Relief v/s Regret

As I’ve written about before – there are two ways to respond to decluttering: 1) Elation or relief at being free of the burden of the thing you removed and 2) Anxiety or regret over not having that thing when/if you need it. We all will respond in varying degrees in both ways depending on the items i question. But, the key to being a good candidate for downsizing, is that you need to have WAY MORE of feeling #1 then you ever do of feeling #2. And some people just don’t. I know people personally that would constantly remember that time they needed that thing they had gotten rid of and it EATS AT THEIR SOUL FOREVER.

If you are that person? You probably shouldn’t embark on any big downsizing journey.

My Dad was that person for a long time. We only lived in a 1,000 square foot home, but it was full of some of the craziest shit you’ve ever seen because Dad had a hard time getting rid of stuff that might someday be useful. He said this was a result of growing up poor and on a farm where you used pencils down to the NUB and you saved every scratch of paper because you never knew what you might need for school work and no one could just run to Wal-Mart if you ran out of something.

It didn’t help that he also worked as a biomedical engineer at a hospital and most equipment got disposed of through his department. If you are already a mechanically inclined person who is trained in electronics then you see “broken” hospital equipment as boxes FULL OF USEFULNESS. Especially when some equipment and items had to be disposed of when they expired, not when they broke, because you don’t want something to break when it’s saving someone’s life. So, a lot of times things were 100% still working which is why we had an EKG machine in our house for awhile in the early 80s and why Dad had bilirubin lightbulbs he used as “night lights” in our garage and in our kitchen. We never had to worry about jaundice as children.

So, I’m not like that. At all. I get frustrated when I need something that is gone, but I immediately get over it because the elation and euphoria I feel at being FREE OF THE BURDEN OF THAT THING, way overpowers and regret or stress over now needing it.

The one area that is a little tricky is with arts and crafts. In our 4100 square foot house I had a walk-in closet I called the “craft room.” It had a sewing machine, giant cutting boards, huge canvases, and shelves and SHELVES full of jewelry making supplies and fabric paint and regular paint and sewing stuff and buttons and glue and scrapbook paper and…and…and…

You get the point.

As we started downsizing I had to face the fact that I just don’t have the TIME to do a lot of the projects I had originally bought the supplies for, so I started eliminating some of the big ticket items like the sewing machine. I always wanted to learn to sew, I just never really found the time and the drive wasn’t really there. I preferred crafts that involved my hands more than a machine, if that makes sense. Since I got rid of that, I got rid of all of the fabric and thread I had saved just in case I might someday find time or desire to sew. I started getting rid of just about everything that wouldn’t fit on this one bookshelf and that’s because I knew we were keeping that, at least in a garage, because my Dad built it out of my design. So as long as everything fit on that shelf, there would always be a “space” for it wherever we moved.

That shelf is holding craft stuff in our storage area as we speak and it will probably go in the garage at the next house. It has the basics: Cutting stuff, paints, glues, jewelry stuff and miscellaneous kids craft items.

This is all to tell you that this week? I needed to sew something. Nikki has a dress that she needs to wear today but when she wear to the end-of-the-year festivities today, but that tore a little at E’s graduation a few weeks ago. So I had to go buy a sewing kit at Target and this is where I realized how good I am at downsizing. THIS DID NOT BOTHER ME AT ALL.

It cost $3 and it got the job done. I look at this kit and think of how much space it will take up in a drawer somewhere and then think back to the sewing machine and the boxes of fabric and the thread that I got rid of over a year ago and how glad I am that I needed to buy this little kit because I’m free of that other clutter. IT BRINGS ME PEACE. And it reminds me how embarking on this downsizing journey two years ago was SO VERY WORTH IT.

The summer before I left for college my Dad and my brother started re-roofing our house. An unexpected summer storm rolled through at the EXACT WORSE TIME and our house basically flooded without a roof. It was insane. I remember being very glad for my job at the fried chicken fast-food place because I could get the hell out of the house and not deal with the chaos or aftermath. It was the ONLY time I was glad for that job.

Dad ended up just getting rid of a bunch of ruined stuff using the rented dumpster he had for the roof project. Tons of old hospital equipment and machinery…that dumpster was just FULL of weird shit when they came to pick it up. I remember watching the guys going through it before they took it away and you could tell how curious they were about the strange items as they pulled some of it out to be taken home.

