I took Mliae’s January challenge

I have discarded, recycled, or set aside to donate more items this month than I can count. All as a result of Mliae’s blog post on December 31, 2018:  https://lifexperimentblog.com/2018/12/31/happy-new-year-2019/.

Mliae challenged her blog readers to get rid of one item every day in January. I missed many days, but made up for it on others. It feels good to get rid of some clutter. Thank you, Mliae!

I finally got around to shredding my income tax records and bank statements from the year 1999 through 2010. That’s not a typo. 1999.

Think back to 1999, if you can. In those days, the bank sent you a statement every month along with all your cancelled checks. The bank and I have come a long way since 1999:  from cancelled checks to online bill pay.

In some ways, I’m organized. I keep each year’s income tax instructions and paperwork together with a rubber band. In theory, this would make it easy to discard (shred) the oldest year’s paperwork when adding the newest year’s records; however, I never put my plan into practice.

Hence, I hadn’t gotten rid of any of those records in 20 years even though we’re required to only keep our income tax records for seven years. It was time to tackle that box of income tax records! I started that project on Friday afternoon and finished it Saturday night. I thought our poor wee paper shredder was going to blow up!

I am reminded of a line I like from At Home on the Kazakh Steppe:  A Peace Corps Memoir, by Janet Givens:

“… if nothing else, a useful reminder early on that the more I can let go of the old, the more room there is for the new.”

In writing that, Ms. Givens was not referring to getting rid of physical items in order to make room for new things. She was writing about a revelation she had in the early days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan.

Ms. Givens realized that she needed to let go of preconceived ideas and the way she had done things back home in the United States so she could learn the culture of the Kazakh people.

The above quote from Ms. Givens’ memoir struck a chord with me. As I let go of some physical items this month, I made a conscious effort to let go of preconceived ideas.

I want to learn something each day. I want to be open to new ways and new ideas. As my 66th birthday approaches, I don’t want to be “a stick in the mud” or “stuck in a rut.”

Since my last blog post

My vertigo is improving. The things the physical therapist has me doing are definitely making a difference.

Until my next blog post

I look forward to seeing if Mliae will issue a February challenge. Nevertheless, I plan to continue to tackle the clutter that has accumulated.

I hope you have a good book to read. I just finished reading Now You See Me, by Sharon Bolton.

If you’re a writer, I hope writing brings you joy. I hope you have quality writing time this week.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Are you a keeper of things? I think I got it honestly from both parents. They were in college when The Great Depression hit in 1929. Their young adult years were lean and full of struggle. “Waste not, want not,” must have been what they lived by. I never heard either of them say those words, but they raised their children not to waste anything.

By my parents’ example, I learned at an early age not to throw away anything that I could possibly need or find a use for later. Hence, the stack of printer paper that has only been used on one side. The other side can be used for all kinds of things – like writing the plot outline for a novel.

Hence, the used letter envelopes on which grocery lists can be written on the back while the inside conveniently holds discount coupons. And those twist-ties that come on the bag in which sliced bread is purchased? Yes, I’m guilty. There is a place set aside for them in one of the kitchen drawers.

What about you? Are you a keeper or a minimalist?

Janet

Good Teeth

I used to bite my fingernails, much to my mother’s regret. She went through this with all three of her children so, by the time I came along, she knew none of the famous recommendations for helping a child stop this habit worked.

My brother was the eldest child. When she tried painting his fingernails with hot polish that was invented to burn a nail biter’s tongue, she said her would stop biting his nails just long enough to say, “Hot!” before going right back at it.

Fortunately, I stopped biting my nails. I don’t recall when or why, but I’m glad I stopped. That is why a line from Prayers the Devil Answers, by Sharyn McCrumb caught my eye. To say Ms. McCrumb has a way with words would be a gross understatement.

In Prayers the Devil Answers, Lonnie Varden is in jail in Knoxville, Tennessee. He pushed his wife, Celia, off Hawk’s Wing – a rock that jutted out of a mountain. His cell mate, Ulysses, gives the following observation about the young Lonnie Varden:

“His nails were bitten down to the quick, which told the old man that this kid had two things he didn’t: more trouble than he was accustomed to and good teeth.” ~ from Prayers the Devil Answers, by Sharyn McCrumb

prayers-the-devil-answers-9781476772813_lg
Prayers the Devil Answers, A novel by Sharyn McCrumb

As I read the book, I jotted down a number of sentences and paragraphs I liked. I have used two of them in my April 19, 2017 blog post,  P is for a Paragraph I Liked and my June 13, 2017 blog post, “Not a rope . . . if drowning”.

I want to be a writer who comes up with expressions and turns of a phrase like Sharyn McCrumb. It will take practice. Practice. Practice.

Since my last blog post

I had something to happen in the health category that led me to do some soul searching. It had a good outcome, and served as a bit of a wake-up call. I’ve reevaluated some things and how I spend my time. Life is short.

I’ve been reading and decluttering. I tend to keep things. My parents were young adults during The Great Depression, so it was ingrained in me from birth that you didn’t throw something away that you thought you might be able to use later. (Examples include rubber bands, scraps of paper, paper bags, scraps of yarn, string, bits of thread, and anything that looks like something that might eventually be useful.)

Hence, things that come into my house tend to never leave. Last week I recycled old magazines, cardboard boxes and loose papers. I shredded papers bearing personal information. (After all, someone stole our garbage once. You just never know!)

I sorted fabric I’ll never sew and clothes I’ll never be small enough to wear again and took them to Goodwill. I can see the improvement, but someone who’s never been in my house before would probably think I still have a problem. They’d be right. I am a work in progress. More decluttering is on my agenda for this week.

My new approach to “things” is to ask myself, “Do I want my nieces and nephew to have to deal with this someday, or should I go ahead and get rid of it?”

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Hellfire Club, by Jake Tapper.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! Tell your friends.

Janet