Celebrating One Year of Cutting the Crap!

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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 3.36.25 PM

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? 


Illustration by Katie Kolupke

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.

Cute. Fun. Trouble.

Cute. Fun. Trouble.

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.


It was uncomfortable at times and caused a good deal of marital strife.

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:

It looks like Mickey Rourke's apartment in "9 1/2 Weeks"

It looks like Mickey Rourke’s apartment in “9 1/2 Weeks” but on the water.

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.

Yes. I just used a football analogy.

That’s right, I just made a sports analogy.

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:


This is more than you can ever imagine.

and in a week we turned it into this:


I can breath in here.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. For the first time I am easing up on myself. Maybe I’m not as bad as I think.
  6. 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.

I'm not apologizing any more.

I’m not apologizing anymore.

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.

This is me. I like it.

I might not be put together, organized and perfect, but I have a terrific life

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.

If Janet had a blog, she could have blogged the shit out of this.

If I had been Janet, I would have blogged the shit out of this.

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.

Loves of my life

You are my dreamboat

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.

Love, Vivienne

52 thoughts on “Celebrating One Year of Cutting the Crap!

  1. Way to go! Take a much deserved break but please come back. You are a very funny writer and I have enjoyed reading your posts this past year. Congrats on the debt payoff too!

  2. Love it! What a great wrap up! So beautiful, just like you!! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for you for the future. Thanks for sharing it’s been fun!

  3. I’m all teary now… That was beautiful. I can’t believe it has already been a year! Congratulations on all your hard work. And that Lonny sure is a dreamboat (swoon). You live a charmed life, indeed.
    Much love. xoxo

    • I’m going to take Shay’s class, and Cara’s class, and Melanie’s class, and Waeli’s class, and Ken’s class, and Norell’s class, and Nina’s class, and Hillicia’s class …

  4. Woohoo! I am so proud of you for sticking with this for a whole year – every time I try to commit to a challenge like this I back out before I’m even halfway. Then again, I’ve actually read your blog every single day for a whole year too, so that’s something, I guess 🙂

    • I thought for sure that I’d give it up after a few weeks. You were the first person I ever ran into that knew me from my blog. Your consistent reading is what kept me going on those days I was tired and burnt out. I knew you would email me or call me out demanding an explanation. You are the best blogging buddy ever.

  5. What the hell are we going to talk about now?!?!?

    Keep writing, just when you want to! I am reading this whilst sipping tea from the best tea mug in the world and eating a flapjack off one of those little rectangular plates. xxx

    • I’m going to make you prettier plates one day and I’m sure we will find plenty to talk about. As you know, I am far from done with this house project.

  6. Viv,

    “I might not write for a few days. But I promise to be back. I would miss you too much.”


    Love always, and Thank You.


  7. Excellent, Viv, well said! And besides the sports analogy, you also threw in your “high literary” reference to “A Room of One’s Own.” Ms. Woolf would be proud. I’m not kidding.

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  9. Congratulations! I’m so, so proud of you! I’m glad you didn’t change your house–I love and adore it, just the way it is! Muah!


  10. Obviously I love your blog. Congrats on a year of cutting the crap and writing about it in a way that is entertaining and engaging! Take a break, enjoy yourself…but come back, too.

  11. I’m really glad I took the time to read this. Now that I’m just finishing my first semester of college, I’ve had to deal with a lot of clutter myself. Some hasn’t been that bad, and some’s put me on the verge of panic attacks. But as hectic as you might paint your life in Boulder to be, reading this grounds me a bit. I’ve got an awesome aunt spilling a lot of worthwhile wisdom, and it’s just who you are. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, I think you’ve bought yourself some priceless clarity, and I hope I’ll get it someday too.

    I miss you, Lonny, the boys and Blue terribly but I know I’ll see you soon.

    In the meantime I’ll hold down the fort here in DC, and back with the family once winter break finally rolls around.

    Best wishes from my home away from home!


    • Hi Perry! I had no idea you read my blog! Thanks for taking the time to do it, that first semester can be quite an adjustment period.

      I think about when I first moved to Boulder. I literally had two suitcases and nothing else. How it turned into all of this is a little shocking, not that I would want to go back to a two suitcases existence (there are minimalists who only have one backpack of stuff). Twenty-two years is a long time to accumulate stuff, and much of it I value (especially now after I got rid of so much stuff) but I wish I had been more discerning at a younger age. The money I could have saved!
      We miss you guys, too. I miss spending holidays with you.

      Don’t ever hesitate to call, I know the boys would be THRILLED to FaceTime with you.

    Its been at least two days since the last post……….
    Don’t make me go to Reddit for entertainment.

    • Thank you Michelle! Now you know what goes on inside the house next door. Perhaps more than you want to know, but you don’t have to worry that I am throwing Lonny out even though it kind of looked like it when I was loading tons of crap into the van.

  13. Congratulations! I am so, so, SO impressed by your perseverence, your positive outlook and your fun, quirky voice. I hope you keep up with it – without you, I’ll have to go back to Us and People magazine. ; )

  14. Dear Viv, as she did with your entry on Casey’s tooth, Lynn emailed me the link to your blog and added “of probable interest”. Especially relevant for me, of course, is the issue of dealing with the clutter and crap that is a predictable consequence of choices which one has made in the past and which, being honest, one would really not want to reverse in the present. Then there is also the feeling of being judged by others, which I experience most every time someone walks into our house.
    From my perspective, by the way, you are judged–by Lynn, me, and others, very positively. I judge you to be an incredibly strong, energetic, creative, bright, capable, beautiful, organized person (including woman, wife, mother, daughter, and friend), sometimes very judgmental but more often very caring and generously supportive. Your writing in your blog is very inspiring, and your final picture of yourself has the eyes of a deeply happy, curious, and engaging little girl. I am very glad that your reflective blogging has transformed tragedy into comedy. In that regard, allow me to mention my experience of prayerful group reflection on “You must find that place in you that already lives beyond death and begin to live out of it now.” Two people indicated that that “place” has to do with laughter, including one who told of how she and her sister were suddenly and inexplicably possessed by the giggles as they sat with the corpse of their mother shortly after the mother died. May we all be occasionally so possessed but hopefully not totally incapacitated–yet. Love, Eben

    • Thank you so much, Eben. You and Lynn have been such a wonderful support for us and you are right, who would want to reverse the present, flawed as it may be? I’m pretty opinionated but trying to dial back the judgement, it’s no good for anyone.

      May we all find humor and meaning in all that happens to us.

    • And yes, to follow up on our conversation, my own judgmental nature makes me fear that everyone out there must be judging me. Fortunately not everyone is cursed like I am!

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  16. congratulations. i have enjoyed every single one of your posts since the day i began following you. some of them even helped distract me from a terrible day that i was having, or a stressful situation that i desperately needed distraction from. please don’t disappear for too long!

    • Thank you so much! As you might see, I haven’t given up blogging. It’s too much of a habit. But I SWEAR I am taking the weekend off. That’s a fine looking cat in your gravatar, BTW.

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