January 7, 2017

The year is seven days old.

When I look back on the day, the thing that I remember most clearly is a frustrating moment. Actually it was two frustrating moments. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth.

I was cleaning the bathrooms upstairs and using a spray bottle of cleaner for the top of the vanities. Half way through the second bathroom, I managed to drop the bottle and the spray nozzle broke off.

Damn.

Okay, so that bites, but I know that I have an empty spray bottle downstairs. Problem solved.

Now I’m thinking I’m a rockstar for not only solving my problem but recycling a bottle that would have gone unused. Bathroom cleaner and environmentally conscious goddess extraordinaire. This was going to be a great year.

Only it happened again. As I’m clean the bathtub I mange to bump the bottle off of the side of the tub.

This time I didn’t say damn. It was more like motherf#%&@.

Maybe this wasn’t going to be such an awesome year.

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The Fall

the best things in life

fall leaves

I came across this piece I wrote last year. I’ve updated it a bit but the message will always be the same to me.

There’s something about the Fall that makes most of us want to, well, turn over a new leaf so to speak. For me, there’s nothing like the change of season to bring on the challenge of reorganizing a closet or room. Spring cleaning is all well and good but September seems to be my time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Although my husband and son do not get the same gleam in their eye when I say that we need to clean out the closets, I’m happy to say that my daughter has inherited my organizing gene. She will spend hours up in her room “organizing” her stuff and loves nothing more than making a trip to Micheals to buy…

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The Art of the List

lists

Lists make me happy.

An article I read recently actually puts science behind the fact that lists can calm anxiety and bolster creativity.  For me, that’s just the icing on and already delicious cake.

What is it about writing out words on a note pad that is so magical?  I think it’s an OCD organizational thing.  If I feel like my life is getting out of control or becoming too chaotic, writing out tasks gives me some clarity.  By bringing some order to what needs to get done I can see that in reality my life is not quite so crazy as I think it is.

list of lists

Besides would late night tv be without David Letterman’s Top Ten List?  Even Shakespeare references lists in Hamlet.  The Bard refers to “a list of landlesse resolutes” in Act 1 Scene 1.

So what does it take to make a good list?  Well for starters you never have just one list.  On any given day you will find multiple lists in my kitchen.

  • Master To Do List
  • Thing To Do That Day ie: Wednesday
  • Groceries
  • Ideas or Posts to Work On

But it’s not that simple.  There is, I believe, an art to it.

You must have the appropriate piece of paper.

Sure, the right size is important, but so is the layout and look.  You wouldn’t put your Master To Do list on a tiny pad of paper with some realtors face on it.  But a quick shopping list?  Totally okay.  It has been suggested to me that I use my smart phone to record my lists.  It just doesn’t sit right with me.  I’m not sure if it’s an old school things or a tactile thing.  Regardless, the right tool for the job is always key.

blank page

Lists need to be about timing.

Now obviously making a Christmas card list in March is a bit of overkill.  Although, now that I’m saying it, it does make perfect sense.  What I am saying, is that one of the purposes of a list it to save time.  So make it work for you.  Writing out your grocery list in the order that you walk the aisles at the grocery store is a huge time saver.  If you have half a dozen errands to do not only will your list remind you what needs to get down but it can serve as a map for your route.

Tasks on your lists need to be realistic.

If you make a list of things to do that are unattainable, the list can’t serve it purpose.  It will only serve to frustrate you when you are unable to complete them.  There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing things off of a list.  Even if you are just crossing it off because you have decided that it belongs on a different list.  Ya, that counts.  Bottom line?  World Peace shouldn’t necessarily  be on your list.

It’s really not rocket science, but lists can make you feel like a super hero. Everyone admires somebody who can keep things on track and get stuff done.  Don’t they?

The Best Thing in Life is a really good list.

FALL – Again

fall leaves

I came across this piece I wrote two years ago. I’ve updated it a bit but the message will always be the same to me.

There’s something about the Fall that makes most of us want to, well, turn over a new leaf so to speak. For me, there’s nothing like the change of season to bring on the challenge of reorganizing a closet or room. Spring cleaning is all well and good but September seems to be my time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Although my husband and son do not get the same gleam in their eye when I say that we need to clean out the closets, I’m happy to say that my daughter has inherited my organizing gene. She will spend hours up in her room “organizing” her stuff and loves nothing more than making a trip to Micheals to buy trays, holders and sorting containers. I’m so proud.

