Day 253: I Feel Happy When I See a Tidy Space, So I Took Action

I was looking at my ‘I feel happy when…’ list again earlier today, and I noticed an entry that said that ‘I feel happy when I see a tidy space’. I’ve been living with clutter for so long, that any glimpses of tidy spaces please me so much that I want more of the same.

I don’t know whether I’m making it more complicated because it sounds quite simple to create space doesn’t it? However, when I’m faced with stuff, I sometimes freeze on the spot.

My friend sent me a quote about how clutter respresents indecisions. That’s exactly it. When I see clutter (i.e. something with no current home) I think of it as something really difficult to deal with and either put it off or get annoyed with myself for not being able to decide.

Not anymore!

After yesterday’s realisation that I can separate myself from the clutter and witness how I am feeling instead of trying to fix things and attaching myself to the outcome, I decided to practise this method again today. I spotted a bag, that I recently put by the back door, and took action. It was stuff from the garage that we had put in a sealed box when we were doing the kitchen a few years ago.

Rather than saying ‘I am fed up with the stuff being by the back door, I said ‘this is clutter that can be sorted out’ and took the bag to the dishwasher and loaded it with items I wanted to keep, and put the rest in the bin or the charity bag. It was quite a quick process and I felt better seeing the space by the back door again.

Of course, I have to find somewhere to put the stuff that I found so I have a feeling that some might end up back in the charity bag if they start to get in my way. Here are a few of the items that I’ve washed so far.

They shouldn’t be difficult to find a place for. I remember finding an empty case for the barbecue tools in the garage somewhere. They now have a home!

Getting the others to make their own dinner

After work today, I needed to catch up on some course work for my coaching qualification ready for tomorrow’s catch up session. It was 6pm and I would normally have been faced with the dreaded dinner time stress. Instead I decided to do something different.

I was going to be making myself a fishfinger and lettuce sandwich a bit later but no one else wanted that. My husband and daughters agreed to do their own dinner. The girls said they’d cook something from the freezer and my husband had some salmon in the fridge that needed using today.

So, I spent some quiet time in the conservatory and caught up on what I needed to do without worrying about everyone else.

I was really tired after that and then my daughter reminded me that I needed to wash their PE kits for tomorrow. All done now and hopefully it’ll be dry by the morning.

Just need to sort out the kitchen and I can get some sleep.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 252: Planning Some Jobs Around the House, and Learning to Witness My Intense Feelings Without Fixing Them

As I’ve mentioned before, we have a few jobs to do around the house and garden that we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves and so today we got a builder round to go through each one to see how he can help us.

Once we have quotes, we can prioritise and the builder will be able to get the relevant people in. This is going to help with the project of moving my eldest into the spare room as well, which she’s been waiting for.

I’m feeling very tired this evening so this is going to be a short post. It might be because I’ve done a lot of driving today and not had much time to myself. I had to take the girls to school, go to the post office to return some stuff, work half a day, and then pick the girls up from school. From there we drove to the orthodontist for my eldest’s appointment. Procedures were still the same at the hospital – we had to have our temperature taken and then wait around in the car to be called into the waiting room. (As the R rate is going up dramatically at the moment, they can’t be too careful).

I felt exhausted after a 50 minute drive back home. I missed my nap time this afternoon and my cup of tea.

I’m tried not to identify with the stressed and overwhelmed feeling that I was getting this evening. In the car earlier I was listening to Stephanie Bennett Vodt (Your Spacious Self) and she was saying how it’s best to use the phrase ‘this is…’ rather than starting the sentence with ‘I’. An example would be… instead of saying ‘I am feeling tired’ you would say ‘This is tiredness’. When feeling overwhelmed and a little stressed earlier, I sat quietly at the dinner table after eating and said to myself ‘This is stress’. I tried not to feel the stress, I just named it.

She also says that the feelings will pass if you just watch yourself instead of reacting to your buttons getting pressed. I suppose you have to watch out for them by being more aware.

“In the midst of some grade five hurricanes, I have noticed that there is this strong witnessing part of me now that just watches with great amusement as I blow my stack. If I can allow the intensity to arise without doing anything to fix or change it, it does pass. Every moment gives us an opportunity to be with whatever shows up, but if a hot button gets pressed without warning, chances are we will fall back into our old small and contracted ways”.

