25 October, 2011


"Endings rarely announce themselves. They steal in
and go nameless until long after their work is done."

By Jamie Patterson

There are times when you know something's over - the obvious things like the end of a delicious book, or a great play... because here there is clapping or satisfaction. There are parties or Thanksgiving dinners, when everyone trickles out at different times... but there's always that one last moment when you know the night has ended. And sometimes, if you're lucky, there are the relationships that end clearly... and I say lucky - even though they may still be heartbreaking endings - because they're not always so clear and easy. Wait. Strike that last part. Clear or not, they're never easy.

When I was 27, I had been in the midst of the longest relationship of my life thus far: it started when I was 23, just out of college, and four years later it started to end (maybe even before that). Another year after that, when I was 28, there were clear warning signs followed by a definite ending that ripped my heart apart and left me in the deep, dark hollow of an aching soul - with no light to see my way out.

As Jamie Patterson's LOST EDENS forced me to look back upon that time - which is admittedly painful to do - I realize that it was probably much clearer to those around me that this was not a good relationship and that I had lost myself in it... just the same way I was talking out loud to her as I read Jamie's memoir. But, to quote myself from over 2 years ago, "It's hard to see outside of yourself during those kinds of times."

Looking back, it should've been apparent. The first time I really wrote about it, really began to acknowledge it, was shortly after Easter in 2007... I prayed harder than I'd ever prayed for anything during that Lenten season and 3-Day Easter Weekend; and I felt more alone than I'd ever felt, even with the hourly prayers and pleadings. But it started falling apart long before then - couldn't see it, though. A quick remembering of several hard months makes me feel like I really should've seen it coming.

April 2007 - Tried to keep a true Easter Vigil, praying every waking moment
July 2, 2007 - Wrote a Heartbreaking Poem which started to open my eyes
September 2007 - We decide to "take a break" and I go Couch Hopping 
January 2008 - We decide to "take a longer break" and Live Separately
April 6, 2008 - The Actual Day of the Break-Up
April 6, 2009 - One Year Later... a glimpse of True Happiness

It took a year from start to finish for the break-up to complete its tiresome task. It took another year, and many friends, family, and love, to get back on my feet. And a year after that, a truly loving man like no other I have ever experienced, proposed to me in our bedroom on Easter morning - one arm extended to me with a beautiful ring, the other holding our beautiful baby daughter.

I've never had a personal wish for an author... but for Jamie Patterson, I wish nothing less than a year or two of healing as blessed as mine have been.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Jamie Patterson's LOST EDENS to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.  Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

24 October, 2011

DAY 24 - Domino Effect

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Well. I made it to the 24th day. And I've enjoyed every step. I wasn't always successful (I still have not broken the habit of biting my nails) but it has made me more conscious of the things that I bring into my home and the items that I value.

I think one of my biggest accomplishments was not purchasing anything I didn't actually need during this 24-day period. My husband teases me, lovingly, saying: "You're such a consumer." And it's true. I am. I'm a sucker for a good ad campaign. I often think I need things that I really don't need. And this 24 Day Challenge has allowed me to break free from that a bit. (Although I might still decide to splurge for this UNIQLO coat that I saw for the first time on October 5th... I was so proud of myself for resisting!)

The other inspiration that has come from these past few weeks has been the desire to keeping doing something; the momentum of another continuous project; the domino effect of this experience creating a desire for another similar experience. So, stay tuned for the upcoming 30 DAYS OF THX idea that's been brewing in my head for a little over a week...

23 October, 2011

DAY 23 - Maternity Clothes

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Between our adorable landlords (a Greek couple in their 70's), our day care providers (a matriarch from Michigan, a patriarch from Malta, and their bi-lingual daughters), and sometimes our relatives and friends - I am often asked if we're going to have another child soon. It's a question my husband and I have discussed and will continue to discuss... but it's safe to say that our immediate answer is "not right now".

