Embracing My Mess

I’m trying to get myself organized. Today’s post was brought to you by the article in the NY Times Making a Marriage Magically Tidy. I read the post, and then I posted it to my personal Facebook page.

My sister responded, and I quote, “…did you write that article under a pseudonym? That part about the panty liner was hilarious!! Well, we do the best we can, right!”

We do the best we can. That’s what I tell myself on Saturdays when I’m binge watching Netflix but should really be cleaning. Let me tell you, my floors will never be fit to eat off of. There will probably always be a layer of dust on by bookshelves. There will be crumbs on my table. My kids’ toys will be littering the floor until the sad day they ship off to college.

I read that book mentioned in the article, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I rolled up my clothes and put them in drawers. I felt whether clothes sparked joy in me or not, and the ones that didn’t were given away. I threw away A TON of stuff, donated things, and basically went on a mad-cleaning spree for about a month. In Kondo’s book, she said something like (and this is paraphrasing because I read it over a year ago) “no one who has gone through my program has ever relapsed.” Well she never met me.

Several things I learned from Kondo’s book:

  1. She probably has severe OCD
  2. Her siblings most likely hated her growing up – she organized and threw away their things
  3. I’m inherently missing something that makes me want to keep things neat and tidy
  4. When I start to clean I always end up finding a box of nostalgia and falling into a state of schaudenfreude. I find that inherently not worth it. But also could probably fix this problem but just tossing my old memorabilia yet there’s no way I can actually let go of that stuff. Catch 22.

The thing about me is I am at both extremes. When things are neat and tidy, I freak out if people so much as put one thing out of place. It’s a problem. It’s easier for me to have organized unorganized chaos than to deal with the crazy that comes out in me when things are neat. Maybe this comes from being a perfectionist. Or maybe there’s just something wrong with my brain.

Plus, I’ve read the news: kids growing up on farms with dirt have better immune systems and less allergies than other kids. I’m just giving my kids a leg up. They have zero food allergies–that’s something, right?

Seriously though, sometimes I think I need an intervention. I’ve been trying to tidy up my room for 12-18 months. Something always gets in the way. Over that period of time, we culled the toys in the kids’ rooms and helped them clean theirs. But I have a mental block for cleaning out my own shit. I’d like to talk to Helen Ellis about how she got through that mental block. Did podcasts do it? Because I get obsessed with those for like a week, and then move on. Perhaps I have adult ADHD. That would explain why I can’t freaking finish anything to save my life, including my novel, and why I jump from one thing to another. And why I’m such a major underachiever even though I have idealistic dreams of being MORE!

I guess I’ll start this weekend by going through my closet. Then again, I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that I’ve intended to do that for the last eighteen months. Some things never change…

Messy Room

What end of the spectrum do you fall on? Are you tidy or messy? Have you been both? How did you change your ways?

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Letting Go

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By Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE – Colours, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19871961

A few years ago, a movie came out. If you have little girls, you certainly saw it. My own little girl was still really little, and we didn’t go to the movies. Instead, we waited patiently for Santa Claus to deliver the little case with Frozen inside. And we sang and listened to the song a million times: Let It Go. It’s good advice, and if you listen to the song it’s about letting go of fears, expectations, and the past.

As I said in my blog last week, I’m reading The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Kondo writes about how purging and cleaning out allows you to let go of the past and live in the present. Being someone who has suffered from depression for most of my adult life, I have problems with living in the past. I go through times where my past seems to haunt me, almost a present-being within my life, absorbing and sucking all the joys from today. I think we have a lot to learn from the past, but I also think some people, including me get stuck trying to relive the moments that made us happy.

I cleaned out clothes this past week. And I must have had 8 or 9 bags full. I threw out American University t-shirts I hadn’t worn in years. When I held them in my hands, I felt the memories sitting in them taking up space in my life where new memories could be made. I hesitated, and then tossed them. This was a milestone because for me, I have a hard time letting go. When people leave me or move on, and as life moves on, I mourn the past joys, excessively. Recently, I read that happiness is a moment. Those glimmers of sunshine where you know a memory will stick. Humans have a want to hold onto those moments and try to make them permanent when really the beauty in them is their impermanence.

I look at happiness as an action. Happiness has to be created. One has to stop living in the past or the future and focus on finding happiness every day. This can be done by influencing your happiness. Surround yourself by people you love, exercise, smile, laugh, find a sense of humor, be accepting and loving and giving. These are all ways to make yourself happy through action.

I haven’t gotten to the hard part of cleaning out: mementos. Last time I went through all of my writing and letters from the past, I ended up severely depressed. I’m thinking of scanning the letters this time and throwing out the originals. I have letters from my grandparents at camp when I was a kid. I have letters from ex-boyfriends and ex-wannabe-boyfriends. I have letters from friends who are no longer friends. Perhaps the funniest thing I kept was a fax from my mother when I ran out of funds in Spain asking me if I had drank all of my money away (I had). Boy, she knew me!