Stephanie Bennett Vodt, Your Spacious Self

It’s going to take practise, but I am at least remembering to use the ‘this is…’ method. I like the idea of observing myself rather than attaching myself to it somehow. This relates to the clutter and general mess lying around as well. Right now, I’m looking at the kitchen saying to myself ‘this is a mess’ rather than saying ‘I feel overwhelmed by this mess’. It does help.

The pizza boxes are still lying around from the pizzas they all had earlier. I just drew some eyes on the box for fun!

Empty Domino’s Pizza Boxes

I’m now going to quickly clean up in here and then go to bed and listen to my relaxation program, as I’m shattered.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 251: Music Can Lift Your Mood Almost Instantly, and I Now Have a Plan For the Charity Bags

Mo Gawdat in his book Solve For Happy talks about keeping your own happiness list and referring to it when you are feeling down.

I don’t usually feel down as such but this morning after dropping the girls off at school, I felt a little bit fed up about the decisions I’m struggling to make around the house and so I turned to my ‘I feel happy when…’ list and picked the entry… ‘I feel happy when I’m listening to my feel good songs playlist on my phone’. After shuffling the songs on the playlist, the following ones gave me an instant injection of happiness.

  1. Canon in D Major – Peaceful piano piece by Johann Pachelbel
  2. Can’t take my eyes off you – Frankie Valli
  3. Just You and I – Tom Walker
  4. Just the way you are – Billy Joel
  5. L.o.v.e. – Nat King Cole

The rest of the day went ok until it was time to cook dinner and then I felt fed up again as all I’d done all day is work and the first thing I was faced with was cooking. Back to my happy list, I chose the following pick me ups:

  1. I called my mum for a chat whilst I cooked
  2. I put on another playlist. The first song was Bruno Mars – Just the way you are, and the second was Never let her slip away by Andrew Gold.

I felt happy again. The happiness list really is working for me.

A plan for the charity bags

I forgot to mention how excited I am that my local Sue Ryder charity shop has agreed to take 10 of my donation bags on 24th September. I didn’t even know that they were open. This is really good news as it will free up an area of my garage that’s filled with bags. I will probably have more like 20 bags by then but this is a great start.

It’s also bin day tomorrow so I went around the house emptying bins and looking for any stray items in the house, garden and garage that I could fill the black bin with. It wasn’t difficult.

Relaxing choices for this evening… Sister Act 2 film followed by a bubble bath.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 250: Cluttered Minds Don’t Know the Concept of Simple

I literally stood in the centre of my garage today and felt overwhelmed again. I’ve taken stuff out there over the past few weeks ‘in a rush’. I’m happy that it’s not cluttering the house anymore, but I haven’t organised it very well.

I do need to keep reminding myself that the garage wasn’t originally part of my 2020 challenge. Having said that I still need to keep some sort of order out there so that I know what I’m doing with what. It was a struggle and very frustrating but I did make a little bit of progress in there today.

Our Cluttered Minds Have Zero Concept of Simple

Stephanie Bennett Vodt, Your Spacious Self

On the theme of thinking in a simple way, I was feeling very pleased with myself this afternoon when I took every single piece of clothing back to the shops that I bought a few weeks ago. I hadn’t worn any of it and decided that I didn’t like them as much as I thought. I have such a large surplus of current clothes to go through, so buying even one more item just wouldn’t be wise right now. I’m going to try wearing everything I actually have first to see how much I like it all and only buy what I love and need.

There’s another saying that I picked up from Your Spacious Self

Clutter is a state of mind. Clearing is a way of being.

Stephanie Bennett Vodt, Your Spacious Self

I’ve definitely been finding more of a balance of being as well as doing. I managed to find some time for a nap again this afternoon. It was difficult to keep my mind quiet but sometimes you just need to listen to the messages popping up. After doing that I had a slice of cake and a cup of tea and tackled one large box from the garage, and cleared a small area in the middle again.

Box of stuff to go through

I also took some photos of a few items that I can sell – mix of furniture, books and toys.