Therefore, I felt more than comfortable lending giving some of my pregnancy clothes to my good friend's sister who's found herself preparing to have her 3rd child at a time in her life when she thought she was finished having kids (and had purged herself of all her maternity wear).  There may have been the slightest moment's hesitation, (what if I need those sooner than I think!?) but my overall feeling was that there was no worry in giving these away. Plus... shopping for maternity clothes was a pretty fun experience 2 years ago and I'm sure it'd be just as enjoyable to do again.

The results of today's letting go: the knowledge of helping someone else out, even if I've never met them; the faith that I won't need those clothes again until we're good and ready (and, of course, who knows when that will be!).

22 October, 2011

DAY 22 - Hall Closet

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Gratefully, we have a wonderful hall closet where our many random items like extra paper towels, tools, candles, mini-coolers, christmas tree stands, packing tape, swiffer wet pads, drano, windex, paint rollers, bubble wrap, light bulbs, batteries, etc., etc. can live and be happy (and out of the way).

If I had a real basement, what would I do with all this space!?
I like to think of it as our miniature basement. And it serves us well. But sometimes it gets overly crowded in there and a clean-out and re-organization is required to be able to actually find any of the useful items stashed away in there.

Only a few months have passed since the last time I took a good look through that mini basement - so it really wasn't bad when I began investigating it again this time around. It was more about the re-organization than the throwing-away-of-things. And just like my Type A personality was thrilled with the neat stacking of tupperware in the cabinet, putting everything just where it belongs in the hall closet was equally satisfying.

The results of today's letting go: a place for everything, and everything in its place.

21 October, 2011

DAY 21 - Clean Fridge

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Okay, it definitely wasn't THIS bad.

Another "non-sexy" task: cleaning out the refrigerator. Someone has to do it, right? It might as well be me.

I tell ya, though - I really like being able to open the fridge and see everything that's in there without wondering if anything's hiding far in the back corner, possibly molding over. And the fact that it doesn't smell is nice, too.

The results of today's letting go: a mold-free, nice-smelling fridge. It's the little things.

20 October, 2011

DAY 20 - Control of All Things

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

"Let go and let God" might be one of my mother's favorite sayings. And I can assure you that this does not mean she attempts anything less than planning every moment of her day to try to accomplish the tasks of 3 women... it simply means that if one of those plans goes awry, she will do her best to let go and let God take care of it.

I've always admired this.
Although I've not always been able to do it.

Today was a busy day. I needed to leave the house at 9:30 AM dressed in something that would be appropriate all day and long into the night for the opening of the new play at my theatre and the festive party afterwards that would last until the wee hours. I needed to leave my office at 4 PM so I could drop off my "Congratulations!" cards at the theatre in Times Square, before heading back to Astoria on the subway so I could hop in the car and rush to pick my daughter up from day care, so I could meet my friends at our apartment at 5:45 PM who graciously agreed to babysit for the night, so I could get them all set up with everything they needed, freshen up, and leave the house by 6:20 PM so I could make it back to Times Square for the 7 PM curtain. Needless to say, this was a day that was planned. To the minute.

Everything was going smoothly... until I got to our car, sat in the driver's seat, turned it on, put it in reverse, and looked behind me. There was a van - an unmarked van - blocking me into the driveway. There was no way around it. There was no way out. There was no way to tell whose van it was or when they'd be coming back or who I could yell at contact so they could move it out of my way. I was so focused on The Plan that I didn't even see the van when I passed by it on my way into the car.

The clock was ticking and I felt paralyzed. What was I supposed to do? It was 5:15 PM. If I could get on the road in the car, I'd be back at our apartment to meet the babysitters in plenty of time for their 5:45 arrival. But without that ability, my only other option was to walk the 25 minutes to the day care (and the 25 minutes back) to pick up my girl... thereby obviously throwing a big wrench in The Plan and possibly even missing my own opening night curtain. Oh, the horror!

After an "I'm freaking out" call to my husband, I quickly realized there was not much I could do and I truly had to let this one go. I called my friends and asked them to meet me at the apartment a little after 6 o'clock instead; and I started walking. But I didn't even make it to the end of the block before I heard a vehicle starting up on the road behind me and whipped my head around to see the dreaded van slowing moving down the street. Oh, the blessing!

