Category Archives: Ponderings

Build Habits

{Photo Credit: Colin Dunn, via Creative Commons}

I am notoriously bad at remembering to take my vitamins, plus the iron makes me queasy if I take it in the morning, so instead of stashing them in the cupboard, I put a cup and my bottle of vitamins on the bedroom dresser, next to my lamp. Now, before I turn off the light, I swallow the vitamin for the day and go to sleep. I rarely forget. I never get queasy. I don’t know if my vitamin consumption habits have definitively helped improve my sleep quality, but I can say this: I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time. I used to wake up every couple of hours, and now I sleep straight through more often than not! I can’t tell you how exciting that is, but I digress.

My point wasn’t to take your vitamin at night to sleep better. My point is any daily task–like taking a vitamin–can be habitualized. I suspect tying the habit to a daily ritual (getting ready for bed) is what worked for me. Every night, I brush my teeth, I get fresh water in my cup, I take my vitamin, and I turn off the light. Then I go to sleep.

This made me wonder: what other simple, but often forgotten, tasks could I or others make habitual? And would tying them to a specific time, location, daily ritual, or other event help me (or them) continue the habit until it becomes second-nature? My guess is YES.

I’m going to keep a look out for those opportunities to hack my lazy brain into a mean, lean,  house-cleaning machine!

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Filed under Home, Life, Organizing, Ponderings, Uncategorized

In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings

What’s in a Name?

{Image: Alex Proimos}

Oh, boy. I broke the cardinal rule of blogging: I didn’t buy my own domain name when I started this blog. I know, I know! What was I thinking?

Last month, I decided I wanted to go ahead and buy it at last. WordPress kept reminding me I could do so and because they did, I didn’t think it would be a problem to wait awhile before making the hosting and domain registration commitment. Last month, though, I saw something new. My dashboard no longer told me I could register a .com address. It told me I could register a .net.

Uh-oh.

Somebody just bought the domain. Now that I want to update the blog and do a re-design outside of the constraints of WordPress.com, that actually matters to me. I emailed the owner of the blog domain, offering to pay for it, but I did not get a response.

So now I need to find a new name. Everyone I’ve talked to about this is sad and told me they like Behind Closed Drawers because it has a nice sound, is descriptive, and a fun play on words. I could keep the name if I bought a domain with the name plus “blog” at the end of it. What do you think about that? Is the extra word unwieldy and too long? Should I try to keep my name, or does one of the options below work as well or better?

I would love to have your input on this! I talked to some friends and gave them a long list of options and  they narrowed it down. I’m adding a poll for potential blog names; if you would take a moment to vote, I would be very grateful.

Thank you in advance for your help,

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Celebrating Small Victories

{Image: Camdiluv}

After taking my shower this morning, I was getting ready for the day and I looked at the floor next to my shower and I couldn’t take it any longer. I’ve noticed it for a couple of days now and had ignored it to get on with my day, but this morning I felt a compulsion to wipe the floor and side of the tub down to get rid of the dust that had accumulated and gotten damp.

I had a compulsion. To clean.

I’m not sure how to explain how huge this is for me. I’ve been working for most of my adult life to get myself to have those compulsions. My childhood little messy girl had stayed with me for far too long.

I’ve said before that this journey to home organization is a lot like weight loss. It is tough, requires accountability and self-discipline, and there is some shame in admitting you have a problem. Well, in this case it is definitely like weight loss in a positive way, because while it takes awhile, eventually you start getting used to eating healthier. You start reaching for the whole grain pasta or the wheat bread over the white bread. Walking or working out becomes a habit instead of a chore. It does happen, and when it happens you wake up one day and realize you’re actually looking forward to your trip to the gym. Then you step on the scale, and you discover you’ve lost two pounds.

That’s what this is like.

Slowly, over the past year, I’ve been reaching for that sponge to wipe down the tub, or the broom to sweep the floor. I’ve tackled dishes before they became a mountain. I’ve purged the refrigerator before adding the new groceries to it. I’ve made regular trips to our local thrift shops to donate items I realize I don’t use. I’ve even kept the laundry to a dull roar recently. The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice it happening. It just happened. I’m not perfect–far, far from it–but I’m on my way, and that is a great place to be!

New to this blog? Here’s a quick overview of my organizational journey so far. If you like what you read, why not subscribe via RSS?

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Filed under Cleaning, Life, Ponderings

What’s Holding You Back?

{Image: Laura Chifiriuc}

Is it outside work? Is it exhaustion? Confusion? Frustration? Fear?

It can be overcome. I promise.

Room by room, closet by closet, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer, you CAN get organized. Even more importantly, once you find an organizational structure that works for you, it will begin to be self-sustaining, provided you continue to follow it. Each time, it will require less effort, as things begin to have a place and you remember to put them in it. There will be fewer battles, freeing up your energy and mind to focus on the remaining trouble spots in your home and life.

Just like losing weight, the more you lose and maintain a weight loss, the fewer pounds (or, in our case, organizational trouble spots) you have to worry about.

But you have to be willing to let go first.

