The Quest to Tidy: Stationery, Round 2

The first things I am tidying as I once again pick up the KonMari process are the things I have already tidied. The things whose categories are already in pretty good shape, but need some re-tidying to make sure they stay that way. Clothes came first. Next up? Stationery.

I’ve talked about postcrossing and letter writing a little on this blog. I’ll be talking about it much more in the future. But for the purpose of this post… let’s just say I have a lot of stationery. I prefer letter sets over note cards, but I have both, in addition to stacks of loose envelopes, extra holiday/birthday cards, and even some old personalized post-it sized sheets.

In fact, perhaps a picture will demonstrate better.

stationery letter sets

See? Lots and lots of stationery. I’m always looking for more, but perhaps I shouldn’t look so hard for at least a little while. Continue reading

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Pros and Cons of the Process

There is no “organize” button on the computer. There is no “tidy up” menu that neatly puts all your files and folders away in a manner both logical and simple. When making the decision to clean up your digital house you have to tackle it in the same way you do your real home. Methodically.

And just like the process of organizing your physical home, organizing your digital house has its own set of pros and cons that are not always that different from the ones you experience when tackling a particularly cluttered room.

keyboard, like and dislike, thumbs up, thumbs down

CON: If you are the type of person who gets overwhelmed, be prepared to feel overwhelmed. Chances are you have kept a few small things well organized, a few more loosely organized, and the rest are in very generic folders and scattered about all over the place. You may have duplicates, triplicates, or even more of the same file. (I’m not counting back ups.) You may have vacation photos from just one trip scattered about in three different places. It’s the same thing as having your clothes in three different rooms. How are you supposed to go through them when you don’t even have them all together?

Unlike the KonMari method which tells you to save organization for last, I think you have to organize your digital clean up as you go at least to a certain degree. That doesn’t mean it has to be your end-all style of organizing, but you need a loose system. For example, I have a folder labeled “Funnies and Quotes” where I dumped all the comic panels and memes I’d saved. This kept those in one place and one place I could find easily. Once they were gathered up from all over, I furthered my organization by creating sub-folders for types of comics and memes, making it easier to always find the one I want.

In the same way the KonMari method tells you to gather all items of one category before you start going through them, use a loose organizing system of folders to gather your files. You can fine tune your organization later.

PRO: You might be feeling overwhelmed, but you can very easily break up the task of organizing your digital life into dozens of much smaller, much more achievable goals. Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: August & September 2016

Time for a few new favorite postcards I’ve received over the last two months!

postcard from germanyThis card hails from Germany. The lady who sent it my way says that this is a very famous bridge in the city where she lives. (She also said that at the time of writing she was off for a girl’s weekend. My, how I envy her!) What you can’t tell from the picture is the lovely, slightly weathered texture of the thick paper. This card doesn’t look fresh and new and I love that about it. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016: Poetry Collection, Coming Right Up!

I finally have a solid idea for what might be my first collection. Certainly my first consciously themed poetry project. It began as an idea for a single poem. Specifically, a title. When I couldn’t pin down what I wanted to write, having too many options, I thought perhaps it would be a few poems or a poem in many parts. Before long I realized that the concept I had was not for just one or two poems, but a theme for a collection.

I’ve been tossing it around in my head for well over a full year now, and seeing as how it won’t go away I think I need to work on it. Unfortunately wanting to write it does not immediately make it appear as a bestseller on the shelves of Barnes and Noble tomorrow. I can daydream all I want about it, but if I think about all of the steps it will take to get it into published form I won’t even start. There’s simply too many. (And this is where a lot of writers in all genres get stuck.) Instead I’m working on a game plan to get around to writing it in the first place.

I’m afraid if I tackle it now, while I’m still only writing in fits and starts, I won’t stick to it, no matter how much this project means to me. So instead, I’m using NaNoWriMo this year to kick off. If I can dig my claws in deep, I don’t think I’ll let the project go even if I can’t devote time to it at a consistent pace after November. In the spirit of 50 (since NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words), I pledge 50 hours of “butt in chair” time, all to this project (unless another poem that doesn’t fit just insists on not waiting, you know how it goes).