I hurried back to the car and was back at the house by 6 o'clock - freshening up and ready to get my daughter re-acclimated with her babysitters for the night. I was back on the subway by 6:30 and at my theatre with 10 minutes to spare before the curtain rose on one of the best opening nights I've ever been a part of.

The results of today's letting go: giving in to a situation that I couldn't control and learning that somehow, even without my Plan being perfect, it will all be okay.

19 October, 2011

DAY 19 - Bathroom Grime

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Stepping into a grimy bathtub is something I'm not particularly fond of. Something else I'm not particularly fond of is cleaning said grimy bathtub. 

But it must be done. Nothing glamorous about today's challenge: I cleaned the bathroom. I scrubbed the tiles. I wiped down the toilet. I washed the floor. (Kudos to my hubby, who did the Drano duty.)

The results of today's letting go: a clean bathtub to step into tomorrow morning.

18 October, 2011

DAY 18 - Speaking Up

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

If there's one thing that really gets under my skin it's when someone talks down to people. I mean, there's just no need. And lately, I've found myself less and less tolerant of it - meaning more and more often, I've been speaking up.

I suppose there are a couple of places where I think it's not such a great idea to stick your nose into someone else's business: for example, the parent who says something to their child on the subway that makes my skin crawl. If you say something there, it will likely end up in a fight bigger than you'd intended. Telling other people how to parent is a very touchy subject.

But there are places when I feel it's very appropriate to speak up. And times when it's even my responsibility. Two recent examples come to mind from my work environment. I supervise "Matt" and he supervises "Susan"... who recently asked me to meet up with her after work one day so she could tell me all the reasons she doesn't enjoy working under "Matt". And her reasons were valid - one being that he told her (and I'm sure I'm paraphrasing here): "Your job is not to think, just do as you're told." I mean, WHAT?! Who says things like that? It even irks me when Don Draper says things like that. Needless to say, I've had a discussion with "Matt" about this matter and, sadly, I believe I'll have to have many more.

The second face-off was in a recent meeting, called by "Lee", where she proceeded to steamroll everyone else sitting around the table and top it all off with a great display of superior non-listening skills. Although it wasn't really my meeting - I was there merely to facilitate the space for the project that was being discussed - there came a moment when I just couldn't take it anymore. The entire meeting, "Lee" was talking down to "Jane" - easily 20 years her junior. So I spoke up. And I told "Lee" how I felt. And I chose my words carefully. And she was upset by them. And although we ended our meeting with a truce, and I have been able to move on and will still be able to comfortably work with her again in the future... "Lee" has chosen to ignore me since then. And that's fine.

In my current job, I am often one of the younger (if not youngest) people among the group/project that I'm managing. And when I first started in my position, it was a bit bothersome to me that I supervised people who were older and more experienced than I was. I had to keep coming back to this one thing: I was hired for a reason. Someone believed in me, in my skill sets, in my leadership, and trusted me to be placed in this role. Four years later, I still have occasional doubts. And though I believe it's been happening slowly on its own, perhaps today I will put a name to it: I'm letting go of worrying whether everyone likes me or not. There will be people who don't like me. And there will be things I say - be they from love or constructive criticism or simply because of something I won't tolerate - that will make some people not like me. And so long as I choose my words carefully and let my Better Self be my guide, I will have to be okay with that.

The results of today's letting go: more freedom from that inner doubting voice; hopefully more confidence in the knowledge of my role at work - and as a member of society.

17 October, 2011

DAY 17 - Photo Albums

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Although I haven't seen it in person in over a year, I bet it's safe to say that my mother still has an entire dresser full of loose pictures just begging to be put into photo albums. Literally, a whole 3-drawer dresser. Packed with photos.

I was starting to collect a similar pile: photos of my daughter that were just too good to have only in electronic form, photos of my brother's new baby, photos of my parents making fish faces for their granddaughter, photos of my sister's recent trip to NYC. Even some wedding photos and honeymoon shots that got printed up.

So I spent a few hours - maybe only one - putting those loose photos into albums. A simple thing. And a good thing.

