A Cold Bank Holiday Monday is an Opportunity to Potter Around the House

Today is a dreary and cold bank holiday Monday… and it’s not ideal because it’s still August and it’s the last bank holiday in the UK before Christmas. Having said that, this weather is perfect for getting things off the to-do list. You don’t feel guilty about doing things around the house when it’s not sunny outside. It also helps if you do some sort of exercise first such as a brisk walk as it’s known to increase motivation and this helps you get started.

Being inside and not having plans to go anywhere today means that I am ticking things off my to-do list. Some things are not even on a list at all; they are just constant reminders as I walk around the house of things I haven’t done, such as:

  • accumulated recycling by the back door,
  • batteries that need testing to see if they are new or used,
  • washing that needs doing,
  • bins in every room that need emptying,
  • clothes that need washing or putting away,
  • paperwork accumulating (old and new stuff)
  • other general clutter

These reminders of jobs not done are never-ending. Today I’m getting things done one by one and it’s actually looking tidy around here.

We had a full day out yesterday and we have a full day out tomorrow, but today is just a potter day. I do love those kind of days sandwiched between two days out.

So, wherever you are in the world, whether it’s a bank holiday or not, and irrespective of what the weather is like, is there still enough time left in the day to have a potter about and see what you can get done? Arm yourself with a black sack, a recycling bag and a charity bag, set the timer and take the bags around with you as you go. I’ve filled one large black sack, one large recycling bag and even though I already took three bags to the charity shop on Friday, I still managed to find a few more items.

I guarantee you will feel better after your allotted time of pottering about. You can even reward yourself with a cup of tea and a treat afterwards.

Until next time…

Sandra

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A Little Self-care for Hair

This evening I washed my hair with a new shampoo and conditioner that my daughter has been using. To set the scene, my daughter is in her mid teens and later this week she is going to have the ends of her hair coloured. The style she’s going for is called ‘Balayage’ (a new word to me, but the photos that she’s shown me look amazing).

I looked up the word ‘Balayage’ and it’s French for ‘to sweep or paint’, and the way the stylist does it is freehand using a painting technique to apply the colour very naturally and only where needed. She’s very excited about having it done and I’ll be going with her to watch the work of art taking place.

Although this style is pretty low maintenance, does not touch the roots, and is more natural looking during the regrowth period, someone recommended that my daughter uses a thickening shampoo and conditioner called Plantur for the week leading up to her having it done. This way her hair will be at its thickest and best condition when she has the colour added to her hair.

Plantur shampoo and conditioner

When the products arrived, I read the packaging and liked the sound of it as it’s actually recommended for women who are 40+ and pre-menopausal as it protects the hair roots when estrogen levels start to decrease.

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Giving Away Clothes That Don’t Bring Me Joy Anymore

When I was decluttering last year, I gave away quite a few items of clothing but I never finished going through all of them. Today I decided to get everything out and have another sort through. As I value my husband’s opinion, I asked him to help me decide about each item as I tried it on. I also asked my girls about one or two items (which they quite rightly laughed at).

I was surprised at how quickly I was making decisions today. Clothes were being tossed in the charity bag pile without hesitation. This pile of clothes was the result of my efforts today. I’ve already booked a slot to give three more bags to charity next Friday, and these will fill one bag nicely.

Clothes to be donated

The only item that my husband and I disagreed on was my blue denim jacket. He said that I would never wear it, but I decided that I might one day. I asked my teenage girls what they thought and the youngest said ‘keep it, but please don’t wear it with blue jeans’ 😃.

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Letting Go of Even More Stuff

I’ve talked about getting a skip or going to the tip many times over the last few years and a couple of days ago I actually booked an hour’s slot at our local household waste and recycling centre. It was easier and quicker than I thought and free!

Feeling pleased with my decision, I part-loaded the car last night with the contents of the medium sized hippo bag that had been unnecessarily taking up space in the garage for the last year. This morning I finished loading up the car with bits of the old sofa that we had destroyed a month or so ago (more on that in another post).

On arrival at the Household Waste and Recycling Centre

I didn’t really know what to expect when I entered the site but the workers there were extremely helpful and showed me where to put everything. My eldest daughter came with me (to which I am very grateful) and helped me carry the stuff to each designated areas. We were in and out in 20 minutes and when I got home the next thing on my list was to take four bags to the charity shop (a task I’ve been consistent with over the last year – I think I’ve donated over 60 bags so far).

I actually went round the house this afternoon looking for things to fill the fourth bag, and succeeded. It included a pair of welly boots that someone donated to me and I never wore, as well as a pretty pink bag that my daughter found at the back of her wardrobe.

2 of the many items donated to charity today

So, things are looking up for me. Now I know how easy it is to get rid of bulky items, I shall be finding more and more stuff to take to rye recycling centre. I know that I could have just got a skip but that would have cost money and I actually got a lot of satisfaction in throwing things into the large containers today.

