Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A more organized mess!

Ha!  I like that title!  It gives me a small sense of accomplishment, and I sure need to keep the momentum going right now.

This is going to sound awful, but my husband Donnie is out of town this week, and I'm using some of my peace and quiet to get back into cleaning this computer room.  I do better when I am totally alone with no distractions; no television, no phone, no hubby (but I love you, sweetie!).  I do have the puppy here to keep me awake so I'm not tempted to procrastinate and nap once I start my daily to-do list, so it's not perfect...

Tonight I moved ahead with a goal of cleaning out one banker's box and getting my metal filing cabinet out of the farthest corner of the universe so I could actually use it for a change.

Here's what I started out facing:

The filing cabinet I want is all the way in that back corner, completely invisible from this view!

Just look at all this STUFF!  I was very tempted to find something, ANYTHING, on television to watch instead of tackling this!

But as I worked through the mess, I got a little bit more momentum going, and I decided that my goal would be to have every piece of this messy area in one of my banker's boxes.  Nothing else strewn on the floor, nothing else stacked on top of flat surfaces, every single item would be in a box.

Once I did that, I was able to line the boxes in a fairly orderly fashion and FINALLY get to my metal filing cabinet!

I did clean out one of the boxes tonight as well, and most of it went in the garbage pail, to be honest.  I don't know why I keep some of the just-plain-crap that I do, but I've decided to be ruthless in this cleanup.  If I can and do use it, it's getting a logical "parking spot" in this room.  If I can't or don't use it, it's got one more decision to pass through: if it's still usable, it's going in a "Give Away" box, and if it's not, it's going in the trash.

With the constant supervision (and occasional interruption!) of our puppy Shadow, I worked for about 1 1/2 hours to rearrange the room.

Here's the current state of the area:

With everything in a box, and all the boxes lined up this way, my next step is to just go down the line, cleaning out one box at a time.

Supervisor Shadow approves of my progress tonight!

I've also moved a little wooden TV tray to the side of my desk to serve as a "dumping ground" for my stuff when I come home in the afternoons.  Normally, it's all been going on the kitchen counter first, then it gets transferred to my desktop, which I just recently got cleaned off!  So to keep my desk area neater, this little table will get my purse, mail, and whatever else I wander in with.

My next step is to organize the contents of that nice metal filing cabinet.  Now that I have two drawers close by instead of just one, I can use the top one for standard files and the bottom one for storage (printer paper, inks, etc.).

Oh, and I will also clean out one more box! 

Until next time....

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Here's why I need this blog!

Accckkk!  I haven't done a very good job of keeping up lately, have I?  Typical of me, though, and one of the main reasons I need this blog.  I need the accountability!  I need the sense of responsibility to whoever reads these entries!  When I stumble, I need to know that somebody, somewhere is watching and thinking, "Wow, it's been almost a month and she hasn't made any progress"!

So tonight, I made myself do two things to move forward:
1.  Clean off my computer room desk, and
2.  Empty one of the many boxes of "stuff" in the room.

Deep breath...Okay, here's a couple of "Before" shots of the area I chose to work on...

The desk, overtaken with stuff, piles, and stacks.

Such an inviting work area, eh?  (Sarcasm fully intended!)
 Another view of the desk.  Yes, that trash can IS overflowing into the floor!
The box I selected to empty out tonight...

Cleaning off the desk wasn't too hard, but some of the items in those piles and stacks needed an action taken: receipts to be entered into Quicken, appointments to go into my Outlook calendar, etc.

The box was a different story.  What a conglomeration of THINGS!  I found a cute Hello Kitty framed photo of Donnie and me from our cruise in March of this year; the book and accompanying journal for Joel Osteen's "Every Day a Friday" (which I'd intended to start studying earlier this year!); the title and owner's manual to my dad's vintage 1982 Honda Nighthawk 450 motorcycle; an unopened supply of small notepads (I had planned to buy a refresher set of these next week, 'cause I thought I was out!).

Some of the items are memorabilia I really do want to keep.  I've started a new banker's box just for those items. 

But some of them I just don't have much of an emotional connection to.  I chose to get rid of those things, but I took photos of each one to have an image of them without taking up space in my house.  I know it may sound kind of rude, but sometimes I get things as gifts or "happies", and they don't really have a personal meaning for me.  I find it pretty easy to part with those; I will try to find homes for them as Bingo prizes for our church's nursing home ministry, or to kids who might like a toy I picked up on a vacation whim, etc.

Anyway, in about an hour, I had picked out and evaluated every item in that box.  It ended up being not as horrible as I had been expecting!  LOL

And now I can proudly present my new clean work area:

 The desk.  I can see the surface again!  All that's out in view are things I used on a regular basis and a couple of "cute decor" items.