Items ready to sell

The evening

I cooked a roast pork dinner which went down well. Then the girls asked me if I wanted to watch High School Musical 2 with them. It was a fun easy going film. I was impressed that they knew all the words. I remember the first film well but don’t recall any of the second one!

Now time for bubble bath and bed.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 249: Useful Storage Baskets to Contain Items, and a Nice Predictable Feel Good Film

I don’t tend to worry anyone when I don’t get as much done as planned. I started the day off with a grocery shopping delivery and then had breakfast in the garden. It’s was nice to see the sun for most of the day, as it’s been quite rainy lately. The outlook for the following week is early to mid twenties which is better.

By the middle of the day there was pretty much sun everywhere in our garden now that the trees are down. I thought it would take me longer than it has to get used to the space without the silver birches. It’s actually so much brighter. No design ideas have sprung to mind yet, although I did sit in a different spot this afternoon to have a cup of tea. I have a feeling that it could be a good place for a seating area as it will continue to get the sun in the evenings (during the summer months) which would be good.

After a wasted trip to the post office that had closed earlier than usual this afternoon, I popped into Asda to pick a parcel up. They were my new baskets that I ordered (similar to the ones that I put in the medicine cupboard the other day. I think that they would be very useful in my wardrobe instead of these ones that used to be part of a plastic drawer set. This is how it looked…

… and this is how it could look with the new baskets. Not sure which size to use on this shelf. I only have two large ones but I think three large would look good here. I might place another order.

Different combination of baskets

The smaller ones will go well in the food cupboard downstairs I think.

I spent a bit more time in the spare room today boxing up some items lying around. The plan is to get a lot of it into the garage tomorrow. Let’s see how I get on with making more space in there first though!

This evening

My husband cooked dinner this evening which was a nice surprise as it gave me a bit more time in the spare room and to sneak in another couple of episodes of Friends with my eldest. We do enjoy watching that together – we’re up to season 8 now.

The dinner was delicious – teriyaki chicken and egg fried rice. Then we all watched a movie on Netflix called Love Guaranteed. A nice easy going feel good film.

I just walked into the kitchen and thought about leaving it until the morning, but I think the best thing is to just get it cleaned up now so that I don’t wake up to mess in the morning.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 248: An Evening of Self-Care

My home grown geraniums

It’s so calming just staring at a perfect flower (in this case my geranium plant), especially when you know that you’ve grown it and nurtured it yourself. That’s also how I feel about my two lovely daughters.

They said to me this evening ‘do what I wanted to do, not what everyone else wants you to do’. I said that I wanted to cuddle up and watch a film with them, but then we all realised how tired we all were so they decided to go to sleep. I think the change of routine and going back to school has exhausted them.

This gave me the idea of running a bath, lighting a candle and taking that me time that I’ve struggled to find over the last few days.

I bought a couple of new bubble baths the other day…

I chose the stress release one with rosemary and eucalyptus and it smells amazing. I think that I put too much in though (although I don’t think you can ever have too much stress relief 😊).

Can you ever have too much bubble bath?

I shall now sit back and have a nice soak and…

  • Listen to spa music
  • Reflect on my week
  • Think about more space clearing that I can do this weekend

After that I will go to bed and switch on my relaxation/meditation program, and drift off to sleep.

When everything you do feels effortless you will have found your path

No Gawdat, Solve for Happy

Hope you’ve had a lovely Friday.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 247: Goodbye Silver Birches, Hello Opportunity

In yesterday’s post, I expressed my sadness about the plans to cut down the two silver birch trees in our garden, to allow the space for my husband to come up with a new design that we are all happy with. I’m struggling to offer any inspiration at all as I quite liked the garden the way it was; however, I will try my best to help.

If I was to think about what I want from a garden, I would say… somewhere relaxing with pretty flowers and a tree that blossoms in the Spring. We’ve recently bought some roses so I’d like a place for those in the garden, and all my other plants and flowers that I’ve been tending too all Summer. I do like pottering around as well.

Anyway, back to current day… the tree surgeon (LSR Tree Surgery) and his helper made a start cutting down the trees early this morning and it actually wasn’t too noisy. I was still able to work in the conservatory. They were so friendly.