The results of today's letting go: organized photos that we can look at and laugh at; possible inspiration to tackle even my mother's 3-drawer collection during one of these upcoming holiday visits.

16 October, 2011

DAY 16 - Past Relationships

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

I've never been one to totally give up on past relationships. And I don't mean that I still pine for any of the previous gents I've dated... I mean that it has always seemed a bit odd to me that you can spend months or years of your life with someone, sharing intimate personal feelings, and then break-up with them and not have them in your life anymore (or not be a part of their life).

I've kept in touch - albeit mostly remotely (I'm talking to you, Facebook) - with almost everyone I've ever dated. And every now and then I still hear from or reach out to some of their parents, too. (I'm proud to say that I've always been the kind of girl that parents have liked.)

But even I have a few items that remind me too much of the people with whom they're associated: jewelry that was given to me by a past beau, pictures of a smiling couple long gone, letters that mean something to me which I can't bring myself to throw away.

So into a small box they go. Wrapped with a red ribbon - which my Feng Shui books tells me is a good thing to do. I like the stories these items tell. They're part of my story.

The results of today's letting go: a secret spot for stories I might share with my daughter later in life; a box of reminders for why I love my husband so dearly.

15 October, 2011

DAY 15 - Extra Closet

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Yes, it's probably a luxury in New York City to have an extra closet. It's also a great place for a whole bunch of random stuff to end up over the course of a few years. Ours is located in our daughter's room... her dozen dresses take up a small portion of the clothing rack, our winter coats take up the larger portion of it - and boxes and boxes of items we hardly ever use take up the rest of the space.

Among the items in this closet (beyond the clothes):
* 4 plastic file boxes packed with papers
* 1 plastic container + 1 box of holiday decorations
* 2 rolls of wrapping paper
* 2 bags of bags (yep - bags holding other empty gift bags)
* 3-4 lamps that we don't have anywhere to put
* my husband's old trumpet
* the box for our new printer
* the box for our desktop mac
* a tool kit
* a shredder
* a small fan
* a Burger King mask

It's quite the collection.

This is the Closet for a Rainy Day. This is the Closet of Items We Might One Day Need. This is the Closet for Once-a-Year Events. If you're lucky enough to have one, it can be a useful place... but stock should be taken of these items very often.

I ended up with a relatively small pile of give-away items from this closet. But it was nice to get in there and see what treasures we've been saving. Maybe our daughter will want to play the trumpet someday.

The results of today's letting go: knowing where and what everything is that lives in that closet.

14 October, 2011

DAY 14 - Old Trunk

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

When thinking through possible ideas for this 24 Day Challenge, one item that I was sure I wanted to tackle was my old trunk. I've had this plain, black trunk since I went to college... I know because a note that my dad wrote me on my 18th birthday is stuck inside, gently teasing me with memories of my 18-year-old self.

But in a slight disappointment, when I pulled the trunk out from its tucked away spot in the back of my closet... it was empty, (save for 2 blankets). I guess I must've cleaned it out some time ago, although I don't remember doing it. I thought it was full of items, but wasn't exactly sure what those items were. And that was part of what I was looking forward to when cleaning it out and letting things go. I hope my past self enjoyed that as much as my present self was going to.

The results of today's letting go: realizing that sometimes I'm actually more on top of things than I might've thought; and also realizing that I really enjoy letting things go!

13 October, 2011

DAY 13 - Desk at Work

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Not my desk, nor my office... though I wish it was!
 After 3 weeks of tech rehearsals and first preview weekends, I finally took some time to clean and organize my desk at work. It ended up being The Place I Dump Piles of Papers I Intend to Deal with Later, instead of a productive working space. Taking just a quick break to file, put things in their place, shred old items, clean the dust off of the desk, and generally straighten everything up can really make a difference for me. 

The results of today's letting go: a more encouraging, positive work space; a feeling of being able to handle my work load instead of literally getting buried in it.

12 October, 2011

DAY 12 - Magazines

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Cleaning out my cooking magazine pile inspired me to take a look at that Shelf of Magazines With Potential Cool Ideas in Them That I Might Have the Time to Do or Make or Wear or Buy in the Future. Yeah... those magazines.