When it comes to cleaning up a messy desk or closet or room, for that matter, three basics apply. Throw it away, give it away or put it away. And this goes for almost every room of the house. The best way is to just dive in. Make three piles and most importantly be honest with yourself about which pile you put stuff in. Haven’t worn that shirt in two years? Get rid of it. Have a dozen magazines all about decorating the babies room and your baby” is now 7. Recycle it. Can’t decide? Put it aside until the end and deal with it then. But do deal with it.

messy closet

Now before you all get you knickers in a knot; throw away doesn’t necessarily mean increase the size of the GVRD landfill. Old school assignments/art, as much as you may want to reminisce, can be put in the recycle box. Magazines that you had every intention of re-reading (three years ago) can be recycled. I used to keep magazines in the hopes that one day I would have an occasion to serve 18 different varieties of cookies.  I have since realized that all magazines have excellent websites complete with archives. Ikea comes out with a new catalogue every year…just sayin’. Having said that; if you can’t remember where you got something or what it means to you and there is no recycling option…..chuck it!

Giving stuff away is one of my passions. I have a friend with a daughter a year younger than mine and for the past three or four years I have passed on my daughters gently (sometimes) worn clothes to her. It’s a great feeling to know that you are making space in your house and helping somebody out at the same time. I am also a regular customer on the Big Brother and Canadian Diabetes pick up list. They come and TAKE STUFF AWAY! For free! But best of all is a fairly regular clothing swap party that I attend with a group of other moms. We are all of various ages and sizes but somehow everybody leaves these parties with some new item to add to their wardrobe. Best of all, what’s left over goes to charity. As I write this I am wearing a shirt that I got at one of the parties. I love it and it was free.

tidy closet

I have to admit that putting away is not my favorite part of this exercise, but it is necessary. I have learnt (thanks to my husband) that keeping stuff can be good and occasionally throwing stuff away can be bad. So get a really big chest and start keeping those baby shoes, first soccer team t-shirts and countless works of art. Who knows, they may be worth something one day. When my son was about five I started keeping his shirts from sports teams, trips and special events. Last year I gave them all to my mom, the quilter, and she made them into a quilt for him. She did the same thing for my daughter with all of her receiving blankets. It’s a beautiful way to keep memories around but make them useful.

The Best Thing in Life is being organized. Okay, so maybe that’s just me and my daughter. Anybody got a closet they need organizing? One of the other perks of cleaning up and getting rid of stuff is that it gives you a clear inventory of what you really do have. And what you don’t have. And that, my friends, is a clear invitation to go shopping.

The Best Things in Life

The Best Things in Life can be small and insignificant or they can be monumental and life altering. They also happen every day to everyone on the planet. The problem is that we don’t always recognize them.

This month, November 2014, I hope to change the way I look at The Best Things in Life. This month, each day, I will recognize some small (or monumental) thing in my life by posting a picture, link or quote on my Twitter account. Follow me at @seymourmommy to see what The Best Things in Life are for the month of November.

The Fall

fall leaves

I came across this piece I wrote last year. I’ve updated it a bit but the message will always be the same to me.

There’s something about the Fall that makes most of us want to, well, turn over a new leaf so to speak. For me, there’s nothing like the change of season to bring on the challenge of reorganizing a closet or room. Spring cleaning is all well and good but September seems to be my time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Although my husband and son do not get the same gleam in their eye when I say that we need to clean out the closets, I’m happy to say that my daughter has inherited my organizing gene. She will spend hours up in her room “organizing” her stuff and loves nothing more than making a trip to Micheals to buy trays, holders and sorting containers. I’m so proud.

When it comes to cleaning up a messy desk or closet or room, for that matter, three basics apply. Throw it away, give it away or put it away. And this goes for almost every room of the house. The best way is to just dive in. Make three piles and most importantly be honest with yourself about which pile you put stuff in. Haven’t worn that shirt in two years? Get rid of it. Have a dozen magazines all about decorating the babies room and your baby” is now 7. Recycle it. Can’t decide? Put it aside until the end and deal with it then. But do deal with it.

messy closet

Now before you all get you knickers in a knot; throw away doesn’t necessarily mean increase the size of the GVRD landfill. Old school assignments/art, as much as you may want to reminisce, can be put in the recycle box. Magazines that you had every intention of re-reading (three years ago) can be recycled. I used to keep magazines in the hopes that one day I would have an occasion to serve 18 different varieties of cookies.  I have since realized that all magazines have excellent websites complete with archives. Ikea comes out with a new catalogue every year…just sayin’. Having said that; if you can’t remember where you got something or what it means to you and there is no recycling option…..chuck it!