Later Dad remarked about how good it felt to be rid of that stuff. I think that surprised him. I think he thought the fear over needing it someday would prevent him from enjoying the fact that it was gone, and he was shocked to find it was the opposite.

I thought about him and that feeling of relief when I was sewing Nikki’s dress last night. I had no regret over not having what I needed when the situation arose, I’m still basking in the joy of knowing we’re getting ready to move into a house 1/3 the size of the one we left. The relief my soul feels no longer being burdened with the huge house or the crap inside of it way overpowers the regret of having to spend $3 on something I got rid of years ago.

It Always Comes Back To Boob Sweat.

I went through my My Dad is an EMBARRASSMENT! stage in Middle School and it peaked when he took me and my brother to a movie and I sat far away from them. Dad didn’t take us to movies regularly like I do my kids, it was rare and special and I was TOO EMBARRASSED TO SIT WITH HIM. I often apologized for being terrible to him later in life and he would just laugh and say I wasn’t that awful of a teenager.

YES I WAS, FATHER. I WAS TERRIBLE.

Anyway…

By high school I realized his “uncoolness” was actually kinda cool and I enjoyed it when he drove my friends places or stayed up chatting with my friends who came over to the house. He didn’t really approve of the idea of “slumber parties” – I think because he just felt like they were outside his skillset. BUT! Sometimes there were school events that would run late or start early and I would use those events as an “excuse” to have friends spend the night and he could get on board with that. Then there was a PURPOSE to the shenanigans.

I had a few friends he fondly remembered coming over and what he loved was how tickled we would get at the stupidest stuff, like putting together board games. Something about that mundane task would set us off and it would be non-stop laughter and he found it SO BIZARRE but also entertaining and I loved having him around in those moments.

BUT MIDDLE SCHOOL WAS VERY DIFFERENT.

I found him unfun and embarrassing and did not want him around for anything. I WAS A TERRIBLE PERSON.

I tell you all of this because I had my first “Mom, I’m embarrassed because of something you did…” moment this weekend. MY FIRST. I’m certain my kids have found me embarrassing, but they’ve shielded me from that knowledge until this weekend. See, I posted a picture of the chaffing line under my boobs from sweating on my 15-mile long run on instagram. It wasn’t salacious or anything, but a bunch of Nikki’s friends follow me on instagram (It’s not like Facebook, I don’t get a say, they just follow me) and she saw that they “liked” the photo and she was NOT amused. It has actually bothered her for awhile that her friends follow me because sometimes they see my pictures before they see HERS and she’d rather them see HERS obviously. But this was the icing on the cake of her irritation. It’s bad enough when they see my pictures before hers BUT NOW THEY SEE I SUFFER FROM BOOB CHAFFING.

(SIDENOTE: Almost all of her friends have instagram. They use the DM function to “text” since most of them don’t have phones, but do have iPod touches or tablets which is what Nikki has. Her account is private and we have to approve everyone she lets follow her, but she’s often “texting” her friends via Instagram. It’s a strange thing.)

But this was the first time she’s hinted at being embarrassed by something I’ve done. AND I AM FEELING TERRIBLE FOR DITCHING MY DAD AT THE MOVIE ALL OVER AGAIN.

I know it’s our job to embarrass our kids, so I’m not really too stressed about her reaction. And we had a talk about how I felt about her duck face pictures and how I realized I need to let her do her thing and I won’t interfere and maybe she needs to do the same with me. But it’s definitely a weird conversation to have. In all of the mental preparation I do thinking about how to teach my kids about social media, I never considered the fact that I’d have to defend the way I use social media. I mean, like someone on Facebook pointed out, I’ve been talking about boob sweat since before they were born! Nothing is going to stop me from continuing. IT IS MY BRAND AT THIS POINT.

Random Reviews

Just something light today because I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing every morning. I’m actually just trying to get back into the habit of a lot of things that I know ease my soul but are so hard to do when you’re feeling gray. That’s the Catch-22 with depression, you know that some things make you feel a little better, but the drive to do those things is 100% gone. So you phone it in with a blog entry about various things you’ve read/watched/listened to lately and hope that helps.