Real Simple might be one of my favorites of all time. The "New Uses for Old Things" section is great. The home style is great. The recipes are great. The articles are great. The... well, you get the picture. It takes me a week or more to really comb through each new edition that I receive in the mail, and then I always end up adding the latest one to the ever-growing pile, vowing to go through them at some point. I guess today's that point! There are some gems in there, for sure. And I've cut them out, or ripped out those pages. And they'll go in my desk - hopefully to inspire me to do or make or wear or buy. But the rest of them are going into the recycling bin.

The results of today's letting go: two whole small shelves worth of space from where those magazines used to be; reminders of cool ideas that will hopefully provide future inspiration.

11 October, 2011

DAY 11 - Cookbooks

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Novels yesterday. Cookbooks today. I have to admit, many of my cookbooks I've never cracked open. But most of them have some sort of special meaning to me. And all of them hold delicious recipes that I would love to try/make someday.

There are a few, though, that are truly special. One with hand-written cards that includes the recipes of my husband's family (his favorite birthday cake among them). One that keeps some of my favorite recipes from my mother's mother and my father's mother (my dad's favorite christmas cookies among them). And two that were written by George and Katie, the innkeepers of The Inn at Brandywine Falls (the lovely place where we got married).

When I think of my future self, I picture lots of cooking. Growing vegetables, learning how to bake well, and whipping up some mouth-watering meals for my family. Turns out, those future images are strong... and I couldn't bear to toss or give away any of my dozen or so cookbooks. However, I did take the time to go through the piles of cooking magazines I have - selecting and cutting out only the recipes that I really wanted to keep and putting them in a binder that I can always add to later, as I come across new ones. Recycling all of those old magazines felt pretty great. They were weighing me down - literally!

The results of today's letting go: inspiration to do more cooking; desire to eat more healthfully; creating more space for future recipes that I can pass down to my kids, too.

10 October, 2011

DAY 10 - Books

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

I wasn't sure if I'd actually do this one. Let me clarify. The idea would be to go through my books and actually purge some of them. If my husband and I are blessed enough to live together for another 50+ years, our home will be overflowing with books. We are both Book Purchasers rather than Book Borrowers. We like to own our books. We like to dog-ear the pages. We need to write in the margins. We devour our books in a way that libraries and lending friends probably wouldn't appreciate.

I adore reading. Although that wasn't always the case. I'm not sure when exactly I got "hooked" but I remember really starting to love it in high school, then more so in college, and then even more when I worked for a wonderful woman in New York who loved books and would always recommend great ones to me.

Some of my books have changed my life. Some of them are so simple and sweet that I will read them again and again. Some of them are stories that I cannot wait to share with my children. And some of them are gifts from my husband that inspire me to be a better person. So I knew going through my books might be difficult, to say the least.

Ultimately, there were a handful of novels that I knew I probably wouldn't read again. So those will go to Goodwill or a nearby library. And I now have a Stack of Books I Borrowed From Friends That I Must Return. But this truly was a challenging process for me and I dearly wish to hold on to all the others.

The results of today's letting go: taking stock of the reading material I own and acknowledging the deep impact it has had on my life; the desire to read about a dozen books at once - there are so many good ones!

09 October, 2011

DAY 9 - Jewelry

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

There was a time when I wore a lot of jewelry. I guess there were a few different times, each somehow corresponding with a "phase" I was going through to try to determine exactly Who I Was.

There was the high school phase of Rings On Every Finger (except one, the left ring finger, the Sacred Finger). I even wore a ring on my left thumb that was more of a mini metal sculpture than an actual ring. Then there was the Hippie Hemp phase somewhere between high school and college, when I wore a choker made with real hemp seeds and long beaded necklaces strung together with seashells and random beads and other "found" treasures. Then there was a phase of Nice Quality Jewelry I Bought For Myself - because no one else (no boyfriends, at least) bought it for me. And finally, I seem to be settling in to my own true style of Simple Jewelry With Meaning.

