Travel Reality

womens roomI spent the past week traveling… first for work, then a couple of extra days for leisure and fun.   When we R.W.’s go out on the road (or air), we have to live via the mantra of “expect the unexpected.”  We do our very best to plan ahead and be as prepared as possible, yet the only thing that is guaranteed is there will be events for which we did not plan, or that are out of our control. For example:

No matter how much we’ve over-packed, we will forget something. Or there will be some item we wish we had brought with us, but didn’t.

There will be a crying child on the airplane.

There will be someone coughing and hacking and spreading their germs near us – perhaps in an elevator, at a restaurant, or on public transportation.

At some point there will be a food item and no way to eat it. For example, a bag of trail mix that won’t open (with not a pair of scissors in sight), or a cup of yogurt with no spoon, or a soda with a cap that won’t come off.

The available WiFi will be sporadic at best, and will crap out mid-way through an important email or when attempting to post the perfect picture on Instagram.

There will be a required visit to CVS or Walgreens. — for something. Like allergy medicine, band-aids, tweezers, Airborne, bottled water, a magazine, sunscreen or chocolate.

An impulse purchase will be made for an item that will never be used, worn, or played with ever again upon arrival back home.

There will be at least one minor crisis back home that we will have to handle long-distance as if we are air-traffic controllers or online M.D.’s who are always on call.

A full un-interrupted night of sleep will be unobtainable due to temperature issues, elevator noise, other guests, foreign food & drink digestive issues, or lumpy pillows. But that’s ok, because R.W.’s never get a full night’s rest at home either.

In my travels this week, I determined there is one particular microcosm of an environment that is an especially good example of consistent inconsistencies, to which we need to be best prepared for the experience: public restrooms.

When stepping into a public potty, we can be guaranteed that:

They will smell. In unappealing ways.

There will be at least one toilet in a stall that is not flushed and/or is plugged.

There will be at least one stall that will have run out of toilet paper.

The auto-flush toilet will flush at an inopportune time.

At least one of the auto faucets at the sinks will not be working, causing us to wave our hands around like some sort of bad magician, while the auto soap dispenser gets confused and keeps squirting out soap all over the sink.

The hand air-dryer will either be too weak to do it’s job thus causing us to shake our hands or wipe them on our pants, or so strong it is deafeningly loud and threatens to remove skin, OR the nearby paper towel dispenser is empty, thus causing that odd two-step of holding our bags under our arms or between our knees, holding our dripping hands out in front as we shuffle to retrieve a towel at the farthest location in the room.

And of course, let us not forget the most common factor: there will be a line. The awkwardness of the women’s restroom line is not unlike riding in elevators – we must decide whether to avert our eyes, do a nod-and-smile form of greeting, or strike up a friendly conversation – all while casually trying to peek under doors to find available stalls and hoping to get one that does not have a plugged toilet or lack of paper.

The joy of travel is that at some point we return home, to our own private, familiar environs where we feel a bit more in control and can manage expectations. Well, maybe not really in control, but at least we will have our favorite non-lumpy pillows, maintain the cleanliness of our own surroundings, refill the toilet paper roll and flush when appropriate.

That’s right, Dorothy. There’s no place like home.

 

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Blinkin’ Power

jeannie-and-meA few years ago, The Marist Poll asked Americans what super power they would most like to have. More than a quarter would like to have the ability to read people’s minds, while the same number of folks wanted to be able to do time travel. Other top picks were the ability to fly or be invisible. Apparently more men wanted to time travel while women were the ones who most wanted to read minds.

I can’t say as I particularly want any of those superpowers. I certainly don’t want to read minds, because – yikes – I am weary enough listening to my own thoughts all day. Time travel I suppose could be cool, I have occassionally thought going back in time could be fascinating as long as I knew I could get safely back to the current again. But being able to fly or be invisible? Nah.

