Clearing the decks

Time to get all that old stuff out of the way
Time to get all that old stuff out of the way

Okay, I have my plan. This weekend, while I’m flying solo, I’m going to clear out a bunch of spaces that have been cluttered and crammed full of old stuff… for years. I’m starting with my garage, and continuing on to the basement.

I’m also going to clean out my study – just remove everything from all surfaces, wipe everything down, and then judiciously restore what I actually want to keep within view. I should probably pick up some shelving, while I’m at it. I’m comparing my choices on Amazon and the local big-box home improvements store, and it actually looks like I can get a better deal at the local store.

So, I don’t have to wait. I can just stop off on my way home from work tomorrow and pick up a bunch of shelves to use. Sweet.

I’m pretty excited about this. I have three days total to get things in order, and it’s way overdue. I haven’t been able to get my act together — I’ve been too focused on too many different things that had nothing to do with each other… too scattered… and too tired… Meanwhile, everything has piled up around me. It’s not as bad as that Hoarders show, but it’s not as I want it to be.

And I’m sure this will bring up a lot of emotion with me, while I’m uncovering relics from my chaotic past. One of the benefits of my TBI issues, is that I can keep my attention focused intently on what’s in front of me at the moment, so I don’t have a lot of emotions and internal drama playing out from other times and places and contexts. I can be squarely in the moment and have no thought for anything other than what’s in front of me. It’s not that I’m “compartmentalizing” and blocking other things out from self-defense. I simply need to focus fully on one aspect of many, many aspects of my life, so I can take care of it.

And then I can move on to other things.

It’s not that I’m blocking out parts of my life because I’m afraid of them. I just don’t have the bandwidth. But then things get cluttered, because I lose focus on one thing and hyper-focus on something else. And then I end up with a lot of half-finished ideas and priorities that pile up around me and block my proverbial view of the world around me.

So, this weekend, it’s time to clear out a lot of the stuff. Just clear it away and be done with that. I have to find some books I put away. I also need to rearrange my bookshelves so that I have more room. And I need to make some decisions about what I really need in my life. I’ll need to catalog everything I’m putting away, because if it’s not in front of me, I forget it exists. So, I need a directory of sorts to remind me where things are. And I need to put that directory in a place where I can see it and remember to consult it.

Exciting times, to be sure.  T-30 hours till the rearranging kicks off.

Onward.

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Cleaning up my act, uncovering potential

Sort of how my space looks - better in some ways, worse in others
Sort of how my space looks – better in some ways, worse in others

I’m entering week 4 on the new job, and it’s been going well. I’m settled in there, and I’m adjusting to the new schedule pretty well. It’s taking a lot more out of me than I would like, but that’s a combination of the commute and the nature of the work. It’s a very social workplace, which is a huge challenge for me. I prefer to tuck myself away in a corner and noodle on problems, but the whole new job thing is really structured around interacting with a lot of people to solve problems together.

So, it’s good practice for me. Keeping to myself tends to get me down, in any case.

I find myself and my priorities really changing dramatically. I have let go of a lot of the old projects I had waiting in the wings for so long. All in all, I had over 5 different mega-projects that I was actively working on. I was making good progress, too. But now they just don’t matter to me as much, anymore. I think it’s a result of now doing work that actually interests me and is a good match for my personality and skills. All the crap-jobs I’ve had over the years that never challenged me or made the most of my abilities necessitated me looking elsewhere for satisfaction and fulfillment.

I simply could not keep my spirit alive, doing those past jobs without plenty of side projects.

Now, however, I am suddenly feeling no interest at all in those mega-projects. I have pretty much lost interest in them, and all I really want to do now is focus on my day-job, take care of things at home, and live a simple, uncomplicated life.

What a change this is.

And I look around my house and see that I really need to get my act together. Some rooms look like a herd of water buffalo have stampeded through and churned everything up. I’ve got “stuff” from multiple projects lying around in piles, and leftovers from various endeavors scattered about in general disarray.

Precious little of it interests me, anymore, and I really need to clear it up.

I’ve been needing to do this for quite some time, actually. I just couldn’t figure out where and how to start.  Getting started (initiation) tends to be a big problem for me. I get stuck on the simplest things… and then I get down on myself for not being able to start.

But start, I must.  Just dig in, somewhere, and make a start. I have a whole 4-drawer filing cabinet in the corner of my office, just waiting for me to fill it with crap. Some of the drawers are mostly empty, too. But I’ve been stuck. Just looking at the filing cabinet makes me anxious. What if I can’t finish? What if I get turned around and confused, and the end result is worse than when I started? How do I handle this? What can I do?  It’s frustrating and confusing… so I end up doing nothing.

Plus, in the rest of my life, there are a ton of leftovers that are making my life more complex than need be. My winter cleanup clothes from six months ago are still hanging on the backs of dining room chairs. And there are all kinds of boxes from things that came in the mail, just lying around. Birthday and Christmas presents are still sitting in the living room in their gift bags.