Giving stuff away is one of my passions. I have a friend with a daughter a year younger than mine and for the past three or four years I have passed on my daughters gently (sometimes) worn clothes to her. It’s a great feeling to know that you are making space in your house and helping somebody out at the same time. I am also a regular customer on the Big Brother and Canadian Diabetes pick up list. They come and TAKE STUFF AWAY! For free! But best of all is a fairly regular clothing swap party that I attend with a group of other moms. We are all of various ages and sizes but somehow everybody leaves these parties with some new item to add to their wardrobe. Best of all, what’s left over goes to charity. As I write this I am wearing a shirt that I got at one of the parties. I love it and it was free.

tidy closet

I have to admit that putting away is not my favorite part of this exercise, but it is necessary. I have learnt (thanks to my husband) that keeping stuff can be good and occasionally throwing stuff away can be bad. So get a really big chest and start keeping those baby shoes, first soccer team t-shirts and countless works of art. Who knows, they may be worth something one day. When my son was about five I started keeping his shirts from sports teams, trips and special events. Last year I gave them all to my mom, the quilter, and she made them into a quilt for him. She did the same thing for my daughter with all of her receiving blankets. It’s a beautiful way to keep memories around but make them useful.

The Best Thing in Life is being organized. Okay, so maybe that’s just me and my daughter. Anybody got a closet they need organizing? One of the other perks of cleaning up and getting rid of stuff is that it gives you a clear inventory of what you really do have. And what you don’t have. And that, my friends, is a clear invitation to go shopping.

Puttering

School has been out for two months. Add to that the two weeks of teachers strike and you have 75 joyous days my daughter and I have spent together this summer. Don’t get me wrong, she has been in some awesome summer camps that have given me the time to enjoy the incredible summer we have had in Vancouver this year and her some great experiences. When the weather is good I can not stand to be inside and as a result my house tends to get a little out of order (and dirty) during the summer months. So here it is September 2 and it’s raining. My husband and daughter are at the hardware store and I have a couple of hours in the house alone. Will I nap? Watch some tennis? No, I will putter.

Putter (verb) To be active, but not excessively busy, at a task or a series of tasks.

That sum it up for me. I am a putterer. Not sure that is a real word but it works for now. My husband also calls it busy work. Given a Sunday morning (or afternoon for that matter) with nothing really pressing to do, he will chose the sofa, football and, eventually, a nap. I will find something to do. There’s always something to do isn’t there? Dust, sort the art supplies, go through my kids clothes and put away what doesn’t fit them anymore, make a list (this is my favorite), search for a recipe, send an email about having coffee with somebody next week. The list is endless. Laundry is the ultimate task for a putterer because it can be done anytime. There always seems to be laundry to do. And it’s a process, which I love. I am starting to sound a tad crazy aren’t I? Sort, wash, dry, fold and put away. Is there a term for what I have?

There has always been a certain comfort for me being in my home and being able to sort or tidy things up with no deadline or end game. Perhaps tackle something I’ve been putting off. There’s no hurry to do it, but it keeps my mind busy and somewhere down the road I will appreciate the fact that it is done. Even if I do sit down to watch TV I rarely sit through a whole show without getting up to do something else. I have noticed this in my daughter as well. As a child, my son could, and still can, sit motionless for hours watching TV. I have often thought that the house could burn down around him and he still would not move. My daughter, like me, has to be doing something else while she is watching TV. Sorting her beads, making a bracelet, coloring or perhaps dancing.

But I have come to realize over the past thirteen years of living with my husband, that there is a lot to be said for stopping and smelling the roses, so to speak. It really is okay to just let some stuff slide. In fact, it can be quite therapeutic. I think that is why this blog has been good for me. It has forced me to stop “puttering” occasionally and focus on something. Wait, that’s not totally true. If I’m being honest I will admit that I often stop writing and do some small task that really could wait. It’s just not in me to let it go. Since starting this post I have emailed a friend to make plans for a day trip next week, called my husband to see if my darling daughter wants to go for a hike when they get home from the store and unloaded the dishwasher.