Does that mean I’ll stop at 50 hours? Of course not! I hope to spend more time! But I will do everything in my power that month to see that I devote at least 50 hours. If I spend that much time focusing, I know I will get something written. Even on my day-dreamiest days I can’t spend a full hour staring at an empty page without writing SOMETHING before I give up. 50 hours will equal progress, even if I can’t guess how much.

journal and pensSo until November starts I’m quietly working on the logistics in my head. I have a few different ways the collection could be arranged, and while I won’t worry too strongly about that until it is nearing completion, the core ideas for arrangement in my head I am trying to sort because they will at least partially determine how I go about writing.

All I can say is that my favorite pens and a shiny new journal (picked up during last year’s writing retreat with the Ferret girls; I told you this has been in my head for awhile) are ready to go!

The Quest to Tidy: Clothes Closet, Part 2

Clothes are the very first thing Ms. Kondo suggests one tackles in her KonMari method of tidying house. When I first started applying KonMari to my own household last summer, I started with clothes. And my goodness did we get rid of clothes… (You can read that post here.)

When I picked up the process of KonMari once again this summer, I began with clothes. My husband’s wardrobe hasn’t changed too drastically, so I left his alone, but mine had seen at least one more big thrift store sale as well as new purchases this spring before going on international vacation. It needed going through.

clothes on bedI will admit that this is all I bagged up to donate. Just 25 items. But it was so much easier going through my closet this time around. Not to mention I was also pulling from an already heavily reduced inventory. I couldn’t really expect to pull 100 or more items. There are a few pieces I almost pulled for the donation pile this time, but I’m not quite ready to let go and if I still don’t touch them for another six months it won’t be so difficult.

Doing this a second time I was able to more easily tell my feelings about the clothes I had. The skirts that were a little too short, the shirts that didn’t quite stretch long enough, the dresses that were worn less now that I had others I liked better to wear… all were so much easier to thank for once being mine and let go.

Yes, I do still thank things out loud, both when I keep them and when I let them go, as I go through the KonMari process. For some, this part of the method is more metaphorical. They use it to simply be conscious of their decisions and the reasoning behind them. For me I take it a bit more literally. It works for me. I talk to the objects in my house frequently, so why would I not talk to them when figuring out whether or not they will remain a part of my household?

I would like to be able to keep up the process of going through my clothes about once a year. It would keep my closet from getting out of hand, and also keep me aware of whether or not the things I’m keeping are actually being used. Not to mention, it just feels good to open your closet and see only things you love to wear.

The Quest to Tidy: Having a Plan, Sort of

“No matter how messy your house may be, tidying deals with physical objects. No matter how much stuff you may own, the amount is always finite. If you can identify the things that bring you joy and decide where to keep them, the job of tidying must inevitably come to an end. The more you do it, the closer you get to a house full of joy. Therefore, nothing could be more wasteful than to give up in the middle.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

The KonMari method is very particular on the order in which you are supposed to go through your house as you tidy up. Me? I am not so particular. Honestly, if I can manage to use the KonMari method to break up the giant task of tidying, I’m calling it a win.

And yet KonMari has definitely taught me a few of things that I am employing as I tackle this project at my personal, slow pace.

  1. Thank everything. Be grateful. This is one of the things that is a bit too ‘silly’ for some, but I thank every item (often out loud) as I tidy ever since reading her first book. Sometimes it’s a thank you because the item is so wonderful I can’t part with it. Sometimes it is a thank you because the item taught me something about myself/my habits/my style and I am ready to move on from it. Sometimes it is a thank you even though I have no desire to hold onto the item because perhaps it was a gift or something else similar.
  2. Don’t tidy by room! (My personal exception being when you have company coming and you are doing a quick once-over.) If you’re going to tidy clothes, put them all in one spot before you start. If you are going to tidy jewelry, put it all in one spot before you start. Same with dishes, toiletries, books, instruction manuals… anything! Do all of one category at one time. It really does help put perspective on what you have and what you can let go.
  3. Tidying really is slowly changing my mindset. It isn’t just ‘throwing stuff out’. It’s creating, one tiny step at a time, a personal space where I feel happy and content. A space where I don’t have things that make me feel burdened or responsible. The more I clear away, the more clearly I can see for myself what is more important. Just because I have memories tied to nearly everything does not mean I need to keep everything. I’m still “over keeping”, I’m sure, but I’m evaluating my reasons for doing so more and more.

