Discord to Harmony
I've had an epiphany.
It's my fault.
The state of my house is my fault.
Looking around my house at the piles and the clutter and the random items out of place, I pondered what I would say about them here, on my blog. What would be my excuse for the paint cans we're still tripping over, months after we finished painting our son's room? How did my kitchen get this out of control so quickly? Why is the paint scraped off of half of our dining table, and also part of our butler's pantry? Whose junk is this?
It's my junk. These half done (or barely begun) projects are my projects. At least a dozen of them, and most will require much more than an afternoon to complete.
This realization is a bit of a slap in the face. But there's a silver lining. If I'm the problem, I can fix it. Or at least I hope I can.
First I have to figure out where the disconnect is. How is it that I'm the one making the messes, but I'm not seeing it happen? Here are some things that I think are contributing to the issue.
1.) I'm slow. I'm slow at almost everything.
I'm a painfully slow reader, which is why I've never loved doing it. I'm a slow processor. This is one reason I started this blog: I am much better at forming coherent sentences when I have time to think about how I want to say something, which means I'm a much better writer than I am a speaker. And this wonderful quality of mine is not just limited to the thoughts in my head -- it affects physical activities, too!
I have a distinct memory of putting on my marching band uniform in high school on one occasion. Time was always of the essence once our bus rolled into the parking lot. I decided I was going to race my friend Mindy, but I didn't tell her. I just wanted to see if I could put on my uniform faster than she could when she wasn't even trying. I couldn't.
2.) I will avoid doing things if it involves any minor annoyance or discomfort.
It's cold in the laundry room or attic? I'm not going in there just to put something away.
I have to get out the step stool or a key? I'm not bothering with that either.
There's a pile of junk in the way? Whatever it is can wait for another day.
3.) I'm going to use that item again soon and it goes in one of those annoying places.
(Soon could mean in a month or two, and that time frame could very well get dragged out into a year.)
4.) I don't have a place for this item. I'll deal with it when I have figured out where it should go.
5.) I want to do projects, but I underestimate the amount of time needed and overestimate the amount of time I have.
I could go on, but you get the point.
The things I do have a decent handle on MOST of the time are laundry and dishes. I know that I will start to feel hopeless if I can't at least keep those two things reasonably under control. I do a load of laundry almost daily, unless I really have a lot going on. I'm not always the best at getting it put away once it is folded, though. And dishes pile up so quickly. I can fall behind on those if I forget to stay on top of it, but when I remember, all it takes is a few minutes here and there throughout the day. (The paper clutter and other things in my kitchen that don't belong there are another story.)
If I have to spend a long time in my kitchen, I like to listen to podcasts, although this could contribute to my slowness. Sometimes I set a timer for 10 minutes and race against it. It really does help me and my weird brain to stay focused on the job.
I have been doing a great job of getting things out of my house lately. I'll make a separate post soon about where I take things we no longer use.
I'm not sure how to tackle all of these issues I seem to be facing so that I can just LIVE in my house and enjoy it while I focus on the things I really want to be doing.
I'd love to hear your suggestions and personal experiences, and if you would like to be notified of new posts in the future, you can enter your email address below to receive my newsletter!
Dear Readers (if you're out there),
This first post of mine will be an introduction.
Hi, I'm Erin.
I am wife, mother of two, musician, teacher, DIYer. I am an aspiring composer. I am creative. I am awkward. I'm a Pennsylvanian living in the South. I am introverted, but I love people -- all of them. I care about the world, and in particular the environment. I care about spending time with my family and really BEING together. I have too many pets (two cats, plus one who sorta claimed us, a Golden Doodle that was passed to us from another family, a bearded dragon and goldfish which both belong to our seven-year-old, and most recently, a Husky/German Shepherd mix puppy that we literally found in the middle of a busy road at night). I'm sure we've got some Palmetto bugs around here too, but we try to keep them outside. :-P
I'm starting a blog.
Why am I starting a blog?
Right now seems like an important time for our family. We have faced some changes and challenges lately. My dad has advanced Parkinson's and has just moved to the Florida Keys to live with his brother in order to be cared for without having to go into a nursing home. My mom and her husband live in Pennsylvania, so for the first time in my life, neither of my parents is close by (at least not full time). (Side note: my in-laws are, and we are very grateful for them!) We are all at once relieved that my dad is finally getting settled in at his new home, and sad that he's no longer just 45 minutes away from us.