My superpower wish dates back to when I was a young girl, and in some ways is more simple. One of my favorite TV Shows was I Dream of Jeannie. I rather desperately wanted to be able to blink and make things happen. So much so, that I would roam around the house practicing this craft – sadly to no avail. Even at a young age, I could see the convenience of this power, and to this day, it is on the top of my list of Cool Things I Wish I Could Do.

Like all super powers, it would be important to not abuse the priviledge. I promise, I wouldn’t. Well, after of course blinking enough money into my bank account to pay off all debts and never have to worry about paying bills again, and after blinking all my loved ones to good health, and lastly blinking about 10 pounds off my body, well, THEN I’d only use this power for simple good things, and I wouldn’t ask for too much. I know better than to try to solve all the world’s problems. Even Jeannie couldn’t do that in her day.

Instead, I would use my mystical nods for those times when I just need a helping hand – err, blink. When I’m running late in the morning, one eye squint could get me dressed and out the door. Too weary to tackle a sink full of dishes? Boing, done. Paying the bills and balancing the checkbook? Piece of cake without even thinking about it. Cooking dinner when I get home late and am tired, putting away laundry, popping over to visit a friend… all worthy moments for the power blink. Just think how handy this could be. In a hurry to get ready to go out? No more dealing with impatient men waiting for us, because we’d be fasther than them. Bad hair day? Blink. Gorgeous. Broken heel on your favorite shoes as you are headed out the door? Bing, fixed. Lunch stain on your blouse? Ta da, gone. Every time-consuming chore we hate could be accomplished quickly and effortlessly.

I thought of Jeannie again this evening. I had planned to go to the gym for a workout, but ended up deciding to skip it. Why? Well, it was snowing. But my decision was not based on road conditions (which weren’t too bad yet), distance (the gym is literally across the road from my work), nor even because I was low on energy. It was because I had to brush my car off. Go ahead, call me a spoiled brat, but that is one of the winter chores I hate the most… leaving work when it is cold, dark, and windy out, and having to wield the snow brush. After taking several minutes to get my car cleared, I knew that if I spent an hour or so in the gym, I would have to brush the car off all over again. And I just didn’t have it in me. Instead, I headed home and opted for a home-basement workout, which is substantially more boring, uninspiring and devoid of all motivation. So just think if I had my favorite super power. My car would have been cleared off in a second, both times, and I would have been much more enthusiastic about hitting the gym. In other words, having the FOTB (Force Of The Blink) would actually be healthy for me.

I’m willing to bet that in most cases, when given the opportunity, the majority of Real Women would give up the chance to run faster than the speed of light, or be able to lift a volkswagen, or be undetectable – all in favor of a way to make life just a bit easier. To be able to cut corners and save energy. To take just a few things off our plates.

Sure, SuperMan could leap over a building in a single bound. But Samantha Stevens could clean her house with a twitch of her nose. Which would you rather be able to do?

 

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Perambulate and Ponder

sunset febI’m a walker. When I was young, that was the phrase we used for friends who walked home from school versus riding the bus. But now I mean simply that I take walks. Virtually daily, I get out for a walk at least once, sometimes twice. In the morning before work, or during my lunch hour, or on a weekend afternoon, or in the evenings before dark – I’m taking my daily stroll.   I know there are many of you RW’s who are also out there stretching your legs. Some of you take it to the next level, doing lengthy hikes, climbing mountains, or running marathons. I will once in a while add in a brief jog until my knees remind me that is not a worthy option. Fine by me, I’ve never enjoyed running. But walking? You bet.

When the seasons get warmer, and the days get longer, I add in my other favorite outdoor activity, bicycling.   I am a fair-weather biker, but I’ll walk during almost any weather – as long as it isn’t hazardous or truly unbearable. When I can’t get out for walks, I don’t feel good. I feel more tired, my back and knees get stiff from sitting, I have less patience, and I grow weary of stale air. I need the diversion of getting out, even if it is only for a short 20-minute loop.

