Reducing Clutter

Today’s blog prompt, courtesy of WordPress: Where can you reduce clutter in your life?

There are a couple of places where I have things to clear out. My garage, of course, where I’ve stored boxes of belongings that I am either not ready to dispose of or that I don’t quite know what to do with or that perhaps I might use someday, such as my camping gear. My kitchen cabinets, especially the high ones where I’ve stored appliances I never use but that I keep just in case. For example, the blender. It’s not something I use, but it’s one of those items that really has no substitute, so I’ve been keeping it. I have a Magic Bullet now, which is a small blender, so I could get rid of the stored one, but since it’s not in the way, there’s no rush.

Despite the dubious disposition of these items, they are not really clutter. Clutter signifies untidiness and things lying around, impeding movement, reducing effectiveness, or wasting space, and everything I use on a regular basis — as well as things I don’t — are all neatly stowed away.

The place that is cluttered and where I definitely need to reduce that clutter is in my mind. I tend to mentally “rehearse.” For example, when the temperature gets below zero, my water meter goes haywire. Last year the water company charged me for 19,000 gallons of water I never used. I tried to get them to remove the charge, but they insisted the electronic meter was not at fault, that I had an intermittent leak or that I unknowingly left the water running or that someone stole water, none of which were true. I got tired of trying to get them to listen to me, so I paid the bill. Meantime, they raised the rates, so this year I have no inclination to let it go. The bill covering the period where the temperature got way below zero is due at the end of the month, and I find myself mentally rehearsing all the things I can think of to try to get them to realize the truth — that despite what they (and the company who sold them the meters) say, the meter is at fault.

I also have a tendency to obsess over things I cannot control, and so the same thoughts clutter my mind until a new one comes along to push the old obsession out of the way. Getting the recent bill for my homeowner’s insurance made the overage on the water meter seem like pennies. I budgeted for a hefty increase in the insurance, but this bill is exorbitant — an increase of 50%. Yikes. I’m trying to find a cheaper insurance, but I did that last year, and found nothing better than what I have, so now I clutter my mind with thoughts of how to pay the bill. Even more mind-cluttering are thoughts of future bills with additional increases.

I am doing a lot better about just letting things go, letting the clutter drain away, so I’m sure I’ll soon be able to declutter my mind of these things, too. At least I hope so. It’s much better — and more peaceful — to have an uncluttered mind.

As for the rest of it — my unused things are neatly packed away, so I’m not in any hurry to figure out what to do with them, though as I get older, I will have to make more of an effort to get rid of those stored items.

What about you? Where can you reduce clutter in your life?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Upcoming House Anniversary

One week from today will be the third anniversary of “wedding” my house. It seems a weird way of describing the purchase, but the house offers me much that has been missing from my life since Jeff’s death — stability, a home, comfort. It also offers safety and security, at least as much as is possible in turbulent times. Of course, it can’t offer companionship or conversation or love, though it does give me something to love and care for, which is important when one is alone and hasn’t any inclination for pets.

Because of this upcoming anniversary, I feel as if I should get the house a gift, though the house is spoiled enough as it is, with all the money I’ve lavished on it — not just a new foundation for the porch, but a basement floor, landscaping, sod, a garage, and a whole slew of minor gifts.

Still, if I think of something, I might consider getting something to honor the occasion.

The traditional third anniversary gift is leather, though there isn’t anything of leather my house and I need. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember the last leather thing I bought. I doubt there is even a single strip of leather on my shoes.

The modern third anniversary gift is glass, but even though I do have and do use things of glass, I don’t need anything beyond what I have. I wouldn’t mind another goblet to add to my collection of miscellaneous goblets, but there isn’t room in the cabinet, and besides, I seldom use stemware. My water receptacle of choice is an old glass peanut butter jar because I can put a lid on it to keep from spilling and to keep bugs out in the summer. (Too many times at night I’d reach over for the glass of water on my bedside table and miss. By the time I got out of bed and cleaned the mess, that would be the end of any chance of sleep. Even worse are the times I accidentally drank a bug a night. Eek.)

In the end, I doubt I’ll get anything to mark the occasion. After all, I celebrate this wonderful house and home every day.

I did get a present from my sister, though, which is very nice. She thought these bowls would make me smile, and they do. The house has yet to let me know what it thinks of our gift.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Upsizing

I’m sitting here at an open window — my window — enjoying the pleasant breeze. Later, I’m sure, it will be hot, but for now, it’s perfect weather. (Meaning I am neither huddled in layers of clothes nor dripping with sweat.)

It’s odd to think that I own a window. Actually, seventeen windows. (Eighteen if you count the board on the garage I painted to look like a window.)

It’s odd, too, to think I own a floor.

I haven’t become entirely used to thought of owning a whole house, but the idea is growing on me. Still, when I was admiring my freshly mopped floor the other day, it struck me that the floor belonged to me. I’ve always rented or lived with someone else, and I assumed I’d always live in a house or room someone else owned. I’ve also always been a minimalist since possessions tend to weigh me down, but here I am, upsizing when so many others are downsizing.

So now I own windows, floors, ceilings, walls, roof. And furniture!!

I also own a town. Well, I don’t own it in that I don’t have a deed to the town, but I own it by dint of walking the streets, buying at the stores, volunteering for various events, talking to people I meet.

All this ownership has masked one lack — there is nowhere close by to hike. I could drive long distances to go to the mountains, and someday I might, but for now, I stay close to home.

I did find a nice loop walk, though. It takes me along the edge of town and out to the country. The views are simple — I live too far east of the mountains to catch even a glimpse of a peak.

I’ve almost always lived within view of the mountains, so this viewlessness is rather a change, but (juggling hands, here) my own house . . . or . . . mountain view. Not a hard choice!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Dark Underbelly of Home Ownership

Although I was hesitant to post a photo of my creepy basement, enough people wanted to see it that I figured I should go ahead and post the image.

I don’t suppose it’s really all that creepy, just . . . old. The little room off to the left is the old coal bin back when coal used to be the most up-to-date heating system. What doesn’t show in this photo is the crawl space that surrounds this dug out part of the basement. The walls are only about shoulder height — the rest is a wasteland of dirt, junk, cables and conduits.

It seems the perfect setting for a murder mystery, or rather it did until I realized how trite the setting would be.

One day, though, when the  contractor has time to redo the floors and walls, I have no idea what (or who) we might find buried behind those cracking walls.

And so the adventure continues . . .

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.