A I sit writing this I glance around the room and see half a dozen things I could be doing. I see that the sun is out and think “we should go for a hike”. But after a long hot summer I should be quite happy to just be writing again. And really, as I finish a post I do get a similar feeling as to when I finish a task around the house. Like a nice little present has had the bow stuck on top of it. I am very fortunate that I CAN do this. Having a home to putter in and a kitchen table to write at makes me very happy. Having the still developing ability to just “be” makes me even happier. The Best Things in Life is being a work in progress.

Addicted to Organization

Or~gan~ized                                                                                                                                           efficient: working in a systematic and efficient way                                                                      large-scale: existing on a large scale and involving the systematic coordination of many different considerations

Hello my name is Susan and I’m addicted to being organized. I love to be organized. I love things in neat piles, or even better, put away in their proper place. Oh, and even better, in a box with a label on it. I love planning and making sure that all the bases are covered. Let’s face it, schedules and lists turn me on. I think I get it for my dad. My mom wouldn’t have called it it organized though. She would have called it fastidious. If there was a nail out of place on his workbench somebody was going to hear about it. Sounds vaguely familiar to me and my family would second that.

boxes

There are thousands of websites and blogs devoted to organization. People make a fortune from helping other people get organized. When I was first thinking about quiting my job and wondered what I would do, a dear friend of mine suggested that I help other people get organized. She was so impressed with how organized I was with passing on my daughters clothes to her, that she thought maybe that was my calling. I did give it some serious consideration. My only problem was that I couldn’t see other people paying me for doing it my way; and make no mistake, it would be done MY way or it would be wrong. Organization can be deeply personal.

What does this say about me? Some may say that a disorganized home indicates that the person has better things to do with their time than tidy up. That may be true for some. I know that when my life (and in turn my family’s) is organized that I feel calmer. When things are all over and untidy and well, unorganized, I feel a bit panicky. It’s probably not a very healthy or sane thing that I can’t focus on a task well until the house is in order and relatively clean. I’m sure some psychiatrist somewhere would make a case out of that and that’s okay. Everybody has their thing. I’m not like OCD organized (well maybe just a little) but I have to admit I get a teeny bit antsy when things are really out of hand in the house.

In many cases my need to organize stems from my other pastime. Procrastination. There is no better way to avoid a difficult task than to immerse yourself in cleaning out a closet. It occupies your mind so you don’t feel guilty about the fact that you should be doing something else. Plus, if you take long enough to do it then you just won’t have time to do that other horrible thing. Whatever it may be. In my mind, if the house is organized then it’s easier to find things. My husband would argue with this. “Yes, you can find it. But can anybody else?” True, I do tend to put things away and then forget where I’ve put them and forget to tell anybody else resulting in momentary panic when we need my daughters field hockey stick for the first night of practice.

Organization isn’t just about being neat and tidy though. It’s about thinking ahead and knowing where and when things need to get done. If I want my daughter to get into the swimming class that fits into our schedule then I need to know what day registration starts and it needs to be on the list so that I remember. Hear that? It’s called rationalization. And yes, lists are a big part of being organized. I wonder how many times I used the word organized in this post? Did I mention that I like lists?

Some say that an organized life means an organized mind. I don’t agreed. For all my love of organization my mind is often very messy. Thoughts running in and out, switching gears every two minutes, jumping from shopping list to vacation planning to blog writing without missing a beat. I’ve discovered that each week when I go through the process of writing a post for this blog, my mind is very scattered. Thoughts come out all over the place. Each posts starts as half a dozen random thoughts. Eventually those thoughts turn into paragraphs and in turn those paragraphs find their way into a coherent piece. It a process I’m not very comfortable with because….well, it’s not organized.

So how does this fit into my goals of finding my thing?  To be honest I didn’t know when I started writing this post, but now I think I see it. There have been times when I have thought that being organized was a bit of a detriment. (Perhaps re-read the above if you don’t see that.) I have thought that maybe I should just let things go a bit and relax. But now I realize that my little quirk has actually helped me along the way by giving me a focus. This week, the Best Thing in Life is realizing you have a problem and embracing it.