  • I read The Circle because it’s my book club book AND I was thinking I’d see the movie on Mother’s Day Movie Extravaganza but y’all – it frustrated the hell out of me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been living inside the internet for over a decade or what, but I found the story unbelievable from the first few chapters. When I couldn’t easily get the movie to fit into my 3-movie day, I opted not to see it because I found the book so frustrating and I didn’t want to associate two of my favorite actors with it if I found the movie just as bad. Have you read it? What are your thoughts? It wasn’t bad in the quality sense, I just couldn’t believe it.
  • I did see the new King Arthur movie on Mother’s Day Movie Extravaganza and while I don’t think the script was that great, I loved the cinematography and the acting and the costumes and special effects. It was VISUALLY COMPELLING, which held me to a kinda weak script. And the acting was superb. And some of the music/visual combinations were just mesmerizing. I hate it’s getting crappy reviews because – even with the kinda weak script – I think it’s worth seeing, ESPECIALLY on the big screen.
  • I’ve got another podcast I’ve been listening to lately that I’m so surprised I love. It’s Sawbones and it’s a husband/wife duo discussing medical history. (Wife is a doctor, husband is a McElroy brother from many other of my favorite podcasts.) This is a great one to put on absentmindedly to just fill the space while you’re walking the dog or falling asleep. I don’t feel like I have to worry about missing something if I doze of or zone out, it’s just light and entertaining. I love it. And there’s several years of it to listen to so I think it will last me for awhile!

How Birther Mania Paved The Way

If you are watching the chaos in the White House unfold and wondering, How does anyone still support this guy? then let me back up to 2008.

You see…as soon as it looked like Barack Obama was going to get the Democratic nomination for candidacy, the right started the talk of missing birth certificates and secret Islam beliefs. And while people like me were able to roll our eyes and ignore all of that rhetoric, it was being discussed in Conservative circles for YEARS. I mean, in 2011 he had to show his “long form” birth certificate because the Birther Mania still had traction in many circles and he knew he was running for re-election. And in 2012 there were still 17% of Americans who thought he was a Muslim.

My point is, there have been serious fears on the Conservative side of politics about Barack Obama that turned out to be unfounded and that caused our country no harm in the long run. But these fears were VERY REAL. I know people personally who still believe Barack Obama is a secret Muslim and his plan to dedicate our country to the pursuits of Islam were simply thwarted. In some circles, this is where the “Attack On Christianity” rhetoric was born, by looking at any plan to curb Christian legislation as a way to pave the way for our secret Muslim president to force us all to practice Islam.

These fears were very real and – in the eyes of those who lived them – backed up by many trustworthy sources. An any sources that say otherwise were being controlled by supporters of the President. (Kinda like how people on my side of politics don’t trust Fox news since Trump openly supports them so much.)

Now…fast forward to present day and the fears many of us have of the Trump White House. Well, Trump supporters can brush every bit of it off and say, “Well, we’ve been there, and you all didn’t listen to us and our fears didn’t pan out so we’re not going to listen to you and your fears will fizzle into nothing like ours did.”

Their news sources which they trust are telling them we’re all just making mountains out of molehills and looking for drama to undermine the Executive Branch. And they can dismiss us because they know how scared they were, and none of their fears manifested into anything, so why would ours?

So while many respected sources are concerned, the average Trump supporter can look back when their trusted sources were concerned, and can see that nothing came of those fears and they can dismiss ours. When we question their support they simply respond by saying that they questioned our support of a President that was so obviously a secret Muslim trying to destroy Christianity in our nation. And some of them may not even be that extreme, but they did have some major concerns during Obama’s Presidency and nothing terrible happened so they really don’t feel the need to give our concerns any attention.

I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that I see a lot of people on my side of politics just in awe over the fact that Trump still has supporters at all, and I want to remind them that none of us changed our support of Obama because of their fears. And while you and I will agree that our fears definitely have more evidentiary support, they truly believed theirs did as well.

These are tough times, but 8 years ago the other side was just as scared. Obviously I believe their fears were unfounded and their sources were invalid, but it doesn’t change the fear itself. And they see that their fears never manifested into anything terrible for our country…so why would ours?