I’m a fan of the reality show The Biggest Loser. In it, contestants work with personal trainers and nutritionists to lose excess weight and become stronger and healthier individuals. Inevitably, some–if not all–of the contestants discover that the process is a difficult one. Their trainers talk to them and try to find out what from their past or present is keeping them from giving their all. Sometimes, they don’t feel worthy. Other times, they retain scars from past relationships or cling to excuses. Little by little, the layers of emotional baggage are discarded, even as the weight is, until a newer and stronger person emerges. By the end of the show, they have the skills and knowledge required to maintain their new lifestyle. While the last 10 or 20 pounds are difficult for them to release they are not encumbered by the rest of the excessive weight that had been on their bodies and they are at their peak physical condition. They have the knowledge required to continue being healthy and have built upon weeks of success.

But first, they had to shed not only their weight but also their self-imposed barriers.

It’s the same way with creating a restful, orderly environment for yourself and your family in your home. There will be some early victories. There will also be increased resistance from within yourself and outside forces as you continue to grow. It can get discouraging when you don’t see faster results. Stick with it.

So what is your barrier?

Mine is pure and simple laziness as well as a lot of pursuits that fascinate me more than cleaning my home (or working out to lose weight, for that matter.) I have to admit, sometimes I’m afraid I’ll give up and just call it a lost cause. If I fail, it’s going to be embarrassing.

I’m also afraid of not just failure … but success as well. What happens when I’ve got a completely organized home? Will I keep it that way? Will I relapse? Will family and friends who have read this blog be disappointed in me if I get lazy and start to slack off? What if I don’t want to be organized 24/7?

Oh, it doesn’t stop.

The bottom line is: keep on going. Don’t give up. Just like the contestants on The Biggest Loser discover every season, good things come to those who put themselves out there, do their homework, and just keep pushing, no matter what. Acknowledge what is holding you back; confront it; accept it … and move on. You can do it. I can do it. I’m counting on it.

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Filed under Balance, Life, Ponderings

Little Resolutions

{Image: Katie Tegtmeyer}

Who says December 31st or January 1st get to have all the fun? Today is February 1st, and I have a few resolutions to make for this month.

I resolve to:

  1. Not leave the butter out overnight so I waste 3/4 of a perfectly good stick of organic butter. This keeps happening. It must stop.
  2. Find my favorite jeggings that disappeared (perhaps in the perpetually unwashed laundry pile?) Which reminds me …
  3. Sort through my clothes–again. Seriously. I think they breed. I have more clothes than I want to launder on a regular basis, yet I never seem to have stylish outfits ready to wear. Something’s off here.
  4. Recycle something. Anything. I do care, I just … forget.
  5. Make our bed in the morning more often than not.
  6. Play my poor neglected electric keyboard. I see you sitting quietly across from me in my living room, friend. I just get caught up in Pinterest land during my free time and so my fingers are rusty. Please forgive me.

Do you have any little resolutions? I’d love to hear them!

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Take a Breath. Life Happens.

It’s hard to believe that January is already coming to a close. I never believed it as a kid, but time really does fly.

Today I wanted to take a moment to stop and reflect and see how far this organizational/decluttering journey of mine has come. Last night, a dear friend of mine wanted to come over and talk, on a whim. It was so nice to just say “come on over!” and not be running all around to clean up for once.

My house is not perfect. In fact, at this point there is clutter in the living room, little muddy dog prints on the tile floor (I just mopped it a short time ago and already it needs it again. Thanks for nothing, rain), and dishes I haven’t done are sitting on the kitchen counter. I can see them from my couch.

But it isn’t terrible, either.

I find it easy to get caught up in the fact that I haven’t cleaned my living areas enough and it wasn’t ready for a home decorating magazine beauty shot. But the reality is I don’t live on a set, and neither do you. Life happens.

Let it.

And then go wash the dishes. Kinda like I’m going to do now …

If you’re new to this site, welcome! I hope you’ll look around. Start here to learn more about my organizing journey, or subscribe by RSS. See you soon!

 

{Image: Emergency Brake/Evil Erin, via Flickr}

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Filed under Balance, Cleaning, Ponderings

Intentional

Did you have a good weekend? I did! Despite how cold it has been here in Tennessee lately, it was sunshine-y and I enjoyed letting the weekend just be the weekend.

I even caught up on some cleaning and installed some thermal curtains in our bedroom to help keep our electric bill down (pictures to come soon), but the best part was just having down-time and not stressing too much about schedules. January has been good to us; after the holidays it is so nice to not have every weekend scheduled with activities way in advance. I like to wing it sometimes, don’t you?

But now it is Monday, and we have a busy day ahead of us (I’m really looking forward to hitting the gym with my good friend, Joy, and burning some calories!) and I’m excited to get back to work. I want to make each day and hour count as I help Daniel with our primary business, work on the house, add items to Creative Salvage (hopefully new stock will be on the “shelves” this week!), and update this blog. Never a dull moment in this household.