Continue reading
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Day 246: Change of Routine, and a Quick Sort of the Medicine Cupboard

The girls went back to school today after six months of being at home. It was a bit daunting for them, but they got through it. I was proud of them. The routine for me of making sure that uniform is all washed and ready, packed lunches done in the morning etc etc will all start up again. I’m hoping that it doesn’t mean less sleep for me! I was enjoying my lie in every day.

What made the transition easier for the girls, after working from home for so long, was for me to take and pick them up from school so that they didn’t have to get the bus. It was actually quite nice getting out for a drive and also having a chat on the journey.

After work, I went to pick them up and got there a 15 minutes early to get a good parking space. I took the opportunity to have some quiet time in the car. I did some deep breathing and almost nodded off.

When I got back into the house, I tried to continue with some me time, but it didn’t really work out. The routine will need to settle down a bit before I can work out where I can fit myself in again. I’m hoping that it will be soon, although work is still as busy as ever.

I tried to be positive and started preparing a roast dinner and whilst I was peeling the potatoes (a task that gets my mind going) I was thinking about how I would prefer to be clearing some space somewhere rather than cooking. I just needed to do something to move things forward.

I thought about these new grey plastic baskets that I bought yesterday and how a couple of them could possibly fit nicely in the medicine cupboard in the kitchen and would be an interim solution to tidying up the mess in there.

I just knew that sorting the two shelves out would make me feel better (as it’s been bugging me for a while) and I could easily fit the task in whilst cooking a roast. Clearing is all about small steps, so even though I didn’t have a lot of time, I knew that I could easily fit in a few steps today and do the rest another time.

Badly organised medicine cupboard

Many months ago I created labels for each type of tablet and although it seemed like a good idea at the time, it has been too difficult to maintain. I still get asked where the paracetamol is even though it clearly has a label. The problem is that things rarely get put back in the right place and I think that it includes me sometimes when I’m in a rush or the space is full! So, it was time for a change.

It felt very satisfying dumping the contents of the two shelves onto the floor which I literally did in minutes once the potatoes were in the oven. I then did a quick check for anything that didn’t belong in there as well as expiry dates on bottles, packets and tubes. I was surprised how much of it went into the recycing/rubbish pile (below).

Recycling and rubbish after sorting out medicine cupboard

This clutter pile made me feel very pleased that I was going to be putting less back in the cupboard. Unfortunately the baskets (which weren’t bought for this purpose anyway) wouldn’t quite fit next to each other so I went for one on each shelf for now whilst I research if they do other sizes. I found a couple of other temporary baskets to hold some of the other items.

I still need to organise the contents of the baskets properly; however, it’s amazing how doing these few small steps today changed the way that I felt. The space is now being used better and we should be able to find things.

Temporary solution for an organising medicine cupboard

… and the roast was good too.

Thoughts about tomorrow

I’m feeling a little bit sad about something today and wanted to share my thoughts with you. Tomorrow we are having two silver birch trees chopped down in our garden. It’s something that my husband has wanted to do for years but I’ve always persuaded him to keep them; however, they are getting a bit overgrown and the roots are now visible through the grassy area around the garden. The trees are in the wrong place as well, so I finally agreed to get someone round.

After eating my dinner this evening, I stayed at the table staring at the trees for the last time. This morning I took photos of the sunlight reflecting off the white bark. The swing seat is going to look odd on its own without the trees there so that’ll need to be the next thing that gets moved. The tree stumps will need to be removed too (the guy won’t be doing that tomorrow). We also need to sort out the grass as it’s mostly moss and weeds.

I supposed I should be seeing it as clearing more space in the garden rather than trying to hold onto things that don’t fit anymore (a bit like the clutter). My husband has a lot of ideas for the garden but I’ve never been able to picture anything other than what we’ve got. Maybe once the trees have gone I might be able to visualise something and be of some help to him when he’s coming up with the design.

I’ll be posting before and after photos tomorrow so that I will at least have some memories of them on my blog. The ‘silver’ lining is that we are planning on buying some new smaller trees to be planted in different parts of the garden, so I’m looking forward to doing that soon.