If I walk near home,  my faithful companion is my fur-kid, my amiable Lab. Often during lunch breaks, I’ll walk with a couple of friends. Other times, I’m solo. It really isn’t about the exercise as much as it is about head clearing and fresh air breathing. My pup is getting into his senior years, so our outings have become more of a meandering amble – certainly not a cardio workout by any means. With my friends I pick up the pace, but those walks are more about chatting and catching up. And when I’m out on my own, I move along and ponder.  I do some of my best thinking when I’m out walking or biking. Besides, that’s what we women do. We think. ALL. THE. TIME.

Sometimes I will ruminate over issues or challenges, working things out one step at a time. Sometimes I’ll write in my head then come back and translate it into my laptop before I forget the words. Other times I’ll make up stories about those who live in the homes I pass, and identify them by the dogs who live there. I think that fluffy Samoyed’s mom works from home. That bouncy boxer is trying to herd his busy family. The twin pugs are waiting for their teenagers to come home. That cute retired couple likes to garden and pamper their cat.

The best walks, however, are when I’m not deep in thought on any one particular thing.   When I can just let my mind drift, clearing my head of day to day stuff. I soak in my surroundings and hop randomly from thought to thought. I look at the views, watch for birds, thrill at blooming flowers… and invariably my gaze travels down and I have one recurring frustration: why is there litter?

Seriously, I’ve never understood why litter is a thing. What makes someone think “gosh, I’m going to throw my trash out into nature.” ?   And what really gets me, is doesn’t it take more effort to roll down your car window and hurl garbage out of a moving vehicle than it does to simply toss it on your floor then throw it away when you reach your destination?

Maybe my befuddlement is because I grew up with the Don’t Pollute campaigns of the 70’s and 80’s. That crying Native American in the Keep America Beautiful ads is forever engraved in my memory banks. As a little girl, I felt guilty tossing an apple core into the woods. I remember my Dad picking up soda cans along the road.   Besides the why, I ponder the what…because over time that seems to have changed. Sure, there are still gross lumps of fast food containers, but it seems the majority of the ugly trash items now are liquor bottles. Like crocuses popping up in the spring, empty Nip bottles gather in clusters in seemingly oddball areas.  nips

There’s a plethora of them down the road from my office, between the road and a ball field. There’s another assortment of them along a farmer’s field at the end of my street. My first initial reaction used to be “darn partying kids.” But I wonder, is it really teenagers pulling over by a field, slurping down tiny bottles of booze then throwing them in a heap in a ‘yeah, we’re cool’ statement? Or is it a few alcoholics taking quick swigs behind the wheel (yikes) then hiding the evidence in plain view before they go home? And weirdly, the most popular varieties seem to be vodka and Fireball. Why?  Oh, so many questions. So much disgust.

Luckily, there is still more natural beauty in my walking world than there are discarded booze bottles.  And as I continue my journey, I’m reminded that we have a choice in life. We can get weighed down by the poor judgement of others, and dwell in the small ugly moments that can trip us up along the way, worrying about how to cope, OR we can look up, take deep breaths, appreciate the good in life, and decide how to continue to make it better.

And be open to learning new things… like my dog’s favorite lesson to follow your nose, even if it means crossing back and forth across the street a dozen times during one walk.

 

 

 

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Olympics & Oreos

olympic loungeOh look, it’s time for me to grab a couple Oreos, put my feet up, and watch unbelievably remarkable feats of athleticism on TV. Gotta love the Olympics. After the first five minutes, my guilt about curling up comfy & cozy under a blanket while those crazy people risk life and limb to prove they are the best, fades… after all, we each make our own choices, right? And, let’s face it, those athletes are not normal people. They are, with all due respect, freaks of nature.