Which reminds me … there’s a word that I keep thinking about that applies to our business, my Etsy shop, and this blog. It also applies to my workouts or eating habits, my home projects, and even my relationships–really any part of my life. It’s a word that has really worked its way into my thought processes lately, and it won’t let go. It’s a word that I’ve claimed for myself this year, and I hope that remembering this word will shape my life for good.

That word is “intentional.”

{Original Image Credit: lululemon athletica; typesetting mine}

I want to undertake my goals with intention and my relationships with intention. I want to stop and realize that everything I do affects not only myself, but also those around me, and I want to let that really sink in so that it helps me shape the path I take, the thoughts I think, and the words I speak.

I want to be intentional in all I do.

Now, this word struck a chord in my heart even before I found out that other people were claiming words as their own for the entire year of 2012, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share it, along with others, as Layla from The Lettered Cottage invited us to, and to link up with other bloggers who are sharing their words for this year. Intentional is mine. What is yours? I hope you’ll link it up, too!

Psst! Have you entered my giveaway drawing to win the book Organize Now! and a dayplanner yet? The deadline is Thursday, January 19th.

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One year later …

One year. Can it be? 365 days ago I began writing out my experiences with organizing. I wasn’t sure where it would go, but I was eager to find out. My first blog post ever was about cleaning up the desk in our sad little office/guest room/craft room/storage unit in the old house.

I hit the ground running and conquered several areas after that. To my astonishment and excitement, Mrs. Limestone over at Brooklyn Limestone linked to my zero-budget bathroom drawer solution at the end of her Junk Drawer Overhaul series. I couldn’t believe my eyes as my stats counter jumped overnight. Now, traffic hasn’t been quite that busy (crazy to have your highest traffic day within your first month of blogging, huh?), but it has been steady over the past year.

Within the first two weeks, I had read books on organizing, pondered my existence (okay, maybe just how I got to be messy in the first place), and conquered my master bedroom closet. I have to say, that closet remains one of my proudest organizational moments. Up until that point, my bedroom closet had always been the scary territory where boxes and bags and missing clothing and everything that had nowhere else to go got stuck. Now, our clothes closet is just a clothes closet, and it has been (mostly) tidy. Not always blog picture-perfect, but always neat and useable.

The next big traffic spike came from Centsational Girl when Kate featured a picture of my spray-painted branches project in a highlights post she made after her Paint Projects Party. Talk about excited! I was glowing.

In the months to come I would paint our dining room and discover that a LOT of people were finding this blog by searching for greige paint. In fact, it is still a top search term! Can’t say I blame them. I’m a fan of greige and loved the Behr color I had picked. Sadly, we moved shortly afterwards, so bye-bye greige!

Other popular posts included our tutorial on how to install a digital programmable thermostat to save on electric bills, my use of storage above our washer and dryer, and how I compare organizing and decluttering to following a household budget.

Summertime slowed blogging down to a crawl. There were places and people to see and things to do and I realized blogging was eating up a lot of Daniel’s and my together time after work. I geared back a little, which wasn’t too hard since so many of my biggest clutter spots were now under control thanks to our early push for organization in January and February.

Then, in September, my former roommate who had lived with me in my dad’s rental duplex (pre-wedding) moved out of the house. In an off-hand comment while we were running on treadmills at the YMCA, Daniel suggested we move in. And just like that, we were handing in our notice on our lease and taking weekends to move all of our stuff into a home I had lived in–TWICE–before.

Our attempts at decluttering from a previous move had already paid off, but this move got our butts in gear. We donated/tossed/sold even more items so we took only what we really wanted to bring with us. Our previous move took six months to get our things unpacked and under control. This time? A mere six weeks, give or take.

And that brings us to the present. I started the year off with a blog series of Five Steps to Get Organized in 2012 to share what I’ve learned so far. Now, with my new Home Tour Tuesday feature, I’ll explore the duplex and show off the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re looking forward to renovating it to sell in the future, but we’re also excited about decorating and making it our own, and I still have some clutter habits to conquer.

Here’s to another productive 365 (well, 366 since it is a leap year) days of this organizational journey. To celebrate our first year, be sure to check out the giveaway I’m hosting in today’s next blog post!

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Filed under Organizing, Ponderings

What to do? What to do? Plans for an Exciting 2012

So, we’re moved in. The holidays are over. I got my Creative Salvage Etsy shop up and running (although I’m hoping to take photos and add new vintage things very soon). Life is settling down from the flurry of activity from September, when we found out we’d be moving, to November, when I opened my shop, to December, when we spent a week with my family, soaking up the precious minutes with loved ones who live far away from us. Now, the post-holiday shopping lull is upon us and my weekends have suddenly freed up for the first time since. Um. I can’t remember. Probably July or August? Ha!

So, I’m breaking out the ol’ camera and I’m going to continue the organizational journey I embarked upon a year ago. My hope is to have a house tour of our new digs up online sometime in the near future and also begin a new schedule of a before-and-after series from my adventures in organizing the new home. My to-do list for blogging, planning projects, and running a business of my own (as well as helping my husband with his) will definitely keep us busy for months to come! I’m looking forward to sharing the continued journey with you and would love to hear how you are doing with yours.

Photo: Joy

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