Next steps

Over the next couple of weeks I plan to get rid of some items in the loft and also more from the garage and garden. I can book the recycling centre four times in any four weeks which is good news.

All and all a productive day and I’m feeling very pleased with myself, particularly as I don’t have this monstrosity in my way in the garage anymore.

All taken to the recycling centre today

Until next time…

Sandra

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Putting What I’ve Learnt into Practice and Finding Balance

I recently studied for a course called ‘Children and Young People’s Mental Health’, and whilst doing it, I got the chance to put what I’d learnt into practise. Amongst other topics, I had been reading and answering questions on stress, anxiety and depression, learning about various definitions and the impact that each one had on children and young people.

More importantly, I learnt how to identify triggers that could lead to mental health issues in children and young people. Having two girls in their mid-teens this is very important to me and something I felt should be on my radar.

Putting what I’d learnt into practise

To set the scene, I was studying in the shade in the garden. I was two weeks behind with finishing the course and had to apply for an extension due to working such long hours in my day job.

I was overwhelmed with my growing list of things to do and was quite stressed myself and finding it hard to concentrate. It was at that point that my youngest daughter came outside and told me that she was worried about her mock exams and needed some help looking through some practice exam papers.

I literally stopped worrying about my own situation, and recognised the stress signs that I’d been learning about. It propelled me into action and we went through a past exam paper together.

Our actions impact our children

I have so many examples of where, when I look back, I would have done things differently. This is why I continue to learn and improve my ways so that I can try and get it right. I feel very passionate about doing the right thing and my newly learnt skills are shining through. I passed the course by the way!

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Making Family Time Essential

After a busy working week, I just wanted to ‘do my own thing’ so I went for a walk and was then going to plan my day around what was on my to do list. I wanted to potter about the house tidying things up as well as sit in the garden reading a book that I’d bought. Just the thought of asking anyone else what they wanted to do made me feel stressed because everyone usually wants to do something different and then I end up trying to please everyone.

My youngest (almost 15) had a different idea and announced that she wanted us all to play board games together. I really didn’t feel in the mood to play games so I said ‘maybe later’. She looked sad about that and walked out the room. I felt bad.

How a book I was listening to changed my mind there and then

I was listening to Essentialism by Greg McKeown and bizarrely the very next thing he was talking about was how important play is for creativity, creating memories and how ‘the essentialist knows that play is essential… and sparks exploration’. You can probably guess that the whole point of me listening to the book was to learn the benefits of being an essentialist.

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Stressful Day? Dance Your Way Into the Evening

Even though I’d had a long working day today, I managed to fit in a few short breaks which I believe are very important. It wasn’t enough though and I got to the point of the day where I just couldn’t concentrate anymore so I logged off and went to the kitchen to cook dinner.

I was faced with the usual dishwasher duties and an evening of more chores. I knew I’d be thinking about work as well and possibly log back on. Why did it have to be that way? It was then that the idea came to me. If I stopped my train of thought and reframed the situation, surely I could turn things around?

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Less Decluttering Allows More Time for Other Projects

I’ve been wrapped up in clutter for so many years that (apart from work) I’ve had little time left to focus on any other projects. As most of you know, I spent 366 days last year clearing stuff and writing about my decluttering journey in an attempt to document my thoughts and identify new methods of clearing (and hopefully inspire a few of you along the way). I achieved a lot.

Earlier this year, I wrote that I was going to slow down on the clearing side and work through Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s book A Year to Clear. It’s going well and I’m up to day 114. I’ve been working on the remaining problem areas around the house and getting better at making decisions about what to do with items we don’t need. When I find it hard, I don’t stress about it, instead I just postpone the decision by moving the stuff out of sight (usually a labelled Really Useful Box in the garage). This might not work for everyone but it works for me.

Changing focus

Slowing down this year didn’t stop my insane excitement about clearing. One of my readers quite rightly thought that ‘getting excited about clearing’ might be stopping me moving forward (I thought that too) and another reader suggested that I look at clearing as ‘reclaiming space’ which I loved the sound of. It did make me think though that I needed to change my focus and not make clearing the first thing I think about when I get up. I decided that it just wasn’t the way to go anymore.

Small bouts of clearing

It was around this time (day 96 of this year to be exact) that one of the exercises in A Year to Clear talked about the ‘sixty second round up’. This caught my attention particularly when Stephanie Bennett Vogt said that doing it daily would help to ‘calm the fight-or-flight response and build new neural pathways in the brain that makes clearing doable and effortless’. It also apparently frees up energy in you and the space.

I’ve been using these miniature slots (just a minute or two) to straighten up rooms at the end of the day or just to take a few things out of the dishwasher when I’m passing. I liked the concept so much that I decided to do smaller bouts of clearing as well; setting the timer and focusing on that area only. It’s more effective and it means that things get addressed without it taking up my whole afternoon or evening. Now that I’ve reduced the bulk of clutter over the last 15-16 months, I can afford to do a lesser amount because rooms are mostly tidy now.