Oh, sure, those cute ads during the commercial breaks about “you can make your dreams come true if you drink milk” tug at the heart strings, and “if you believe in it, you can make it happen” is motivational.  But I’m sorry, these athletes are not like the rest of us. I mean, really… with each Olympics, the bar of amazement and perfection raises higher. The competitors are in a level of peak physical condition the majority of us will never even get close to experiencing or working hard enough to reach. Beyond that, these people have seemingly no fear — only drive, passion and a ridiculous amount of energy. Even more incredible is the number of them who have come back after accidents, injuries and trauma to do it all over again. “Yeah, ok, so I’ve torn my ACL three times, but what the heck, I feel better now, so let me go speeding down that mountain again.”  While the rest of us mere mortals would be all “Nah, I’m good, I’ve got a nice spot on the couch.”

I’ve noticed something else this year too. They are all beautiful.  Come ON. Just look at these people:

vonn_lindsey_150x250     ligety_ted_150x250    Speedskating_Davis_Shani-150x250   kim_chloe_150x250

and of course, there’s this guy:

pita tonga

As if all that isn’t enough, for the most part they all seem to be really nice. In interviews and in comments before and after their events, they all seem excited, grateful and although confident, not snobby.  They are tweeting cute and funny things about being hangry.  Oh, I’m sure there are a few tremendous ego’s among them. Can we blame them? How could you NOT develop an ego when you are young, gorgeous, a world-class athlete, with lucrative offers of sponsorships and celebrity endorsements being offered, and – oh yes, you may just be one of the tiny fraction of the population who happens to have a large gold medal hanging around your neck.

So here the rest of us sit, watching these athlete superhero’s cavort around on mountains, ice and in the air, making us feel even more normal and regular and… well, real than ever. A couple of years ago, during the summer Olympics, I posted some thoughts about some activities that I thought we RW’s excel in on a regular basis that could be our own Olympic events. Once again, now as I watch Chloe Kim fly 10 feet in the air on her snowboard, and Mirai Nagasu land a nearly impossible spinning jump while on skates, I ponder our great successes.

What if medals were awarded for events like the Multiple Grocery Bag Carry as we struggle with bringing bags in from the car, or the Kitchen Speed Clean after dinner? How about the Balance and Agility Course between laundry area and bedroom? Then there’s the Mind Like A Steel Trap trials as R.W.’s everywhere remember birthdays, school permission slips and what to thaw for dinner all while tracking deadlines at work.  The follow up event to that is the Multiple Pet or Child Household Feeding Program. And my favorite, the bonus round for extra points, the 60 Minutes or Less Workout . Those pro’s may be skating or skiing the equivalent of five marathons, but we pull off an astonishing few minutes on a treadmill followed by ten whole sit-ups. Darn remarkable.

As for looking like some sort of Sports Illustrated Cover Model, well, we’ll leave that to the Special Ones we are watching on NBC. We show our pride in ourselves for each day that we manage to wear matching socks, underwear that’s not falling apart, a blouse that looks somewhat ironed, and on top of it all, pull off a good hair day.

We all deserve gold, silver and bronze medals for our own Olympic events. We too deserve to have some sort of bling we can wear to show how outstandingly regular, normally human, and amazing we all are.

I do recognize, however, that I need to rethink my planned Medal Ceremonies.  I keep eating the medallions.

Oreo-Olympic-Medal1

 

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Be That Woman

lucyI went to the bank at lunch time today. Yes, I actually went inside to interact with real humans to conduct my withdrawal and deposit business instead of pushing buttons on the ATM machine. Ever since our debit cards were compromised, I’ve gone back to my “old school” ways and have opted for human contact. It’s remarkably pleasant to be greeted by a friendly face, be able to verbally explain what I need done, and walk away feeling confident that my identity was not stolen.