I wear my wedding and engagement bands on my left ring finger. I wear an "OM" symbol band on my right ring finger. I wear silver earrings of some kind most every day. And that's about it.

But I have a fair amount of jewelry. Some left over from the various phases, some fond remembrances of people past, and some that I want to keep for my children. Going through the several small nooks and crannies in which my shiny objects stay safe made me think of the stories that go along with each and every piece. And I could only part with one or two objects that I really felt no connection to... everything else went right back where it came from.

The results of today's (minor) letting go: wonderful trips down many memory lanes.

08 October, 2011

DAY 8 - Weighing Myself

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

For several years now, I have had mixed feelings about my body. I go through periods of loving it, then hating it, then remembering I need to appreciate it, then feeling uncomfortable in it, then having my husband tell me it's beautiful, then sort of believing him, then sort of not...

I honestly have a hard time remembering an age when I wasn't aware of body image. I can vaguely recall playing outside on our swing set in the backyard when I was maybe 10-ish and not having any worries except whether or not I could flip myself upside-down on the rings. I remember the whole puberty age, developing more quickly than some of my friends and starting to become very aware of my physical image. I think I remember being pretty confident with it for most of high school. At my performing arts college, I have clear memories of wanting to be thinner and thinner - to match the body types of the beautiful dancers. After graduation and moving to New York, I went through ups and downs (in mood and weight) depending on what was happening with my career and my love life. When things were good, I ran and exercised and ate better. When things were less good, I was less good about those things, too. A ridiculous spiral, because running and exercising and eating well are things that can turn my bad mood around... but it's hard to remember that and act on it when you're already in the bad mood.

It wasn't until I got pregnant, though, that I started paying attention to my weight, the actual number of pounds, mostly thanks to the wonderful practitioners who weighed me twice a month at our check-ups. Gaining around one pound per week was celebrated. What a great feeling! Never once did I believe that I was gaining too much weight and I felt more beautiful when I was pregnant than I'd felt for most of my 20's.

But there's a constant awareness of numbers during a pregnancy and birth: the date of your last period, how much you weighed at your first check-up, how many inches you're dilated, how many hours you were in labor, how many pounds and ounces your baby weighs, how long your baby is, the exact date and hour and minute of her glorious birth. And then, after a few lucky months of living in yoga pants and big t-shirts, cuddling with your beautiful newborn and sleeping on and off all hours of the day and night... you go back to work. And back to your work clothes. It's as if you have to somehow re-claim your previous life. But you can't quite. Because not only is there a tiny human that you'd rather snuggle with than do anything else in the world, but it's also hard to fit into your previous clothes and your previous bras and your previous shoes.

In the first trimester of my pregnancy, I remember reading something I thought was really comforting and reassuring: "It takes 9 months to put on the weight, so don't be surprised if it takes 9 months to take it off." But as those post-birth 9 months are more than doubled now and I've still 10-15 pounds to go before getting back to that pre-pregnancy weight - I bought a scale.

I've never owned a scale. And now I know why. Turns out, I'm a bit of an obsessive weigher. I've stepped on every scale I've ever come across in any number of bathrooms... and now that there's one in my very own bathroom, I have weighed myself every day without fail. And no matter what that number is on the scale, or how I feel about that number, I realize it's totally unproductive to be reminded of that number first thing each morning. Especially when you're trying to lose weight the healthy way, (in other words: at a snail's pace).

All of this is a long-winded way of saying, for the rest of this month I'm giving up the scale. I did not weigh myself this morning, and I will not weigh myself until November 1st at the earliest. Maybe even longer. Who knows where this crazy plan will lead me?!

The results of this day's letting go: hopefully more freedom from my ever-judging inner voice; a chance to keep feeling good when I wake up (without giving a number the power to change my mood).

07 October, 2011

DAY 7 - Pens

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Perhaps it may seem too insignificant to hold a place as One of the Twenty-Four Things, but tonight I let go of old pens. 
 Pens that were losing their ink, or just didn't work at all. Pens that didn't have a cap. Markers that were streaky. Mechanical pencils without any lead. Useless writing utensils that were taking up so much space in our Cups Dedicated to Holding Pens that I couldn't shove even a thin ruler in there when I tried. 

