“Clearing is an inside job that begins and ends with you” says Stephanie Bennett Vogt in her book A Year for You. It’s one of three books that she’s written and I’ve read the other two. I got this one for Christmas and can’t wait to work through it.
So, a couple of days ago, I cleared the corner of my bedroom and placed an old chair there covered in a blanket. I put my feet up and read the intro where she explains how to use the book. The idea is that you focus on one week at a time and adopt the mantra of ‘practice makes spacious’ (I do love that phrase!)
I’m so looking forward to sharing my insights as I progress through the weeks.
“Practice every day, even for just one minute and your life will change”
Stephanie Bennett Vogt, A Year for You
I’ve now read all the pages related to week one and it’s all about slowing down which I sometimes find difficult so this will be challenging for me. She also suggests writing a letter to yourself by following some question prompts, then seal it and not open it until week 50… very interesting!
I have a new journal at my side ready to make lots of notes.
So often we get disappointed when we start a project and then don’t get time to finish it, or it takes longer than we think. We’re busy people, possibly juggling many projects both at home and at work, so…
… do yourself a favour from now on and allow yourself way more time than you need to achieve your goals and to make lasting change.
What’s the rush? Take your time. If you finish ahead of your deadline, that’s a bonus.
Taking regular bite-sized steps in an intentional way, moves you closer and closer towards your goals. If you still feel that change isn’t happening fast enough, at least you will have some achieved some quick wins along the way.
So, my tip is to allow that extra time to get things done properly without stressing yourself out, particularly if you have a lot of other stuff going on in your life.
Update on my decluttering journey
As some of my readers know, I’m at the end of my second year of trying to get decluttering and other projects finished around the house. I thought was going to take me one year!
It’s taking longer than I thought and I’m ok with that. I have a very busy job, a demanding family and have recognised along the way that I need daily recharge time. I have also spent many hours writing about my journey so that I can look back and see how far I have come.
I’m starting to feel a bit like Cinderella. Every time I feel fed up about something (in my case it’s usually relating to mess and clutter, not because I have to sleep in the attic 😀), I find that the mice have intervened which bizarrely motivates me to move forward.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an afternoon off and decided to spend 30 minutes minimum in the garage going through the boxes and vacuum bags that had previously been in the loft. I knew that most of it was going to be going to charity, but I wasn’t looking forward to facing the girls’ baby clothes that I’d kept up there all these years, all neatly organised in separately labelled bags according to size. They’d been in the garage for a couple of months, still sealed apart from one bag that I peeped into a few weeks before.
We have all experienced burnout in our lives at one time or another, but if we knew how to prevent this, surely we would try it wouldn’t we? It’s quite common to say that we’ll rest at the end of the day, end of the week, end of the weekend, when we’ve done everything or even when we retire!
If we were to seriously consider that burnout is linked to not taking care of ourselves, would we choose to have regular breaks throughout the day? It’s easy to say that we don’t have time, but I’m starting to realise that I don’t have time to not have breaks. It’s starting to come so naturally to me now and I try and plan them in throughout the day.
I’ve even started to get my daughters to do the same. I suggest that they just take five or ten minutes at the end of every hour where they can do some stretching, walk around the house, have a conversation with someone, sit somewhere different, get some fresh air, make a drink, and so on. Whether they do it or not is up to them but the seed is planted in their minds. It was particularly effective when we were all working from home during lockdown earlier this year.
A few thoughts…
Consider the impact on other people that you react with when you don’t have have regular breaks.
Taking breaks will instantly make you feel better and you will be able to communicate with less stress and more enthusiasm.
Just a few deep breaths in and out through the nose is a very good place to start. Put your hand on your tummy or heart (or both) when you do this as you’ll feel more in touch with yourself.
Six months ago, I saw this tiny mouse staring at me outside the back door and then scurrying away. This was a couple of weeks after we’d had Rentokil in tracking and removing mice in our loft, I smiled to myself and said ‘the doors are closed now little mouse so you can’t get in’. Little did I know that it (or one of its friends) had a plan up its sleeve.
If you have been following me for a while, you will know that at the beginning of last month we had our loft boarded and it’s all lovely and clean and organised up there now. It’s one of the best moves that I’ve ever made in this house. No mice dead or alive were found by the fitters.
Yesterday my husband asked where something was and I said ‘I know where that is, it’s in the loft boxed up and labelled’. I went straight to it, brought the box down that I needed and later popped back up there to put it back. I looked around at my tidy loft and thought ‘I must have imagined that mouse smell that I smelt a few days ago’ but curiosity got the better of me. So, I checked all the visible traps and went to go back down the ladder. Something made me go back and look at where the feeder tank was – call it intuition, I don’t know.
As I looked around the feeder tank area, I spotted a mouse trap on its side. I couldn’t remember putting one there but I must have done because that’s where the most activity was when Rentokil were tracking them. Low and behold, there was a tiny mouse in the trap. I couldn’t believe it. All possible entries into the house had been blocked off six months ago. The only thing we hadn’t done was follow up on a couple of things on their report… must revisit that. So, I’m assuming that’s how it got in. I’m just hoping that there aren’t more under the new floorboards!
Time to invest in a few more traps before we start hearing the scratching and pattering of tiny feet during the night again!
When the red plastic bit fell off my lawnmover a few years ago, I couldn’t find the long bolt/screw thing that attached to it anywhere, so I taped the long handle back on with all sorts of different sticky tapes and used it with despair and negativity.