In our digital age, where virtually every interaction is turning into a faceless transaction, taking the extra few moments in our day to be around humans can be astonishingly refreshing. Sure, too much humanity all at once in a crowded mayhem-like environment can be less enjoyable (like a busy subway system or a super Wegmans), but in small doses, we can be surprised by the satisfaction of interacting with living, breathing beings. When I walked into the local branch of my bank, it was quiet and calm, with light music playing. There were just a few other customers in there at the time… likely most others were outside using the drive through or the ATM. One man was finishing up with one of the bank Tellers, another man was waiting just ahead of me, and one older woman was visiting with the other bank associate.  Yes, I said that correctly.  She was visiting.  She clearly was a regular, as she seemed to know the bank staff all personally. Within an instant, I could sense that she was a character. Dressed in funky boots and leggings, with curly unruly hair, she was talking with the bank Associates about mutual acquaintances, about a shopping experience she’d had recently, and about the local theater she used to work at before retiring. I don’t recall her ever saying anything about banking business, but the Teller seemed to be working on some sort of transaction for her, so there must have been a purpose behind her visit besides social.

OK, so true confession time. In my usual beat-the-clock, everything in my life has to be done in warp speed mode, my initial reaction to this woman was an internal eye roll and sigh. I mean, come on, really, must you just hang out and chit-chat? Some of us are on our lunch hour. Soon another Teller opened up an additional window, right next to where this woman was holding court, and called me over. I had waited maybe four whole minutes. As soon as I walked up to the counter, I started to change my first impression of this other customer. The women working there were obviously happy to see her, and enjoying the visit. She had an infectious happiness about her, like she was the kind of woman who embraced her own unique style, and truly enjoyed every person she interacted with in life. She had a big personality, and I started wishing I could get a better view of her without staring, and wanted to see what fabulous scarf or top she had on under her winter coat, which she had shown off to the Teller. I began imagining her working at the theater — the perfect environment for her. I bet she was charming and fun. Instead of considering her odd and annoying, I suddenly wanted to be more like her.

We all spend far too much time rushing around, head down, brain chock-full of issues, worries, what’s-next problems, and stressing over deadlines and how full our plates are. On top of all of that, we strive to look pulled together, attractive, and conduct ourselves in a “normal” way. For the most part, we attempt to blend in – feeling like we are getting away with some sort of risky behavior if we simply add some fun hair color or great shoes. When we do have interactions with strangers or distant acquaintances, we generally remain in our comfortable, polite yet distant zones.

Why? Why are we afraid to be memorable?   Shouldn’t we all dare to step out of our comfort zones more and be like that woman at the bank? Many of us seem to think that we have to wait until we are older to have the freedom to act like we want. That seems like a colossal waste of fun.

I’m not suggesting we all start coloring outside the lines with our makeup, wear our pajamas 24-7, pierce bizarre body parts, or act batsh-t crazy. Nor am I saying that our stresses and strains aren’t real, and I realize none of us can be perky and carefree every day. But why not let our true colors and personality show a bit more? Why not be engaging and friendly and even a bit quirky?   Yes, there will be some conservative folks who may roll their eyes or whisper about us, but that’s ok. Just smile and wink at them, because you at least made an impression. Let’s see the ATM machine do that.

As I headed back to work, I thought about other RW’s in my life over the years who have dared to be memorable and unique. We all know women who feel so comfortable in their own special, individual skins that they naturally exude confidence and charm. They aren’t afraid to march, in their multi-colored funky heels, to their own drummer and brighten the days of other people in their lives. Just thinking about each one of them made me smile.

Because, simply put, they are unforgettable. Kind of like bank lady.

 

 

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Bundle Up for Real

winter imageAhhh, the allure of cute winter fashion. As temperatures drop, snow falls, and days get shorter, we create images in our minds of looking adorable and festive in our trendy outerwear. We imagine looking, well, like this model. All matchy-matchy, smiling, stylish, happy and not the least bit cold. Because, after all, she’s decked out in her Lands End or LL Bean gear. She’s warm and beautiful.

The problem, of course, is that is not reality. At least not here in New England. I suppose some of you in the ski resort towns of the northwest may look like this. You may have mittens and sweaters that match, pure white pants to go with your fluffy white earmuffs, fuzzy boots that never get wet, and the perfect accent-colored coat that can stand up to the rigors of creating the perfectly round snow ball which you are about to charmingly throw like a girl.