I would love a blossom tree or something similar. That’s a positive thought that I will go to sleep thinking about. The tree surgeon will be here around 8am and I need to take the girls to school, so I’d better get some sleep.

Are any of your routines starting to change?

Hope you’ve all had a good Tuesday.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 245: Play The Game or Do the Puzzle, and Then Find the Missing Pieces

As you know, I sorted out the games cupboard yesterday (click here if you missed the video). As a result, I found myself tipping out the pieces of a few old games and toys to see if they were worth selling or donating.

Funny Face Game

Just the same as the concept of trying clothes on to see if you like them, you can do the same with games for 2 reasons:

  • To see if you like it – too old, too babyish, too boring, too [fill in the blank]
  • To see if all the pieces are there

You can even take a photo of it if you were once attached to it or it meant something to you.

I now have a problem giving the above game away. There are face parts missing.

Same with this:

There are two days of the week that only have three pieces of the puzzle as opposed to four.

This is why clutter piles up in my spare room. I wait to find the pieces.

There’s a yellow pail missing on this ship…

The car and Mr Monopoly is missing from the ‘My First Monopoly’ game….

Half of the tree top is missing here…

I have the same issue with jigsaws from when the children were little. There’s at least one piece missing from each jigsaw. I was chatting to my mum about this and she said that as I haven’t found them by now, I should just throw them away. My answer to that was that I have a pot somewhere with missing jigsaw pieces… it’s just that I can’t find it 😂.

And so it goes on…

Does anyone else have this issue?

Until tomorrow…


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Day 244: Doing Nothing Helped me Detach From the Clutter, and Today I Tackled the Games Cupboard

This morning during my usual me time, I sketched something that resembled the clutter that I’m attached to in my head.

Clutter sketching by Sandra

I felt a bit fed up after that as this is my last day off before I go back to work and I really wanted to have got further than I have. I listened to Stephanie Bennett Vodt (audio book Your Spacious Self) for some more inspiration and guidance. She says that “Letting go is clearing”, and how doing nothing is beneficial.

I see this as things like doing nothing whilst having a cup of tea, doing nothing whilst listening to the girls, doing nothing when speaking to someone on the phone and so on.

“Practising doing nothing for a few minutes every day opens us up to a whole new side of ourselves that we didn’t know was there… You may discover a yummy spaciousness, a quiet stillness, a deep peace, a blissful space that doesn’t feel cold or empty at all”

Stephanie Bennett Vodt, Your Spacious Self

I’m now realising how important self care is. Without this, there is no clearing or spaciousness.

The Games Cupboard

This is the cupboard in the spare room that I’ve been wanting to sort out since the beginning of my week off. I knew that it was going to be a big job with lots of decisions but I was determined to get everything out of the cupboard. It made me feel worse when I looked around the room afterwards at what I needed to sort out. Then I had an idea of videoing it all so that I could hold myself accountable to you, my readers, to get it finished today. So, thank you. Here’s the short 49 second video.

After doing the video, I suddenly became motivated, and after a bit of lunch I gave the cupboard a good clean and vacuumed the carpet inside.

I asked my daughters to help decide what games to get rid of but they got distracted by the first game they saw – Kerplunk. I did struggle to get their attention after that but we did make some decisions together. The picture below is the pile I’ve left them to play over the next week to see if they still like/want them and a stash of unwanted games etc. that I need to put in the garage.

Games to decide / give away

I then had less to put back and they all fitted in nicely on two shelves. I’ve also decided to store the guitars and keyboard in there. Here are the before and after photos of the games cupboard…

Before and after sorting cupboard

The bottom shelf is reserved for some of the games that we have downstairs or for the ones the girls need to go through and decide that they want to keep.

It’s been a busy day and I’ve still got a lot to do in that room but both cupboards are tidy now. I’m happy with my progress 😃.

We spent the evening playing games, first poker and then Creationary (with lego). My husband’s very good at poker and the girls seemed to pick it up quickly. We haven’t played it since they were babies.

Table top poker game

I’m not usually one for games, but we did have some fun family time.

Until tomorrow…


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