Since I started purging, my creativity has blossomed again. I don’t think it’s coincidental. I think the act of purging is redefining my desire to be a full time writer. I know writing makes me happy and defines who I am, and in purging I’ve realized the more I run away from that thought the unhappier I am.

How do you focus on the present? What are some tricks you have for letting go? What’s your dream in life?

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Tidying Up

If you know me, you know I’ve always been a messy person. In college, my roommates shuddered when they looked in my closet. When I moved into a house with friends, some days you could barely walk through my room without stepping on something. Cleaning and tidying never came naturally to me, and I found it to be an unimportant task. When I did clean, I became obsessive and wanted to clean everything. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, well, sort of crazy.

But last weekend, I looked in my closet, and I couldn’t find anything. I’d pull out one thing, and other items would fall off their hangers. Stacks of clothes sat on the top of the closet. Clothes I hadn’t worn or hadn’t been able to find were jammed into my dresser drawers. And I decided I needed to change. My mom is so surprised. She’s the type of person who always cleans up and declutters, and my lack of organization has always driven her nuts.

I knew when I started to make a change that I needed to focus on decluttering. I simply have too much stuff. Too many clothes, too many books, too many toys are in my house. And so I did what everyone else in the world has done and I bought The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

This book. First of all, I think Kondo has OCD. And I’m not touting all her methods. But it is changing my life. Kondo has a method for cleaning up and decluttering in which you focus on categories fully decluttering one category and organizing those items before you move on to the next. So you start on clothes and you go through all your clothes. You focus on what items you will keep. You decide what you keep by what sparks joy when you touch it. I think this is amazing, because so many times when you’re decluttering you’re focusing on what you’re getting rid of. Kondo’s method doesn’t make you think of loss. It makes you think about what you’re gaining: clothes and items that bring you joy in a visually aesthetic and more usefully organized space.

I do think this book is hard to follow if you have tiny terrors children in your house. But I started going through their clothes too and weeding out the items they don’t wear or don’t need anymore. I’ve only finished Hailey’s closet and drawers, but nothing is stuffed in there anymore and every item has its own space. I think this is amazing, because it’s never been so. And of course, as a parent I’m going to have to help her keep it this way, but that’s not a big deal. Once you get rid of the extras it’s not as hard to keep what you have left in order.

Anyway, if you’re like me and a bit organizationally impaired, I highly recommend this book as a way to change. Just don’t think you have to do everything she does, because she wants things done in a certain order, within subcategories, and I really think that’s just because she’s OCD.

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The Life and Times of a Writer

It’s been a rather crazy week in the world of the Greenes. Once school starts, everything seems to take off with super hero speed. But I’ve actually been productive this week too besides scrambling just to get everything done.

Here’s what’s been taking up my time and dragging me away from my readers at my lovely blog:

1.Editing my newest piece of Southern Fiction (Southern thriller, maybe?) Little Birdhouses. I finished Chapter 5 yesterday. Slow going, but I’m finally on a schedule.

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2. Trying to figure out how to eat a Dairy Queen ice cream, take a “groupie” of me and the boys, and not include my hand in the photo (I still need work on this).

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3. Putting together a newsletter for you lovely people to read. You can sign up at  http://eepurl.com/bo4ILP. (Also, FYI the little monkey round button at the bottom of each of my posts is a newsletter sign-up). Next one goes out 8/31/15

4. Hanging at the playground with some fun peeps:

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5. Writing loads of flash fiction at Finish That Thought, Micro Bookends, and Flash!Friday. Never winning, although I do have a knack for taking the special challenge winner. My day will come, I tell you!

6. Dealing with a sick Kindergartner and driving three kids to three different activities plus a day job, coordinating babysitters, and trying to figure out who is going to cook dinner.

7. Writing a Southern Literature novel with no name. How I wish I could find a name for the dang thing, but at least the words are flowing.

8. Trying to figure out Reddit so I can entertain my readers on September 20th:

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9. Exercising to burn a few calories (more news soon about a collaborative Healthy Writer piece!)

10. Drinking lots of wine so I can consume the calories I just burned off.

That’s my life in a nutshell right now. Crazy busy. I’m thinking organization, calendars, and scheduling might be of use to me. These have never been my strong points, but I’m making a change (or trying to). I’m also trying to be more productive, because there is literally no time to procrastinate!

How you doing? What’s been going on in your world lately?


Did you know I wrote a book, and you have a chance to win a free copy but HURRY, because the winners will be picked on 8/31/15. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Devil Within by Lauren Greene

The Devil Within

by Lauren Greene

Giveaway ends August 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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