Left shelf is holding my study books.  I'm going to start the "Every Day a Friday" book over tomorrow.  Also in this little space is the book I'm using for an online study on our church blog (, Joyce Meyer's "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life".

The right shelf holds just a few things that make me happy (a light-powered dancing flower from my mom, that cruise photo, a Willow Tree figure I got for Donnie and myself last year when our doggie Spike passed away, and a glass peacock photo holder that isn't holding anything right now...).

And what do you know, the trash can is EMPTY!!!!  No papers overflowing onto the floor! 

I'd forgotten how relaxing it is to work at a neat, orderly desk! 

My next challenge is to pull out a metal filing cabinet that is buried in a corner of this computer room.  I want to create a more logical and useful filing system than the random mess I have crammed into one small drawer right now.

But that's for next time! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

The website has a “Verse of the Day” on its home page each day.  I’m sure this was no accident, but the verse they chose for today is:

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalm 33:12 NIV

Our nation has moved so far away from the first part of that verse, it’s scary.  I found one article in Wikipedia that says in 2009, 76-80 percent of Americans identified as Protestant or Catholic .  So why would I make that first statement?  Because there is a huge difference between a person who believes in God or belongs to a particular religion and a person “whose God is the Lord”, as the verse explains.


Here’s an analogy: I believe with all my heart that losing my excess weight would improve my health, my self-esteem, my outlook, and my energy level.  I BELIEVE that.  But if I don’t act on that belief, if I don’t make every effort to accomplish that goal, it doesn’t matter how hard I BELIEVE.  I have to live that belief. 

Same with God.  Just saying that I’m a Christian and that “Of course I believe in God!” doesn’t cut it.  The verse doesn’t say that a nation is blessed because of their belief that there is a God; it is blessed because its God is the LORD. 

In other words, while there is only one God, there are plenty of “gods” in our lives today.  The scriptures also call them “idols”. 

Whoa, wait a minute!  I’m not an idol worshipper!  I don’t have any golden calves in my house!

Most of us would say that.  But anything that takes the place of God in our lives IS an idol.  Have you ever put off reading the Bible because there’s a great movie on TV tonight?  Ever thought, we’ll skip church this Sunday because we’d rather go to the river?  How about this one, from my own experience: I know I asked God to help me with my overeating, but one more cookie won’t hurt.  Now we’ve made television, recreation, and food idols in our lives.

Now that you see where I’m going with this, you can probably think of a dozen other things we put before God every day.  Money, success, having a big house or an expensive car, our jobs, even our spouses and children.  God has to be more important than any of those things.  When He is, all the other stuff will fall into place. 

You might not be a millionaire, but you will have the money to pay your bills; you might not be successful in the world’s eyes, but a lot of people will know they can depend on you to do the right things; and really now, why dream about a huge house when all you really need is shelter?

I’m as guilty of having idols like these as anybody.  My main idols are food and “stuff” – I usually want the latest and greatest little gadget out there (like a smart phone that I play solitaire on more than I use for calls!).

Our nation as a whole has chosen the gods of money, power, control, and positions over the one true God.  Our government no longer operates on Godly principles; our leaders value power over doing what is right; people want to live on entitlements instead of an honest day’s work.

Until we collectively turn back to God and put Him back in the role He deserves as our spiritual leader, things will only get worse, I’m afraid.

So what does all this have to do with Independence Day?  How about this – begin today to separate yourself from any idols in your life.  Enjoy the freedom that God will give you when He is your LORD again.  Break away from things that have held you down or gotten in the way of your relationship with God.  By doing this, we can make EVERY day an Independence Day!

Until next time…

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Tail of Two Puppies

Yes, the spelling is intentional!  (It’s a pun, okay?)

I have to leave my normal theme of this blog today to talk about two puppy dogs.

First there was Spike.  My mom and stepdad found him in their backyard in December 2003, trying to burrow under some pine straw to keep warm.  His mommy had relocated the rest of his litter, but never came back for him.  They brought him inside and made him a little bed, then mom called me.

Our first look at little Spike!
Donnie and I drove to their house to see the pup, and it was love at first sight!  I picked up this little shivery ball of black fur and when he snuggled up against my neck, I was done for!  We brought him home that night and for 8 years, he was the light of our lives. 

He was a stocky little thing, all black except for a couple of brown patches that made him look like a miniature Rottweiler.  Boy, did we have THAT one wrong!  The more he grew, the shaggier he got and most of his black fur gave way to a sandy beige.  Those short little legs got long and lean, and we joked that somebody had replaced the puppy we started out with.