There’s not real point to this other than to try to shed light on the “other side” from someone who comes is surrounded by Trump supporters. They remember how we laughed at their fears, so why would they open their minds to ours?

Self-Doubt and Advanced Placement

There’s always crap going on in my life I don’t write about for various reasons and it sucks because writing is how I process things. I have written drafts I’ve never published (Oh, the draft folder on this blog is EPIC) but it doesn’t always help without the wisdom you all give me.

ANYWAY. Some of this crap has trickled into my life in ways unexpected. I’ve not been writing as much on social media in general lately and I think I’ve figured out why. It’s because awhile ago I wrote something on Facebook talking about some bullying my daughter was experiencing (Facebook is safe for more personal stuff as I limit my Facebook connections) and someone took that opportunity to message me privately using my status as an impetus to proceed to tell me how my involvement in another situation was actually me condoning bullying and they just couldn’t believe that ME OF ALL PEOPLE would do that.

The details of this are unnecessary, I’m confident I’m not condoning bullying in any situation, but the point is: Someone took something personal I wrote and twisted it around as an attack and it just shook me.

And lately? I’ve been filled with self-doubt because of this.

How much do I share anywhere? Am I strong enough to open these wounds to the world and then sometimes have negative fallout? I am very open about my struggles in many areas but maybe I shouldn’t be? Maybe if someone sees those vulnerabilities and realizes those are great places to attack, maybe I’m not strong enough for that?

And it has me constantly doubting anything personal I share lately. I feel good sharing it, but what if someone then says, Oh! Look, that’s obviously a vulnerability. Let’s use that to hurt her.

I wrote yesterday about anxieties and lists and how sometimes putting things on the “NEVER” list allows you to take them off the “WORRY” list and SO MANY of you assured me that you do the same thing and it was VERY helpful. But then, the self-doubt started and I began looking at that entry and my admission of vulnerabilities from the point of view from someone who didn’t care about me, and suddenly I doubted everything and I moved it to draft.

Actually, for a moment I thought about taking the whole blog down.

But this morning I’m fighting that self-doubt because I really would love to hear your thoughts on something.

SO! WE WILL PROCEED! SELF DOUBT BE DAMNED!

My daughter got into a special magnet program here for academic achievement and they try to put some 6th graders from this program in Algebra I. Of course this means they would take Calculus as SOPHOMORES and who knows how many collge credits they’ll graduate with at that rate!

Now, ALL 6th graders in this program are in at least advanced 7th grade math, but some go to Algebra I which is advanced even for 8th grade. So basically she’s already guaranteed to be on an advanced math track, but the placement in Algebra I would put her on an EVEN MORE advanced math track and y’all? I told her I don’t give two flying shits about it.

And that is a direct quote.

I struggle with the idea of advanced placement. I was on an advanced math track and it caused me a lot of stress (I even pushed to get into the honors version of that track) when I was taking Calculus as a Senior – A LOT OF STRESS – and it gave me no benefit in the long run. What? It saved me a math credit? Well, I ended up changing my major so many times that I had so many wasted credits that saving me one math did no good.

Maybe if I knew for sure she was destined for a math career – maybe it would help? But I don’t. And I don’t want her to feel bound to any track just because of a test she took in 5th grade. I want her to be challenged, so if they put her in it I’ll support it, but I don’t buy into the need to start college with credits already accumulated. To me? 90% of the college experience IS ABOUT THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE and I believe she will learn more taking a class in college than in high school. Not necessarily about the subject, but about academics and life and if she’s on a math track, meeting other freshmen on that same track is beneficial and skipping to sophomore or junior level classes as a freshman doesn’t not put you in easy friend-making situations.

So, I’m letting her take the test (I could have asked she not be tested and just be put in regular advanced math) because I want her to be challenged or she’ll get bored. But as she was stressing about the test last night I told her 100 different times in 100 different ways: IT DOES NOT MATTER. If you don’t get into Algebra I? You will be FINE, maybe even BETTER in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on Advanced Placement courses? ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO SETTING A KID ON A TRACK IN 6TH GRADE. Uggg. I just want her to not worry about college for a little while, is that too much to ask?