And yes, it was simple. But not insignificant. It bothers me so much when I pick up a random pen and it doesn't work. And now, that will no longer happen.

The results of this day's letting go: less frustration when embarking on note writing; more space in said Cup Dedicated to Holding Pens.

06 October, 2011

DAY 6 - Tupperware

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

It never fails. Somehow, like that random sock that ends up all alone at the end of a cycle of laundry, there is also always a random tupperware lid with no container to match (or vice versa). Perhaps the other sock and the lid-less tupperware container ran off together because they just couldn't take it anymore. I wish them well, wherever they may be.

So this morning, I took just about 5 minutes to reorganize my tupperware cabinet. I'm letting go of clutter. I'm letting go of containers/lids that don't match. I'm embracing the Type A Organizer in me. It's actually not too bad... we don't have that many tupperware options. But sometimes it amazes me what a difference a mere 5 minutes can make. I just love knowing that tomorrow morning, when I go to make my daughter's lunch and I need to find the right container, not only will it have a matching lid, but all the other containers won't fall out on top of me when I open the cabinet. It's the little things, ya know?

The results of today's letting go: peace of mind; pieces that match.

05 October, 2011

DAY 5 - Medicine Cabinet

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

My husband and I have differing opinions on whether expiration dates on medicine mean that they're just less potent/effective from that point on, or whether they mean you should stop taking them after that date so they can't possibly make you sick (like spoiled milk). But I suppose since I was the one cleaning out the medicine cabinet, my opinion wins! (Isn't that how it goes?)

Today I cleaned out our 4-shelved medicine cabinet, a wicker shelving unit in the corner, and the "area under the sink where random stuff ends up". And it made me feel very uncluttered and satisfied. There were things in there we definitely didn't need... a bottle of camomile lotion that expired 09/2004 and some curly hair product that I've never used, among many others.

An added benefit to the cleaning: I was able to fit everything we wanted to keep into the cabinet or in two small baskets under the sink so that I could remove the wicker shelving unit from the corner to make room for... my daughter's new potty! Yes, we're starting the all-important potty training. So far, she doesn't really like to sit on it in the bathroom; but she does like to pull the whole thing out into the middle of the living room, sit on it there, and read books to herself. Baby steps.

The results of today's letting go: being able to find everything I need quickly and easily, getting rid of products that took up space and caused clutter; creating space for something that will help my little girl grow.

04 October, 2011

DAY 4 - Driving (When I Can Walk Instead)

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

I didn't own a car until I was almost 30. I didn't get my license until I was 18, then went to college in Pittsburgh where I used the bus or the "T". And I've lived in the convenient subway-ed New York City ever since I graduated. I never had a need for a car. And then we had a baby.

Not our baby... nor our car
We knew we'd want to drive home to Ohio and Maryland as often as we could to see the grandparents and visit with family - so we bought my younger sister's teal Nissan Sentra. And it's served us well these past 2 years.

But I've noticed recently that I have developed a tendency to use the car more often than I really need to... I mean, I spent 7 years in New York without one and now I'm in it at least once a day. It's usually more for the convenience of it, or the fact that I'm running late to pick my daughter up from day care, than because I actually need to use it. I used to make the 25 minute walk to day care - but now it seems so much easier to hop in the car. And I know it's better for the environment, my health and my sanity (driving in NYC really makes me crazy) if I chose to walk instead.

So that's what I will start to choose as of today. I will no longer default to the car. I will prepare myself half an hour earlier to pick up my baby girl. I will plan ahead.

The results of this day's letting go: smaller carbon footprint; smaller waistline. 

03 October, 2011

DAY 3 - Biting My Nails

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Ever since I can remember, I've bitten my nails. I have no idea why or exactly when it began, but I can never recall a time when I had naturally long, healthy, pretty fingernails.*

For a long time, it didn't bother me. That's just who I was: a nail-biter. And, of course, the more my mom told me not to do it, the more I did it. Then in college (yes, I was still biting my nails in college) I took some ballet classes - and watching the beautiful hands of advanced dancers was one of the most enjoyable things for me. They were so elegant and graceful.