I dragged it around the garden whist it was lovingly doing its job of mowing my lawn and cursed when it stopped working; giving it a kick and bash to get it going again. I even blogged about not likingmylawnmower last year; however, I never did anything about it. I never looked into buying another one, I never tried to fix it, I just mowed the lawn each time and dumped it back in the garage again. I never really took care of it. I suppose I needed an excuse to get a new one and all the time it worked I was never going to throw it away.
Then things started to look up….
I offered to mow my mum and dad’s lawn last month. I had used their one the previous month and it was quite heavy and not cordless. As I started mowing their lawn with my battery operated mower, they looked so impressed with how easy it was to use. They had a quick go themselves and realised how light it was compared to theirs. I was really surprised as well that it behaved itself the whole time I was there and didn’t stop working like it usually does, so I didn’t need to give it a kick or a bash. It was all very odd; almost like it was showing off, ha ha. I tried to explain to my mum and dad that I didn’t like it but they couldn’t understand why.
My dad watched with gratefulness as I pushed and pulled the lawnmower around their front and back gardens with ease. I started to feel bad about the neglectful way I had been treating the poor mower and it suddenly felt more valuable to me. I promised my mum and dad that I would bring it back to them next time and maybe try and fix the handle before then.
Fast forward to today…
As I’m going to see them again tomorrow, and would have my daughters in the car, I knew that I would have to take the tape off the side of the mower in order to get the handle to fold over. So, I went into the garage to look for an appropriate screw to fix the handle on properly.
Now, if you’ve been following me for a while you will know that my garage is still unorganised so it wouldn’t have been easy to find what I was looking for. I sighed at the mess… and I have no idea why I looked down on the floor at that point… and low and behold, there on the floor was this…
So, the carpets have arrived at the store, and at the end of this week two of our bedrooms are going to be carpeted. Now that this date has been firmed up, I’m keen to get all the last minute bits of painting done including doors and cupboard in my eldest daughter’s room. More on that once it’s all finished.
As promised in my last post, I wanted to tell you about the latest bit of DIY… a chalkboard which is something that my youngest teen requested for her room. Last week, I bought the chalkboard paint which ended up arriving in a leaking container. Luckily it had a plastic bag around it and after I’d rinsed it off and sorted out a refund, I was able to use the rest of the paint to make a start on the wall.
With a small roller it didn’t take me long and it dried in no time. It only needed one coat of paint and I was so pleased with the result. My daughter is using it for messages, lists and drawings. It’s actually quite fun to write on. Who needs to buy paintings for the walls when you have artistic teens? Her sister came in to use it a few days ago to let everyone know how many days it was until her birthday 🥳 .
It’s been a little hectic around here lately but as we’ve had a couple of months of getting more rooms decorated, I’m starting to feel a bit more organised. Early September we had our kitchen/dining room redecorated and it’s brought a new lease of life to the place and allowed me to shift some more clutter. The walls had been a blue colour for around five years and… it… just… needed… to… go…!
My daughter (who has a good eye for what goes with what) hated the colour for years and now it’s decorated I’m so glad she kept on about it, ha ha. I’m so pleased that we made the change because the space is so much brighter and more welcoming and I love it!
Yesterday I was feeling a bit anxious because of all the things I had on my to do list. My main focus after work was to remove the Christmas decorations and suitcases from the loft and bag up any final bits of rubbish. I stacked all the stuff I wanted into the spare room and shut the door knowing that the next time I went in there would be to GET ORGANISED. I was worn out at that point though and only just about had enough strength to vacuum the hallway (which didn’t go too well as it stopped picking up the dirt properly – a job for another day). I then got as far as writing the first few lines of this paragraph before I eventually fell into bed absolutely shattered.
I took ‘before’ photos of the loft space after I’d emptied most of it, including one of a poor little stuffed piglet shown below (which I know didn’t belong to us) hidden under a pile of insulation.
Josh and Marrcin from The Loft Storage Company turned up just before 8am and got to work on removing the centre structure shown above which was where the old water tank used to be. The few existing boards that were down were also removed as well as the old ladder and water tank. They then raised and strengthened the existing loft joists and added high grade moisture resistant chipboard.
I usually have a bath in the evening, but yesterday I had an early morning one instead and because it was light (can’t have a candlelit bath in the morning, ha ha) I noticed yukky mouldy marks on the ceiling as well as dirt all around the shower head and extractor fan. The whole room was in need of a good clean and as I had this morning off, and had a good night’s sleep last night, I felt motivated to do this very task.
Balancing on the edges of the bath, I sprayed a HG Bathroom Mould Spray on the ceiling and wall tiles around the shower and left it for 30 minutes to do its work. When I went back into the room, the solution started dripping on my head so I got a shower cap and protective painting shirt (and my goggles and mask again 😂) and took EVERYTHING out of the room.
I couldn’t believe how much we’d packed in there. To be absolutely honest, I have only been cleaning the bits I could see for a while now in my weekly clean (tut tut). One of my daughters mostly uses the main bathroom and I have a bath in it some evenings, if I’m not using my ensuite, so it’s not even everyone’s stuff in there, it’s just ours.
With all the clutter out in the hallway, I sprayed and scrubbed everything in the bathroom, particularly the tiles in the shower area (I’d been dreading it but it was actually very satisfying). It’s also quite nice cleaning when there were no bottles etc. in the way.
The marks on the ceiling came off with just a wipe so it wasn’t that bad. I then asked my husband how I should clean the extractor fan and he said ‘that’s your area of expertise’. I didn’t quite know what to say about that so I decided to become an expert on cleaning extractor fans 😀.