I have been composing this blog in my head for about a month, yet I’m having a surprising amount of difficulty writing it down.
Pussy Galore might be partially responsible.
I could say a lot about this last year, and I assure you that I will, but first I’ll share a dream with you.
About a month ago I started giving serious thought to what this year has meant to me and I dreamt this:
I was walking with Blue and the kids when a person with a GIANT Great Dane came around a corner. One of my greatest worries is getting “snuck up on” by another dog because I might not have enough time to pull over and avoid a confrontation.
The Dane was a female and easily had twelve inches and 100 pounds on Blue. Before I knew it, the dogs were getting out of control and I found myself unable to let go of the larger dog’s collar.
She started running away and I struggled to keep up. Then I thought, Why not jump her back?
The next thing I knew I was riding her sidesaddle at full speed and it was CRAZY and FUN and EXHILARATING.
My kids were laughing and chasing me as people jumped out of our way. But as we raced by, I could see that they were smiling at me and saying, “She’s riding a dog! That’s so cool!”
I woke up and realized that my subconscious had summed up my existence perfectly.
I started this project because I felt smothered by my life and this home. I was desperately overwhelmed with Lonny’s home eBay business and the chaos that comes from having two small children, a dog, a cat, a dozen chickens and a social schedule that had a mind of its own.
I thought that if I could just get rid of a bunch of stuff, I could change how my life felt. I could get the breathing room I needed.
Had you asked me a month ago what my house looked like minus 7300 items, I would have said, “I can’t tell the difference.”
Well that sucks. All that effort … for nothing.
But I must qualify that statement. It wasn’t like I backed up a Uhaul and loaded 7300 items into it and drove away. It happened gradually, at the rate of about 20 items a day. For a year.
In that time I became accustomed to the small changes and things had a chance to settle in from the margins. Surely it would have felt different had it been done in a day.
Nonetheless, I felt like it hadn’t transformed my home.
It was a slow change and very much like therapy. All the skeletons were hauled into the middle of the room where I was forced to deal with them rather than ignoring them in the closet.
I started thinking about what I expected that transformation to look like and I realized that I had an image in my head of a house and a life that wasn’t mine.
I suppose I was hoping, irrationally, that the end result would look something like this:
This isn’t my house. This isn’t even Colorado, yet in my mind I thought this is what I wanted. It was someone else’s idea of what my life should look like.
But my life is Lonny and kids and animals and people coming and going. I chose every single one of them.
I could quickly achieve the serenity of that magazine home by divorcing Lonny and walking away from my family and friends, but why would I ever want to do that?
I decided that with two weeks to go, I could find a way to exist within this life and maintain my sanity. The situation demanded a desperate measure.
I had been threatening all year to reclaim Lonny’s eBay room and turn it into my office. It was a daunting project and, as much as I wanted it, the mere thought of it paralyzed me. I couldn’t have done it without Shay Overgard (Shé), a professional organizer and friend.
We took this:
and in a week we turned it into this:
It’s not done yet but I feel like I’ve created the tiny home of my dreams.
I have always coveted a small home because of the economy of space and how easy it is to keep it clean and tidy. So while it isn’t this …
… it is a sanctuary within this whirlwind life that I have. It all comes back to having a room of one’s own.
To sum up, here’s what I got from my year of divestment:
- I have about 7000 items less. The official count is 7303 but not everything made it out the door. The goal wasn’t to get rid of everything at any expense, just the things that bogged me down. I would estimate a 10-20% attrition rate.
- I hardly buy anything now. I feel physically ill when I walk up and down store aisles. I have completely changed my relationship with consumerism. Looking at everything I own in a critical manner makes me appreciate how much I already have. I realize that buying things doesn’t make me happy, in fact, it stands between me and happiness. Unless it’s boots.
- I’ve paid my credit card off, and it was no joke. I had significant debt and it’s gone. I have money in the bank and I’m making additional payments on my warehouse. I want to pay it off faster so I can buy another one to grow Lonny’s business into.
- I have gotten closer to my father and key people in my life who I have lost touch with. Moreover, I feel like they really know me.
- For the first time I am easing up on myself. Maybe I’m not as bad as I think.
- I feel like a writer, at last.
The most important change is that I have learned to embrace the chaos in my life. I used to be embarrassed by how crazy my life is, I thought it meant something was wrong with me and that people judged me.
I was constantly apologizing for my existence.
Writing about my daily struggles, internal battles, mood swings and encounters, and having a enthusiastic audience (that’s you, dear readers) has made me realize that my life is interesting.
It’s worth writing about because someone wants to read it. It’s worth writing about because I get a kick out writing even if no one reads it or likes it or comments.
Some people may judge me for my choices but I’ve learned to not care. I finally don’t feel as driven to earn everyone’s approval. I’ve learned how to decide who and what matters.
Any time that something bizarre happened to me in the last year, I immediately started composing a post about it. I have come to see adversity, confrontation, my gaffs and embarrassing moments as highly bloggable and therefore valuable.
Carol Burnett’s mother said that comedy is tragedy plus time. Blogging has helped me shrink the time element to almost nothing.
This has affected all areas of my life. I have become very adept at quickly reflecting on and reframing situations. It is an unbelievably useful skill.
I now accept that my life is like that giant Great Dane in my dream. I can struggle to hold her back or barely keep up running behind her. Or I can jump on her back and enjoy the ride.
Thank you so much for jumping on the giant dog with me, for laughing and cheering and consoling me. I NEVER would have accomplished this without you, especially my original 13, you know who you are.
Thank you, Tabby, for walking with me every day and encouraging me to stick with the project and my writing. Thank you for taking all my ugly home made pottery. You are the best friend a person could ever have.
Thank you, Jason, for phoning me to check on my well-being and for antagonizing me into working harder. Your financial make-over has been a constant source of inspiration.
Thank you, Lonny for sticking out this year with me. I am very aware of how much it cost you in time, effort and stress.
Sometimes I get mad at you for arguing about things of little consequence. It’s not about the thing itself, it’s about being stubborn and getting in the last word. You are right, we both do it.
But on the big things – the things that matter – you are always on board. I could not have done this without your support and patience.
Like just about everything else in my life, I had no idea what I was getting into and it turned into the best thing I have ever done.
What’s next? First, I’m going to take my computer to the shop and have it backed up. I haven’t been able to be without it long enough to get this done.
Then I’m going to have coffee with a girlfriend, lunch with Lonny and take a bunch of pole classes.
I might not write for a few days. But I promise to be back. I would miss you too much.