But in this part of the country, the only time we might look even close to this is if we have found the perfect sunny 35-degree day to meet our girlfriends for shopping and lunch. But the white pants still wouldn’t happen. No, here we look every day a bit more like this: bundledStuffed into any variety of winter gear until we look like we weigh 30 more pounds than we really do, causing us to walk like a penguin, and the only skin that is showing is red and chapped, and our eyes and nose are running. True Cover Girl material.

Style frequently gives way to warmth, no matter the cost to our vanity. Comfort is king, and layers are a requirement. Matching is optional, even rare. There was a great post on Facebook by the Bangor, Maine Police Department (If you aren’t following them, I highly recommend it) that went into some detail on the value and importance of flannel, and flannel ownership rules in the winter. Basically, if you find it, put it on. This time of year I have three drawers full of warm-yet-not-overly-attractive versions of sweatpants, fleece or flannel shirts, and fuzzy socks. Our coat closet is full of a variety of outer garments and our gloves/hats/scarves drawers are stuffed… if we are lucky, we can dig through and find a matching pair of gloves. But match them and the hat and scarf to each other and what we are wearing? Yeah……that’s not gonna happen.

Of course, this whole bundled ‘n bloated style turns to mayhem with the arrival of weird 48-hour stretches of thawing temperatures, fog and rain. Transitioning quickly from -16 and blizzardy to 50 degrees and wet is not an easy task. One does not want to be in layers of fleece and wool when it is balmy and pouring. Not to mention, for those of us already susceptible to rapid body temperature swings, the effort to remove thick layers of clothing in a hurry can appear not unlike a magician trying to escape from a straightjacket while hanging from his feet. Thus we must choose our winter wear carefully.

This morning I ventured out on a walk with my dog. It was a classically strange New England dawn, 34 degrees, foggy, drizzling, a combination of puddles and shmooshy snow on the ground. (Shmooshy is a technical meteorological term, of course). I paused before heading out, and thought of those lovely LL Bean tv spots that were on around the holidays, touting their great “Be an Outsider” campaign. I loved the message….what slayed me was the perky, happy, perfectly styled families squealing and scampering outside to play. It has been a really, really long time since I scampered out to play in the snow. Trudging out to shovel, sure. Bundling up to take the dog out, yes. But gleefully bounding in my stylish outerwear? Not so much. But here I was this morning, dutifully and pleasantly going for a walk to get some fairly mild fresh air. Did I look like that cute white & blue clad model? Not even in my wildest dreams. I will say that my feet were pretty darn cute. One of my BFFs a couple of years ago gave me a pair of brightly colored Wellies, and I love them. They are the one reason I look forward to going out to walk through puddles. However, from shins up, all style bets were off. I had an old pair of sweats crammed in to the boots. On top I had a flannel top, a quilted purple vest, and over it all, a bright yellow rain jacket which I have literally had for nearly twenty years and the style speaks to its generation. I gave myself extra points because my ratty old gloves were also yellow, and for wearing such bold colors on a grey foggy morning (Safety First!). But the piece de resistance was – wait for it – a pair of white and grey puffy earmuffs. Watch out, Lands End Model Woman – I’ll be taking over your photo shoot any day now.

Truth be told, I never look like a fashionista on my morning walks, even when the weather is mild. I am sometimes showered, but have not yet styled my hair or put on makeup. And the kicker is that on just about very third walk, someone I know drives by and toots and waves, or even more embarrassing, stops to chat.

But that’s the true beauty of it. I don’t really care that I don’t look like a Patagonia model. I’m happy to be able to be outside, be active, and breathe the fresh air, even if it is cold and the air sometimes hurts. I’m happy to wave to people I know, and watch my dog happily wade through mud or shove his face in the snow. And I suppose I’m happy to have mis-matched, well worn yet comfy and warm clothing on me. Do I sometimes feel a slight pang of jealousy when I look at an adorably-clad model in a catalog, in her super cute and trendy winter wear? Sure. But that’s ok too, because in about nine months when I’m facing the reality of the return of another New England winter, I’ll need to be duping myself into believing that she is me.