We are working to change our financial situation. My husband, Travis, is an elementary school teacher here in the great state of South Carolina, where teacher pay is fantastic (can you sense the sarcasm?), and I teach piano and violin lessons on a part time basis. We have almost always struggled, except when he did well for a while selling his T-shirt designs at shirt.woot (check him out at www.oakenspirit.com). We saved up some money, moved to a larger (and much older) home, and have never since been able to replenish our savings account. It's very disheartening, especially since we have always been pretty frugal, so it's hard to find anything to cut back on, and it seems like unexpected expenses keep popping up just when we think we're almost out of the woods.
So why don't we just get better jobs? Why don't I just go work somewhere full time or get a second part time job?
Travis and I are artists at heart. He teaches art (digital art as of this year) and is a fabulous writer. He is really the most creative person I know, and has already completed one book in the YA Sci-fi category and another which is a children's chapter book. He's got other ideas in the works and has been searching for an agent for these two for quite a while, which has been a trying process to say the least. I hate to see him start to lose hope at times, because he deserves to be successful at this.
And as I mentioned, I'm an aspiring composer and songwriter. I won't go overboard discussing that in this post since you can find out by exploring the site, but my plan is to have all of my music linked here soon, including some recordings and some sheet music, which will all be available for download.
In order for Travis and I to pursue these dreams of ours and hopefully turn our hobbies into our careers, we need to be able to devote a significant amount of time to them. Maybe it's silly, maybe it's a poor decision to keep trying, but we can't bring ourselves to give up on what we each feel we were meant to do.
So, rather than going back to school for better jobs or spending all our time working at mediocre ones, we are looking for small ways to make (or save) a few extra bucks here and there. I've picked up more students this year. We're working on figuring out a more exact budget (our strategy has always been to just try not to spend more than we need to on anything, but we don't often sit down and actually look at the numbers). I've made myself available to do a little bit of interior painting. I'm selling some things. Travis is still doing some T-shirt designs, even though it is more hit-or-miss than it used to be.
One philosophy I am trying to embrace as a way to save both time and money is minimalism. A quote by Buddha recently caught my eye: "Attachment leads to suffering." Truthfully, I haven't done any further reading to find out the context that was meant here. But, to me, it resonates because when I am attached to too many THINGS, I suffer. Having too many items in my house means I have to find time to care for them all. To clean them, clean around them, put them where they belong, fix them when they break, make sure the puppy doesn't eat them. It feels like an endless job to care for all of our belongings, especially to keep them put away so my house doesn't feel cluttered. Some people can have a lot of things and not go crazy. I'm not one of those people. If I see piles of stuff in my house, I can't focus on anything else until I have it under control. I feel robbed from spending time doing the things I'd much rather be doing, like reading to my kids, talking with my husband, taking a walk in the woods, making music, visiting a friend... Really, I'd rather do almost anything than clean, especially when it feels like it takes hours every day and I'm still never done. This is my biggest frustration in life right now, and has been ever since I've had more people in my life to clean up after than just myself.
Part of the reason I'm starting this blog is to keep myself accountable. My goal is to declutter my house and get it to a point where I can easily maintain it and get out of what feels like Housewife Hell, so I can spend more time BEING a mother, a wife, a composer. I have no idea how long this will take. It feels like I've been working on it in spurts for ten years. Because I have been. But I'm going to continue to work on it, and if I can continue to make progress on a regular basis, maybe I'll get to a point where it doesn't take up so much of my time.
I also want to be accountable for continuing to make new music, even when I feel like I don't have much time for it. So, at least once every few weeks, I hope to feature a new song here. I may even try to collaborate with my four-almost-five-year-old, who loves to sit at the piano and improvise! I've thought it would be fun to take parts of what he plays and turn them into real compositions.
This blog will be updated at least twice a week, so if any of this sounds like something you'd like to read about, I'll have details and updates on all of it in future posts, coming soon! I'd love to see your questions and comments below, and you can also enter your email address below if you'd like to be notified when I post new content or offer discounts or giveaways!