Freeing up time for other projects

With less focus on decluttering, I decided to go through all the other projects that I wanted to do. A few weeks ago, I listed down everything that was in my head and split them into two categories:

  • Current projects (8)
  • Waiting list of projects (loads)

It took me a while to pick the 8 current projects, as originally I had 14 on my list but realised that having so many wouldn’t allow me to give them enough of my attention.

I created my vision board in the study (just a simple magnetic whiteboard that I recycled from my daughter’s room) and wrote down each project in its own bubble along with what the next 3 or 4 steps were (my project management skills helped in this area). It’s made a huge difference to my focus.

At the start of each day, I plan which ones I am going to work on and for how long, being realistic about the fact that I have a full-time job, a house to keep clean and a family. Obviously I have some decluttering projects on there as well but they are not the only focus now. Breaking down each project into steps means that it’s very easy to pick up the next thing to do, particularly when I’ve only allocated a short amount of time.

Moving projects forward and closing them off

I have closed off one project this week which is a surprise for my mum and dad (shhh… can’t mention it here as they read my blogs 🙂). I’ve also moved another two exciting projects forward quite a bit this week:

  • Mentoring course: Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I’m very keen to move more into coaching and mentoring and I’ve recently had an opportunity to do a mentoring course (finished) and be matched with a mentee (have one lined up).
  • Mental health course: I applied to do a government funded course called Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health. It’s a topic that I’m really interested in and it’s going well do far. It’s through a college but I don’t have to attend. I have an assigned tutor and have six weeks to complete the assignments online.

Work has been extremely busy as well as I have a large project going live mid-May, so that’s taking up a lot of my time. This hasn’t stopped me chipping away with my personal projects which adds a lot of variety to my day. I even spent a couple of hours in the garage today (one of my decluttering projects). I always set a timer on my phone so that I don’t spend too much time on one project over the other, and always check that I’m working on the correct next step (see earlier point about listed down the order steps).

Rest breaks

I’ve tried to be good with relaxation over the last few weeks as well. I have five things that I make sure that I do to relax. They are in my planner and I tick them off each day.

So, what exciting things have you been up to? Hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Until next time…

Sandra

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Making the Most of a Second Lockdown Birthday… That Year Went Quickly!

Lockdown birthday no. 2

I turned 52 today and have enjoyed a second lockdown birthday. Not many of us can say that we’ve had two consecutive lockdown birthdays, but although they are not exactly growing on me, it’s lovely to spend it with the people I am closest to no matter where I am.

Yes, it would be nice to be away somewhere; however, being at home with a family that spoil me and even getting a little bit of time to myself to write (one of my favourite pastimes), is something to be grateful for.

What could be better than this…

  • We all had yummy pancakes for breakfast courtesy of my husband.
  • I received phone calls from family and friends wishing me well and singing happy birthday to me.
  • I watched Aladdin on Netflix with the girls.
  • We had a light lunch followed by delicious cheesecake (made by my daughter).
  • I sat in the garden enjoying the warm sun. It was a bit breezy at times but when the sun is out, I just can’t resist it. Even the birds sang to me – I’m sure they were singing happy birthday 😊.
  • I had a late afternoon walk in the sun with my daughter.
  • We had a takeaway curry for dinner.
  • I got some great presents… candles, a mini handheld printer, slippers, a journal, chocolates, vouchers, bubble bath, a book about growing roses, and two different types of blossom trees which are going to arrive next week.

I’ve always wanted a blossom tree and my wish has come true. I usually watch them flower in other people’s gardens, and I’m so looking forward to having my own.

All in all, it’s been a lovely relaxing day!

Until next time…

Sandra

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Hours of Clearing Clutter and Practising Tai Chi

As most of my readers know, I have a messy garage which I call my cluttered hideaway and as there’s so much stuff to sort out, I go in there to reclaim some space and get ‘clearing’ out of my system. I also have another good reason to be in there this week… to make room for Rentokil to comfortably walk around the edge nearest the house.

Yesterday I had a day off from the garage and spent some time resting and sorting through some paperwork and old notebooks in the study. I love the room now particularly when the afternoon sun pours through the window. I sit at the desk every morning and evening to write, plan, read etc. It’s an amazing space. I had a long video call with my friend yesterday and she commented how tidy it was looking. It was lovely to catch up with her and we had a laugh.

Roast lamb for Easter

Today my husband offered to cook the roast lamb and I didn’t hesitate take him up on it. He enjoys cooking and I enjoy not having to cook so it actually worked out perfectly. He always slow cooks the lamb and coats it with herbs and garlic and it tastes amazing. All of the hours that the lamb was cooking, I spent in the garage.

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