Spike with his octopus - a favorite toy.
We named him Spike.  His favorite food was pizza; his favorite activity was riding in my car and hanging out the window, or in the back of Donnie’s pickup; he was VERY protective of us and our neighbors.  Once a UPS truck drove up the driveway of the lady who lived across from us; Spike was playing outside and ran over to stand between the driver and our neighbor!  He loved little kids, and he somehow knew that he couldn’t play as rough with them as he could with big folks.

All grown up and still adorable!
Was he spoiled?  Absolutely ROTTEN!  Did he ever realize that he was a dog and not the third human in our house?  Nope! 

We had no idea we would lose him so suddenly in August 2011.  It was hot outside, high humidity, like any summer day in Mississippi.  But not the hottest day we’d had by any means, and Spike had been staying outside during the day while we were at work, with no problems.  I left him that morning with a full bowl of water and ice cubes, and Donnie had even come home for something at lunch and Spike was still fine. 

But sometime in the next couple of hours, Spike suffered what our vet believed to be a heart attack or a stroke.  It was fast, whatever it was.  We went through the next few days in a stupor, still not 
believing he was really gone. 

After a few weeks, we started hearing the question we dreaded most: “When are y’all getting another dog?”  We would shrug and smile, but inside we felt like answering, “ANOTHER dog?  There IS no other dog!”  Or somebody would say, “I have the perfect dog for y’all!”  No, thank you, but we HAD the perfect dog already.

Last Thursday, Puppy # 2 came into the picture.  She was one of five little sister black lab-mix pups brought in to our local Humane Society as strays.  A friend had gotten her at an adoption drive at PetSmart earlier this month, but quickly realized that 7-week-old puppies require a LOT of attention and patience.  Not everybody is ready for all that at once.  Rather than see her go back to CLHS, we agreed to take her for a while.  We weren’t even really sure if WE were ready for another pup yet, or if we could give her the time and attention that she needed.  But we decided to try; at the very worst, we promised each other that we would find her another good permanent home later on.


When I turned onto our little cul-de-sac that afternoon after work, I saw this plump pup waddling around in our front yard, falling over her own too-big feet, and any thoughts of keeping her “for a while” just melted away!  I got out of the car and she immediately ran to me; when I picked her up, she gave me the same nuzzles that Spike had done that first night, and I was totally powerless.  I wanted to just hold her forever, or build her a doggie mansion, or buy her a car…anything she wanted!

I think they're born knowing this look!

She’s already started channeling some of Spike’s habits, like taking her treats to the bedroom doorway instead of eating by her food bowl, wanting to sit on the couch with us at night, investigating everything we do, and mastering that “lie on the floor and look up at them” move that could get her out of anything!

Enjoying a treat on the cool tile floor.
We’ve named her Shadow because of her solid black coat, and because she follows us as relentlessly as our own shadows.  She loves to play “tickle” and lie on her back while she kicks her legs in all directions.  It won’t be long before she’s able to jump onto the bed with us.  She’ll be house-trained, eventually.   I’m sure she’ll love pizza once she’s bigger.  And because she’s a girl, I can buy her girl-dog stuff, like hot pink collars and bandanas, or sassy-girl dog treats for her birthday!

"Oh yes, I have these humans under my power now!"

 Is she gonna be spoiled?  Absolutely ROTTEN!  Is she ever going to realize that she’s a dog?  I doubt it!

Until next time....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wait, I have a bookcase????

As promised, here are some before, during, and after shots of the corner of my computer room, my project for the weekend.

I was a little afraid that this wouldn’t get underway like I’d planned, because, for those of you just tuning in, we added a furbaby to our family Thursday night, so the past couple of days have been taken over by this adorable adoptee that we named Shadow.  I’ve got a WHOLE other blog post about her in a day or so!

Anyway, back to the cleaning.  First, the before photo (Yikes!):

The clean-up in progress...
This picture is a perfect example of why I need to clean up and clean out my whole house!  

I think it's pretty ironic that these two books, bought at different times and never used, are about organization!  *Sigh...

To work through everything, I sat in the floor and literally took one book, one piece of paper, one souvenir, one folder at a time and decided where it was going to go.   