KonMari doesn’t work for me in the same way it does for the people in her books, but that’s okay. That doesn’t make me a failure nor does it make her process a failure. And one day, if I don’t give up, this finite project will have an end. Now, on toward tidying!

For the Love of Writing Letters

Most people like receiving mail. Not bills or credit card offers or sale ads, but the kind of mail that means something. Birthday cards. Christmas cards. Just thinking of you cards. A brief note saying hello. An announcement of good news. The old-fashioned sort of letter catching a friend up on one’s life.

Most people like receiving that sort of mail, but most people don’t seem to want to take the time to write it, and that’s the problem. It’s not that we want less snail mail in our lives, it’s that no one believes they have the time to send it.

Colorful Mailboxes - from Morguefile (cropped)

This last month I’ve been on a bit of a mailing binge. I’ve sent out 15 postcards and 4 letters. It would have been more if my postcards had registered faster or I’d received more replies. I suspect September’s numbers on those fronts will grow now that it seems I may have some new pen pals as well. Continue reading

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Initial Assessment

The bathroom is scrubbed. The kitchen is spotless. The curtains are freshly washed. The couch cushions are arranged just so. But what kind of mess is your digital life in?

digital life, digital woman

I didn’t want to talk about this side of tidying until I’d managed to make it a steady habit. I’m good at announcing projects and effectively shooting myself in the foot when doing so because then I never get anywhere. With this one though, I’ve been steadily making headway for about a year now, so clearly I’m not about to give it up.

You might be following my series “The Quest to Tidy” which is all about my adventure in trying to use some of Marie Kondo’s tactics (dubbed the KonMari method) to tidy up my household once and for all. It’s been an on-again, off-again project since late last spring and while my house is not yet perfectly organized, her words inspired another project for me to work on. Digital tidying.

Take just a moment and evaluate your digital situation.

Here’s just a smidge of where mine started: Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: July 2016

It’s been a long time since I was able to do a proper post report around here, but as I am at least currently fully immersed in postcrossing again I have new favorites to share.

2016 July - AustriaFirst up, my very first postcard from Austria!

The sender told me the first time the town of Straßwalchen is mentioned in history can be found all the way back to the year 799, though it had a different name at the time. In the heat we’re having right now, a snow-covered town in Europe seems like the perfect place to escape. Continue reading

On Some Days…

Have you ever had one of those days?

When the librarian, being helpful, directs you to another self-check out, but because she called out to you the only thing you feel is stupid for not seeing it, and as though the stupid has been painted on you like a target everyone else can see.

When after going to McDonald’s (because the only other option for dinner that sounds good is nothing and didn’t Happy Meals fix things as kids?), you realize the cashier in the drive thru didn’t even thank you for your business, and now you feel tiny and loathed for being a consumer that made him do his job. His blank stare when he handed you your receipt was probably because he’s imagining not working at a McDonald’s drive thru and didn’t even see you, really see you, but all the same you feel judged and sentenced in that single breath.

When you calm yourself down from the panic, rising anew, at the prospect of crossing just five miles across town to get home, cars pressing in around you like anxious sharks around a bleeding fish, by telling yourself it’s okay, you can listen to the quiet burble of the aquarium filter as you watch the fish you love at home… only to remind yourself that you got rid of the fish a few years ago and finally sold the tank last year, because every place in your home that could fit the tank is a haven for algae and nothing will live.

When you convince yourself that it’s okay if the librarian thinks you’re stupid and the McDonald’s cashier hated you as a lesser creature than he and the fish are long gone… because after you eat your hamburger you can go sit on the swing set in the park, sweating in the rolling waves of the leftover heat of an August sun, and talk to your friend who always insisted that the world made sense on a swing set, pour your heart out to him as the chains on the swings groan and screech, beg him to make sense of everything driving needles into your heart because on swing sets we have the answers… …and remember that he, too, turned his back on you years ago.

I can’t go sit on the swing set alone.

On those days, it becomes very hard to create.