Clearly, I need to take some initiative. It doesn’t help that my spouse is declining cognitively, and they add to the problems by just tossing stuff around (their post-stroke, diabetes-influenced issues with initiation and executive function make my challenges look like child’s play – but that’s another post for another time).

And now that fall is fast approaching, I don’t really have much excuse for not sorting things out. It’s fall cleaning time. And magically I am finding more interest and more opportunity for tending to business at hand. The enduring, years-long obsessions with those mega-projects has flown out the window. I frankly don’t give a damn, anymore. They were just windmills I was tilting at for no good reason other than to soothe my anxiety, and now that I’ve got a real job that really uses my skills and abilities, I don’t need them, anymore. They served their purpose.

And it’s time to clear them away.

For good.

There is literally so much stuff in my house that needs to be organized, that some rooms are bordering on hoarder status. Then again, they’re not. We don’t have  piles and piles of crap we never needed and will never use again, that we collected due to severe mental illness or profound impairment. We have piles of crap that is/was useful, and is just poorly organized.

And that’s fixable.

So, right now, as I stand up and get ready for my Sunday morning walk in the woods, I’ll grab just a few things to move to where they really belong. A little work can go a long way, and each day, I can do something that will help. It doesn’t have to be “big bang” to work. Little “bangs” will work just fine.

The space that gets cleared, will make room for more space — different activities — a simpler life. That, in itself, is well worth the momentary confusion and disorientation. The anxiety will work itself out.

And so it goes.

Onward.

Reset NOW

I just came across this video – pretty inspiring

No matter what people may offer you, if it means you have to sacrifice yourself or abandon your convictions, no way no how is it worth it.

Back from my trip to see my family, I am reminded yet again of why I left. The price of admission to the community my family is part of, is way too high. You have to abandon your individuality to be part of a larger group, and that doesn’t sit right with me. My siblings have all pretty much kept the continuity going, living their lives as my parents expected them to — with a few minor exceptions, here and there. I’m the black sheep. I have broken out. And looking at how things have developed, back there, I’m so thankful I stepped away when I did, and managed to keep my individuality intact.

My family and their community have specific ways of doing things that they believe are correct and right. Everything from how you tend your garden, to how you maintain your home, to how you walk and talk, and when you light the first wood fire of the year, are watched and commented upon by the neighbors. Almost every aspect of life is dictated by a combination of religion and tradition, and those who “buck the system” are not welcome. Tolerated, but not warmly welcomed.

And while that rigidity gives them a sense of continuity and comfort, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for growth and positive change — unless that growth and positive change is part of their world view.

If there is a problem in front of them that can’t be solved by the same old thinking, then that problem stays stuck.

Like the problem of the hoarder in the family that nobody ever talked about. And nobody could ever help.

Hoarding is a complex issue, and it has a lot of different aspects and causes. There’s the perfectionism, the personalization of objects, the inability to let things go, because of the emotional connection to them, the inability to see a problem (on the part of the hoarder), and the inability to creatively think about options and choices for how to live differently.

I never realized, till this last weekend, just how badly off “our hoarder” was. Nobody ever talked about it in depth, nobody ever took steps to address it directly. The standard response was through prayer and support and trying to talk sense into the hoarder — and to model a better way to be.

Nobody ever addressed the neurological issues they had — which are obvious and several — and nobody ever addressed this in a systematic, scientific way.

What a friggin’ waste of a life. “Our hoarder” is well into their 70’s, and they have lived in the midst of their own filth for some 30 years. And I never fully realized the extent of the issues. Had I known, I might have been able to do something. But now the past is done. The wrecked house has been cleaned out. And “our hoarder” is in a retirement home, where it is literally impossible for them to collect any more crap or allow their space to become trashed. Cleaning folks come in every week like clockwork. So, with any luck, the will get the help they needed all along.

30 years have gone by, leading up to this moment, and my relative has lived in their squalor all that time, unbeknownst to me. I have never been in a position to actually help them before, because I had so many issues of my own. And now that I am on my feet again with a much more robust set of tools and skills, I am in a position to help. But their situation has changed, and help with that part of their life isn’t necessarily needed anymore. At least from me.

There is literally only so much I can do for my own family. They are set in their ways, and I’m not sure they will be able to change. Outside my own family, however, I can do some things. Like living my life to the fullest, showing others how hope is possible, and keeping the faith each day in my own way.  I can reach out when and where it’s possible, and hope that I have a positive influence. I wish it were possible for my own family, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

So, I do what I can, where and when and how I can. And do my best to not take responsibility for others’ choices and actions.

You can’t save everyone.

But you can save yourself.

And it’s time for a little reset in my life — to take what I’ve learned from the past week, and put it into positive action in my present and coming weeks, months, and years. I need to sleep… and hope that my system will “integrate” the info from the past days into something useful in the future.

No sense in letting all the lessons go to waste, right?

Okay, time for a nap.