fit in one drawer now and I shall continue to try to match them for awhile. At some point, they are going to go or become something crafty.

Speaking of going, I am still working on letting go of clothes.
There are some items of clothing that I keep for purely sentimental reasons. They even have names, like Seinfeld and his Golden Boy t-shirt.

There's the shirt I call The Binky Shirt - a worn blue cotton from India that I haven't worn in maybe 15 years, but which I can't bear to throw out because I wore it constantly when I was pregnant with my daughter and for many, many nursing months (years) after. I'm wearing it in numerous pictures of me c.1988-91. It's called the Binky Shirt because I used to keep toddler Patrick's pacifier in the pocket and he'd pat the pocket when he wanted his Binky....awwwwwww, the memories, the memories. I haven't run across it yet in my goings through the clothes, but it will come up and decisions will have to be made.

Meanwhile, Little Stripes is in the to-go pile. Little Stripes was ordered from one of those catalogues where all the colors have names like mud and cloud and echinacea, and all the people look pensive, petulant or bored rich. For some reason, this sort of catalogue appealed to earth mother post-4th-pregnancy chubby moi. And I ordered this shirt and a long brown skirt in a heavy cotton knit, neither of which was very wearable in the climate of South Florida.
Luckily I moved north shortly after and got good use out of both.

It's 15 years since I bought those and the skirt is still a keeper. But Little Stripes has been hanging around for years since I stopped wearing her/him (unisex size) regularly, worn at all extremities:
so loved, though, I just haven't been able to let her/him go. And it was only after I took a picture and promised to write about her/him that she/he would let me say good-bye.

Good-bye Little Stripes!

Compared to the rather dramatic decluttering projects I accomplished when I started this blog, I know the matching-up of socks and the discarding of one shirt must seem awfully insignificant. But they're not - the sock matching reminded me that the regular doing of even the smallest decluttering task can make me feel good, on track and closer to my goal.

And letting go of Little Stripes was a big lesson for me. I think I learned a way to deal with the sentimental impulse that is one of every packrat's major issues:

Do something to honor and keep the memories and emotions evoked by the object: take a picture, do a bit of writing about the object and the memories it carries. Digitize it, turn it into bytes, move my clutter to cyberspace!

It may slow things down a bit if I wind up trying to honor everything I keep for purely sentimental reasons, but I think this idea is going to be very useful to me on this journey.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay!! I LOVE a clean sock drawer!!

Please don't disparage the little steps! (You and I are very alike in that regard... we only seem to notice an honor the BIG achievements that we make.)

(.. except that for me, the Big achievements scare the bejeezers out of me and I end up curling up and hiding for two days after!)

The little achievements are the intimate ones, the close friends, the secrets only you know about unless you choose to share them.. (like wearing lace undies).

The little things are where the benefits really rack up.. like being able to find that one particular song you want to hear because you alphabetized your CDs a month and a half ago.

The little things are the foundations of unconscious habit. .. carrying the dinner dishes into the kitchen may not seem like much when I've got a sink full of dirty dishes already soaking, but it's the little thing that lets me set my next meal's plate down without excavating a space for it first!

(I'm trying to learn to honor my own baby-steps too.)

As for the t-shirt memorial, I think that's wonderful! Great way to make peace with the need to move forward!

...and when you described the Binky shirt, I thought wouldn't that be great to turn into a little stuffed animal for a grandkid? or if it's too worn out, maybe just save enough of the remaining good material to cover an existing stuffed animal's nose and paws?

(your SP7)

5:36 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger jackie said...

I agree with your SP7!

8:42 AM, March 11, 2006  

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