And I’m ready to scamper into my wonderland.

 

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Be Brave & Face the Portal

ClosetIt’s been there, waiting. Behind closed doors, lurking. Conveniently ignored most days, yet silently beckoning for attention. It is…our home office closet. Or, more appropriately named, The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away.   A depository for a bizarre mix of buried treasure – everything from a few old toys and games my son played with in his youth alongside early school projects, to formal dresses and suits hung in protective covers, a whole box of various DVDs and CDs, stationery and envelopes, files that wouldn’t fit in the file drawer, stuff cleaned out of my old work desk, a cassette boom box – and oh, look, there’s even some fluffy bird-like marionette puppet tangled and hanging in the corner.

This is the kind of dark portal to nowhere that always lands on the “some day” list. Every time I’ve opened the door in search of a business envelope, or in the hopes of cramming in one more item for which I have no other home, I have sighed and thought “we really need to clean this out.” And I say “we”, because the contents are truly a mix of things that originally belonged to everyone in the household. Except the dog, I don’t think I’ve found any of his stuff, but you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a chewed tennis ball in a back corner.   Each time I have groaned at the daunting task, I’ve pushed an item in further with my foot and closed the doors. Even when we purged the house for tag sale items this past summer, we still didn’t seem to find the strength to tackle this closet.

Well, guess what, it is a new year. A time to clean and sort and renew, right? Plus my husband has started a new business, and really needs some useable space in our shared home office room.  The other day we proudly sorted and reorganized the file drawers and desktop surfaces of the room, including setting him up with nifty file organizers and finding him space to actually work. Until…..(que the music from Jaws), we opened The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away.   The time has come.

Some wisdom does come with age, and we both realize this will not be a quick project. We agreed that if we were willing to put up with a bit of mess for a week or two, we would whittle away at it, pile at a time. We dragged out the boxes of who-knows-what to be sorted through, and started taking the odd assortments down off the shelves. I soon realized the challenge is not really in the cleaning out itself, it is in the “what do we do with it” quandry…. which is why most of this stuff was put in there in the first place.

Over the years, we have greatly reduced, sold, and donated much of my son’s childhood toys and games. But in this closet were some of the classics we just haven’t wanted to part with: the games of Battleship, Blokus, Life and Trouble. Buzz Lightyear and Woody are in there – and we know how sad they would be if they got sold or tossed out, I mean you’ve seen the movies, right? There’s a whole box of files for the instruction manuals and warrantees for home equipment like our refrigerator and generator. Too big for the file drawer, but should be kept. Training documents from past jobs – will I ever need those again? The sweet condolence cards I received when my Dad passed away nearly three years ago…. And my husband’s pile of Corvette magazines. Toss? Keep?   Oh, my, perhaps this won’t be so easy. Things have got to go… but where?

Neither my husband or I are especially good at letting go. I hold onto stuff for sentimental reasons. He holds on to anything that might possibly at some point have ANY practical purpose for re-use. This is not a good combination for trying to live simply.  I admire the women I listen to who valiantly discard anything they haven’t used in a year. I envision their homes as being clean and open, free of clutter. Yet I take heart in the many Real Women I know who are similar to me. One of the RW’s in my life as a matter of fact posted something on Facebook recently about a clean-out she was attempting in her house, and how she could not bring herself to throw away her daughter’s first pair of walking shoes. See? I’m not alone! Buzz and Woody can stay!

In the end, I know we will be really happy when we manage to get the closet switched over from The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away to a Handy And Useful Reference Area. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll open up a whole big shelf to which I can move in some of my scrapbooks that are over-flowing from a nearby bookshelf. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must turn away from my happily organized desk, take a deep breath, face the portal, and make some decisions.  If you don’t hear back from me, please send help. Preferably armed with a bottle of wine.

 

 

 

 

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