Each item could go in one of 5 banker boxes.  Here are the choices:
One box on the right left to sort through...
-           Give To Church – these are some books I’m going to take to church when I finish this room and let anybody who wants them take them or share them or whatever.  There are books on organizing (hah!), cookbooks, some Max Lucado and Joyce Meyers, devotionals, and books on improving your relationship with God.  I just feel like they might help somebody besides me; somebody who’ll actually read more than a couple of pages before starting something new!
-           To Keep & Place – these are things that I need to keep but that might be better off in another room or stored differently in the computer room.  Some of this is just things that need to go back where they were taken from (like the room spray that migrated out of the cleaning closet or the unopened package of bright red plastic plates!).
-           Electronics & Computer Stuff – I have cables and wires and gadgets that belong to stuff I got rid of years ago.  I kept a couple of CAT-5 and USB cables, and a nice power strip, but the rest of it got tossed.  Why do I still need the car charger to a phone I had 10 years ago!  I’ll also use this for software packages that I need to keep track of.
-           To Shred – Lots of the old papers I’m finding can be tossed (water bills, privacy notices from 5 years ago, receipts I have no need to keep any longer), but some of them need to be shredded.  Once the whole room is finished, I’ll have a huge shredding session and if anybody needs this stuff for confetti or packing, I’m your gal!
-           To Throw Out / the Black Bag – these are my things to dump.  Our trash collectors are gonna hate me for the next few weeks, ‘cause I’ll probably have one or two of the Black Bags a week to sit on the curb!  The box is for stuff that’s kind of odd-shaped or sized; the Black Bag is for papers and smaller stuff.

I got a little supervision from Shadow as I was going through all this stuff, but I made it!  I hadn’t seen that wall or the top of my little bookcase in who knows how long!  Yeah, there’s still stuff there, but I have the boxes set up now and they’ll help me finish the rest of the room.  At the very end, I’ll take the books to church, put all the “keep” stuff in appropriate places, have a useful collection of software and spare cables, shred all the personal stuff, and tossed anything in the Throw Out box or Black Bags.

The whole area took me about two hours total, but I have a spot now in this room that isn’t swallowed up by The Pile.  I’m happy, and I’m actually looking forward to the next section that I clean!

Until next time…

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Be Organized?

Not my own "Pile", but very similar!

When I write these posts at home, in my computer room, my back is to “The Pile”, so I don’t have to look at it.

“The Pile” takes up about half of my computer room, and appears to have taken on a life of its own.  I’m positive that some of the components of “The Pile” have discovered how to reproduce, and they do so whenever the lights go out. 

I mean, how else could I explain the growing mass of stuff that I conveniently ignore while I’m typing this?  It has to have become a living thing; I’m sure I can  hear it breathing behind me!

Surely I didn’t create this monster and continue to feed it almost daily…not me!

Or…did I?

I am a severe procrastinator.  Look at the gaps I’ve already made in writing on this blog!  So I let “The Pile” start months ago with just a little notebook tossed on the floor that I swore I’d pick up later.  Then it was the keyboard that I quit using when I got a new one.  At this very moment, there are 9 banker’s boxes overflowing with the things that followed the notebook and the keyboard.  There used to be a metal file cabinet in this room, somewhere, I promise!

It’s not just my computer room.  When we moved into this house in 2000, our master bedroom had a large, roomy walk-in closet.  Somewhere along the way, somebody stole that one and replaced it with a much smaller “reach-in” closet! 

Actually, it’s an offspring of “The Pile”, “Pile Jr.”, I guess.  That one is made up of shoes, purses, clothes that fell off their hangers who knows how long ago.  I’m convinced that I have a whole wardrobe on the closet floor that I don’t even know about!

The sad thing is that it isn’t even the family of piles around the house that bothers me so much.  It’s the fact that I’ve gotten used to them; so used to them that I don’t even notice them anymore.  I have to actually MAKE myself see them to even recognize that they still exist.

Why am I suddenly so determined to pare down all this “stuff”? 

1.  I can’t find things that I know I have. 

2.  I forget about something I do have, so I buy another one, only to realize later that I now have 5 whatevers.

3.  It’s not just small stuff, it’s important papers that I can’t lay my hands on when they’re most needed.

4.  I’m showing a real lack of stewardship for the things I own.  They don’t get an appropriate home in my home; they get tossed around like trash; they get crushed under other things that aren’t in their appropriate place.

Along with being a procrastinator, I tend to look at the big picture so much that I get frustrated and discouraged even before I begin a project.  I look at my computer room or my closet, and I see hours and hours of work ahead of me.  It’s so huge and daunting that I just never start.

But this time I am trying something different.  The rest of the house will have to wait while I tackle the computer room.  I’ve broken the whole room into 6 areas.  I believe that each area can be cleaned out and reorganized in small spans of time over one weekend apiece.

My first area will be the side wall against the door.  That’s my project for this coming weekend.  I’ll post my progress then, along with some before and after photos.

It’s time to get this show on the road and get rid of “The Pile” and family for good!  And now I've made my intentions public, so I HAVE to do it, right?

Until next time …