And each time I practiced and noticed my hands, I was disappointed - and eventually a bit embarrassed - that they looked short and stubby. Despite my long fingers, my nail-less tips were always at the end, staring back at me. But no matter how many times I tried to quit, I would fail; I was addicted to biting my nails. It wasn't out of nervousness, or shyness, or frustration... it was just habit. And it was very hard to break.

So today, I resolve to let that go. I release myself from that habit. I will continue to tell myself each day that I no longer need to bite my nails and that beautiful, long, healthy fingernails (and the fun benefit of manicures and nail polish) await me.

The results of this day's letting go: seeing the light at the end of a life-long bad-habit tunnel; enjoying a little extra beauty; setting a better example for my daughter.

* Except for when I was pregnant - my hair and nails never looked better!

02 October, 2011

DAY 2 - Baby Clothes/Blankets

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge 
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

So I must be honest and tell you that although I gave up processed foods yesterday, I didn't make it the whole day without ingesting any. Instead of thinking what I want to think, ("Day 1... fail.") I'm choosing to start again today; to decide again that I will rise above the easy choice of soda and french fries. And I will continue choosing that "road less traveled" each day. It won't always be perfect - but I will always make the choice.

That being said, today's 24 Things action is to go through my daughter's baby clothes and blankets. She's just a few months from her 2-year-old birthday (hard to believe!) and she's a tall gal. She's been in 24-month clothes and 2 Ts for quite a while now... so it's time to go through some of those tiny yet adorable outfits I've been hanging on to, and give them to someone less fortunate.

We also have a shelf full of baby blankets. We got an avalanche of them when we first had our little girl. She was born in February. And although we used a few of them, most just sat on the shelf - unfolded, uncuddled. It's getting colder now. Even though it's only October, those winter winds are showing themselves to be fast approaching. And every year at this time, my mind starts to drift toward thinking of those who can't rely on the comfort of a heated home - or even a home at all - and would welcome those blankets for their children with open arms. We'll lovingly set aside those few blankets with special meaning, handmade for us by friends and family, and part with the rest.

So I did a little research and have decided to take the 3-4 trash bags full of gently (or never) used baby clothes, blankets, and a few toys to The Saratoga Family Inn in Queens, NY. Established in 1987, it houses an average of 255 families with approximately 375 children. They have a Wish List of items and a good mission to help those less fortunate get back on their feet.

The results of this day's letting go: giving warm blankets to babies who might not otherwise have any; accepting my daughter's wonderful growth into a "big girl"; feeling like I'm helping others while helping myself - a great combination.

01 October, 2011

DAY 1 - Processed Foods

The 24 Things Clearing Challenge
encourages you to make room in your home, heart, and mind to create an inspired future

Sometimes, in my attempt to find balance in life, I over-stretch. Today I join many others in a 24-day clearing challenge: letting go of one thing each day. And what do I start with? Processed foods. Usually the stress of cleaning out closets and parting ways with things I don't really need would lead me directly into the comforting arms of a bag of Cheetos.

But knowing full well that this bag gives me no actual satisfaction and instead leaves me with kind-of-gross-neon-orange-colored finger tips, I will be strong. I will resist.

Instead, on this first day of 24 Things, I will also join over 2,000 others in October Unprocessed 2011. Two challenges in one month? Yup - that's how I roll.

This morning, my daughter and I started things off with the basics: bread and water. The bread was from a local bakery down the block and - I know I shouldn't be surprised by this - that bread is always more satisfying than the kind from the supermarket. The simplest breads are made with only 4 ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. (No, I don't know this from experience, just from the internet. But perhaps this month will inspire me to finally learn how to bake bread... something I've always wanted to do.) By comparison, I take a look at the supermarket bread label and wonder why there are often 15 or more ingredients there - most of which I cannot pronounce.

The results of this day's letting go: a more health-conscious choice for me and my family; a way to support local stores like our bakery; a feeling of trying to live a better life.